Ouch: Cathay Pacific Is Replacing Their Brand New A350 Business Class Seats

Filed Under: Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific is in the process of refreshing their longhaul fleet, and in the past year has started taking delivery of some new Airbus A350 aircraft. They’ve taken a delivery of a total of 13 of 22 A350-900 aircraft that they have on order, and then over the coming years they’ll also take delivery of 26 A350-1000s.

The new A350s feature a refreshed business class product and wifi, so if you’re flying with Cathay Pacific in business class, this is the plane to go with.

Cathay Pacific A350

Cathay Pacific has reverse herringbone seats in business class throughout their longhaul fleet, and the A350s are no different. However, the A350 seats are slightly updated, so the design should be a bit better.

Cathay Pacific’s 777 business class

Unfortunately Cathay Pacific is having issues with these seats, to the point that they’re ripping out the seats on their first three A350s, and replacing them altogether. AusBT reports that over the coming months Cathay Pacific will replace the business class seats on their first three A350s, a process that will take a few weeks per plane, and should be completed by mid-year:

“Zodiac has agreed to replace all business class seats on the first three A350 aircraft to join the Cathay fleet,” James Evans, Cathay Pacific’s General Manager of Product, confirmed to Australian Business Traveller.

“The first three (aircraft) have the most acute issues with the finishing,” Evans explained, “so next month we will take all the business class seats out of the very first A350-900 and put in a whole new set.”

The remaining A350s will also see updates made, though the seats don’t have to be replaced altogether:

“With the fourth (A350) right up until the tenth there are still issues, that is true. But the engineering team remedy those issues and bring those seats back to a state that we are satisfied with and which meets our product specification.”

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but Cathay Pacific’s A350 business class seats are produced by Zodiac. That’s the same seat manufacturer that United is having issues with, and also the same seat manufacturer that American recently had issues with.

This is really embarrassing for Zodiac. There really isn’t enough competition in the seat manufacturing industry, at least among seat manufacturers that have the capacity to produce seats in large quantities…

  1. I flew LGW-HKG last month and the seat arm was broken and the padded trim which forms part of the bed had started to come away. I thought the seats appeared in quite poor shape considering their age.

  2. On some level the UA and AA problems were not all that surprising since they each went with a design that was basically unique to that carrier. Cathay’s A350 seat is a different story, as it’s basically a slight update of the Cirrus seat that has been in service with Cathay about five years now, and with other carriers (and with US for even longer, in the first generation of this seat), and as far as I know there haven’t been reports of massive problems. So it’s rather amazing that Zodiac got this so wrong.

  3. I’m flying the A350 this Thursday from YVR-HKG and am very curious to see these seats for myself after reading numerous reports of poor quality finishes. Excited about the wifi though!

  4. Tyler:

    Just did that exact route Thursday last week and the seat was perfectly fine (of course will likely depend for you which craft they’re flying that day). Much better experience than the 777 I flew back on.

    Oh and yes, the WiFi was great to have. Works all the way across China.

  5. How is Zodiac still in business? How can the BoD of any airline not immediately terminate for cause any executive that OKs a purchase agreement with these fools. One screwup…it happens, two…well that’s a growing concern, three and beyond I have no sympathy for anyone who bought from them. Is there a seat deal recently that Zodiac HASN’T screwed up?

  6. I flew shorthaul SGN-HKG in these seats just a few weeks ago and was very unimpressed – the finishes were indeed coming apart at the edges, and oddly the planners appear to have eliminated some storage space in the new design vs the 77G/77W although perhaps that is because the 359 is a narrower fuselage. Fwiw the overhead bins above one row on the return were also sealed shut with duct tape (although that is not Zodiac’s fault) so overall I was rather shocked at the condition of a plane that is only a few months old, especially on CX which normally is pretty good about cleanliness/aircraft condition. Teething problems…

  7. All things considered, the type of seats installed in their aircraft are the least of UA’s worries.

  8. Flew AKL-HKG back in February and CX had to use what seemed to me cello-tape to hold the parts together. Also the arm rest would not extend upward after pulling the lever. I was very unimpressed given the age of these plane and feel sorry for those paying for revenue ticket.

  9. The Cirrus seat CX has on their aircraft is a custom design for CX that AA happened to license.

  10. I flew one of the first flights in the Cathay A350 and even then there were significant problems. Why did zodiac provide this but more importantly why did Cathay accept this?

  11. Agreed. How Zodiac seems to screw up time and time again and still be in business is beyond me. They really must have an amazing sales team going on over there.

  12. I flew HKG – BKK a couple months after the 350 released and was perfectly happy with the seats. Other than the door to the headphones being a pain to open, which I chalked up as a small inconvenience, they were fine. I can’t believe they worn down so badly and so quickly they already have to be replaced!

  13. @Anthony

    Try reading the article again, it’s the seats on the 3 planes delivered first that has the worst problems.

    Chances are that you were on a plane delivered latter.

  14. Flew with CX to Singapore in December on the A350 in business and there were a lot of seat issues, especially with the extra bits they added to make the bed slightly wider, but also with the arm rest not working on several seats. The “wood” finish on the tables were also peeling off, so I’m not surprised that they’re already having to refurbish the planes. Otherwise it’s a really nice seat and plane.

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