This was ticketed as the second leg of Taipei to Shanghai return ticket. I booked it a week or so before travel. As the outward journey was on a Sunday during a popular travel season, both my travel agent and later the Cathay website indicated that the only flights available were very early on the Sunday morning, which would not work with my schedule. I remembered that Cathay promises certain tiers of Marco Polo membership guaranteed seats. So I called the Marco Polo service centre and indeed they were able to put me onto my desired flights, which impressed me. I booked into business class.
The ticket cost was a total of HKD 5,448 which I paid at the Dragonair ticketing office in TST. I think that this is good value for a business class trip on this route.
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. My inbound flight from Taoyuan was delayed by one and a half hours, but as there was ample connection time I was still in plenty of time for my scheduled departure to Shanghai. On arrival at the airport, I got a text message from Dragonair informing me that departure was delayed by one and three quarter hours, to 11 p.m.
It was explained in a lounge announcement that the delay was due to the late arrival of the aircraft. Onboard the pilot explained that it had come from Phuket and was delayed due to the weather around Hong Kong.
I had been expecting that on Hong Kong to Shanghai late on a weekend night there may well be a delay, as there so often is. Nonetheless it was quite frustrating to see my night slipping away.
This was operated by an Airbus 330, kitted out with reclining seats side by side.
As well as plug sockets and USB points, the entertainment system is excellent. Dragonair (as with Cathay) recently seem to have abandoned their previous approach of not including the film section of their system on flights of under three hours, so films are now available.
Boarding was shortly before 11 p.m. and we pushed back at 11.18 p.m. It was a short taxi to the runway and we were soon airborne.
The flight was quite busy but not full and the seat next to me remained empty. The captain warend that that there may be some turbulence but it was a fairly smooth flight. We touched down at Pudong at 1.25 a.m. and arrived at gate 71 ten minutes later, a shade until two hours behind schedule and so late into the night that I opted to stay at the insipid airport hotel rather than figure out onward transport to town. The immigration was dealing only with our flight by the looks of it, so the queue was short.
The crew were friendly and helpful. When I came on board they greeted me as a Marco Polo member and were very attentive thereafter. They started the meal service quickly and proceeded efficiently.
Food and Drink
In addition to the main menu, Dragonair offered their promotional menu which changes frequently. On a route such as this where many passengers fly the route frequently, I think that this is a good idea to offer some variety.
It was late to eat but I decided to have the halibut. The starter of cold cuts and cheese was delicious and the halibut was good.
This was a pleasant flight with good service and food, although the wine was middling. The delay was annoying but at least the flight was a smooth one.
Guest Blogger: Christopher R.