Premium does the job with Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong

While flying business class on Cathay Pacific from Dubai to Hong Kong offers comfort and space, premium economy also offers enough comfort for the executive traveller and wins in the value stakes.

Cathay Pacific’s premium economy has enough space to keep almost everyone happy. Courtesy Cathay Pacific
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Companies sending their executives overseas for business trips have a dilemma: either they stump up for a business flight to keep senior staff happy or risk their wrath by placing them in economy.

Alternatively they could try the middle ground of premium economy, which offers almost all the comfort and space of business class at a fraction of the price.

On Cathay Pacific’s daily Dubai to Hong Kong flight (leaving Dubai at 11:05pm and arriving in Hong Kong 11.05am) business class passengers have the luxury of the standard-style mini-cabin seen on many of today’s premium airlines.

At Dh7,905 return, you get what you pay for – and that means space, a full reclining seat, work areas (should you decide to put in a few extra hours after take-off) plus the option of supper or a lighter meal. Given the late evening departure time, the light meal (an Arabic menu including hummus and tabbouleh followed by mango mousse) was popular. The 30 business class cabins on the Airbus A333 are comfortable but not entirely private. However, once fully reclined and concealed under the blanket you can easily get a full night’s sleep.

On the return leg, flying from the carrier’s hub airport means passengers can check in their luggage at the MTR’s Central Hong Kong station, making the commute to the terminal a much easier proposition.

While premium economy for the return journey does not come with lounge access, at Dh4,055 it is much cheaper than business class. Yes, the lower price does mean less leg room and space overall and there is no mini-cabin or flat bed, but the reclining seats with accompanying foot rest still offer a comfortable journey. Savvy travellers should book the bulkhead seats for around an extra metre of legroom – which means toilet breaks won’t disturb the person next to you. While not fully flat, the seats are large enough to relax, even in the middle of the central block of three seats, meaning sleep isn’t reserved for hobbits or contortionists.

While the two classes are significantly different, each has its own strengths: business wins hands down for comfort and space. However, premium economy, at almost Dh3,000 return cheaper and with enough space to keep almost everyone happy, scoops the value stakes easily.

The smart money would be to book business on the outward leg, allowing the traveller to arrive fresh and recharged during working hours, while for the return leg (departing Hong Kong at 4:30pm and arriving in Dubai at 8:50pm) premium economy is perfectly suitable. At Dh6,795, it will save you Dh1,000 over a return business ticket.

q&a what you get for the money

Ashish Kapur, Cathay Pacific country manager UAE & Oman, reveals more about Cathay Pacific’s business and premium economy offering.

What flight options do you have from the UAE to Hong Kong?

From Dubai, we offer two direct daily flights to Hong Kong and one daily to Bahrain. The departure timings were carefully planned out. Our two flights depart from Dubai at 17:10 and 23:00, and the arriving timing in the morning fits in well with the business traveller’s schedule.

Are you planning on expanding those services at all?

We are constantly reviewing the market demand and will adjust our frequencies according to the needs of travellers.

Why can’t a premium economy passenger access an airport lounge?

Premium economy class comes with a range of benefits including an additional 5 kilograms of baggage allowance, more legroom, greater recline, a quieter and smaller cabin and a bigger personal TV. We want to differentiate that premium economy is an enhanced experience from the traditional economy class, and the business class lounge is exclusive to the business class passengers.

Do companies book different classes (ie business one way and premium the other) to save costs?

Since we introduced premium economy, we see increased interests from both business and leisure travellers. There are mix-class bookings but we do not see a trend in companies doing so to save costs. In fact, we see more individuals deciding to pay for an upgrade on part of their trips from premium economy to business.

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