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Like Singapore Airlines, Emirates and a few smaller carriers, Cathay Pacific operates a fleet exclusively comprised of wide-body aircraft, including the 777-300ER (77W) and now the Airbus A350-900, which are used for the airline’s longest intercontinental flights.
Currently, only the 77W operates flights to the US, though the A350 is used for select flights to Vancouver (YVR). Come October 29, however, Cathay will begin flying this brand-new aircraft to two airports in the United States: San Francisco (SFO), as previously announced, and Newark (EWR).
While the A350 offers fewer seats than the three-cabin 77Ws flying to Newark today, I think it represents a big upgrade on the comfort and amenity front, as it offers:
- In-Flight Wi-Fi (full-flight passes cost $19.95)
- Updated business-class seat
- Quieter, more comfortable cabin
- Fewer passengers (smoother boarding, deplaning, etc.)
Of course, that final bullet could translate to less award availability, with 38 business-class seats, 28 premium-economy seats and 214 coach seats (compared to 40, 32 and 268, respectively). Either way, there’s no question that this plane offers a superior experience to your other nonstop Newark option, United’s (fairly dated) 777-200, with 2-2-2 lie-flat seats in biz.
You have several options to redeem miles for these Cathay flights:
- American AAdvantage — 37,500 economy; 70,000 business
- Alaska Mileage Plan — 30,000 economy; 35,000 premium economy; 50,000 business
- British Airways Avios — 35,000 economy; 70,000 premium economy; 105,000 business
Economy and premium economy awards are widely available, though business class can be difficult to come by on this route, except for last-minute travel:
While fewer seats on the plane may mean fewer awards than we see on the 77W today, Cathay also offers up to three daily nonstop flights to JFK (plus one that stops at YVR), so there should still be enough to go around.
Have you flown Cathay Pacific’s A350?
Know before you go.
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