The Definitive Guide to Cathay Pacific’s Direct Routes From The U.S. [Plane Types & Seat Options]

Full Disclosure: We may be compensated when you click on links to credit card products from our advertising partners, such as American Express, Chase, Citi & Capital One. Opinions on this site are ours alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by the issuer. See our Advertiser Disclosure for more details. Thanks!

Cathay Pacific is an airline that I personally get super excited about. The Hong Kong-based carrier is known for providing some of the best flights in the industry.

With such a rich heritage coming from the tiny sovereignty of Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific is known to cater especially to those who fly in the premium cabins.

Cathay Pacific’s first class boasts the widest first class seats in aviation, and it even trumps the famous Singapore Airlines new A380 Suites!

Since Hong Kong is such a hot business and tourist destination, we figured we’d give you the U.S. route offerings of Cathay Pacific to help you plan your trip to Hong Kong!

Cathay Pacific Seat Options by Aircraft Type

Cathay Pacific chiefly operates 4 planes on flights to/from the United States:

  • 777-300ER (4 class)
  • A350-900 (3 class)
  • A350-1000 (3 class)

There are two versions of the A350 operated by Cathay Pacific to/from America, but the seats are actually identical for the most part.

Check out the table below for an executive cheat sheet for the U.S. routes, planes operated on said routes, along with classes of service offered and frequency.

RouteFlight No.AircraftCabin ClassesFrequency
New York (JFK) – Vancouver (YVR) – Hong Kong (HKG)CX 865777-300ERFirst, Business, Premium Economy, EconomyDaily
New York (JFK) – Hong Kong (HKG)CX 831/841/845777-300ERFirst, Business, Premium Economy, Economy3x Daily
Los Angeles (LAX) – Hong Kong (HKG)CX 881/883/885777-300ERFirst, Business, Premium Economy, Economy3x Daily
San Francisco (SFO) – Hong Kong (HKG)CX 879/873777-300ERFirst, Business, Premium Economy, Economy2x Daily
San Francisco (SFO) – Hong Kong (HKG)CX 893A350-900Business, Premium Economy, EconomyDaily
Chicago (ORD) – Hong Kong (HKG)CX 807777-300ERFirst, Business, Premium Economy, EconomyDaily
Boston (BOS) – Hong Kong (HKG)CX 811777-300ERFirst, Business, Premium Economy, EconomyDaily
Newark (EWR) – Hong Kong (HKG)CX 899A350-900Business, Premium Economy, EconomyDaily
Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Hong Kong (HKG)CX 861A350-1000Business, Premium Economy, Economy4x Weekly
Seattle (SEA) – Hong Kong (HKG) {from April 1, 2019}CX 857A350-900Business, Premium Economy, Economy4x Weekly

Best Points to Earn to Fly Cathay Pacific

Without a doubt, using Alaska Airlines miles is the best option here. Alaska Airlines charges a paltry 70,000 miles one-way in first class and 50,000 miles one-way in business class.

Additionally, you’ll be able to add one stopover for absolutely free when using Alaska Airlines miles!

Also, check out our guide on earning lots of Alaska miles!

If you don’t have Alaska miles, other options include American Airlines AAdvantage miles, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, or British Airways Avios.

There’s tons of ways to earn Cathay Pacific miles in addition to American Airlines miles and British Airways Avios!

Now that we’ve summarized the routes offered by Cathay Pacific on various airplanes, let’s look into the nuances of each seat and cabin!

Cathay Pacific First Class Options

Cathay Pacific First Class Seat

As we’ve shown in the table above, Cathay Pacific operates their long-haul first class to the U.S. on the 777 only.

Not to fret, however — there are a total of 11 daily flights from 5 different airports where you can fly in Cathay Pacific first class!

Here’s the 6 routes on which you can fly Cathay Pacific first class:

  • New York City (JFK) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • New York City (JFK) – Vancouver (YVR) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Boston (BOS) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Chicago (ORD) – Hong Kong (HKG)

All of the first class cabins on the 777 share the same seating configuration: 2 rows in a 1-1-1 arrangement for a total of 6 first class seats.

These first class seats measure out at a whopping 36 inches wide and 81 inches in pitch. Cathay Pacific actually offers the widest first class seats in the world, trumping even the Singapore Airlines First Class Suites (new AND old!).

Honestly, you can comfortably fit up to 3 people in this one seat, which is nuts.

Here’s what the seat map looks like:

Cathay Pacific 777 First Seat Map
Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

Conventional wisdom says that you want to pick the first class seat with the most privacy. Seats 1A and 2A fit this description, as there is much less foot traffic (almost none).

Seats in D and K seats are open to each other, while there’s actually a wall to the left of the D seats — making A seats way more private.

If you’re traveling with a companion, you can actually dine together at the same seat, since the ottoman is actually a “buddy seat!

