Review: Cathay Dragon Business Class | Shanghai to Hong Kong


Read about the previous flight experience here

Having deplaned from the SAS A340, I hurried towards immigration. Massive lines had built up with the recent arrival of a Lufthansa A380. The lines moved slowly and when a new booth opened up, I made my way there quickly, only getting a small family, of what I assumed was of Greek descent, in front of me.

It would prove to be fatal as more and more security officers joined the man in the booth, trying to handle the family’s immigration to China. Meanwhile, all the other lines were moving forward and past me and I realised my mistake switching lines. When it dawned on me that the family in front of me neither had Chinese visas nor transfer to a third country, I switched back to my original line. It would be 50 minutes total before I was through to collect my luggage.

The stress element of not making the connecting flight was blown away when the personnel by Cathay Dragon check in counters said “No check in now, come back an hour”. Looking up the inbound flight on my phone, I found it had not even departed Hong Kong yet. For this reason Cathay Dragon denied check in for all passengers and kept rolling the check in time with an hour at a time. After two hours, when it was certain that the flight would at least arrive in Shanghai, we were allowed to check in. Checked my luggage, made my way through security and to the Cathay Pacific Lounge to spend the time waiting for departure. The lounge was basic with a small selection of edibles and drinks.

After almost a 3 hour delay, with almost no communication from Cathay Dragon, we were allowed to board the aircraft. By this point I was exhausted.

Shanghai(PVG) – Hong Kong(HKG)
Planned departure time: 14:20
Pushback: 17:12
Planned arrival time: 17:30
Arrival time: 20:33
Duration: 3h 5min                     
Aircraft: Airbus A321
Seat: 11K

The crew smiled and apologised profusely for the delay as I made my way to my seat 11K. Wonderful seat! Extremely comfortable with more than ample legroom. Waiting on my seat was a plush pillow and blanket. As I was getting settled in, the purser offered me a choice of predeparture beverages and greeted me by name and once again apologised for the delay. The purser used a cheat sheet for the passenger names, but nevertheless I thought it a nice touch. I had a glass of what seemed to be juice and observed the boarding process.

Cathay Dragon Business A321, seat 11K. Picture taken post flight.

I must have really liked the seat as I woke from a dream when the aircraft hit some chop, just as the seat belt sign came off. The crew handed out menus, I was too tired to document it wholly, but a snapshot of the menu can be seen here.

I took note that Champagne was served, Tattinger I believe, but I was too exhausted to indulge so I stuck with water. For the starter smoked salmon with roe was served, alongside a mixed salad and a selection of bread. I chose the delicious as always garlic bread. The aircraft hit some powerful turbulence in the middle of meal service and it had to be suspended for a good half an hour before turbulence eased. The smoked salmon, fennel, sour cream and salmon roe tasted nicely and everything was plated beautifully. Personal salt and pepper shakers! Incredibly professional and attentive crew.

Starter, smoked salmon, fennel, sour cream and salmon roe

For the main I ordered the Wok-fried shrimp, scallop, asparagus and steamed rice. You may see that a scallop trend is starting to develop. Being used to intra European blocked middle seat(if that!) Business class, I am blown away by a choice of three hot main courses. The scallops sadly lacked flavour and the texture was so-so, the previous scallop dish I had on SAS was leagues ahead. My seat neighbour however ordered the Hot Pot Rice, which looked great.

Main course, Wok-fried shrimp, scallops, asparagus and steamed rice

For dessert the crew offered Häagen Dazs ice cream, with a selection of Belgian Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry Cheesecake flavours to choose from. I had the chocolate and alongside it a cup of Hong Kong style Milk Tea, which if you haven’t tried it, is delicious. The ice cream was frozen solid and could have used a 20 minute thaw. The crew also distributed small Cathay pralines.

Ice cream and Hong Kong style milk tea

While most of the flight was either spent eating or napping, I did get a chance to look at the in-flight entertainment system, Studio KA. The screen was responsive and hosted an impressive selection of content. Many new releases and plenty of older classics, there among the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. One big downside however is that the system features ads, which detracts from the experience.

Entertainment system

Descent into Hong Kong was smooth and we taxied to a remote stand and had to take a bus to the terminal. For a three hour regional flight, the product offering is incredible. Comfortable seat, three course dinner, friendly crew and an inflight entertainment system. Compared to the European counterpart, I wouldn’t think twice about choosing business class for a regional flight in Asia with Cathay Dragon.


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