Cathay Pacific now blocking many premium seats for OneWorld Emerald members

While Cathay Pacific only allows seat assignments six months in advance, I’ve always appreciated that they don’t do much seat blocking, so premium cabin seat assignments are more or less on a first come first serve basis.

However, it looks like they’ve recently designated a lot of seats as “premium” seats, and made them only available to OneWorld Emerald members. These seats are designated with a “P” on ExpertFlyer, and would show as occupied if you’re looking at the seatmap directly through Cathay Pacific.

In 747 first class they’re just blocking the last row, which isn’t too bad:

The 777 first class blocking is a bit worse, as they block the four good (window) seats:

They also do quite a bit of blocking in business class. On the 747 they block some seemingly random seats:

While on the 777 they block the mini-cabin, which is a favorite among business class travelers:

Probably good news for those that are OneWorld Emerald members (since there will be less competition for these seats), while it’s not good news for others.

Filed Under: Cathay Pacific
  1. Incidentally when booking award travel, and even if you are a oneworld emerald, CX agents may not know they can put you in those seats. I got frustrated recently trying to grab the seats I wanted on an American-issued award as an Executive Platinum and had to escalate much higher than a call center to solve.

  2. @ Gary — Did you try calling American? Seems they can request those seats and they come back confirmed, which seems like the easiest option (especially given how long hold times can be with Cathay Pacific).

  3. The post title made me think that they were disallowing Emeralds from selecting premium seats (“blocking premium seats for OneWorld Emeralds”), rather than making the seats available exclusively to Emeralds.

  4. @ James — Whoops, sorry about that!

    @ NR — Specific seats aren’t made available for award tickets, so there’s no implications here as to there being any availability changes. Keep in mind that day of you should be able to select whichever seats you want.

  5. With Cathay are you able to reserve an award seat more than 6 months prior by calling either Cathay or American as an EXP? What do they mean by 6 months prior, 180 days or for example say your flight leaves the June 6th so I can call and request to reserve my seat December 6th?

  6. Gary,

    Not sure my experience matches this. I’m on a revenue ticket hkg-jfk later in the week in biz as an AA plat. I was able to go onto the CX website and reserve 12K – a premium seat. I reserved this seat ~6 days until departure.

  7. We redeemed AVios for a CX flight in Business in July. When we asked at HKG airport if we could do seating assignments for our flight home the check in agent took a look and told us no as they were redemption bookings.

  8. Of course another issue with CX is the revolving aircraft types that are scheduled. Some have a F section and some don’t and some with F are not staffed.

  9. are the 1D and 2D seats on B777 really that bad? i don’t have status so i am afraid i will get stuck in one of them since that’s all i can select now… not sure what will be available 24 hrs before flight.
    is it a much worse experience?

  10. This has actually been the case for nearly six months…nothing new to see here. That being said, I’ve had no trouble calling and asking for the window seats on 777s…just last week I got 1A and 2A assigned on a BA award ticket with no oneworld status at all.

  11. Other than not having a window seat, they are great as all the seats and service is the same.

    Howver, on LAX-HKG, there are some amazing early morning views over Siberia.

  12. I feel kinda bad for non-emeralds as I’ve never failed to get my first or second choice seat in CX F so don’t see it as a necessary benefit for myself. I would be very annoyed if I wasn’t able to get a window seat on award redemptions as an emerald though.

    Just don’t reserve a seat if all that is available are the Ds. There is a decent chance some other non-status people will assign those and you can get a window seat at check-in.

  13. @ Nolan — Yes, you can reserve an award seat more than six months out (you can do it 11+ months out, actually), you just can’t select a specific seat assignment till six months out.

    @ Gary — Well I guess that will do the trick as well. 😀

  14. @ Lantean — Agree with BrewerSEA. That being said, even the center seats are awesome, so don’t think you’re somehow getting an “awful” seat. But if all that were available for assignments was a middle seat I just wouldn’t assign a seat.

  15. I was able to get my non-status parents assigned to 2D and 2K on the 773ER. In my experience, calling CX will get you the seats you want, with the caveat that they will warn you about the bassinet seats (2A and 2K on the 773ER).

  16. @ Ryan – thanks for the tip. CX just gave me 1A on 777 for my non-status mother-in-law. Might have just got lucky with the agent but it was very simple.

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