Qantas vs Cathay Pacific in Premium Economy

Cathay Pacific Premium Economy seats
Cathay Pacific Premium Economy seats

More and more airlines are now offering Premium Economy on their long-haul flights. But not all Premium Economy products were created equal. With some airlines, passengers receive little more than a wider seat with more legroom – a marginal improvement over Economy. But with other airlines, the better seat is accompanied by a “soft product” that’s closer to Business Class.

Ahead of a trip to Johannesburg, one AFF member is considering whether to book Premium Economy on Qantas or Cathay Pacific. How do the two airlines compare in this class of travel?

I am interested to know about the comparison between the premium economy products on offer at QF and CX. also interested to know if I can get lounge access etc through CX (QFF WP)

I need to go to Johannesburg and those paying my airfare will only stump up for Premium Economy. Their preference is CX (don’t ask why). The CX flights from BNE to Johannesburg actually aren’t too bad time wise and I could jag a stop over in Hong Kong too …

Our members agree that Qantas provides a better “soft product” in Premium Economy. With Cathay Pacific, many of the meals are the same as those served in Economy – although there are printed menus and more drinks are available. A pre-departure beverage is also offered on long-haul Cathay Pacific Premium Economy flights.

The Qantas experience, by comparison, is closer to Business than Economy. Qantas has a special menu for Premium Economy passengers with high-quality dishes and a wide range of drinks available. And, while this can depend on the crew, the service on Qantas is arguably more personable.


CX is Y+ (only seat & leg room is bigger, same food & drink as Y)

QF is J- (superior product)

However, some AFF member prefer the seat on Cathay Pacific. They find the Cathay Premium Economy seats more comfortable and easier to sleep in. With that in mind, some suggest choosing Qantas for day flights and Cathay Pacific for night flights where sleep is a priority.

I rate the new generation CX PE seat above QF’s for comfort and IFE.

The hard product CX is better, but soft product QF is better. Which might help with the decision around when you’re flying.Day flight i’d pick QF, night flight I’d pick CX.

Keep in mind that Qantas has installed new Premium Economy seats on its Boeing 787 Dreamliners. These seats will also be installed on the Airbus A380 fleet when the refurbishments (eventually) begin. The newer style of Qantas Premium Economy seats have attracted criticism for their lack of legroom.

Qantas 787 Premium Economy seats
Qantas 787 Premium Economy seats

Would you choose Qantas or Cathay Pacific in Premium Economy? Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: QF vs CX Premium Economy


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

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