Cathay Pacific recently started direct service between Hong Kong and Dublin, the first scheduled passenger flights to link the Republic of Ireland with Hong Kong.
This was the outbound leg of a Hong Kong to Dublin ticket which I had purchased on Ctrip a couple of months before the trip for $4,876 all in. This was cheaper than with Cathay directly.
At the Airport
This was the inaugural flight to Dublin but there was no sign of that at Hong Kong airport. Boarding was through gate forty – I got there about half an hour before departure. Boarding had started and was swift.
This was operated by an Airbus A350-900. The more I fly on Cathay’s A350s and compare them to the 777s, the more I feel they made some bad choices in kitting them out. Some are small but annoying, such as the absence of a ledge above the table level on which to place a mobile phone. For Hong Kongers and many Asians, charging a phone inflight matters and having them down in the seatback pockets must lead to more forgotten phones, phones damages by spilt drinks and so on.
The seats are also thin – one often feels the person behind moving – and the gap between them feels unnecessarily wide.
There are bigger problems too, such as the toilet positioning and change to galley size, which means that there are now no toilets at the rear of the cabin but a large galley. Cabin crew sometimes curtain this off and as a passenger trying to find a toilet the whole thing seems like a step back from the 777 design, although not having toilets next to the food area may be a good idea in terms of hygiene.
There were pillows and blankets at the seat on arrival – these pillows Cathay uses with a smooth side and a rougher obverse are a good size and quite comfortable. The entertainment system has a good selection. This plane had the newer interface.
I prefer the old maps and the fact that the old system showed options at the same size so was less confusing. The new version does look more contemporary and has easier touchscreen functionality in my experience. There is no remote controller now, though, so that is necessary, and also means passengers are touching screens more, which can be annoying to the passenger seated in front.
The launch of this route formed the backdrop to the cover story in the inflight magazine.
The economy class cabin was only about half full, which was less than I would have expected.
We departed on time, had a smooth flight and landed slightly ahead of schedule. The captain mentioned that this was an inaugural service but apart from that there was no clue.
I had been seated in a three-seat row with another passenger two rows behind the bulkhead seats where babies often travel. As the plane had so many empty seats, I was a bit annoyed not to have been given a better one – a couple was travelling with their infant, not a baby, who was one of the worst behaved children I have seen on a plane and shouted and misbehaved for almost the entire flight, making it hard for me to sleep.
On arrival at Dublin airport, we waited while a seemingly interminable number of Ryanair planes taxied in front of us. Upon getting to the jetbridge, it didn’t extend far enough for the plane. Dublin has not had A350 service before, we were informed, and so they were not quite prepared even though this Cathay service had been announced many months beforehand. Finally a jetbridge was connected, and we disembarked an hour after we had landed.
Menus were distributed and there was a dinner service which given the late departure hour was well past my dinner time. Breakfast was served about an hour and a half prior to landing.
Food and Drink
The crew handed out paper menus which read as follows:
Both meals tasted decent.
Cathay made a lot of effort to launch this flight, including a reception in Dublin before it with guests including the Financial Secretary, so it is a shame they did not bring a little more launch excitement to the flight itself, or failing that at least get the airport properly set up to receive the flight.
However, this is the only nonstop flight between Hong Kong and Dublin. That alone makes it attractive if Ireland is your destination.