Dragonair was recently rebranded by their parent company, Cathay Pacific, and will soon be called “Cathay Dragon.” Oftentimes mislabeled as Cathay Pacific’s “low cost carrier,” Dragonair is actually Cathay Pacific’s regional airline operating both narrow-body and wide-body Airbus aircraft to over 44 destinations across Asia. As a Cathay Pacific subsidiary and oneworld affiliate, you can earn and redeem American Airlines AAdvantage miles for travel on Dragonair. I recently had the opportunity to fly Dragonair first class from Hong Kong to Beijing and thoroughly enjoyed my flight.
At Hong Kong International Airport, Dragonair operates from terminal 1 and the check-in counters are located in area H. Check-in was quick and easy and I had my boarding pass and invitation to The Wing First Class Lounge in hand within a few minutes of getting in line.
Dragonair First Class Lounge Access
Yup, you read correctly. The Wing. When I originally booked this flight, I didn’t know much about Dragonair and assumed Dragonair first class and business class passengers only had access to the G16 Lounge at HKG, as the nicer lounges (The Wing, Bridge and Pier) were reserved for Cathay Pacific premium cabin passengers only. Well, I can report without doubt Dragonair first class passengers can access the other first class lounges as well. I visited The Wing for a bit before my flight and my review of The Wing First Class Lounge will be posted soon.
Aircraft: Airbus 330-300
Hong Kong (HKG) to Beijing (PEK)
Depart: 3:00 PM on Sunday (3:22 PM actual), gate 521
Arrive: 6:15 PM same day (6:43 PM actual).
Duration: 3hrs 21mns
Seat: 1K, first class
My flight was scheduled to depart from gate 521 which was kind of a hike from The Wing. So I left the lounge approximately 15 minutes prior to boarding time and made my way to the departure gate. Gate 521 is a bus gate and after scanning my boarding pass, we boarded the bus to our bird at a remote stand. I love remote gates more than regular gates because you can take pictures like this. But apparently, that was discouraged as I got yelled at several times for snapping these pics.
Dragonair operates 2 versions of the A330-300s. Version 1 has a 3-class configuration with the new first class seats and version 2 has a 2-class configuration with only business and economy class seats. The “old” first class seats have been completely removed from their fleet.
Dragonair’s first class cabin is located in the front of the plane with 2 rows of seats in a 1 X 2 X 1, reverse herringbone layout, totaling 8 seats. These first class seats are nearly identical to Cathay Pacific’s long-haul business class seats, offering a true, lie-flat surface in bed mode. The cabin was designed with clean and simple colors and finishes making the cabin feel very warm, bright and welcoming. Upon presenting my boarding pass to the flight attendant, I was escorted to my seat, 1K, a window seat on the right side of the plane.
Directly behind the first class cabin are 2 business class cabins with 42 recliner seats in a 2 X 2 X 2 layout. These are the same regional business class seats used by Cathay Pacific on their short-haul routes. Makes me wonder why Cathay Pacific even bothers with regional flights if they offer the same product as Dragonair.
For storage, this seat was great. Not only could you store your belongings in the overhead bin, there were plenty of smart storage spaces for your personal items such as your shoes, laptop, cell phone and other devices at your seat.
Each seat is equipped with an adjustable reading lamp, universal electrical outlet and a personal, 15.4” in-flight entertainment (IFE) system with AVOD (audio/visual on demand) entertainment. Similar to Cathay Pacific’s Studio CX, Dragonair’s Studio KA offers a decent selection of movies, TV shows, music and games to keep you entertained for hours. But unfortunately, WiFi is not offered so you will have to work offline.
Waiting at my seat was a pillow and a set of non-branded, noise-cancelling headphones. As I settled into my seat, the flight attendant came by to introduce herself and offer me a hot towel and a pre-departure drink. Because it was kind of a cold day, I asked for a hot Hong Kong style milk tea. When she came back with my drink, she also brought a small plate of canapes. Knowing that the milk tea wasn’t going to mix well with the canapes, the flight attendant smiled at me and asked if I wanted a glass of champagne instead. I laughed at myself and accepted her offer. The champagne served was a Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve. I don’t know much about champagne but it retails for $60 back home. All three items were delicious.
