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CATHAY PACIFIC: Brings First Class back to Melbourne and Sydney

CATHAY PACIFIC: Brings First Class back to Melbourne and Sydney

The Hong Kong based airline pre-pandemic used to sit at the top end of airline service, especially in premium classes and especially First Class. With various issues with democracy in Hong Kong, and then the worldwide pandemic, Cathay took a real punch in the guts. Its operations were decimated, and indeed a whole bunch of its planes were parked in the desert adjacent to Alice Springs Airport.

a group of airplanes in a row
The tails of Cathay Pacific planes parked outside Alice Springs Airport in June 2022 [Schuetz/2PAXfly]


Cathay Pacific announced the closure of its Australian base back during the pandemic in June 2021, giving 120 staff either redundancy or redeployment options in Hong Kong. In February of the same year it effectively exited the Australian market, with the exception of one flight to Sydney. A combination of limits on arriving passengers into Australia, and COVID-19 restrictions in Hong Kong, meant continuing the usual services was impractical.

It was not until China suddenly announced the reopening of its borders in January 2023 after three years of closure that Cathay started the slow return to regular operations.

Flights to Australia soon resumed, and Cathay is currently servicing Melbourne and Sydney with Boeing 777s which have first class suites.

Cathay Pacific First Class meal service [Cathay Pacific]
Cathay Pacific First Class meal service [Cathay Pacific]

First Class is available, but not sold as First Class

Cathay is flying Boeing 777s to Melbourne and Sydney, which come with four classes of cabin; Economy, Premium Economy, Business and First Class. But Cathay is not selling First Class, instead, it is offering it as a silent upgrade to some of its valued customers. You won’t get the full First Class experience – it’s being treated as an extension of Business Class, but right up front

For those flying out of Sydney, you need to check the cabin arrangement of the aircraft you are on. Most flights with the CX 100/101 flight number are B777s with the four-cabin configuration and are scheduled to continue at least through October 2023 according to ET.

Now, Cathay is not opening these seats up to just anybody and is most likely to place Cathay Diamond status frequent flyers there before OneWorld Emeralds from other loyalty schemes. But, if you can’t access these seats online, it is still worth asking when you check in at the Cathay premium cabin counters at the Airport. As they say, the worst that they can say is ‘no’.

Melbourne is a little more muddled. The scheduled aircraft on flights CX134 and CX178 seem subject to a little more change than in Sydney. So check the aircraft scheduled, and the cabin arrangement. You’re looking for those six seats up front in the nose – available to business class passengers for seating allocation. That’s the first two rows (rows 1 and 2) of First Class in a 1-1-1 configuration. You can check using Expert Flyer (if you have access), or through your booking on Cathay Pacific, or via their seating plans.

Cathay Pacific First Class bedding set-up [Cathay Pacific]
Cathay Pacific First Class bedding set-up [Cathay Pacific]

2PAXfly Takeout

Cathay is planning a complete upgrade to its First Class cabins come 2025, but in the meantime, booking one of these four cabin 777 flights might be a cheap way of experiencing those open first-class suites, before the world goes completely mad with ubiquitous doored premium cabins across almost every international airline.

Having access to this faux First Class, may only be a temporary thing. As Cathay moves towards a return to pre-COVID levels of flying by the end of 2024, we might see three class 777s, and more contemporary Airbus A350s moved to the Australian routes.


  1. Josh

    The headline is misleading given, as the article states, there’s no first class service. Perth is also being serviced by 777s.

    • 2paxfly

      Hi Josh, Thanks for your comment. You have a point, but the aircraft does have a First Class cabin, and you can’t put the full story in a headline.


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