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11 of the latest airline and lounge reviews from across Asia

2 Aug 2017 by Craig Bright

Australia

Hong Kong Airlines A330-300 business class 

With the recent loyalty tie-up with Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer programme, Australian travellers are likely to increasingly find themselves flying, or considering flying, with Hong Kong’s other full-service carrier alongside Cathay Pacific and subsidiary Cathay Dragon.

Hong Kong Airlines operates something of a one-way triangle when flying between Hong Kong and Australia. Its outbound flights to Gold Coast fly non-stop, however return flights go through Cairns before heading back to Hong Kong. Business Traveller recently took a look at the longer return leg to Hong Kong starting in Gold Coast to see how the carrier’s A330-300 business class offering holds up.

China

Cathay Dragon A330-300 business class

Hard on the heels of its rebrand from Dragonair, Cathay Dragon introduced an array of new updates, from the cabin crew uniforms down to the amenities. But just how did the airline’s service survive and efficiency fare after the revamp?

Business Traveller headed to Shanghai from Hong Kong aboard the carrier’s A330 to see how the carrier’s business class has changed since the brand update. And along the way, we also stopped over at the airline’s joint The Pier business lounge with parent carrier Cathay Pacific near Hong Kong airport’s Gate 68.

Juneyao Airlines A321 business class

Cathay Dragon isn’t the only carrier flying the Hong Kong-Shanghai route that’s undergone a few recent changes. Back in May, Juneyao Airlines became the first carrier to join Star Alliance as a Connecting Partner – a scheme designed to enable low-cost and hybrid airlines, among others, to join the alliance without all the requirements placed on full members.

Key among the alliance’s purported benefits of the scheme was an expanded network and smoother travel for frequent flyers, including privileges such as miles accrual as well as priority boarding and check-in. We took Juneyao Airlines’ flight down from Shanghai to Hong Kong the day it officially joined the alliance under this new scheme to see whether it held up to the standards Star Alliance travellers are accustomed to.

Garuda Indonesia business class

Indonesia

Garuda Indonesia B777-300ER business class

Garuda Indonesia launched its Jakarta-London Heathrow route back in March last year using its B777-300ER, cutting out its previous stopover in Amsterdam, but the service was reduced from a five-times to a three-times-weekly operation later that year.

The airline is currently planning to once again up the frequency back to five flights a week this winter. We look at the airline’s business class offering on the Jakarta to London leg of the route, with a stopover in Singapore.

Cathay Pacific A350-900 business class

Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class

Another route between London Heathrow and Asia, this time travelling in the opposite direction, from London to Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific’s B777-300ER flies this route, which departs out of London’s Terminal 3 where the airline’s recently renovated First and Business Class lounge is located. For regular travellers of this route, this is an overview well worth a read. 

Hong Kong Airlines lounge area

Hong Kong Airlines Club Bauhinia lounge, Hong Kong

Hong Kong Airlines has been making a number of expansions to its long-haul network, namely in the form of a new service to Vancouver – its first to North America – and a soon-to-launch flight to Los Angeles, which recently has been confirmed will be flown by the airline’s new A350.

The carrier’s Club Bauhinia lounge offers a notably Hong Kong-centric environment, with local cuisine and design features aplenty. We stepped in for a look on our way down to Gold Coast in Australia.

United B777-300ER Polaris Business cabin

United Airlines B777-300ER business class

United Airlines chose Hong Kong as the first international destination for its new B777-300ER, replacing the B747 that previously flew the route. The US carrier received its first B777-300ER earlier this year in January, and it remains the only aircraft in United’s fleet to currently feature its brand new Polaris business class seat product.

We put the new seat through its paces on the outbound leg from San Francisco back to Hong Kong, stopping to take a look at the airline’s Global First Lounge along the way.

Air Astana A320 business seat

Kazakhstan

Air Astana A320 business class

Having greatly expanded its network in the lead up to Expo Astana 2018 earlier this year, Air Astana has been working to position its hub at Astana as a major connector between Europe and Asia. A notable focus has been on destinations in eastern Europe, such as Kiev, which it began flying to in June this year.

That said, its base of operations in Almaty remains strong. We tried out the airline’s service to the city from Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, which it operates with either an Embraer 190 or an A320. We reviewed the latter’s business class offering.

Taiwan

China Airlines A350 business class

Taking delivery of its first A350 last year, Taiwanese carrier China Airlines began flying the aircraft on its regional routes before eventually expanding service to long-haul destinations including Amsterdam, Vienna and Rome.

China Airlines doesn’t deploy just its A350 on its Taipei Taoyuan-Hong Kong route, instead using a combination that typically also includes its A330-300 and B747-400, so it’s not guaranteed travellers on flight CI923 out of Taipei will be on the A350. That said, if you are lucky enough to find yourself on the new aircraft and its award-winning business class product, here’s what you can look forward to.

Cathay Pacific first and business class lounge Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

Thailand

Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge, Bangkok

Opening in June 2015, Cathay Pacific’s First and Business Class Lounge at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport is among its newer lounge additions. As such, it includes the same new residential design template developed by London-based Studioilse, also seen at the airline’s lounges in Tokyo Haneda Airport, London Heathrow, Hong Kong, Manila, Taipei and Vancouver.

Although it doesn’t feature a separate section for first class passengers, the lounge has a number of offerings and features that help to balance this out. And if you’re not too keen, Oneworld elite members can always check out the even more recently renovated Japan Airlines lounge in Bangkok.

Vietnam Airlines premium economy

Vietnam

Vietnam Airlines B787-9 premium economy

Vietnam Airlines operates the only direct services between Vietnam and London. These come in the form of two services that fly on alternating days to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, both of which are flown by its Dreamliners and both of which fly out of London Heathrow at 1110.

Business Traveller tried out Vietnam Airlines’ lower-frequency Ho Chi Minh City service earlier this year, and reviewed its premium economy seat product.

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