Hong Kong to Shanghai Pudong, KA 876
This was ticketed as part of a Taipei to Shanghai return ticket. The ticket is covered in this post.
I had been issued with the boarding pass when checking in at Taipei Taoyuan earlier in the day. On arrival at Hong Kong airport, the transfer was through the transfer gate near gate 43 but the departure gate was closer to the passport control end of the main corridor. As the shuttle train only takes passengers in one direction this meant a relatively long walk back to the boarding gate. The plane boarded and left on time.
This was operated by an Airbus A320 which from its cleanliness felt very new. The cabin decoration felt a bit sparse and lacklustre to me. Perhaps I was expecting more colour from Dragonair in economy but in fact this felt like the more modern, light, airy Cathay styling, which is simply too light for my tastes.
There was no inflight entertainment system, no power socket and no USB. Given how new this plane seemed to be, I was surprised by this. When booking between HK and Shanghai (and indeed Beijing) one has the choice of Cathay as well as Dragonair and this lack of entertainment might be worth noting if that’s important to you.
What most annoyed me here was a small detail, which is the handles on the overhead bins. I generally dislike Airbus bins as their closing mechanism is so unnecessarily loud, especially when people slam them as many people on flights in this region do. This plane had something which I had not seen before – a light on the handle toindicate whether or not it was closed (the light is always on, but is coloured either as red or green). The handle isn’t automatic – one still needs to push it, but where is somewhat unclear, as the area where one normally puts one’s fingers is somewhat covered by metal. Thus this supposed innovation is confusing and unhelpful, and I don’t like the lights which I feel add unnecessarily to the light pollution in the cabin.
Moreover these overhead bins seem larger than normal. This meant that cabin crew standing under them had to stand at an angle, as shown in my picture. Plus as it was so deep a passenger who boarded after me simply threw his luggage on top of mine. Overall the cabin redesign is style over substance and a retrograde step, which seems to be a bit of a theme with some of the Cathay group’s brand thinking these days.
The seat pitch felt a little cramped and the seats were fairly basic though comfortable enough. At each seat on boarding was a bottle of distilled water.
The flight left and arrived on time, which is especially welcome when flying to China where there are so often delays. Maybe it being a Sunday morning helped. It was a relatively smooth flight until the final half hour when we hit some mild turbulence.
This was a friendly but young seeming crew and they had poor awareness of what was going on in my opinion. At one stage one of them spilled tea on my white shirt sleeve, marking it, and not only did she not apologise, she didn’t even notice. This was consistent with the general level of service, which felt a bit rushed and uncertain.
I didn’t receive any Marco Polo greeting.
Food and Drink
There was no menu card and the meal offered was “tomato and bacon, or noodles and dim sum”. I chose the former and in fact it’s another example of why one misses a proper menu – as well as tomatoes and bacon, the meal contained potatoes, eggs, and spinach, so it was rather different. It tasted excellent. It came with yoghurt and a bread roll.
I generally hold a high opinion of Dragonair. This flight made me reconsider it somewhat – the plane was less comfortable or useable than I would expect, and the cabin crew were beneath my expectation in terms of skill and professionalism.