KA808 / CX 6836 Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok HKG – Shanghai Pudong PVG
25 August 2010
Scheduled ETD/ETA: 1700-1930
Actual Time of Departure/Arrival: 1812-2018
A330-300 with RR772-60 Engines
Seat No: 10G
First time upgraded by Cathay Pacific to Business Class, and even though it was a Dragonair flight, it was still great nonetheless. With lounge passes that allowed me entry to Cathay’s great array of lounges in Hong Kong, I wasted no time in gaining entry into the Pier which is located on the main concourse close to the departure gates 1-4. It is worth noting that these gates are usually where most of Cathay’s late night flights to London, SF and Vancouver departs from.
Entrance to the lounge was via a discreet elevator beside the reception counter which will bring guests to the 2nd floor providing them a great view over the departure terminals. There were 2 other lounges which guests were allowed to enter, including the Wing which is located close to departure gates 65. The Pier is decorated nicely in earthy tones and had separate areas for dining and lounging, with a row of magazine counters which provided a wide choices of English, Chinese, French and German language publications. The highlight of the lounge, however, has got to be the Noodle and Long Bar. The former serves a choice of freshly made noodles along with sandwiches, juices and soft drinks while the latter provides a bar area serving alcohols and pre-flight aperitifs.
I helped myself to some magazines and headed down to the noodle bar since I wasn’t that satisfied with the meal offered by Cathay on the flight from Jakarta. Having ordered a wonton noodle, I picked a glass of orange juice while waiting for the buzzer disc that the server provides to remind me when my noodle is ready. There was several other noodles on offer and one of them is Sichuan style Dan-dan Noodles. But looking for a light snack, I picked the wonton noodles and wasn’t disappointed. It is worth noting that the catering for the lounge was provided by the venerable Peninsula in Hong Kong, so quality shouldn’t be much of an issue. After the meal, I decided to lounge for a while before taking a walk around the airport. Thus I got another beverage – a simple bottle of mineral water and headed out to look for a lounge seat. It must be pointed out that the lounge is quite packed in the afternoon and feels a bit crowded.
Singapore Airline’s A380 heading for the runway in HKIA
Thus I just spent a short while lounging before heading out towards the Wing. Along the way, I got distracted by the variety of airplanes and airline liveries that I just spent the rest of the time admiring planes, including Singapore Airlines’ A380 taxiing for departure. Lots of Hong Kong Airline and Express planes could also be spotted making their landing around this time. In addition, there were also 2 Garuda Indonesia planes in the airport, which was worth noting since Garuda is showing its intention to expand its routing. To pass the time I also managed to do some souvenir shopping for my cousins in Shanghai and browse around the numerous shops in the airport. Somehow I do enjoy shopping in airports, with Singapore’s Changi and Hong Kong’s airport being a front-runner in this aspect. And the magazines sections of bookstores always have some fresh offering of automobile magazines!
Around 4.30 pm though I headed out to my flight at departure gate 68 and due to the location of the aerobridge, there wasn’t a vantage point for me to get a picture of the plane. As a Business Class passenger, I was able to board the plane first and upon entering the plane, I discovered the plane had an additional first class section. Being one of the first few passengers heading into the plane, I was able to take a few shots of the seats which were reminiscent of the regional Cathay seats on the B777-200s. I was also able to grab a copy of my favourite newspaper – Financial Times before boarding the plane. After placing my luggage on the overhead cabin, the friendly flight attendant offered me Dragonair’s signature drink called Dragon Sunrise which is a concoction of gin with fresh guava and lemon juice. It was a really nice drink to freshen oneself up before a flight. Though instead of hot towels to go with it, it was a small packet of moist towelettes in a foil packet. No peanuts or small tidbits either. Well I am not complaining since it was a complimentary upgrade, and soon I was settled in the seat and enjoying my reading materials. Expecting Cathay’s Discovery magazine, it was interesting to find out that Dragonair has their own inflight magazine titled ‘Silk Road’. I do appreciate the independence shown in the airline though I found the articles within to be not comparable to the nicer Discovery magazine. One embarassing incident occured here, as I took a seat on the window seat expecting it to be my seat but instead my seat was the aisle seat on the middle section. I guess I was too pre-occupied to notice the seat number once I was inside the cabin. This also showed the flight attendant wasn’t as
