Review of Cathay Dragon flight Hong Kong Chengdu in Economy

Airline Cathay Dragon
Flight KA824
Class Economy
Seat 24A
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 02:30
Take-off 15 May 11, 19:40
Arrival at 15 May 11, 22:10
KA   #12 out of 133 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 62 reviews
marathon
By GOLD 656
Published on 18th March 2018
This is the second leg of this round trip to Chengdu from Taipei, back in 2011:

TPE – HKG : CX405 (A330-300, Business)
HKG – CTU : KA824 (A320 – Economy) you are here
CTU – HKG : KA821 (A320 – Economy)
HKG – TPE : CX464 (B777-300, Business)

This report begins after deplaning from the previous flight: I passed by the waiting line at Hong-Kong’s immigration. In my experience, the waiting time was typically an hour at that time; only a small part of the line appears here:
photo P1010303a
The security check for connecting flights was in front. HKG may look like a maze…
photo P1010305a
… but the signage was excellent and I had no difficult to find the boarding gate and then, with the help of an airport staff, the access to the lounge where I had access due to my previous flight in J. This was The Cabin, a somewhat strange name IMO.
photo P1010307a
This lounge used a long space separated in several rooms with different settings and design, providing a decent view on the tarmac and offering an exceptional catering. The result was stunning, even though the layout of the raw space was not favorable.

A China Airlines aircraft in front of Cathay Pacific birds
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Time passed quickly here, all the more that I came across a friend by pure chance, and it was soon time to board again. What followed is in the next report!
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The plane was not at the gate, so we boarded of one these buses displaying the flight number above the windshield.
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Boarding the A320
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I did not like much the color matching of the antimacassar with the red and blue of the seats, but that is a matter of personal taste.
photo P1010338a
On the other hand, my seat was slightly too high and it was uncomfortable for my short legs. Both other two seats were empty and set at a normal height, so I changed which did not matter much for me in flight since it was night. Note that Seat 24A was actually in the first rows of Economy (because my previous flight had been in J, I guess), because the numbering of the Economy seats started at 21, just before the two row of business class. This numbering gap is quite common in Chinese airlines.
photo P1010339a
It doesn't show much in my pictures, but the air in Hong Kong so hot and saturated with humidity that cold air pouring from the ventilation vents generated a significant condensation. This was not the first time I was seeing this phenomenon.
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No IFE screen, neither individual nor collective, so the safety demonstrations were done the old way, with a FA showing here the fine art of using an oxygen mask.
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There was a beautiful view of HKG at take off, but my camera was not sensitive enough to capture it right.
photo P1010348a
Trivia quiz : how many grams of butter did a passenger receive during a short haul flight in Economy on CA, KA and CZ, respectively, ca 2011?
photo p1010359a
Answer : 5g, 8g, and 10g !
Dragonair procures its butter from Denmark, where that of CA and CZ comes from New Zealand.
The meal won’t surprise the frequent Chinese domestic lines flyers, then and now, or of readers of their reports : it was as usual, and very decent for a 2h30’ flight in Economy.
photo P1010357a
One bonus point for the coffee which was black and good, contrary to the low quality milk coffee served on Chinese airlines (and worse, the awful coffee served on Taiwanese domestic flights).
photo p1010361a
I seldom have a chance to take pictures of wine bottles because I never drink any, but this time, I was gazing at the trolley so much in search of anything worth mentioning that it puzzled the FA who asked me if I had second thoughts and wanted wine after all. I explained my purpose and she spontaneously showed me the two bottles of wine: a Chilean red wine and a French white wine. A bonus point for her friendly cooperation.
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This picture of Chengdu by night is not very good, but it is typical of all major Chinese cities : there is public lighting in the major avenues only, not in the lesser streets, even in the most affluent neighborhoods.
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Touchdown 6 minutes late, end of thrust inverters deployment and short taxi to the terminal.
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A quick look at the business class when deplaning : two rows in 2+2 seating, like on most Chinese domestic flights.
photo P1010368a
This was the corridor for international arrivals, but in Mainland China, you cannot write that Taiwan is a foreign country, nor Hong-Kong and Macao which have a very special status in China. Hence this indication which is the same in all airports in Mainland China.
photo p1010369a
This counter was for the special paperwork for the Taiwanese : Mainland China does not recognize their passports and cannot issue them visas, since the China sovereignty on Taiwan, so the Taiwanese have special travel documents valid for China only for saving face (and the reverse in true for the Chinese going to Taiwan).
photo p1010371a
Coincidentally, the luggage checked on my flight (sharecoded with Cathay Pacific and Air China) and on Sichuan Airlines 8978 were delivered on the same carousel. I had wanted to take that flight, but this trip had been decided with three days advance notice and I could not expect to get a seat on one of the few direct flights between Taipei and a city on the Mainland.
photo p1010373a
I only had a hand luggage, so I could not know if the checked luggage delivery was as fast as usual in China.photo p1010371a
Thanks for reading me !
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Verdict

Cathay Dragon

8.1/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment/wifi6.5
Meal/catering9.0

Cathay Pacific The Cabin

8.9/10
Comfort10.0
Meal/catering9.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Services8.5

Hong Kong - HKG

9.0/10
Efficiency10.0
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Chengdu - CTU

8.8/10
Efficiency10.0
Access7.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

The comfort grade is a compromise between my misadjusted seat and the absence of IFE (neither turned out to be a problem), and the comfort of having a full half row for me alone.
Having a full meal on flight of that duration is standard in China, but not in other parts of the world.
The FAs deserved a bonus too for helping me taking pictures of the wine bottles.

The Cathay Pacific Cabin lounge ranked high in the ratings, as usual.

In short, Dragonair which for foreigners means often a regional flight connecting to/from an international flight on Cathay Pacific was up to the latter’s high standards.

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2 Comments

  • Comment 440064 by
    Rl 777 810 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    “all the more that I came across a friend by pure chance”
    - How cool!

    “so we boarded of one these buses”
    - Those are doors at the rear, right?

    “It doesn't show much in my pictures”
    - For some reason(s) this including several other pictures are not showing up to me, instead I am greeted with a sad red emoji in the center.

    Have a good one, see you.

    • Comment 440632 by
      marathon GOLD AUTHOR 9489 Comments

      I really did not expect to meet that friend there ;)
      Extra wide doors at the end of this bus, indeed.
      I fixed the image problem; it was my mistake :( thanks for your understanding and for raising my attention to this issue !

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