Premium Economy Long Haul Smackdown!

I recently tried Air Canada’s long haul Premium Economy product for the very first time, and came away fairly impressed. Rather than going into details that you might already know, I thought it might be useful to compare AC to the other PE experiences that I’ve had. For reference, here’s all of them thus far:

Cathay Pacific – YYZ-HKG-YYZ – December/January, 2011-2015
Qantas – JFK-LAX-MEL, BNE-LAX-JFK – August, 2014
British Airways – YYZ-LHR, MRU-LGW – July, 2015
EVA Air – YYZ-TPE-YYZ – November, 2016
Lufthansa – YYZ-MUC-HND – April, 2017
Air Canada – YYZ-HKG, YVR-YYZ – September, 2017

I’ve rated these airlines across six categories, scoring them between 0 and 5 in each. The winner will emerge in the final tally of points, so let’s get to it!

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EVA Air: Our New Ride to Asia

EVA Air 777-300

I recently flew my first-ever return flight in EVA Air’s Elite (Premium Economy) cabin and had a fantastic experience. Seriously, I think I’ve found my new favourite ride from YYZ to Asia and back.

For the past five years the girlfriend and I have been making our annual trek to Hong Kong exclusively on Cathay Pacific—mostly because of the Marco Polo Gold status via AMEX Platinum, a perk which was finally removed from my account last summer. But that’s not the only reason we wanted to move on from Cathay; on our last CX flight (also in PE) my SO’s IFE screen wouldn’t turn off and had to be taped up with cardboard, and on the flight before that she had hot water spilled on her while taking delivery of an in-flight instant noodle soup.

So for our first experience with EVA Air the proverbial bar was actually set pretty low. But BR did great.

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Why We Don’t Fly Air Canada to Hong Kong (or anywhere else)

Fellow Canadian travellers who have stumbled upon the post about this week’s online booking disaster with Cathay Pacific might be wondering:


It’s a reasonable question. I live in Toronto, Air Canada’s hub, and AC, like CX, offers nonstop service to Hong Kong. The truth is that for many years I gave the bulk of my flying business to Air Canada. But everything changed when I flew Cathay for the first time in 2010, and I’ve remained loyal to them ever since.

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Cathay Pacific Online Booking Disaster

It’s every flyer’s worst nightmare… okay, maybe not worst, but it’s up there.

Yesterday I visited Cathay Pacific’s Canadian web portal to pay for a pair of Premium Economy tickets to Hong Kong that I’d had on hold since the day before. Here’s a grab of the payment screen:

CX Fare Details

Everything was going to plan, even when I arrived at the completely unnecessary “Verified by VISA” pop-up—where again, for some reason I had to prove my identity, despite already being logged into my frequent flyer account and, while we’re at it, being one of the named travellers on the itinerary.

Anyway, after that came another splash screen, listing a number you could cite in case of technical difficulties. I was just thinking that I should probably copy that number down somewhere when I was summarily dumped onto some random Sabre error page.


I didn’t grab a screen of that, as I was too busy panicking. I went straight back to Cathay’s “Manage My Bookings” page, where my flights were still on hold. Then I logged in to see the recent transactions on my credit card. Here I found the worst possible news:

VISA Authorized Transactions

In case you were wondering, Abruzzo has great panzerotti. Best in the city, if you ask me. But I digress…

Rage Face - Gasp

Yeah, that’s more like it. Suddenly $5,000 CAD poorer and with nothing to show for it.

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