With more than an hour till the next flight, we visited the brand new Plaza Premium Lounge West Hall, courtesy of our Priority Passes, for some light bites. This lounge is supposed to be Plaza Premium's new flagship lounge. As we intended just to get some bites, I had taken only photos of the dining area, which is of a new concept. Other than the dining area, there are also other sectioned areas for lounging and work, as well as shower facilities and a bar area.
More buffet spread.
Salad and soup bar.
Some nachos, mixed nuts and juice.
Samosas and HK egg tarts
Tomato soup, a chicken dish and cheong fun
Fish ball noodles
While having our meal, the gate for our flight was finally assigned at Gate 41, which was just below the lounge. However, the plane only arrived at the gate slightly more than 30min before the STD. As expected, our flight was retimed by 20min to 1850hrs due to the late arrival of the aircraft.
14 November 2013 Dragonair KA 482 Hong Kong (HKG) - Taipei Taoyuan (TPE) A330-300 B-HLE Economy Class
This would be my first time flying on Dragonair, which is now a fully-owned subsidiary of CX, similar to Silkair being a part of SQ. Proceeded to the departure gate for the flight. The flight was code-shared with CX, which is similar to all CX flights bound for TPE where KA would code-share on them as well.
Operating this short flight this evening was B-HLE, which was originally delivered to CX in 1995 (even older than the B772 I flew on the previous flight), and transferred to KA in 2010. The aircraft looked brand new as it was recently retrofitted with the newest KA seats and IFE, which are exactly similar to CX's newest generation of economy and regional Business seats!
Boarding had just started as we reached the gate and an orderly queue was formed for boarding. However, KA ground staff actively guided families with young children in the queue and at the gate area to the front for priority boarding. Never have I seen this being done before for other airlines! Great ground service by KA here!
Welcomed by the KA crew and proceeded to the aft section of the plane where our seas would be the 2-seaters by the window. The plane filled up and it seemed to be a rather full flight. Cabin interior on this retrofitted plane was immaculate and new.
Legroom was good even though the seat pitch was only 32. This was probably due to the new slimline seatbacks. However, seat base was of a rather thick cushioning, making the seat very much comfortable for the user. In fact, I would rate this new generation of CX/KA seats to be superior in comfort to the current SQ economy seats on the A330/A380/B77W. IFE was touch-screen with a USB port, and there was also a compartment just below the screen for small objects. Great for placing my handphone while charging! Even though the CX/KA seat may have less of the blings found on SQ, I feel that the seat design is very well thought out, having the necessities while not compromising on comfort.
At the gate while awaiting pushback.
Stuff in seat pocket.
Headphones were available on this short flight and were pre-set in the seat pockets.
Boarding completed and aircraft doors were closed. Flight time was announced to be a short 1h15m. Safety video, which was again in animation format, was played.
While fiddling around the seat, I realised that there were no IFE handset nor any call-buttons or readings light switches. It was only after more meddling and touching the blue button below the IFE screen when this menu showed up on screen. Clever, isn't it?
In order to make up for the delay, the pilot taxied swiftly to the runway and we departed Rwy05R into the night skies.
Shortly after takeoff, the IFE system, Studio KA (which uses the exact same IFE platform as CX), was switched on. All entertainment selections, with the exception of movies, are available on this hour long hop. As mentioned earlier, all selections were performed via touchscreen monitor, which, fortunately, was very responsive and of high resolution.
To whet my appetite for the upcoming Taiwanese food upon arrival, I tuned in to a Taiwanese variety show featuring tasty street food in Taipei!
Coincidentally, the KA crew also passed us a comment form to fill up, which was very similar to CX's version. Again we requested for playing cards, which was promptly delivered.
Cabin then came down the aisle from the rear, serving us a meal. Initially, I had though that both CX and KA had downgraded their meal service on HKG-TPE sector to just mere warm sandwiches, but surprisingly the KA crew presented to us a beautiful hot meal box, a cup of water and a cutlery pack. No choices offered though and then crew just mentioned that it was chow fun ie. fried rice in Cantonese. Guess the meal concept on this short flight has been changed again recently.
Unfortunately, the fried rice was just bordering on tasteless even though it was piping hot! We just had a couple of mouthfuls and left the rest. We would have better upon arrival in Taipei.
Just shortly after delivery of meals in a very efficient manner, crew came down again to collect the trash as well as offering Chinese tea. Other beverages are available upon request only as the crew did not set up any other beverages on the cart up. However I did notice other passengers request for soft drinks and beers, and were offered the entire cans by the crew. For us, we just had Chinese tea, which were served in a plastic cup. Service by the KA crew was just alright. Efficient but not as warm as the CX crew and English language skills were apparently not as proficient as well. However, they still get the job done and did respond to requests. Also can't fault them as it was only a short and full flight.
View of the mid economy cabin after meal service, with the lights dimmed.
Visit to lavatory. Amenities were exactly similar to CX.
Very soon, we were descending into TPE, flying along the coast.
Studio KA was switched off just moments before landing and we had the flight map view instead. Landing preparations notice was also flashed on the screens.
No holds and it was a direct approach to TPE Rwy 05L.
Landing in Taipei Taoyuan, slightly behind schedule. We managed to make up some of the lost time enroute. Throughout the flight, recorded announcements were made in 4 languages, English, Mandarin and 2 Taiwanese dialects, which got kind of irritating after a while due to the endless broadcasts.
Thank you for flying Dragonair!
Taxied to Terminal One, with a sister CX pushing back.
Waiting to disembark.
Comfortable seat for the short flight.
View of cabin during disembarkation.
Blurred photo of the new CX/KA Regional Business Class seats fitted on this KA plane. I still wondered why KA don't at least change the covers of the seats to another colour more reflective of their corporate identity instead of the green/blue colours used by CX.
Immigration was rather fast and we were soon picking up our bags without much of a wait.
It was straight to the hotel at Taipei Main Station by the airport bus, check-in and out to the night markets for supper! The first night market visited on our first day was Ning Xia night market, which was not too far from the hotel. Yummy street food!
Visited Yehliu Geopark on the second day.
More of the food we had on the second day.
Visit to Gongguan area, beside the New Taiwan University, where there are lots of affordable shopping and eateries!
Hong Kong - HKG
Taipei - TPE
Dragonair has certainly upped its game in as the leading Regional Airline through the introduction of new seats on its planes, thanks to its parent CX. Service was efficient and acceptable on this short flight and most of the frills are still provided for. In fact, KA could be just CX in another livery and crew uniform!
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