Cathay Pacific has showcased a smart mid-life refresh to its first class suites to carry the product through to the debut of a next generation of first class slated for 2018.
The new first class cabin will be fitted to all 24 of Cathay’s long-range Boeing 777-300ER airliners, with the first overhauled jet flying this weekend and the entire fleet due to be upgraded by the third quarter of 2014.
However, the project doesn't extend to the soon-to-be-retired Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets.
The refresh has been lead by London-based architects Foster + Partners, which also designed Cathay's new-look Hong Kong Airport lounges including The Wing and The Cabin, plus the lounge's bespoke Solus airport lounge chair.
“We saw no pressing need to completely replace the first class product as the suites were only introduced in 2007 and are still very popular with our passengers” said Toby Smith, Cathay Pacific’s General Manager Product, speaking with Australian Business Traveller prior to the launch
“However, elements of the cabin were looking tired so we decided to make a few changes that will enhance the overall experience for our premium passengers.”
Here's a quick run-through of what's new...
- Each suite features a new side console with a drink holder.
- The meal table has broader scope for adjustment.
- There's more space in the personal closet as well as the console compartment so that passengers can stow personal items such as smartphones, MP3 players and reading glasses.
- New custom-designed reading lights have five brightness levels and rotate through a wider angle.
- A 4.3 inch LCD touchscreen controller allows passengers to easily recline the seat, adjust lumbar support and turn the lights on or off.
- Each passengers gets a BOSE QuietComfort 15 noise-cancelling headphones – but no, they're not yours to keep!
- There's a USB socket to keep your phone or tablet juiced up during the journey and a multi-port connector for piping music or video from your iPhone or iPod through the inflight entertainment system.
- Redesigned bedding includes 500 thread cotton fabrics for the duvets, pillows, cushions and the thicker mattress.
- The Shanghai Tang pyjamas have been replaced by a new "100% organic cotton sleep suit" from home-grown Hong Kong brand Pye.
- Female passengers will be offered a new Trussardi amenity bag featuring Aesop skincare products (blokes get a black Ermenegildo Zegna pouch).
- The toilets sport a new wash basin and counter top.
- A highly glossy dark grey textured material is featured on the outer surface of the suite, while warm-tone natural leather is used extensively on most interior surfaces.
- The suite's interior and side console are wrapped in natural leather with "subtle linings, refined stitching and fewer panels for a more clean and sophisticated look". Leather pads with subtle stitching are also introduced on latches to provide a softer touch.
- The seat fabric is custom-made "with a specially selected combination of materials that is soft and smooth to touch", Cathay Pacific says.
Cathay's all-new first class circa 2018
The refresh will bridge the gap until Cathay Pacific introduces its new first class around 2018, tied to the delivery of the airline’s Airbus A350-1000 jets.
While the Airbus A350-900s scheduled for February 2016 sport a three-class configuration with business, premium economy and economy class, the larger A350-1000 will add a compact first class cabin.
“For the A350-1000, we will be looking at probably a new first class by that stage” Smith told Australian Business Traveller late last year.