This was ticketed as part of a Taipei-Shanghai return ticket in economy class which I purchased on the Cathay website a day before travel. It cost 12,113 NTD and all booked into V class, earning 2,560 Asia Miles. I had in fact been trying to book a business class ticket but there was limited availability for the Hong Kong – Shanghai leg on a Sunday evening and to add in that leg doubled the business class ticket price so I opted for economy. It felt to me like Cathay had thrown away some revenue, but maybe they know better.
I had been booked to travel from Shanghai on the Friday but changed this easily and without penalty to a Thursday flight when I was in Shanghai as my need to stay changed.
I took the airport bus to Pudong and arrived about an hour and a quarter before scheduled departure. Pudong is getting worse in terms of speed – there is now a security check at the main entrance (presumably related to a small bomb which was detonated in the airport this Summer), and immigration and security queues took half an hour. Indeed, despite arriving at the airport an hour and a quarter before the scheduled departure, by the time I arrived at the lounge the flight as already boarding.
At the airport
The flight was due to depart from one of Dragonair’s normal gates. However, arriving at the lounge it transpired that it had been changed to a bus gate, D229 which then took us to remote stand 802. I had never used a bus gate at Pudong before for a Cathay group operated flight and it was all of the usual stuff – a long walk downstairs, hanging around in the bus, and then getting deposited onto a rainy tarmac where an uncovered stairway led up to the plane door as the rain poured down.
The flight was operated by an Airbus A320 (B-HSG). The seats were okay but not especially comfortable and felt a bit cramped. There was a bottle of Bonaqua water in each seatback. There was no USB or power source. There was also no screen –the inflight entertainment system needed to be streamed to one’s own device. This was the first time that I had seen this on a Cathay or Cathay Dragon flight and it struck me as a marked diminution in offering.
The tray was also an odd design. It had large hinges reducing its usable space, so that in fact the trays the airline uses extend beyond the edge of the tray table. This was annoying and struck one as a very basic design flaw.
The plan was almost full but there were a few spare seats and after boarding one of the cabin crew kindly asked if I would like to move from my aisle seat to a window seat with an empty middle seat, which I did. After some minutes on the plane, the pilot made an announcement that there would be a delay due to air traffic control and by the time we pushed back it was around half an hour after the scheduled departure time.
The flight was fair but slow and we arrived at the gate in Hong Kong at about ten past seven, three quarters of an hour behind schedule. It was almost another half hour before my checked baggage appeared on the reclaim belt.
The cabin crew was excellent and keen to serve. Several stopped by to introduce themselves and they brought my meal out almost immediately after the seat belt sign was switched off, which I find slightly awkward but do appreciate the gesture.
Food and Drink
The meal option was chicken and rice or fish. I chose the chicken and it was bland and not very good. One good touch, as this flight was around the time of mid-Autumn festival, was the addition of a Hong Kong brand mooncake, which was explained in detail in the inflight magazine.
This flight was alas a good example of some of how Cathay Dragon is getting worse – no inflight entertainment unless one brought and used one’s own screen, a remote gate, fairly uninspiring food and so on.