When selecting fares many people simply compare one airline’s price against another. But this can be like comparing apples to oranges, since the fares are only one part of the overall value equation.
One area to consider is seat density. Flying from Hong Kong to Vancouver in Air Canada on some configurations of their 777-300ER, you could be in a cabin of 450 seats, including a whopping 398 in economy. Accordingly, the seat width and pitch is tighter than on many airlines. Economy seat width, for example, is 17 inches. Typically the ration of cabin crew to passengers is also worse.
Many airlines have 10-abreast seating in economy in their 777s. Until now, Cathay’s has used a 9-abreast configuration. While other parts of the Cathay service seem to have been getting worse lately, this 9-abreast configuration has remained one of the better things about it.
However it is reported that Cathay will switch to 10-abreast seating in economy class on its 777s. This may not sound like a big difference, but speak to people who have flown on the Air Canada planes and you often hear a lot more about overcrowding than when talking to those flying on Cathay’s 777s.
If you want to know what sort of seating a flight is likely to have, if not changed before departure, your travel agent should be able to tell you, or you can use a website like www.seatguru.com.
The good news is that some airlines continue to offer the more spacious seating configuration, which can be a big point of differentiation on a long-haul flight. The Morning Post ran a good graphic last year illustrating which airlines offer 9-abreast seating from Hong Kong, which you can view here. EVA, Singapore, British Airways and Turkish continue to offer 9-abreast 777s out of Hong Kong. As Cathay continues to reduce its inflight experience in some ways, it’s worth bearing in mind that there are some good competitive options available.
Guest Blogger: Christopher R.