Here’s my personal order of preference for seating from most to least preferred:

  • 2A
  • 1A
  • 2K
  • 1K
  • 2D
  • 1D

Hot Tip: Need some help booking this product? Check out our epic guide on the best ways to book Cathay Pacific first class!

Cathay Pacific Business Class Options

Cathay Pacific Business Class
A great seat with direct aisle access. Image courtesy of cathaypacific.com.

Thinking of Cathay Pacific’s amazing first class product makes me drool. What also makes me think about glorious moments in the sky is Cathay Pacific business class!

Unlike first class, Cathay Pacific business class is offered on all of their U.S. flights. That is, these routes all offer Cathay Pacific business class:

  1. New York City (JFK) – Vancouver (YVR) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  2. New York City (JFK) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  3. Los Angeles (LAX) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  4. San Francisco (SFO) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  5. Boston (BOS) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  6. Newark (EWR) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  7. Chicago (ORD) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  8. Seattle (SEA) – Hong Kong (HKG) {starting on April 1, 2019}
  9. Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Hong Kong (HKG)

Although there are 3 different aircraft types operated by Cathay Pacific for U.S. flights, their business class seats are similar (with a few subtle caveats).

I’m going to assert that the 777 business class seats are superior to both A350s’ seats. Here’s why.

First, all business class seats are arranged in a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 configuration, which is pretty standard for long-haul flights.

However, seat pitch for the A350-900 and A350-1000 is around 20.2 inches, which is inferior to the 777’s 21 inches.

And bed length for the A350-900 and A350-1000 is 75 inches, which is inferior to the 777’s 81 inches.

Here’s what the seat map on the 777 looks like:

Cathay Pacific 777 Business Seat Map
Cathay Pacific 777 business seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

As you can see, there’s a mini-cabin with 2 rows of 8 seats total in the front of the plane, while the rest of the 45 seats are located further back. I’ll talk more about this momentarily.

This is what the A350-900 seat map looks like in business class:

Cathay Pacific A350-900 Business Class Seat Map
Cathay Pacific A350-900 business seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

In the A350-900, there’s still 2 cabins in business class, but the mini-cabin is located behind the main business class cabin. As a rule of thumb, you always want to sit in the mini cabin for the most privacy.

Here’s what the A350-1000 seat map looks like for business class travelers:

Cathay Pacific A350-1000 Business Class Seat Map
Cathay Pacific A350-1000 business seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

As you can see, the A350-1000 doesn’t separate the business class cabin into 2 separate cabins, so there’s less of a quality distinction among seats.

Let’s first talk about seats you should absolutely avoid:

  • Seats close to lavatories
  • Seats right next to galleys

Here’s how I would rank the planes from highest to lowest preference for Cathay Pacific business class:

  1. 777 (specifically row 11)
  2. A350-900 (specifically row 21)
  3. A350-1000 (specifically rows 12, 17, and 18 due to 2 windows in window seats)

Though the A350-1000 is quite technologically advanced, quieter, and offers better climate control than the 777-300ER, I would gladly deal with that in return for an optimal routing (Los Angeles for me) and an incrementally larger seat.

I would actually say that the 777 and A350-900 both have seats that are better than the rest of the cabin; however, with the A350-1000, there’s very little distinction between seats since they’re all in the same cabin together.

The 777 is operated on:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Chicago (ORD) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Boston (BOS) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • New York City (JFK) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • New York City (JFK) – Vancouver (YVR) – Hong Kong (HKG)

The A350-900 is operated on:

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Hong Kong (HKG) {only on CX 893}
  • Newark (EWR) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Seattle (SEA) – Hong Kong {starting on April 1, 2019}

Lastly, the A350-1000 is operated on a single route:

  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Hong Kong (HKG)

Bottom Line: For me, it all boils down to award availability and geographical location. Generally, award availability tends to be highest where there are many flights (i.e., LAX, SFO, and JFK). Sure, the 777 might be a bit larger and the A350-1000 more technologically advanced, but I care more about convenience. 

Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Options

Cathay Pacific Premium Economy
Cathay Pacific premium economy. Image courtesy of traveler.com.au.

Now that we’ve gone over first and business class, let’s discuss premium economy!

Cathay Pacific has a couple of seating arrangements for long-haul premium economy:

  1. A350-1000 (best)
    • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  2. A350-900 (fine)
    • Newark (EWR) – Hong Kong (HKG)
    • Seattle (SEA) – Hong Kong (HKG) {from April 1, 2019}
    • San Francisco (SFO) – Hong Kong (HKG) {only on CX 893}
  3. 777 (worst)
    • New York City (JFK) – Vancouver (YVR) – Hong Kong (HKG)
    • New York City (JFK) – Hong Kong (HKG)
    • Boston (BOS) – Hong Kong (HKG)
    • Chicago (ORD) – Hong Kong (HKG)
    • San Francisco (SFO) – Hong Kong (HKG) 
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Hong Kong (HKG)

To begin, the premium economy cabin is arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration. As we’ll discuss later, I would personally prefer to fly the A350-1000.

