Almost as Bad in Premium Economy: Pseudo-Redeyes to East Asia


I previously reviewed Cathay Pacific’s flight CX524 between Hong Kong and Narita and bemoaned the timings. Leaving at one in the morning and arriving around six, having moved forward one time zone, it’s a flight on which it is hard to get any rest and I find that you spend the next day paying for your lack of rest. These pseudo-redeyes in economy are the worst flights one can take to east Asia, in my opinion.

I recently took the flight again this time on an A330-300(registration B-LAF) instead of a 777, and was upgraded to premium economy. I wondered whether perhaps that would make it more bearable than I had previously found it to be in economy. The short answer: not at all.

The seat is definitely more comfortable. I find that Cathay’s premium economy seats can make a big difference versus economy to how well I sleep on a flight, primarily because of the extra space offered in front (for our general comparison of Cathay’s premium economy compared to its economy, read this post). There was a good blanket and okay pillow on the seat on boarding, although no eye mask or earplugs were proactively offered.

Meal service on such a late flight is bound to show that one cannot choose all of the people all of the time, as many passengers will simply want to sleep while others may wish to eat. Cathay manages to please neither, with the lights on for a food service disturbing the sleepers, while the food quality is so low as to please no one.

This was a cold meal service, but in fact it is not a meal as such, simply a small sandwich, fruit bits, cake and biscuit served in a box with a carton of Vita Lemon Tea. The cabin crew distributed this quickly, there was no drinks service, and then soon lights were off and I didn’t see them again until the lights came on before landing. So, as well as uninspiring service, the food was far from substantial. You’ll notice that, despite this being the premium economy cabin, it was identical to what I received in economy a year and a half before.

So, with a crew doing little and invisible, and pretty poor food plus no drinks beyond the VLT, this flight was only marginally better in premium economy than in economy, and that difference lay in the spaciousness of the seat.




  1. It pains me why there are no flights to Japan that actually leave at a decent time in the evening, so that one could finish work then head to the airport. There’s a HK Express flight to KIX but that’s too early to go straight from work for most people. Japan is such a popular destination from HKG, but the flight times are so poor. 1am departure is terrible.

    • All of the evening flights get in around midnight, which is when all of the transport starts to shut in Japan, making it hard to get anywhere unless you pay a lot for a taxi. You can’t really have any flights departing past 6pm to avoid this. That’s why they’ll wait until after midnight for the ‘red eye’.

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