We flew Cathay Pacific Airways from Vancouver to Hong Kong and upgraded to their exit row seats. Cathay offers its customers the option to secure seats with extra legroom in their Economy Class cabins on long and short-haul flights – with an additional fee or by redeeming Asia Miles. Since my husband is six-foot-two, we thought it would be a good idea to pay the extra money so he would be more comfortable during the 13 hour flight.
The extra legroom seats are only available to passengers who meet the exit row seat safety requirements (you need to be able-bodied to assist during an emergency), and seats are subject to availability – we had to call ASAP to be the first to reserve the seats. Before the days of airline cutbacks, if you arrived early enough, you could request an exit row or bulkhead seat at no extra charge. On Cathay specifically, you’ll need to pay the following charges:
To reserve your extra legroom seat, you’ll need to call the local reservations office after you’ve purchased your regular ticket.
Overall, my experience sitting in their extra legroom seats was unfortunate. I don’t feel that it was worth the extra $100 USD and actually was a worse experience than sitting in their regular economy seats. A recent traveller complained to Cathay and they gave him a $50 voucher for duty free on his next flight. That’s great Cathay, how about just don’t charge extra for the seats and instead warn people of their drawbacks!
The drawbacks: During the flight, the flight attendant asked my twice to get up so she could stand on my seat to reach the overhead compartment. Also, because the toilets were right there, and my seat was on the aisle, there was always a group of passengers standing in line. This was annoying as they were chatting and crowding around our seats. Furthermore, the baby bassinet seats were directly beside us. So we had 2 babies crying the whole flight – we did not sleep. I would have to say it was one of the most uncomfortable flight/seat experience I’ve ever had.
Another disadvantage to flying on Cathay is their economy class seats no longer recline backward at an angle. Instead, the seats have cushions that slide down and recline into the shell of the seat. This is good news if you’re someone who hates it when the passenger in front of you reclines his or her seat back into your space. However, the seats make for a very uncomfortable flight because your back is hunched over in a very non ergonomic position. Basically, it’s impossible to sleep and your back will end up killing you after 13 hours in the air. Surprisingly, legroom is pretty decent compared to other coach seats – hence no need to upgrade to the ‘extra legroom seats’.
I will definitely choose an alternative airline on my next long-haul flight – especially to save my back and increase my chances of catching some shut-eye. One can never go wrong with Emirates or Singapore Airlines. I also recommend KLM for flights to Europe and the Middle East.