The short version: Twitter.
2A is my favorite seat on Cathay Pacific First Class onboard the 777-300ER (77W). Other than the new Emirates first class that just came out, Cathay Pacific is the only airline I know of that put just 3 seats across on this aircraft; every other first class I’m aware of has 4 seats across on the 77W. Here’s the layout on Cathay Pacific 77W first and business, per SeatGuru:
Given the generous configuration, I believe none of the 6 seats in first class (there are 2 rows) is a bad seat. However, what the seat map doesn’t show is that there is a wall between column A and D. This makes 1A and 2A extremely private. I personally prefer 2A because it’s farther from the galley in front of first class, while immediately behind 2A is business class (with a separator), not a galley or restroom. In theory, 2A should be less noisy than 1A.
One of the annoying things about Cathay Pacific is that they don’t make it easy to select 2A, which they kind of reserve as a bassinet seat for babies. In reality, how often do you think a baby is going to be onboard a bank-breaking first class cabin with only 6 seats? Still, the airline does it. It’s my experience that 2A is never available on their website’s seat selection tool, even when it’s in fact unoccupied. In the past I’ve called the India office to assign 2A, and they always obliged, sometimes after a bit of convincing. The general feel (at least from a few years ago) is that international offices get this done more than US offices. Well, today, not wanting to load 50 cents into Skype to make the international call, I decided to try Twitter first. I sent a direct message to @CathayPacific asking if 2A is available. A few minutes later, they replied saying it’s been assigned, which I confirmed on CathayPacific.com. Horray!
Be advised that even after you have 2A assigned to you, it can still change to another seat involuntarily. This happened to me at least once – it wasn’t assigned to anyone else, and there certainly wasn’t a baby onboard, it just kicked me to another seat. Luckily, I noticed it at check-in and got it back. Cathay Pacific really doesn’t want you to get their best seat – you have to be persistent!
The best value to book Cathay Pacific First Class these days is using Alaska Airline miles. It’s 70k from US to Asia or Africa, with an optional free stopover in Hong Kong.
Now, if only they would turn down the temperature in the cabin so that I feel less like a roasted pig, that would be perfect.