Cathay Pacific’s A321neo Business Class Revealed

Filed Under: Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific’s very first Airbus A321neo has just been (unofficially) unveiled, and I’m not sure whether I find the exterior or interior more interesting.

Why Cathay Pacific is getting A321neos

For decades, Cathay Pacific has exclusively operated a wide body fleet. However, that changed with very little notice, as it was recently announced that Cathay Dragon will be integrated into Cathay Pacific.

For context, Cathay Dragon is Cathay Pacific’s wholly owned regional subsidiary, primarily focusing on mainland China routes. Due to everything going on, Cathay Pacific decided it made sense to merge the two brands, meaning the “Dragon” branding will cease to exist.

While Cathay Dragon primarily flew Airbus A330s (which have similar cabins to what you’ll find on Cathay Pacific), Cathay Dragon also flew narrow body jets.

Cathay Dragon had 16 A321neos on order, which are now going to Cathay Pacific. The last time that Cathay Pacific operated narrow body planes was in 1983, when the airline retired its Boeing 707s.

First A321neo in Cathay Pacific livery

Isn’t it funny how our minds work? As an aviation geek I love different airlines’ liveries. I’ve quite liked Cathay Pacific’s current livery, even if it’s not the most exciting. Part of that is probably that I find the A350 and 777 to be especially gorgeous aircraft, and those are the backbone of Cathay Pacific’s long haul fleet.

Seriously, are these beauties, or beauties?

Cathay Pacific A350

Cathay Pacific 777

Now we have our first look at a Cathay Pacific A321neo.

I can’t decide whether I like it, dislike it, or just find it to be strange. To me it doesn’t look right. The plane looks like it’s not big enough to have Cathay Pacific’s livery on it. For some reason the livery looks outdated to me on the A321, while it looks perfectly nice on the A350.

I don’t know, maybe if the plane spends enough time flexing its wings, it’ll grow up to look like its older siblings?

Singapore Airlines also recently unveiled its first narrow body in its current livery, as the Singapore Airlines and SilkAir brands are being merged. By comparison, I actually love the Singapore Airlines livery on the 737.

Cathay Pacific A321neo business class

We now also have our first look at Cathay Dragon’s new A321neo business class seat, which the airline has been tight-lipped about up until now. We knew the airline would install an updated regional business class seat.

For context, below is Cathay Pacific’s current regional business class product.

Cathay Pacific’s current business class seat

Cathay Pacific’s current business class seat

Meanwhile below is the new Cathay Pacific A321neo regional business class seat.

A321neos will feature 12 business class seats, in a 2-2 configuration. As you can see, there still won’t be flat beds, but the seats will feature significantly more privacy than the old product.

This is the same type of seat that Oman Air selected for its Boeing 737 MAX 8s, though obviously airlines can customize finishes, so they’re not identical.

Oman Air 737 MAX 8 business class seat

I have a few thoughts on the new Cathay Pacific A321neo business class seat:

  • Since these planes will primarily be used for short flights, this business class product is good enough, even though I don’t love the shell seat design
  • On the one hand I appreciate the added privacy over the old seat, though it also looks like the privacy partition doesn’t go all the way back, so some people may not love this if traveling with others
  • I’m a little confused about the need for the shoulder strap for a fully forward facing seat, especially since Oman Air doesn’t have it

Bottom line

The first A321neo in Cathay Pacific’s livery has now been spotted. I love Cathay Pacific and love the carrier’s livery, but it’ll take some getting used to seeing the livery on a narrow body aircraft.

Not only that, but we’ve also caught our first glimpse of Cathay Pacific’s new regional business class seat. It features more privacy than the old seat, but isn’t revolutionary.

What do you make of Cathay Pacific’s A321neo, in terms of the livery and business class seat?

  1. Yawn. Not looking to longhaul narrowbody flights on cx. OneWorld has really gone downhill since i started flying in 2011. JAL, cx, ba, aa all in shambles.

  2. Might not be revolutionary for regional business/domestic first, but can be considered a revolutionary premium economy if this is just a glimpse of what they come up with for their upcoming product on their 779s. I’d say it’s evolutionary if not revolutionary.

  3. I have the opposite opinion on the liveries. I like that Cathay did a better job of scaling their name on the side of the single-aisle while on Singapore I think it’s ridiculous that their name runs over the wing.