The 777 premium economy seat is 19.5 inches in width and 38 inches in pitch. This is smaller than the A350-900/A350-1000 premium economy seat, which measures up at 20 inches in width and 40 inches in pitch.

Also, all these seats offer up to 9 inches of recline, which makes these seats a bit more consistent.

Right off the bat, the 777 doesn’t offer an ideal seat size, so I would lean away from it. Also, the 777 has a total of 34 seats as follows:

Cathay Pacific 777 Premium Economy Seat Map
Cathay Pacific 777 premium economy seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

Let’s talk about the differences between the A350-900 and A350-1000 in premium economy.

I will say right off the bat that the A350-1000 is a much more efficient version of the A350-900.

The in-cabin setting is much more comfortable with better humidity/climate control, along with a lower carbon footprint.

Here’s what the 32 seats in premium economy on the A350-1000 look like :

Cathay Pacific A350-1000 Premium Economy Seat Map
Cathay Pacific A350-1000 premium economy seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

Notice that there are lavatories close to the premium economy cabin itself — this will become important shortly.

Let’s take a look at the 28-seat premium economy cabin on the A350-900:

Cathay Pacific A350-900 Premium Economy Seat Map
Cathay Pacific A350-900 premium economy seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com

There are no lavatories available for usage here unless you go all the way to the back of cabin…which is why I think the premium economy on the A350-1000 is better than the A350-900. You will also probably have delayed service considering how far the galley is from the actual cabin.

Bottom Line: Premium economy seats are largest on the A350. The inflight technology is best on the A350-1000. Along with the proximity/location of premium economy galleys and lavatories, this makes the A350-1000 the clear winner for Cathay Pacific’s long-haul premium economy from the U.S.

Cathay Pacific Economy Options

Cathay Pacific Economy A350-1000
Cathay Pacific economy A350-1000. Image courtesy of godsavethepoints.com.

Our last option after premium economy, business, and first class is economy! Though not as glamorous as the above products, it is highly economical and still offers great service if you want to fly on Cathay Pacific.

The interesting thing is that there’s quite a bit of variability on one issue: recline.

Here’s what I’m going to say about the ranking of economy on Cathay Pacific:

  1. A350-1000 (best)
  2. A350-900 (fine)
  3. 777 (worst)

There are 182 seats in the 777 economy cabin, 214 seats in the A350-900 economy cabin, and 256 seats in the A350-1000 economy cabin.

The 777 actually has the widest seats, sitting at 18.5 inches in width and 32 inches in pitch. While it is very comfortable sitting straight up, the recline is limited to only 4 inches!

Here’s what the 777 economy cabin looks like:

Cathay Pacific 777 Economy Seat Map
Cathay Pacific 777 economy seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

That, along with the fact that the A350 is a more technologically advanced aircraft leads us to rank the 777’s economy seat as the “worst.”

Pivoting to the A350-900… let’s examine the cabin seat map:

Cathay Pacific A350-900 Economy Seat Map
Cathay Pacific A350-900 economy seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

Hot Tip: Note that on the A350-900, Seats 60A, 60K, and outsides of row 40 (ABC, HJK) might be great because of the extra legroom they afford you. 

Let’s quickly look at our winner…the A350-1000:

Cathay Pacific A350-1000 Economy Seat Map
Cathay Pacific A350-1000 economy seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

The seat maps on the A350-1000 and the A350-900 are pretty similar.

The A350-900 and A350-1000 are both slightly narrower at 18 inches in width and 32 inches in pitch. But the recline is up to 6 inches! This 50% increase in recline is HUGE!

To me, recline is the most important part of a long-haul economy flight, because it drastically increases my comfort in already cramped seats.

Making things even better, the A350 is a more comfortable aircraft, which means this particular ranking is pretty easy.

Find the A350-1000 on the 4x weekly Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Hong Kong (HKG) route!

As far as the A350-900 goes, we’ve shown above which routes use this aircraft, but we’ll summarize again below:

  • Newark (EWR) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Seattle (SEA) – Hong Kong (HKG) {from April 1, 2019}
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Hong Kong (HKG) {only on CX 893}

And though we wouldn’t recommend its economy class, the 777 flies from:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Boston (BOS) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • New York City (JFK) – Vancouver (YVR) – Hong Kong (HKG)
  • New York City (JFK) – Hong Kong (HKG)

The only downside to the A350 products is that they have many more economy seats to choose from. If you have the option, here’s what we recommend.

