I write trip reports for a hobby, and like to think that I get better over time. This report was written in December 2014, and falls in the oldie-but-not-so-goodie category of trip reports – blurry photos taken with an iPhone 5, and a not-so-useful content focus.
I’ve left the post up for aviation nuts who like any and all reviews, though for those looking for a review: the Dragonair brand was discontinued in 2020, so check out this post for Cathay Pacific’s A330 economy class.
Since Cathay Pacific released their new economy class cabin product, I actually had been dying to try it. Having tried the old economy for over a day and a half in total, I was damn keen to see how the new one compared.
At check-in we were already disappointed by the check-in agent announcing that the only seats left available were E and F seats, and we were assigned those somewhere in the middle of the rear economy cabin.
I arrived at the airport about two hours before departure, in hopes of getting a bite to eat before getting on the plane (admittedly I pig out on the plane, but breakfast and lunch are still two different things…right?).
After eating and getting to the gate, a short twenty minute delay was announced. After we rejected our thoughts of visiting the Plaza Premium Lounge, we decided to wait by the gate, where our A330 hadn’t arrived.
Gate 4, opposite Gate 3 (which our flight was departing from), seemed to be pretty long. Definitely ranks with Hong Kong International Airport Gate 50 as one of the longer jetbridges I’ve seen in a while.
Eventually an A330 pulled over, and it would be the one flying us to Shanghai.
The boarding process was a little disorganised, given that they let all the Marco Polo and business class passengers first (no, not some, I do mean all of them) and then the economy class passengers. Though I was first in the queue, the rear economy cabin was near full by the time I boarded.
Dragonair Pacific Flight 804
Monday, October 20th, 2014
Origin: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 3 Dep: 10:55 (11:45)
Destination: Shanghai (PVG) Gate: 59 Arr: 13:30 (13:50)
Duration: 2 hr 35 min (2 hr 5 min)
Aircraft: Airbus Industrie A330-300
Seat: 44F (Economy Class)
Finally. Finally the new economy class seats. Ahhh!
The new Economy Class is really aesthetically pleasing. I loved the diamond patterning on the seat cushions. I hate airlines with a bland single colour code in all their seats, and with a minimalistic three colour tone (dark blue, light metallic blue and a middle sort-of-aquatic blue), this cabin immediately became one of my favourites.
Having partially acquainted with these new economy seats back from Singapore, I knew what to expect. I crawled past my slightly bulky seatmate (more on him later) and acquainted with the seat.
First of all, before I continue, the seat was plush. Really plush. And while the padding on the old economy was good, it felt like a pig’s toenail compared to this. It had a second layer of cushioning above the “metal” of the actual seat, and felt like a sofa to me.
As with the premium economy seat, there was a little recess which I could store my phone, pencils,
con- other items…
The screen was big and high quality, and touchscreen. I truly support technology, though I have to say that the screen relied on body heat, and the screen heated up so it didn’t sense my body heat on the screen, so it wasn’t really functional. While it’s a good idea in theory, they need a remote.
Of course, The Fault in our Stars had to be on the screen when the touchscreen stopped working… 😡
Under the screen there were a couple of USB ports, situated perfectly to have my phone in the recess while charging.
Also, there was a hook where we could hang coats and glasses (not that I’ve seen a seat this year without these).
The table itself was of a pretty good size for economy, and, as with the new business class, was foldable in two sizes.
While it’s nothing special, the penholder at the bottom of the tray table is a nice touch.
Shortly after we boarded we were passed out blankets. The blankets themselves on Dragonair are substantial, comfortable, and are also used on long haul routes on Cathay Pacific (and they’re fine for that length too, as shown on my flight earlier in the year from Hong Kong to Auckland).
While the headphones were by no means high quality, they weren’t bad either, and were substantial for my flight.
The Fault in Our Stars was (thankfully) cut short by the safety briefing.
After that the crew passed out menus.
As the heat source seems to come from the center of the screen, I was able to navigate the screen to play the airshow for the rest of the flight. Interestingly I now see a range of airshows played across the group, but they show the same information, so it’s all a matter of style with the same substance.
I resorted to switching off the screen for a while for it to cool off, so I could look at the entertainment selection for a bit before it heated up again.
Sitting in the middle means no takeoff pics. Bummer!
After takeoff I briefly visited the toilet, which was old but fully functional.
Of course, Dragonair isn’t only for the common folk… 😉
I sat and chatted with my aunt for a while. The recline on the seat was fairly good, but there was a pretty old man behind me, so I looked back and reclined my seat so both the man and the cane had ample space to move around.
Before the meal service I also managed to check in with the entertainment selection. While it was extensive, it didn’t seem to have many good movies, unfortunately.
Meal service soon rolled around, and I chose to take the fish fillet with tomato, olive and red capsicum sauce. It looked horrible, to start. But it was almost definitely the best economy meal I had this year. (Not that there’s much competition for that title.)
The fish was flaky and perfectly cooked, whilst the spaghetti next to it was seasoned beautifully and was appropriately seasoned with olive oil without having it being oily. It was a beautiful combination.
I looked around, and noticed that the crew had skipped a few rows for meal service. WTF?
The crew were informed by hungry passengers and they returned to give them food without a sort of apology, as if it were the norm.
The ice cream to follow was, as expected, rock hard.
Shortly the crew came around with tea and coffee.
‘Nuff said that the service was pretty bad. While the crew were generally friendly and smiled, they were far from efficient. I had to press the call button for them to remove our row’s trays fifteen minutes after the meal, and it took another five minutes for them to answer.
I tried to get up for the toilet again, and my seatmate, a bulky man in his late 30s or 40s, scooted over to let me out of my middle seat. However he failed to notice that his phone was plugged in his USB and was in his lap, and I had to go under the cable to use the toilet…
Meal service finished above Ningbo, about a quarter to two hours into the flight.
I kind of drifted off for about half an hour or so, when the captain announced “cabin crew, thirty minutes till landing”.
Landing was fast, and pretty smooth as well. Soon we were on our way out of the aircraft.
Overall, even though I had a pretty crappy flight with crappy service and a middle seat, I was impressed by the new economy class. I’d fly the new economy again in a heartbeat given the chance (if I wasn’t given a choice to fly business, which is still much better than economy).