  4. I think the problem of the A321 in CX livery not looking that great is due to the look of the A321 itself. The A321 looks rough around the edges to me. Just not an elegant plane (unlike the 757)

  5. @INS Vikrant – They’re not going to be for longhaul flights… the narrowbodies are for the shorthaul flights previously operated by Cathay Dragon.

  6. @Lucky..maybe post pics of the old Cathay Dragon A321 J seat for reference (not A330) and compare the pitch (if you have that info)? The new one certainly looks better/more private and both old & new seats are a lot better than US domestic first class.

  7. @ Trey — The A321 and A330 have the same seat, so the A330 seat I posted is also the one on A321s. We can’t compare pitch yet because Cathay Pacific hasn’t published anything about the new seat. We’re just going off leaked pictures here. As soon as we have more info I’ll do an in-depth comparison.

  8. Livery on the A321neo would work better if the pale green stripe along the fuselage were a bit narrower. Adjust it to the smaller scale. Now it just seems out of proportion. Tail and title look fine.

  9. Hi Lucky,

    From things I’ve learned before the shoulder strap is a requirement mainly based on the pitch of the seat and distance to next seat or bulkhead. It’s required if there is too much distance in front of you, ie to the bulkhead/seat in front of you. Requirements also depend on aviation regulatory authority.

  10. I like the new livery. It’s not complicated nor cluttered. The new colors are great and the vertical stabilizer logo in various blues is striking. I’m a big fan of the emerging design trend toward less colors and minimalist livery features. And the business class seats look great for short flights.

  11. I actually prefer the CX livery on 321. The color combination of SQ seems a bit too “heavy” for a narrow body plane.

  12. @DLPTATL

    I much preferred Singapore’s livery prior to the introduction of the A380. Sure, the titles could’ve been bigger back then, but not to the extent of what they have now. Same thing with Korean.

    Back to CXs livery, they played it safe. It could’ve been better, but it could’ve also been worse. Everything blended together in the previous livery. Like everything was in their proper place. Now, it’s kind of messy like with the logo on the tail. On the tail and winglets, it’s white on a green background, while it’s green on the fuselage. And the grey stripe seems redundant now. At least either move the titles below the window or move the stipe above.

  13. With the official merger happening the question is when can we start booking former Cathay Dragon flights with Alaska miles?

  14. Cathay Dragon would typically have a Captain living in Hong Kong and a student pilot from anywhere around the world. I guess this is also seeing some former captains and senior pilots leaving HKG, seeking a retirement in a different environment after being locked-down for 18 months.

  15. @Lucky

    EVA’s 787 Business has an all forward facing cabin yet still uses shoulder straps, so not sure what one has to do with the other.

  16. The implementation of shoulder harness has nothing to do with the direction the passenger is facing. Instead, it has to do with whether the passenger would be protected in an impact without becoming a projectile and hurting themselves in the process.

  17. My favorite is still the 747, any version. Beautiful design and a piece of Aviation history. CX First up in the nose was a wonderful place to fly.

  18. With the changes occurring in HKG now I wouldn’t be surprised to se CX fly into the sunset and emerge as an awful mainland Chinese communist.

  19. Hong Kong, be like Singapore. No freedom of speech, press, or public assembly but better airport and airlines and houses too. CCP is the next PAP. Go integrate and don’t be brainwashed.

  20. I prefer the CX livery. The colors from SQ are too bold, specially the blue and yellow stripe across the fuselage which doesn’t looks nice.

  21. It’s sad to watch all of their fleet arrive day after day at Alice Springs airport – Perhaps they were afraid the Communist Party of China may take illegal possession of them if left sitting in HKG – nah I get the desert thing

  22. Hey Ben, I’m with you on the livery, preferred the Singapore Airlines livery over Cathay’s, SQ’s livery looks sleek and classy to me, some might say it’s too bold but that’s what caught my attention. CX’s livery on the other hand looks dull and dated, kinda like a “grandma”. It feels a little messy too, the colour on the fin doesn’t complement the rest of the aircraft, the logo on the fin is huge (Yes all airlines are the same) but the name of the airline is too small and then there’s a smaller logo again below the pilot’s window, not to mention they probably might put the One World alliance logo somewhere as well. I guess it’s because the A321neo is a smaller aircraft that makes everything looks out of proportion.

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