Cathay Pacific Shifts Chicago Flights To A350, Cuts First Class

Filed Under: Cathay Pacific

We’ve seen Cathay Pacific tweak their route network and capacity quite a bit in recent months, due to the ongoing impacts of the protests that we’ve seen in Hong Kong.

Well, the airline has just loaded a pretty noteworthy schedule change, which will have some implications for many passengers.

Cathay Pacific will fly A350-1000 to Chicago

It appears that Cathay Pacific will be flying an A350-1000 on their Hong Kong to Chicago route between June 1 and October 24, 2020. Currently the airline exclusively flies 777-300ERs on the route.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER

That’s a period of nearly five months, though I wouldn’t necessarily assume that this is a temporary aircraft swap — late October coincides with the end of the summer schedule, and it’s normal for airlines to only update schedules one “season” at a time.

It’s certainly possible that the flight goes back to a 777-300ER at that point, though personally I wouldn’t be surprised to see the A350-1000 maintained on the route.

For what it’s worth, Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 fleet continues to grow, as the airline has just taken delivery of about a dozen of the 20 of these planes that they have on order.

Cathay Pacific A350-1000

What are the implications of this aircraft swap?

No more first class

The biggest implication here is that the route will no longer feature first class. Cathay Pacific currently uses a four cabin 777-300ER on the route, while none of Cathay Pacific’s A350s have first class.

That’s a shame, because historically Chicago has been the easiest route for finding Cathy Pacific first class award availability… which might also explain why it’s being cut.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER first class cabin

Read a review of Cathay Pacific’s 777-300ER first class.

The good news

For just about everyone else I’d say this aircraft swap is good news. The A350-1000:

  • Is a joy to fly in general; it’s quiet, modern, spacious, and has a cool tail camera
  • Has Cathay Pacific’s newest and freshest business class seats
  • Has nine abreast seating in economy, while Cathay Pacific is in the process of installing 10 seats per row in economy on their 777s

Cathay Pacific A350-1000 business class cabin

Read a review of Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 business class.

Bottom line

Cathay Pacific will be flying an A350 to Chicago, rather than the typical 777, at least for this upcoming summer season. This is bad news if you were booked in first class (or planning to book first class), while I’d say it’s good news for everyone else.

I really do love the A350-1000 as a plane, so if flying business class I’d go out of my way to book this route on Cathay Pacific.

(Tip of the hat to Will)

  1. I currently have 3 seats in J booked this September SEA-HKG and returning HKG-SFO. Not long after I booked it I got an email that there was a schedule change and I was moved to the previous day. Fully expecting more issues…

  2. Ugh….I just paid a change fee to upgrade one of two seats into First using Alaska miles on this route in Nov on the way home from our honeymoon in S. Africa. Hope they go back to a 777.

  3. As someone who regularly flies that route in premium economy, this is a godsend. Of the OW airlines I’ve flown in PE (CX, BA, AA, QF), CX’s 777 product is easily the worst – with awful food, nearly nonexistent service, terrible seats, and no wifi. While this won’t fix everything, better seats and wifi will make the trip a lot more tolerable.

  4. This sucks. I’ve flown this route five times in first cl. I absolutely loved it! First cl availability using AA miles has been a trickle in the last 10 months, though. Business cl availability has been reasonably good.

  5. Was booked in Sept. got a double whammy. There are a handful of days in the fall where the route isn’t being flown. I was booked on one of those days. They sent a schedule change putting me on the next day, but still in first. Looked up the booking and now in J on A350. No notices sent on class downgrade yet.

  6. Post Oct 1 JFK is cut to 1.5 flights a day (11 a week), daytime flt on 77W, red eye (ex JFK) flight 4 times a week on 359, i.e. no FC on that flight either

  7. on which Routes are they putting these freed up 777 with F Cabin? More regionals where we can the pick those seats flying business?

  8. I see this as a mixed blessing. If you fly the route regularly and tend to upgrade to first, you obviously will be disappointed. Newer airplane, newer seats, wifi…even without first, I’d say this is a cautious win for customers, particularly if you fly PE.

  9. What’s more interesting is the trimming of premium cabins across the board. F 6 to 0, J 53 to 46, PE 34 to 32. This comes even after UA pulled out of ORD-HKG.

  10. This is great for me. Flying MEL-HKG-ORD on CX in J in July, so I’m really excited to fly on the 351.

  11. Cathay first is one of my absolute favourites but I would change F on a 77W for business on an A350 every time.

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