After an amazing week of scuba diving, relaxing, people watching, and exploring the tiny island of Mabul, Malaysia I was on my way back to the states. I had originally booked an economy class award ticket from Malaysia back to San Diego flying TWU-KUL-NRT-SAN, however the night before business class space was released and after a quick Skype call to AA, I had rebooked a business class ticket for just 20,000 more miles flying TWU-BKI-HKG-NRT-SAN with a long layover in NRT which would allow me time to go into Tokyo for the day to explore. I was excited for my trip home! Not only was it now in business class, but I was going to get experience both Dragon Air Business class and JAL business class products, two airlines I had never flown and in business nonetheless!
After a short 30 minute hop from Tawau to Kota Kinabalu and a three hour stay in the MAS Golden Lounge, I was ready to board my Dragon Air flight to Hong Kong. Boarding was uneventful with First class passengers and OneWorld Elite fliers boarding to the left and all other passengers to the right. Once on board, flight attendants passed out menus and offered preflight drink beverages which included the Dragon Air Business Class signature drink, Dragon Sunrise (Gin, Guava and Lemon Juice), champagne, or water. The FAs were very gracious during the boarding process, provided business class passengers with a hot towel service and even provided me with a power plug adaptor when they saw me struggling to plug my US 120v computer charger into the international power adapter. Clearly the Dragon air power ports do not fit all plug types despite looking to be universal. Shortly after there was a hot towel service, the glassware was collected and we were on our way to Hong Kong.
Inflight, Seats, & IFE.
The short three hour flight to Hong Kong passed by quickly and despite being on a regional airline with a medium flight time, I would have had no idea the flight was actually three hours. Sure the Dragon air Business class is not any more special than a domestic first class seat on a legacy carrier, but the 2×2 lush seats with leg rests were comfortable and the inflight service was superb! Shortly after takeoff the FA working the forward cabin appeared, greeted me by name, offered me a drink and took my dinner order while the other FA working the forward cabin was in the galley preparing dinner. I was shocked! There were only 8 seats in business class and two flight attendants working the cabin. Needless to say, the service was impeccable and very personalized!
Dinner was served within 45 minutes into the flight and again I was surprised by the level of service I was receiving on a regional airline! Not only was there hot towel service, a full menu, but a four course meal was served: first the mini salad, an appetizer, and bread, followed by the main dish with more bread, and rounded off with dessert. During the entire flight the FAs were in the aisles refilling drinks, checking on passengers, and attaining to everyone’s needs. There were several kids in the forward cabin and the FAs entertained them and provided them with toys, coloring books and more. These FAs really went the extra mile to keep every passenger entertained and happy! All I could think to myself was, “Why can’t flight attendants be like this in the USA!”
The Dragon Air A320s are slightly dated, but for being a regional carrier it’s nice to see them flying full size planes (they even fly an A330) versus the smaller turboprop and small jets we see regional carriers in North America fly. The seats in first class all had power ports and extended leg rests with a foot rest that folded down, similar to what is found on Cathay Pacific’s premium economy seats. The seat controls were easy to use, just push button similar to the product that is found on U.S. domestic first airplanes. Each seat had its own power port and but the A320 is the only plane in the Dragon Air fleet that does not offer personal TVs/IFE. Despite being an older seat, in all actuality, I think the seat was more than Cathay’s old regional product that I had flown from HKG-KUL a week earlier. Service on Dragon Air was more personalized and the only downfall was not having IFE. So all in all, Dragon Air was winning in my book!
The flight continued towards Hong Kong and was flawless. After dinner and before landing, there was a second hot towel service and the cabin was cleaned up before landing. I was very impressed by Dragon Air’s service and was very happy to have experienced what I may just consider the world’s best Regional airline. It helps that the airline is owned by a Skytrax 5 star airline, Cathay Pacific; never the less I was extremely impressed by the service and the quality. If flying regionally from Hong Kong, I would highly recommend Dragon Air and will consider this option for myself again in the future!
How to Book
You too can book this trip for free by using any OneWorld Airline miles. Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is a direct transfer partner of American Express and intra Asia flights such as this one start at 30,000 miles. Other options are to use American Express Transfer Partner British Airways or Iberia Avios. American Airline and US Airways are both partners with Cathay and offer award seats on Cathay Pacific. The easiest way to search award space on via British Airways Avios page, as BA shows all of Cathay’s available award space.
British Airways is the cheapest option if booking this ticket with miles in Business, for just 15,000 miles, however i have included a chart of other airlines which allowing booking on this same route. When I booked this flight, I booked it as part of a larger redemption, flying from Southeast Asia back to the United States as part of a 55,000 Business class award ticket from Asia zone 2 to the USA.