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Review: Cathay Dragon Old A320 Economy Class (HKG-KWL)

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Note: This product doesn’t exist anymore (Cathay Pacific’s A321neos feature a new economy class product)

Around mid-May, I took a short trip with my school on a tour of Guilin and Yangshuo. Needless to say, I had an absolute blast during that week. Although we stayed at several hotels, I won’t be reviewing them as they weren’t really aspirational nor memorable. However, my flight from Hong Kong to Guilin was especially memorable, so I thought I’d review it sooner or later.

We checked in as a group. Although it was a long process, the ground staff helping us were really delightful to talk to. After a five-minute lunch which involved me stuffing McDonalds down my throat, we finally made our way to the remote stand where we were bussed to the aircraft. I didn’t get to take pictures of the aircraft as AVESCO staff are on the ground who strictly monitor and discourage picture taking.

We were welcomed by the really, really friendly Senior Purser as we boarded the flight.

Cathay Dragon Flight 704
Monday, May 11th, 2016
Origin: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 521 Dep: 14:10 (15:30)
Destination: Guilin (KWL) Gate: N/A Arr: 15:35 (16:55)
Duration: 1 hr 25 min (1 hr 25 min)
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 42K/42J

The cabin featured Dragonair’s older (but not oldest) generation of A320 seats, found exclusively on their all Economy 32M configuration. The seats are decked out in Dragonair’s latest Economy seat covers.

Dragonair Airbus A320 Economy Class Cabin

Dragonair Airbus A320 Economy Class Seat

Dragonair Airbus A320 Economy Class Cabin

The seats themselves are quite comfortable. Although the padding is a little tough, it’s not actively uncomfortable. There’s also extra padding near the head which makes the seat a little more comfortable for seating. The seat pitch of the seat was between 29-30 inches. Although that’s not a lot of space and is below the industry standard, the legroom wasn’t actively uncomfortable. It’s worth nothing that the first few rows of the aircraft offer increased legroom, so it’s worth giving a shot at those seats. However, I was really disappointed that Dragonair didn’t even bother with installing power ports aboard the aircraft. You’d think that that’s an absolute given on the world’s best regional airline? No. Given that this aircraft generally operates super short flights, I wasn’t too miffed about the fact that there were no personal televisions. However, I did notice that a few people were disappointed that Dragonair skimped on offering even really basic entertainment.

Dragonair Airbus A320 Economy Class Seat

However, they had individual air nozzles, something far too rare aboard Cathay Pacific Group aircraft.

Dragonair Airbus A320 Economy Class Air Nozzles

We parked next to a Cathay Pacific 777-300ER that was still in the old livery. As it turns out, it was the plane that brought me from Toronto to Hong Kong last year.

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Hong Kong Airport

Just as the cabin started settling in for the short journey up into Mainland China, the captain came on the intercom and announced to everyone that we were expecting a three-hour departure delay due to flow control. The delay sucked. However, I didn’t blame the crew as it’s not really their fault. Unfortunately, several of my travel companions (there were 60 of them…) started borderline harassing the crew over the delay, consistently pestering them with questions and generally causing a HUGE nuisance. Eek.

Dragonair Airbus A320 Economy Class Cabin During Delay

During this time, the cabin crew and the Senior Purser came through the cabin offering some bags. These are similar to the ones offered on Cathay Pacific flights to Taipei and Manila. However, instead of a wrap, a packaged drink and a cookie, we were greeted to a bottle of water, some snacks and a Toblerone bar. I can’t really complain about that given that it’s a 1 hour and 15-minute long flight, but I can’t help but also imagine that offering cold sandwiches might also be a good idea on these flights.

Dragonair Airbus A320 Economy Class Snack

Given that Dragonair is going to be rebranded as Cathay Dragon, I took the opportunity to collect as many of the Dragonair branded snack bags as possible, given that they will be disappearing soon…I think my friends and I went a little overboard, to the point where people were literally throwing bags at me from the opposite side of the aisle.

Dragonair Airbus A320 Economy Class Bags

During this time, additional drinks such as Coke and Juices were offered by the crew. The fantastic Senior Purser also came around the cabin offering little chocolate bars, cups of water and generally doing everything she could to please a group of rather comically irritating teenagers (myself included ;)).

Despite the captain initially announcing a three-hour delay, we were told to return to our seats and fasten our seat belts after only an hour or so. Shortly afterwards, the cabin crew performed a manual safety demonstration which I found had funnily been updated with the latest version of instructions. Unfortunately, my travel companions didn’t really pay attention.

Shortly afterwards, we began our taxi out to the runway.

Hong Kong International Airport Traffic

Dragonair Airbus A320 Economy Class Cabin During Taxi


Hong Kong International Airport GateGourmet Kitchens, Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal and HACTL Offices

Air Canada Boeing 777-200LR Hong Kong Airport

EVA Air Boeing 777-300ER Hong Kong Airport

Eventually, it was our turn to lift off into the skies as we turned onto the runway, and (sort of) zoomed straight into the clouds.

Dragonair Airbus A320 View During Takeoff


Hong Kong International Airport Traffic

Hong Kong International Airport Midfield Terminal


Up, up and away!

Dragonair Airbus A320 Economy Class View During Takeoff

Dragonair Airbus A320 Economy Class Cabin During Takeoff

Dragonair Airbus A320 Economy Class Wing View

Given that the “meal” for the flight had been served during the delay, there wasn’t any service during the flight. However, the crew came around with water, and offered to pour other beverages for passengers on request. The Senior Purser also came around with chocolate bars to keep some of the peckish passengers filled.

As for the service during the flight, I was really, really impressed. I’ve always seen Dragonair flight attendants as a bunch who were generally young, playful, friendly and energetic. On this flight, the crew certainly fitted that stereotype well. The Senior Purser was amazing. Playful, friendly, personable and extremely attentive. She was willing to play along with some of my travel companions and was a fantastic sport. The rest of the crew weren’t quite as good but were still quite friendly, and attentive.

As it turns out, someone aboard our flight took a video of our bumpy descent, so I’ll embed it down here. (Yes, the person who posted the video spelled “Guilin” “Giu Lin”).


Dragonair Airbus A320 Economy Class Landing View

Dragonair Airbus A320 Economy Class Landing View

We touched down into Giu Lin Guilin at approximately 16:55, 1 hour and 2o minutes later than our scheduled arrival to our destination.

Dragonair Airbus A320 Economy Class View of Landing

After taxiing to the gate, we deplaned, bid the friendly flight purser farewell and headed to immigration (which was a mess of epic proportions).

Bottom Line

Dragonair’s A320-200 product is acceptable. I was disappointed by the hard product. Although the seat was comfortable enough, there weren’t any power ports or any form of entertainment aside from a selection of magazines and newspapers. However, the rest of the flight was quite pleasant, from the friendly service to the adequate food options. Thankfully, Dragonair is phasing out their older generation A320 product and replacing it with newer seats and a brand new streaming entertainment system, so we’ll be well entertained in the future.

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