FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Check in was conducted with precision by the ground staff. Since my “smart” Hongkong ID card entitled me to use the special lanes designated for locals and permanent residents, I didn’t have to deal with any immigration queues.
The Dragonair Lounge, opposite gate 16, was quite a distance from my boarding gate (44), so I stayed only to grab a sandwich and a quick drink from the well-stocked counter. The spacious amenity seats around 200 and offers a corner with four workstations for email updates, but there is also a cubicle for those with laptops. Shower facilities are available.
BOARDING: It took two minutes on the shuttle to reach my gate from the main building, and boarding was just starting as I arrived. A helpful cabin attendant placed my hand carry in the overhead bin and then showed me my window seat along the wing of the Airbus A330. We pushed away from the finger pier 30 minutes later than scheduled, but considering that the night before we had been stuck on the tarmac for almost five hours before we were told the flight was cancelled due to a monster storm in Beijing, this was merely a hiccup.
THE SEAT: Configuration in this section is 2-2-2 with the pitch at 45 inches and recline at nine inches or 123 degrees; 110V AC in-seat power supply and the Dragon On Air entertainment systems which offer a variety of video and audio channels on a nine-inch personal TV screen.
THE FLIGHT: Fortunately, the inclement weather of the previous night had cleared up and no turbulence marked our passage. I caught up with the news from a choice of major international newspapers as the cabin crew served nice warm breakfast. From a wide selection, I enjoyed fresh fruits and a Continental breakfast of muesli with milk and yoghurt with a pick of the bread basket, downed by a soothing cup of coffee brewed by the Hongkong-grown Pacific Coffee.
ARRIVAL: There was no dearth of working immigration counters at Beijing Capital Airport. With no luggage to claim, I breezed through customs and met my hotel pick up. All in 20 minutes flat.
VERDICT: Quality service was expected and quality service was rendered.
PRICE: Return Business fare from US$1,041.