A waterbed. Gucci sweats. Steaming dim sums. An old flame. All these things may be hot and comfortable but few can match the bottom-tingling serenity of Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 business-class, a joy travellers from Perth and Melbourne will now get to experience on their way to Hong Kong.
Cathay Pacific has launched a cutting edge new jet, with a world-renowned pointy end, to Australia for the first time. Touching down at 12pm, the first A350-1000 landed in Melbourne on Sunday, after its 9-hour journey from Hong Kong. The second A350-1000 took off a little later, and touched down in Perth just before midnight (about seven and a half hours later), also on Sunday.
This comes as the Hong Kong carrier launches Airbus A350-1000 services to Perth and Melbourne, switching one of its three daily Melbourne–Hong Kong services from the A350-900 to the A350-1000, and swapping out seven of its 10 Perth–Hong Kong flights, currently operated on A330-300s, to the widebody A350-1000.
Cathay Pacific regional general manager for south west Pacific Rakesh Raicar said: “The launch of this aircraft will allow us to deliver further enhanced features that improve the comfort and overall travel experience of our guests.”
But there’s more to it than that. As News.com.au yesterday reported, by introducing “one of the most advanced aircraft models in the world” Cathay Pacific will carry more passengers in more comfort and maximise fuel efficiency, thus profiting more from their runway slots.
In terms of specs, the main difference for Melbourne is that the A350-1000 is about 7 metres longer than the A350-900, enabling it to carry 334 passengers (54 more than the A350-900). As for Perth, the A350-1000 is a totally different jet from the A330-300s, which only fit 251 passengers (83 less than the A350-1000).
As News.com.au reported, “For passengers, some of the biggest difference will be the business class area of the plane. Instead of being split by a galley, all business seats will be in a single cabin on the aircraft.”
“The cabin itself features LED mood lighting, Wi-Fi and new in-flight entertainment offerings.”
This idea is backed up by the travel bloggers of the world. In fact, browsing Instagram, it appears Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 business class must have something special, with flight reviewers calling it the best in the world, or one of the best in the world, despite its lack of a private suite – the business class benchmark of 2019.
Flight Hacks, for instance, says he “loves” the reverse herringbone configuration, which Cathay Pacific has pioneered for many years now, and is, “Arguably the best business class seat in the sky.”
“The seat model is called Cirrus and is supplied by Zodiac Aerospace and customized by Studio F.A. Porsche. The reason it’s so comfortable is because the leg space is not enclosed like the seats you’ll find on Qantas A330 and Virgin A330 for example. It gives you a feeling of space and the ability to angle your legs more comfortably, it’s perfect for lounging and sleeping.” (Flight Hacks).
All up, Cathay Pacific’s A350 cabin is stylish, sleek and walks the line between functional and comfortable with panache. As for the seat, Flight Hacks says it has “plenty of personal storage” (the ottoman doubles as a storage cabinet), a “fold up side panel” (to provide more width to the bed), a 15.4 inch TV and noise-cancelling Bose headphones.
Not bad. Also not bad (for Cathay Pacific) is that this announcement could never have been. As News.com.au also reported yesterday, “Qatar Airways was set to be the first airline to launch the new Airbus in Australia, but the launch of the plane on the Doha-Sydney route has been delayed until mid-November.”
Stephen Bradbury would be proud.
Anyway, if you’re interested, Cathay Pacific serves five destinations in Australia from Hong Kong – Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney – with a mix of Airbus A330-300s, A350-900s, A350-1000s and Boeing 777-300ERs offering business, premium economy and economy.
While the 777 is a damn good offering, here’s hoping we get the option of the A350-1000 one day in Sydney too.