BACKGROUND Dragonair flies daily from the Vietnamese capital to its homebase in Hong Kong. This two-hour flight is codeshared with Cathay Pacific. While it uses different aircraft on this route, the A320-200 has a two-class configuration, eight seats in business class and 150 in economy. Vietnam Airlines also flies Hanoi to Hong Kong and likewise codeshares with Cathay. Hong Kong Airlines/Hong Kong Express is the third carrier on this increasingly busy route.
CHECK IN I arrived at Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport after a 45-minute trip from downtown by Hotel Metropole’s excellent car service and hotel staff stationed at the airport were there to assist check in. Originally booked in economy, I was the grateful recipient of an upgrade to business class. I’ve found exiting procedures at Noi Bai to be fairly painless and this was no different.
LOUNGE Business class passengers, members of Marco Polo Club with Silver status or above and Vietnam Airlines Golden Lotus gold card members can use Vietnam Airlines’ VN lounge, which is on the third floor but which wasn’t especially well signposted. However, frequent travellers should note that if you hold another OneWorld card apart from Marco Polo, regardless of status, you won’t be allowed access. Vietnam Airlines is not a OneWorld member and is due to join the Skyteam alliance next year. The lounge itself is sizeable and fairly quite, toilets were clean and there was a decent selection, albeit unimaginative, of snacks and soft drinks. Lounge staff will alert you when your flight is called.
BOARDING I went straight to the gate and although the flight was packed boarding was easy enough. I was offered a fruit juice and took my seat.
THE SEAT 11K is a window seat in the last row of the compact business class cabin. For a seatplans, click here
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? There are only eight seats in business so it pretty much comes down to your preference for window or aisle seats.
THE FLIGHT After the safety demonstration we were soon off and about 20 minutes into the flight came a drinks service, with a choice of beers, cocktails, whiskies, champagne, Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc and soft drinks and fruit juices. The meal was a choice between stir-fried prawns and cashew nuts with steamed rice and vegetables, or beef bourguignon and pasta. I took the latter.
ARRIVAL After a fairly straightforward and uneventful trip, we started the descent about half an hour before landing, pretty much on schedule.
VERDICT Dragonair is very much a safe pair of hands on this route, certainly preferable to the Vietnamese Airlines service in my experience. Food and beverage options are excellent given that this is only a two-hour flight. Those booking a Cathay codeshare ticket would be well advised to check which airline is actually operating the flight.
PRICE Dragonair is offering an online price of US$709 for a one-way business class ticket on this route.