Review: Hong Kong to Chengdu Shangliu, Cathay Dragon flight KA820, Business Class

Ticketing

This was ticketed as the outbound leg of a Hong Kong to Chengdu return ticket which in total booked into L class, costing HKD2,672. I booked it in person in the week of travel at the Cathay Dragon ticketing office in Tsim Sha Tsui, whose itineraries don’t detail how many Asia Miles are accrued. Consulting the Marco Polo club, I see that it is 839 miles and ten club points.

Checkin

I arrived at Hong Kong airport a couple of hours before take off and checked in immediately at the fairly empty Cathay Dragon counters. The ground agent told me that the flight was delayed due to a delay with the inbound aircraft (from Hangzhou) and that the new departure time would be 11.15, fifty minutes after originally scheduled. She said, “I presume you received a message from us” but in fact I had not received such a message and didn’t get one afterwards.

The ground agent told me that as economy class was full, I had been given an upgrade to business class.

At the airport

The departure gate was 25. Boarding was slightly delayed to about 11.25.

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Equipment

This was operated by an Airbus A330 (registration B-HYQ). The seat was a comfortable partially reclining seat, with a pillow on it upon boarding. It had the Dragonair inflight entertainment system, a plug and a USB socket.

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Flight

The flight was around four fifths full in the large business class cabin. We pushed back at 10.45 and arrived at gate 103 in Chengdu at 1.55 p.m., fifty minutes behind schedule. Immigration at Chengdu had only a short queue, whereas the baggage took fifteen minutes or so to arrive and one then had to join the long, albeit fast-moving, queues to scan bags for customs.

The flight was smooth and only as we descended into a grey, muggy Chengdu did we encounter cloud and low visibility.

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Service

The cabin crew greeted me and were friendly and responsive in the meal service, then stayed in the galley for most of the rest of the flight.

Food and Drink

This was catered as a breakfast flight but due to the delay, the food service didn’t start until half past twelve or so, so it felt a bit insubstantial to have breakfast rather than lunch by then.

The breakfast was fine but nothing special: a hot dish which was good, a croissant and jam, some fruit and an Emmi yoghurt, along with fresh orange juice and tea.

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Conclusion                       

Cathay Dragon has a lot of problems with punctuality in China, in part because of airspace delays in China but one wonders whether the impact of that is not exacerbated by their aircraft rotation. The service was alright but on balance it was a fairly mundane flight.

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