With its inaugural flight A321neo to Shanghai-Pudong on 4 August, Cathay Pacific will break through a number of milestones. It brings single-aisle aircraft into the fleet, something of a necessity given the shuttering of the Cathay Dragon brand last year. It also delivers firsts on the in-flight entertainment and connectivity fronts.
We’re incredibly excited to see our next-generation A321neo take to the skies for the first time next month as we continue to add more passenger services in the region. The single-aisle A321neo is the newest addition to our fleet and has been designed and fitted with an array of new features that offer the most enjoyable short-haul experience in the world to our customers.– Chief Executive Officer Augustus Tang
What to expect on board the Cathay Pacific A321neo
Cathay fits 202 seats on board its A321neo, with 12 in a 2-2 business class and 190 in a 3-3 economy layout.
The business class seats offer a a cocoon-like feel in a hard-shell recliner seat with divider screens for maximum privacy. They stop short of flat-bed options that some carriers are installing on their newer single-aisle aircraft. Given the current max flight duration just under four hours the seats should be sufficient, especially relative to the regional competition Cathay faces.
In Economy the seats feature a generous recline, comfortable seat cushions and new adjustable headrests.
Even with the new seating products on board Cathay appears to be more focused on the other benefits passengers might experience on board, including the new IFE/C systems.
A global first for In-Flight Entertainment
Passengers will see the new screens at their seat – 15.6″ for business class and 11.6″ for economy – featuring 4K Ultra High Definition capabilities.
Bluetooth pairing is also available nose-to-tail on the Cathay A321neo. Much like the 4K screen move, access to this technology appears to be the de facto standard for airlines moving forward.
Cathay joins United Airlines (on its new 737 MAX 8 and coming to 500+ planes over the next 4ish years) and Qatar Airways (on the 787-9) with Bluetooth throughout the cabin.
Passengers in both cabins have access to USB-A and USB-C power. In economy class the USB ports sit below the screens, adjacent to the headphone jacks. In business class the power is in the media pocket of the seat back in front. A 110V universal power outlet is also available to passengers in business class, mounted between the two seats.
Read more: Now boarding: Bluetooth audio connections
Just how much 4K content is available to passengers, however, remains to be seen. The company promises “a new and enhanced content selection providing one of the largest movie and TV libraries available on a regional single-aisle aircraft.” The content will be managed in partnership with Anuvu.
A connectivity milestone, too
Cathay chose the Intelsat 2Ku solution (known as Gogo 2Ku when the contract was signed). That connectivity hardware is now being installed at the Airbus factory rather than an after-market conversion. While this has been known for several months now, it is still a big step for the 2Ku solution.
Cathay Pacific notes that the system will be “introduced progressively” across the planes, though it is unclear what might require delays in the activation.
The routes selected
Yes, Shanghai is first for the new aircraft. But the Cathay A321neo will also serve Taipei on its first day of service. Flights to Kaohsiung are scheduled as well, and both Taiwan destinations remain in operation one some days through the end of August. The Shanghai service is a one-off flight, switching back to a A333, 777 or A350 depending on the day of week.
The A321neo will also visit Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, and Qingdao during August. Only 50 total flights are scheduled for the four A321neo aircraft in Cathay’s fleet during the month.
Flights for the A321neo beyond August do not yet appear in public schedules.
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