Airlines + Aviation
A red-eye flight from Hong Kong to Singapore proves that getting there is often NOT half to fun – especially if you’re stuck in a cramped seat that doesn’t recline in economy class. Is this the future of air travel?
Cathay Pacific Airways flies several times daily between Hong Kong and Singapore. It is one of the airline’s most popular routes.
I booked a round-trip ticket on Cathay Pacific Airways between Hong Kong and Singapore. I wanted to attend Singapore Art Week, and the fare was irresistible.
The basic fare was HK$970, or US$124. When taxes and surcharges were figured in, my total out-of-pocket cost was HK$1,370, or US$175, which is about as cheap as I have ever seen for an airline ticket between Hong Kong and Singapore.
In fact, the usual price of a discount ticket is about 3 times that. Forget about full-fare tickets! It was a special promotion, and I had to return within 3 to 7 days.
My flight departed Hong Kong International Airport at 1.50 am and arrived at Singapore Changi Airport 3 hours and 50 minutes later at 5.40 am.
By the time I checked into my hotel at the St Regis Singapore, it was already about 7 am.
I flew on an Airbus 330-300, and I was surprised at how cramped the cabin felt. I’ve flown on Cathay several times before, and I always gave the airline top marks.
I remember thinking on a flight to Bali 3 or 4 years ago that with economy class this comfortable, why waste your money of business class?
Not only did the seat fail to recline, the armrests were not padded, and after a while my lower arms started to feel sore. So I had to cross my arms over my chest as I tried to get to sleep.
The seat was so uncomfortable, in fact, that at one point I went into the toilet even though I didn’t need to go because the toilet was more comfortable than my seat.
Has Cathay Pacific reconfigured the cabins of its aircraft? I checked out SeatGuru.com to see how Cathay Pacific’s configuration compared to 5 other key airlines operating Airbus 330-300s., and the results were a real eye opener.
How the Airlines Stack Up
The results follow:
- Cathay Pacific Airways – There is a total of 307 passenger seats, 42 in business class in 7 rows and 265 in economy class in 36 rows. The pitch in economy class is 32 inches, and the width of the seat is 18. Inches.
- Air China – There is a total of 301 passenger seats, 30 in business class in 5 rows, 16 in premium economy and 255 in economy in 34 rows. The pitch in economy is 32 – 33 inches, and the width of the seats is 17.8 inches.
- China Eastern Airlines – There is a total of 300 passenger seats, 38 in business class in 6 rows and 262 in economy class in 34 rows. The pitch in economy is 32 – 33 inches, and the width of the seats is 17.8 inches.
- Singapore Airlines – There is a total of 285 passenger seats, 30 in business class in 5 rows and 255 in economy class in 32 rows. The pitch in economy class is 32 inches, and the width of the seats is 19 inches.
- Thai Airways – There is a total of 299 passenger seats, 36 in business class in 6 rows and 263 in economy class in 32 rows. The pitch in economy class is 32 inches, and the width of the seats is 18 inches.
- Turkish Airlines – There is a total of 288 passenger seats, 28 in business class in 5 rows and 260 in economy class in 33 rows. The pitch in economy class is 31 to 33 inches, and the width of the seats is 17 to 18 inches.
Can stuffing just a few more passengers into an airline’s cabin make that much of a difference?
Or was I just unusually tired? Sometimes when I’m unusually tired it is actually harder for me to fall asleep because I become restless.
My flight back to Hong Kong a week later seemed more comfortable. But it was on a different aircraft, a Boeing 777-300. There was another key difference: we were served wine.
And a third: I wasn’t tired, and I didn’t care if I fell asleep because I knew a comfortable bed was awaiting me when I got home.
Recommended: Flying Premier Economy from Hong Kong to Vancouver, Is It Worth the Extra Cash?