Dragon Air: KA 993
Departure Date: 2/16/19
Plane type: Airbus A330-330
Business class Seat 11A First Class Seat 2A
This review is part of a series on my travels to Hong Kong and Beijing China in February 2019
See Trip Report Index: A Trip To Nowhere; Sprinkled In With A Bit of Disney
After an uneventful five hours in Beijing Capitol International Airport it was time for my trip back to Hong Kong. This was my nested business class ticket purchased on American Airlines with a combination of Cathay Pacific/Dragon Air and American Airlines. The Dragon Air flight (a Cathay subsidiary) was in their regional business class product. Which I was excited to get a chance to try out and compare the service difference between Dragon Air’s regional business and Cathay’s business.
At the gate, just like on the outbound, there were three stanchioned lines first/one world emerald, business/one world sapphire ruby and a coach line. Seat Guru and Expertflyer both had this as a two-class plane with only coach and business, so I got in the business line with the rest of the guests. As staff were checking passports and tickets, they were moving guests from my line to the coach line but were not moving people to the first/emerald.
Finally boarding commenced, and as they scanned my ticket at the gate, they said that my seat had changed. Initially my brain was miffed, why did my seat change I take pride in choosing my seats and didn’t want it changed. But two seconds after she said that she crossed out 11A and wrote down 2A. SCORE!! I had been upgraded to first without knowing they had a first cabin and more importantly without asking. I’m not sure why this happened, business and coach were not full, but you don’t question a gift horse in the mouth do you? So, I now get to try Dragon Airs’ regional first class which = Cathay business class. Yippee!!
Dragon air employs the same business class seat as Cathay’s 777’s business class as well as American Airlines 777-300 business class. The seat is quite comfortable and has plenty of legroom and personal space. It’s not super private but is a nice and comfortable seat for a three-hour flight. The cabin only has two rows in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone layout with all seats having direct isle access. On this journey, there were only three occupied seats. The only difference I noticed between the Cathay seats and Dragon Air, were the color scheme. In this case muted beige tones with a hint of reds which I really liked. Otherwise the seats were 100% identical.
Once settled into my window seat, I was able to check out what it had to offer. On the window side was a pie shaped armrest that also served as a drink and snack holder. In that armrest was also a very large adjustable tray table.
Below this armrest was a large open storage valet. Which was big enough for shoes, a computer or iPad and blanket and or pillow. It was plenty of space for my needs. You couldn’t store a backpack or duffel, but when you had plenty of overhead storage and virtually nobody else to share it with, this was not an issue.
There’s also a little headphone garage where the three-pronged jack is plugged in as well. It’s one of my annoyances with this particular seat, that the headphone jack is so out of the way and not with all the other electrical parts. First world problem for sure. Next to the headphone garage are the usual electricals, power, remote control, three seat controls (back, seat pan and largest) and finally the personal reading light. The one MAJOR thing missing are personal air vents. I’m so far zero for three on this trip. I don’t don’t don’t understand why they must run the cabins so warm and not give you an air vent. This is one thing that US carriers get right they tend to almost always have air vents. With my penchant for running hot, this is a problem. I know TMI. On the other side of the seat is a height adjustable armrest, that must be in the lowered position for takeoff and landing. Does anyone know why this is? Color me curious.
Lastly, they have the adjustable tv that can swing out so when your watching it, it’s facing you more so then the window.
For those of you traveling with someone else that you’d actually want to have a conversation with, the middle seats are your best bet. The seats are angled towards each other, but the matching side tables sandwiched next to each other provide some separation. So you’re not really facing each other.
But you can still talk to them without having to talk across the isle or yell. You might need to lean forward a bit to see their faces though. If you happen to be in the middle seats and not with a traveling buddy, they do have a partition you can raise up to make it a bit more private.
Shortly after boarding I was offered a predeparture drink and I chose Carlsberg beer. When it was served, it was accompanied by a canape of salmon wrapped rice with saffron and an olive oil marinated squash with diced vegetables.
Both were a nice touch and tasted fresh. Then after takeoff the menus were presented while a post departure drink was offered. In this case I ordered the champagne which was Taittinger Brut 2008, it was served with cold unsalted unflavored almonds. Yuck. All I know, is back in coach they serve smoked almonds and they’re my jam, and as I’m writing this, I’m asking myself why I didn’t just ask for some.
After my drink was served, I was asked what I’d like for dinner. I was impressed that on an evening flight that was only three hours they offered a four-course meal.Which I opted for the western meal. I think I’d had plenty of calories today. Other nice touches included plated items not on a single serve tray. In other words, they served each item individually.
I was pretty impressed with the menu and drink options, I can only imagine how much fun a longer ride in first would be with Cathy
I started with the seared tuna and it was amazing. The plating was super fancy, and it just looked gorgeous. I swear the level of service on a proper airline just beats the socks off so many others. Even thought this was their regional first class they truly stepped up their first course game. The tuna was perfectly cooked, the pesto olive oil sauce as well as the paper-thin carrot and radish toppings were fantastic. I wish I could speak about food in a way that a Top Chef judge would, because I know I’m not doing this course justice.
My second course was the mushroom and potato cream soup. Presentation wise it looked nice. Taste wise it was bland, with zero flavor. Even with a heaps of salt and pepper it still tasted bland. I had just a few bites and all the sliced mushrooms and called it a day. Onto the next item.
For the entrée I chose the beef cheeks with port wine sauce with potatoes, peppers and zucchini. Again, sadly the food was just okay. The sauce and vegetables were fabulous, but the meat was overcooked and had a lot of fat on it that was not edible. I was disappointed in the product and the plating.
Lastly for dessert, I had the apple strudel with vanilla ice cream. FINALLY, a second delicious item. The strudel was nicely spiced with cinnamon and sugar and had a flaky dough too. The ice cream was not rock hard, which tends to happen on airplanes when they must use dry ice to keep it frozen. So, when I got my meal, I could actually eat it, instead of having to wait 10 minutes for it to thaw.
Once the meal was done, I put the seat in recline and continued to watch Crazy Rich Asians (I love that movie) until it was time to land. With a blink of an eye my three-hour flight on Dragon Air was over and it was time to land back in Hong Kong.
I really did enjoy my flight on Dragon Air in business class, I mean first class. Even on a short haul flight you can get a pretty good impression of what they and Cathay provide in first on a long-haul adventure. The seat was comfortable, the cabin was pleasant (although too warm for me), and the video entertainment like the last two flights was adequate. If I had not just spent 16+ hours flying with them, the entertainment would be rated higher, plenty of variety, but by now I’ve seen it. The stepped-up service, with vintage champagne, canapes prior to takeoff and a plated four course meal were great. I just wish I liked the food better. Overall this was a nice upgrade and I’m happy I was able to knock off a new airline for me.