Pick these seats on the A350-1000:

  • 60A/K (tons of extra legroom due to missing seat in front)
  • 40A/B/C and 40H/J/K (bulkhead seat with more legroom)

Pick these seats on the A350-900:

  • 60A/K (tons of extra legroom due to missing seat in front)
  • 40A/B/C and 40H/J/K (bulkhead seat with more legroom)

Pick these seats on the 777-300ER:

  • 40C (extra legroom due to missing seat in front)
  • 40D/E/G (exit the plane first)

Bottom Line: When flying Cathay Pacific economy, try to fly on the A350 — particularly in the seats listed above! 

Final Thoughts

Cathay Pacific has some stellar first and business class products! They’ve got an industry-leading seat size in first class and a solid business class product that lives up to expectations.

Their premium economy and economy seats are also worth mentioning, and you can set yourself up for success by picking the right aircraft and/or seats.

We specifically spoke about their U.S. routes — they have a series of daily flights from major hubs in the U.S., including Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), and New York City (JFK).

All flights go between Hong Kong and America with the exception of the 5th freedom route between New York City (JFK) and Vancouver (YVR), which you can enjoy for just 35,000 Alaska miles each way!

Now you’ll have a great resource to use when looking at possible routes and awards with Cathay Pacific!


Featured Image: Courtesy of Cathay Pacific

FAQ

What are the best ways to book Cathay Pacific first class?

Generally, we love using Alaska Airlines miles for Cathay Pacific First Class redemptions. They simply have world-class redemption rates and an excellent stopover policy.

You can fly first class between America and Hong Kong for 70,000 Alaska miles one-way, and can also add a stopover!

Other options include American Airlines and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.

What are the best ways to book Cathay Pacific business class?

Alaska Airlines is an excellent way to book Cathay Pacific business class. Their redemption rates are 50,000 miles one-way for flights between the U.S. and Hong Kong. You can also add in a free stopover.

Other options include American Airlines for 70,000 miles each way, or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.

What are the best ways to book Cathay Pacific premium economy class?

You may use Alaska miles, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, or Japan Airlines miles to book premium economy. Alaska Airlines charges 35,000 miles each way in premium economy.

Asia Miles uses a distance-based award chart. To fly from SFO, LAX, or SEA in premium economy will cost 45,000 Asia miles each way. Otherwise, it will cost 60,000 miles. Keep in mind this is all at the lowest-level “standard award” pricing.

Alternatively, you can use Japan Airlines miles, which will run 59,000 miles one-way and from 77,000 miles round-trip if flying from Seattle or San Francisco. Otherwise, round-trip pricing is 94,000 miles in premium economy from cities like Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Boston, Newark, New York, and Chicago.

What are the best ways to book Cathay Pacific economy class?

The best way to book Cathay Pacific economy is with Alaska miles again. It costs 30,000 miles one-way or 60,000 miles round-trip.

With Japan Airlines miles, you can book economy for 45,000 miles one-way or 55,000 miles round-trip from Seattle and San Francisco. Other further cities will cost 70,000 miles round-trip.

With Asia Miles, you can book one-way for 30,000 miles if originating from Seattle, San Francisco, or Los Angeles. From Chicago, Boston, Newark, Washington, D.C., or New York City will cost 42,000 miles each way.

With British Airways, you’ll pay 35,000-50,000 Avios plus $103, depending on your origination airport. It costs 35,000 Avios each way from Seattle, Los Angeles, Newark, New York City, and San Francisco. It costs 50,000 Avios each way from Boston and Washington, D.C.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels, thanks to his love for travel hacking. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. Within 2 years, Stephen has earned millions of points and miles, enjoyed several business class cabins, and stayed in luxury hotel suites in 14 countries.

These travel secrets can be life-changing...

What if you & your family could explore more of the world than you ever thought possible - without blowing your savings?

Discover the real-life strategies that anyone can use to enjoy limitless travel (even on a limited budget!)

Just sign up below and we'll send you the Limitless Travel Playbook instantly:

We respect your privacy. Please view our privacy policy here.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

4 comments

  1. Mike W · April 30, 2019 · Reply

    Great write up, thanks for info!

    • Again, thanks so much for saying so, Mike! We’re glad you’re a reader and hope you continue to enjoy the content here at UP!

  2. Issac Reisman · June 24, 2019 · Reply

    Do you think aa sfo trascon jfk business is better then yvr-JFK cx business?

    • Stephen Au · June 27, 2019 · Reply

      Hey Isaac,

      In my opinion, YVR-JFK CX business is equivalent to AA SFO-JFK in Flagship First Class. So, YVR-JFK CX business class is certainly superior to AA SFO-JFK in Flagship Business Class. Thanks for reading!

Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

Email needed if you'd like comment updates. It will NOT be published.

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. For more information on our advertisers, see here.