After the all the passengers were boarded, the Canadian Captain came on the PA and made his announcements. We then pushed back from the gate and made our way to the runway for our quick 3 hr 21 mn journey to Beijing. On this flight, there were only 3 passengers in first class and 1 flight attendant working the first class cabin.
Once we reached our cruising altitude, printed menus and landing cards were distributed and our pre-meal drink selections were taken. For our afternoon flight, there were three options for lunch: deep fried cod fish with a sweet corn sauce, afternoon tea (assorted canapes, pastries and scones) or a wonton soup.
A few minutes later, the flight attendant came by with my drink and a small ramekin of macadamia nuts. She then took my meal order and I went with the wonton soup. Nothing better than soup on a cold and rainy day right?
Lunch started with a small fruit plate and an assortment of bread. The fruit tasted fresh, was perfectly chilled and beautifully presented.
After that, my fruit plate was cleared and my main dish was brought out. The wonton noodle soup was really delicious. It was filling, full of flavors and really hit the spot.
And then Haagen-Dazs mango and raspberry sorbet to cleanse the palette.
For coffee/tea service, the flight attendant asked if I wanted a(nother) Hong Kong style milk tea. I couldn’t refuse and ended up having like 2 more cups of this addictive stuff. If you haven’t tried Hong Kong milk tea before, I highly recommend you don’t as you won’t be able to stop yourself. Coffee service included a couple pieces of Godiva chocolates.
The meal was absolutely delicious and appropriately paced. The flight attendant was friendly and professional and did a great job with taking care of all the passengers. Drinks were always refilled without me asking and she anticipated our needs perfectly. For a regional carrier, Dragonair’s service was top-notched and totally in line with their parent company’s values and expectations. In fact, I was talking to one of the other passengers on this flight, a business man in his 50’s, who told me most of them preferred Dragonair’s service over Cathay Pacific’s regional offering and would choose Dragonair over Cathay Pacific any day of the week.
For this short flight, I didn’t need to get any sleep but I did want to put the seat in bed mode to show it does offer a true, lie-flat surface. But seeing that I was putting the seat into a bed, the flight attendant quickly came by and offered me a blanket. I politely declined and said I was just taking a picture. She smiled at me and insisted I take it and get some rest. I did lie down for a bit but didn’t have the heart to tell her the cabin was way too hot anyways.
Please ignore the jumbled mess of wires on the table.
There were two lavatories located up front for first class passengers. They were standard sized lavatories but were stocked with Jurlique branded face and body products.
Overall, I had a really enjoyable experience on my first Dragonair first class flight. The hard product was great for a short intra-Asia fight and the soft product was pretty amazing. No amenities kits or pajamas were provided on this short hop but the service couldn’t have been better. The flight attendant was friendly and attentive throughout the flight (not just during meal service) and appeared to genuinely care about providing great service. And to top it off, the food was tasty and plentiful and you get access to The Wing First Class Lounge before your flight. What else could you ask for?
Have you flown Dragonair before? If so, let me know your thoughts.
This review is part of my trip around the world with stops in Amsterdam, Dubai, Hong Kong and Beijing. The other trip reports in this series include:
- American Airlines Admirals Club and Flagship Lounge at LAX
- American Airlines A321T First Class, Los Angeles to New York
- British Airways Concord Room at JFK
- British Airways Boeing 747 First Class, New York to London
- British Airways Concord Room at LHR
- British Airways A319 “Club Europe” Business Class London to Dusseldorf
- DoubleTree Amsterdam
- Hugo Junkers Lounge at Dusseldorf
- British Airways A320 “Club Europe” Business Class Dusseldorf to London
- British Airways Galleries Lounge at LHR terminal 3
- Emirates Lounge at LHR terminal 3
- Qantas A380 First Class, London to Dubai
- Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class Dubai to Hong Kong
- Marriott SkyCity Hong Kong
- Dragonair A330 First Class Hong Kong to Beijing
- Hilton Beijing
- BGS Lounge at Beijing
- Air China Business Class Lounge at Beijing
- Japan Airlines Boeing 737 Business Class, Beijing to Tokyo Narita
- Japan Airlines First Class Lounge at Tokyo Narita
- Japan Airlines Boeing 777-300ER First Class, Tokyo to Los Angeles