Vintage Airline Seat Map: Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400 (1988)

I’m definitely on a Cathay Pacific kick right now having just finished my complete trip report, so I’ve selected a Cathay Boeing 747-400 for this installment of Vintage Airline Seat Maps. This particular configuration was flying the skies in 1988 and I have to once again give special thanks to reader Will who graciously sent me several of the carrier’s seating layouts from the 1980s.

It seated a total of 363 passengers split up between First Class, Marco Polo Business Class and Economy Class. First Class extended beyond just the nose and occupied more than half of the space between doors one and two. United Airlines used to have a version that went fully back to door two and I thoroughly enjoyed flying on 747s with this type of layout. It felt like the entire plane was an exclusive privately operated luxury jet with an incredible amount of room to move about.

30 seats were found up front in the typical 2-seater configuration for First Class during that time period. Still much preferring to sit in the nose for its uniquely shaped aestheticism, you’d find me either in row two or three. Smoking seats, by the way, are the ones with a yellowish hue. That orange square behind the port-side lavatory is labeled as a “bar unit†according to the legend.

Most frequent flyers today prefer the upper deck for its feel of isolation from the rest of the plane and its normally personalized service, but given the volume of Business Class seats crammed into the upstairs section in the 1980s, you’d find me downstairs probably around rows 26 or 27. The mini-cabin at rows 20 and 21 might be unpleasant due to the proximity of both the First Class and Business Class galleys, not to mention being in the smoking section. Oh, and those “x†marks in front of rows one, 10, 20, 23, 31 and 57 denote bassinet positions for which I’d definitely steer clear of.

In coach, I generally book an aisle seat in the center 4-seater section on a 747 since those seats have a greater likelihood of the seat next to it being unoccupied. Here I’d go for rows 38 or 39 as last-minute standby seats are generally assigned front-to-back, so my unoccupied seat strategy has a better chance of coming through. I might consider rows 58 and 59 for the same reason. Also, I always pick the ‘G’ seats since the computer algorithm also automatically assigns last minute seats left to right.

Where would you sit?

a blue rectangular diagram of a ship

Upper deck

a diagram of a cell phone

Main deck


  1. This version definitely was not flying the skies in 1988. The launch customer for the 747-400 passenger version was NW and they didn’t take delivery until 1989. The first Asian carrier to operate the type was SQ in May 1989. I don’t have a first service date for CX but it would have been after that.

    All that said, however, I very much enjoy these vintage seat maps. This shows how much more posh business class has become.

    • Hmm, while there’s no date on either of the two pages of maps my reader scanned and sent me, he was sure it was 1988. Thanks for the info as I didn’t further research to check CX delivery dates and such. Can’t change the title now, though, as it would ding SEO and the permalink (argh!)

      Glad you like the maps, too!

  2. Hey! Let’s not piss about it boys! In any case, That NW First Class config is LONG gone and it will not return. DA still flies a few fat, double-aisle birds, but not with this degree of pitch, even in FC. The days of enough space to do jumping-jacks in the aisle, without disturbing your neighbor – are long gone. I FUN seat plan and thanks for posting it. Those days are long gone… as is most of the 747 fleet – those configured for serious First Class elbow room. Ah… I to can remember. -C.

  3. Darren – Are you talking about UA’s 744 OP config ? I don’t remember what F goes to, I only remember C class goes all the way to door 4 ! I remember very well on that OP config because it was my first ever UA flight, flying as UA 883 ORD-NRT, I was op up to C class as a non-status first time UA flyer on a H class ticket ! I was seated at 27C and I remembered looking to the front and looking to the back are all C class ! I thought initially the entire plane was all C class layout !

    OP config didn’t get E+ install and simply phase out convert into OB config (Back then it has OA/OB/OP config for the 744) UA’s 742 also have one config like 744 OP with large C class layout. I am always curious how many and which 744 are OA, OB, and OP, that is the age before E+ and FT don’t even exist ! Some later delivered 744 like N120UA-N128UA are delivered in OB and come with E+ already.

    It would be nice if you post those UA 744 seat maps as well.

    • @ORDnHKG: Yes, I believe it was United’s OP configuration. I still have a seat map of it somewhere that I’ll have to post one of these days. That layout was fantastic and I flew on it as you did ORD-NRT a few times, especially when I worked for United and was able to standby for that huge First Class section. Congrats on your op-up!

  4. Dear Darren,

    Congratulations for this great work.
    However, I just want to inform you about a little error. If I am not counting there are 36 Marco Polo seats on upper deck, there are 65 Marco Polo seats downstairs, 30 first class seats and then 230 economy class seats. Therefore, total number of seats is 361. Am I counting it wrong.
    Still this web site is a great work.


  5. Love this site. Thank you – These vintage seat maps are incredible! Re CX 747-400 – I believe it was in service by the Fall of 1989 or 1990 as I flew it when after they launched LAX/HKG nonstop.

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