Tried & Tested

Flight review: Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business class

1 Jul 2017 by Tamsin Cocks

BACKGROUND

Dragonair, the sister airline of Cathay Pacific (CX), was rebranded as Cathay Dragon (KA) in April 2016. This included a new logo and liveries, cabin crew uniforms, etc.

CHECK-IN

I arrived at Shanghai Pudong International Airport’s Terminal 2 at 1630 for the 1840 departure of flight KA891. CX and Cathay Dragon’s check-in area is combined in Aisle D. The premium counters were empty, and immigration and security took just 15 minutes thanks to plenty of manned border gates.

LOUNGE

I headed to the joint CX/KA lounge near Gate 68. Compared to Cathay’s flagship lounges, the offering is basic but the L-shaped lounge is comfortable, neat, bright and airy. It was busy when I visited around 5pm, but there was plenty of (mainly armchair-style) seating. Power point locations were at a premium, but there was a generous computer area with around ten Macs. Complimentary wifi was fast and easy to use. The food offering was slightly limited, with a live noodle station the highlight. The self-service drinks selection was also acceptable.

BOARDING

I arrived at Gate D59 around 1810 and walked straight on board. Polite, friendly crew ensured all premium passengers were welcomed with drinks (including a tasty gin and passion fruit cocktail); coats were hung up, blankets offered and a newspaper selection brought round. I settled down into seat 17K.

THE SEAT

Both CX and KA offer the same regional business class product. There are two configurations of the A330 – my flight offered 42 business class seats in a 2-2-2 formation. The shell seat design means when you recline (to a maximum of 9.5 inches) the chair slides forwards rather than backwards into the passenger behind’s space. Add a leg rest that swings up into a “lazy Z” position and you have a very comfortable product for a short hop. Storage facilities were a weakness, with few options available. The footwell is rather small (enough for a small bag), one compartment houses earphones and the hidden earphone jack, and a small pouch fits a glasses case.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE

Sit towards the front of the cabin (as far away from the engines as possible) but avoid row 10, which is next to the galley and toilets. Middle seats D and G are best, as they remove aisle access restrictions/inconveniences.

THE FLIGHT

The captain announced a 15-minute ATC delay, and we pushed back at 1850 for a 1905 take-off. At 1920 the tables were set for dinner, with the food trolley arriving soon after. The presentation was smart, with a tablecloth, metal cutlery and neat dishes holding a duck breast starter and salad. Despite the crew’s valiant efforts, turbulence caused the meal service to be suspended for around ten minutes. The main course was a difficult choice between the rotating “Asian Delight” offering (ours was Indonesian nasi goreng) and special restaurant collaborations with Vue Restaurant and Xindalu China Kitchen. I selected the baked pork tenderloin with bell pepper, mushroom and roast potato. The dish wasn’t exactly “Instagram-able”, but it was succulent and tasty. I enjoyed a glass of fruity Rockbare Mclaren Vale Shiraz 2014, and a pot of chocolate Haagen-Dazs was brought round for dessert.

During dinner I selected a movie from the generous StudioKA IFE system. The library of options is one of the best I’ve experienced, but the 12.1-inch monitor
felt a little bit miserly for a premium cabin. Also, the sound quality wasn’t the best, so in the end I turned
on the subtitles.

ARRIVAL

We arrived early but were put in a holding pattern with a landing time of 2135. We disembarked at 2147 onto the tarmac, which always feels anticlimactic, but the benefit is being taken by bus directly to immigration. Baggage arrived swiftly.

VERDICT

For a short hop, the product is very comfortable with excellent F&B and attentive crew. The synergy between CX and KA is more strongly aligned than ever.

DEPARTURE TIME 1840

JOURNEY TIME 2 hours 25 minutes

CONFIGURATION 2-2-2

SEAT WIDTH 21in/53cm

SEAT RECLINE 9.5in/24cm

PRICE Internet rates for a return business class flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong in mid-September start from RMB8,327 (US$1,226) including tax and surcharges

CONTACT cathaypacific.com

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