Cathay Pacific and Cathay dragon both fly to Beijing. In Economy, there is not much of a difference in terms of product and experience., however, it can be drastically different if you are flying up front. Normally I will always fly Cathay Pacific aircraft as they have a better hard product while allowing me to credit the flight to Alaska Mileage Plan. However, I have to go back to Hong Kong for a meeting around lunchtime so I chose Cathay Dragon Business Class this time as they have a 8am morning flight.
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Neither do Cathay Dragon nor Cathay Pacific allows mobile boarding pass on flights departing Beijing, so I arrived about an hour and a half before departure to get my boarding pass from the counter. Both Cathay Dragon and Cathay Pacific use Terminal 3 and check-in aisle C in Beijing’s Capital International Airport.
Lines for security and immigration was always long, and my travel date coincided with the start of summer holidays in China. So despite me arriving at the airport quite early, I was among the last to reach the gate and board the plane. I also did not check out the lounge but I have heard that it is mediocre at best.
Cathay Dragon’s A330s features a 3-class configuration. Its First Class seats are similar to what Cathay Pacific’s reverse herringbone Business Class seats while Cathay Dragon’s Business Class feature extra recliner seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. These extra recliner seats are similar to those on Cathay Pacific’s regional 777 and 330s.
The seats are fixed in its own shell, so when reclined it will decrease your own legroom but will create less interference with passengers seated behind you. There is an adjustable headrest and a pillow is at every seat upon boarding. The flight attendants later distributed blankets but I did not find the need of that as the plane does not have individual air nozzle and the cabin is quite warm. Overall, the seat is fine for this 3-hour flight.
The IFE screen is quite small and uses a similar IFE as Cathay Pacific but with programmes more regionally oriented as Cathay Dragon only flies short to medium hauls in Asia. IFE controller and seat control are both between the seats, as well as a small storage compartment. There is a headphone in this storage compartment. These headphones are similar to what Cathay Pacific offers. However, these headphones are not particularly noise-cancelling and certainly not industrial leading in terms of product offering.
Our plane parked next to an Air China 737-800, similar to which I flew from Beijing to Yuncheng just 10 days later. We pushed back at 7:55am and had a 15-minute flow control delay (per the morn of Beijing) on the taxiway. We finally took off at 8:17am and the seatbelt sign is off just 5 minutes after takeoff.
There is breakfast service on this flight and menu was distributed 15 minutes after take-off. I was the only one having breakfast as most of the other passengers are sleeping on this morning departure. The cabin crew dimmed the cabin lights which made picture taking a little difficult, but nonetheless, I did my best.
The menu read as follows:
As you can see, the menu is not huge, which is fine for this particular flight. I find catering on Cathay Pacific to be better than Cathay Dragon in general but that is just based on my experiences.
We experienced a lot of turbulence on our initial climb and service was suspended until a full 45 minutes after take-off. The tray table is firm, unlike those of British Airways Business Class I had days earlier.
The meal started with a fruit plate and a side of yoghurt, then I chose the Dim Sum selection for the meal:
The fruit plate is small but was very fresh. However, Dim Sum Selection is a total let down. It tasted fine but was nothing good about it as well, I definitely expected more than just mediocrity from a Hong Kong based Airline’s Dim Sum meal. Overall, the meal is simple but is good enough for this short haul flight.
There wasn’t much for the remainder of the flight. We landed at 11:37am, surprisingly with not much delay, and I quickly disembarked to catch my meeting in Central.
Overall, I would not go out of my way to avoid Cathay Dragon in favour of Cathay Pacific. However, recliner seats on wide-body jets are something I really dislike, even Air China, who codeshares with Cathay on this route offers 2-2-2 configured flatbed in Business Class.
Beijing is a good starting point for Cathay Pacific Business Class flights to Europe and USA. Flights to cities like Chicago goes for only 2300USD Return All-in if departing from Beijing via Hong Kong, which is a very good price.
Hope you find this review useful and please leave a comment below on your opinion between Cathay Dragon and Cathay Pacific’s regional Business Class: