Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cathay v. Singapore: Advantage to Cathay's Shell Seats?

Sherman Oaks, California

Are shell seats in economy the next weapon in the war for long-haul passengers?

People who routinely takes flights of longer than eight hours sitting aft of the blue curtains hope so.

Over the last two years, Cathay Pacific has improved the quality of many of its seats under an internal initiative codenamed "Olympus." The results of the makeover in First and Business are breathtaking, with seats as individuals pods, sometimes in a herringbone configuration. The English firm of Design Q did the creative work, and you can see their handiwork here.

The Economy Cabin seats (pictured) were also upgraded into "shell seats," seats which recline within a fixed space. So, if the person in front of you reclines, you don't get her chair in your face, you don't even notice. This may be an advantage for Cathay over its trans-Pacific rival Singapore Airlines, which does not have shell seats in economy on its routes from the western United States.

Plus, I love adjustable headrests.

More info on the seats is here and here. Click here for passenger reviews, which are mixed because some people with lower back issues don't like the shell seat's more limited angle of recline.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took a round trip on Virgin in Upper Class a few years ago and they had the fold-down-flat "pod" seating in a herringbone configuration. (No, I didn't pick up the $6K tab.) It was the most excruciating trip of my life. Such seating may be nice if you are traveling alone and want to remain that way, but the pods basically eliminate all contact you may have with traveling companions, and, if you don't have the shoulders of a 13-year-old girl, forget sleeping on your back. Terrible...


8:51 AM  
Blogger maxman71 said...

I have been living and working in Asia for going on 8 years now. First 3 years based in Taiwan; in Thailand ever since. I have been flying about 250K miles a year for the last several years all over Asia, Europe and N. America. Cathay Pacific used to be one of my favorites, but not any more. Online booking is awkward, call support is terrible and their prices are not that good. Singapore Air is good, but expensive, online booking is OK, call support is OK. The best Asian airline IMHO is Thai Airways. Online booking a breeze, call support very prompt and helpful. You can change your departure/return date/time on the fly at no extra charge. Changing destination/return location can usually be done for about USD70. Flights are on time, never lost a bag with Thai. On board service is good.

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to prefer Singapore Air for flying long haul - service & food are excellent. However eversince Cathay upgraded their economy seats into shell seats, it's become my first choice. Flew to Rome from New Zealand once and the shell seat was brilliant. Can't wait for Singapore Air to upgrade their seats. Wonder when ???

4:04 PM  

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