After browsing through the headlines in the FT, and the inflight magazine, the pilot dropped a small bombshell informing passengers that our departure is to be delayed until further notice due to crowded air traffic in Shanghai Pudong. I wonder why they didn’t announce it earlier, which would allow me a longer time to linger in the lounge. Well anyway, it was a long wait and there was no service from the flight attendant during this period. Since some time have passed after my drink, I decided to ask for a glass of water from the attendant which were crowded at the back of the cabin. Being a full business class flight, it was also a full economy class flight. Somehow, the flight attendant got my cue and started to offer the other business class passengers some refreshments and even went further to offer the desserts meant for the meal – a cup of Häagen-Daz ice cream to the passengers. Macadamia Nut and Strawberry flavour ice cream was on offer and it was a nice move, though it meant there wasn’t dessert after the in-flight meal. The flight attendant also decided it was a good time to take down beverage orders and hand out the inflight dining menu which was a nice booklet. There was a total of 3 main courses on offer- a Chinese choice of Braised Pork Meat Ball with Chinese Rice Wine and Basil Brassica Rice by Lei Garden, a Western choice of Hazelnut Crusted Salmon Fillet with Cream Sauce Kipfler Potato, Grilled Fennel and Grapefruit by JW’s California or a daily special which was shown on a smaller separate sheet of paper slipped within the booklet. Being a Tuesday, it was Roasted Chicken Thigh in Teriyaki Sauce served with Steamed Rice with Sesame and Vegetables. Based on these choices, I decided in my mind to go for the 3rd choice.
We were on the plane stationary by the departure gate for nearly an hour and a half though throughout this time there was constant feedback by the pilot on the situation and when we would be ready to start pullback and take-off. Slightly past 6 pm, the plane started to turn around and head for the runway, before taking off at around 6.12 pm. It was a nice take off allowing passengers by the window to admire sunset along Hong Kong’s airport. The pilot brought us above the clouds in no time, however, and the flight attendant started to get busy preparing for passenger’s shortly after take-off. The table setting was in place, and appetizers for the day which was Grilled Scallops with Soba Noodle Salad as served with it. Bread was offered from the basket and I picked a small slice of garlic bread. Cheese and Crackers were also placed on the tray. I loved the appetizer and finished the whole portion but only took a small bit from the garlic bread. When it was time for the main course, the flight attendant came out with a large tray filled with all 3 choices available and I picked the chicken teriyaki choice which was alright though not as tasty as I expected. I would learn later from my brother that the economy class meal served was very delicious, and that makes me wonder… The service during the meal was faultless though as my cup was refilled and there was a wide variety of drinks to choose from, including champagne. With a day of travelling, I sticked to plain water. Boring but it does its job very well.
There was ample time for passengers to complete the meal before the tray was cleared and the flight attendant offered tea and coffee. The tea choices wasn’t as extensive as the menu says though and I just picked Japanese tea out of the choices and it was served nicely with a chocolate square. After the cup of warm tea was served, I snuck out to the lavatory to freshen up and on the way back to my seat, took one of the various magazines offered to business class passengers. I got an issue of China Pictorial and headed back to my seat to enjoy the nice cup of tea, chocolates and had a relaxing time spent in an airplane. It just felt so comfortable that it felt like bedtime was near since the cabin was really quiet. It was another half an hour before the pilot announced the ready to land announcement as the plane went on to descend into Shanghai in nightfall. There wasn’t much to see since we were landing in Pudong and not the closer-to-the-city Hongqiao Airport. Before long, the plane landed at 8.18 pm, and business class passengers were soon able to disembark after first class passengers.
Overall, my first experience with Dragonair showed the high level of service for a regional carrier and its shared infrastructure such as lounge and mileage benefits with Cathay was flawless. It would also perhaps be the best carrier for local flights between Hong Kong and mainland Chinese cities. Now if only there was intra-China flights by Dragonair. However, the packed plane and delay meant that service wasn’t served in full for passengers, and somehow there was something lacking in the business class section. Perhaps a touch more quality in the meal, drinks and amenities would be welcome.