Cathay Pacific Exempts First & Business Class Passengers From Face Masks While In Lie-Flat Mode


Cathay Pacific has circulated an internal memo to cabin crew exempting First and Business Class passengers from wearing face masks while in their seats are in lie-flat mode.

While not officially published on Cathay’s website the news were first reported by Executive Traveller and now Travel & Leisure has received a confirmation from Cathay Pacific that this exception does indeed apply.

Cathay Pacific reasons this with the “suite style” of their seats in C/F and that the enclosures are providing sufficient isolation space between passengers and other individuals as long as the seat is in full lie flat position as well the aircraft’s air filtration system.

Travel and Leisure writes:

In a media statement elaborating on the softened rules, the Cathay Pacific spokesperson said that “seats in first and business class are more spacious with partitions, and passengers are exempted when lying flat for sleep.” The individual also emphasized that the aircrafts are equipped with filtration systems “capable of filtering 99.9999% of dust particles, including virus and bacteria.”

Strange enough that this isn’t publicly advertised either on Cathay Pacific’s Travel Advisories or their press room.

The real question remains of who will this benefit. Going to Hong Kong right now requires a crazy 3 week hotel quarantine even IF you can enter there.

In December 2020 Cathay Pacific carried a total of 39,989 passengers, a decrease of 98.7% compared to December 2019. These numbers of course include transit passengers who don’t originate or exit in Hong Kong including repatriation flights to countries in the APAC region. The Royal Thai Embassy in Canada for example had arranged for a good number of flights operated by CX to move people back to Thailand.

I’m actually considering Cathay Pacific right now to fly to North America in spring, this policy would encourage me even more to utilize CX because having to wear the mask for a 14 hour flight isn’t something I’d love to deal with.

Hopefully there will be First Class inventory available by the time I’m getting to plan my trip but since this policy also extends to Business Class and planes are pretty much empty I’m not too worried.

Remember though that these policies can change without any advance notice especially since it’s not even a publicized rule at this point.


First and Business Class passengers on Cathay Pacific are now exempted from wearing face masks when adjusting their seat to lie flat mode.

This is obviously designed to appeal to customers booking Cathay over other carriers where face masks are mandatory at all times. Of course the question is if some customers would avoid flying the airline when passengers in their cabin are allowed to take off their masks. Then again most people are likely removing their masks while sleeping anyway on any airline, be it on purpose or by accident.