Economy Long-Haul Flights Aren’t That Bad on Cathay Pacific – A Humbling Lesson

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I just came back from Hong Kong on Saturday and ended up taking Cathay Pacific… economy class.  I initially booked economy class as a placeholder, hoping to pay the extra miles for business or first class. However, my plan ultimately failed because Cathay Pacific now rarely releases last minute business or first class on Fridays and Saturdays.  I could have gone on business class if I flew Singapore Airlines or first class if I flew Korean Airlines, but both flights would require an overnight stay.  In the end, my schedule was tight and I needed to get back on Saturday.  My friend and I decided that a nonstop economy flight was better than a connecting business class flight.  Surprisingly, economy long-haul flights aren’t that bad on Cathay Pacific if you follow a few tips.

Flying economy class helped me realize what traveling is mostly about.  Traveling is about visiting the destination and experiencing the culture. Sometimes we get too caught up about flying the fanciest planes and staying at the nicest hotels.  Many of us also go out of our ways to get a nice business or first class flight.  I just feel blessed to have any opportunity to travel and especially for close to free. Paying 35,000 miles and $40 in taxes to fly from Hong Kong to Los Angeles in economy may not be the best value, but it still beats paying for a flight.

My 11.5 hour flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles in economy class was better than I thought.  Even though I was in a middle seat, I was able to sleep a good 5 hours and watch 2 decent movies.  I used these strategies and tips to help me get through the flight:

  • Adjusted my watch to local PST time the day before.
  • Stayed up until 4am and slept until 9am the night before.  I was able to go into my 4:30PM flight quite tired and sleep a good 5 hours due to my exhaustion.  I used a blanket to cover my head for complete privacy and it worked quite well!
  • Stayed hydrated by only drinking water and ate very little.  The great thing about economy flights is that meal services are over in like 10 minutes.  I like being able to eat quickly and go to sleep. Sometimes the fancy business/first class meals take 2 hours and cut into my sleep time.
Middle Seat 70E!

Middle Seat 70E!

Nice Leg Room

Nice Leg Room

Cathay Pacific Economy Cabin

Cathay Pacific Economy Cabin

I watched 12 Years as a Slave and About Time during the flight (both great movies).  Cathay Pacific’s StudioX is probably one of the best entertainment systems in the world.  They had all the Oscar movies on the IFE that I’ve been wanting to watch.  Movies help me go to sleep and make the time pass quite quickly. Economy class on Cathay Pacific wasn’t that bad!

In conclusion, I feel blessed to be able to fly for nearly free even if it is in economy class.  I was a bit bummed that I couldn’t secure business class for my friend and I, but it was great to fly back at the time I wanted to be able to enjoy the weekend in Hong Kong and sunny 75 degree weather in southern California (flew out 4:30pm Saturday and returned 1:00pm Saturday).  I was able to sleep a good 10 hours Saturday night and now I feel quite refreshed.  Enjoy traveling and try not to be disappointed when you don’t get the best flight or deal for your miles!

5 comments for “Economy Long-Haul Flights Aren’t That Bad on Cathay Pacific – A Humbling Lesson

  1. afb
    March 17, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Thanks for your blog. Good to hear good review for Cathay economy. plan to fly them economy sea – mnl in future. Happy st. patty day.

  2. Jason
    March 19, 2014 at 2:04 am

    Still only a few months into the “game” but I often see references to economy or coach being bad values for miles. Having now accumulated 155k AA miles, I’m not sure I understand why it is a bad value. Would you be able to enlighten me with some references so I can read more on this subject?

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