All travelers know that some airlines have more comfortable interior configurations than others. I’ve not had the misfortune to fly Cathay Pacific, but after reading this post by Bill Forrester about his recent experience, they’re off my list until I hear that they’ve reconfigured their planes.
Bill writes primarily about the troubles that travelers with spinal injuries, but I’d like to take a moment to speculate about what the seat configuration he describes would feel like to a traveler with pain such as myself.
Because I’ve got pelvic pain, any seating position that forces the bulk of the weight of my upper body right over my pelvis starts out as uncomfortable and becomes intolerable after about 20-30 minutes. Reclined seats are great, so long as I have lumbar support to keep my back from bowing–I’ve also got an inflamed SI joint.
Oh, and I’m 5-foot 3-inches tall. The headrest would be far enough above my head to be a bad joke, not a useful feature.
After a long flight in one of these Cathay Pacific seats would probably leave me close to unable to walk, in so much pain that I wouldn’t be able to handle any of my luggage or do much of anything upon landing but curl into a fetal ball and try to sleep for the next two or three days. Gosh that sounds like fun.
I agree with Bill–if you’ve got a chronic pain condition and need to fly to or from Asia, avoid Cathay Pacific. Many other flyers who’ve experienced the “shell seats” concur–even people in perfect health were in pain when they disembarked. I’ll post an update here when I’m able to confirm that the airline has reconfigured their interiors to be more friendly to people with chronic pain and hidden (and visible!) disabilities.