Airline Review: Cathay Dragon HKG-HKT
KA264 Hong Kong (HKG) to Phuket (HKT)
9,000 BA Avios + US$164 (Business class redemption)
Another great visit to Hong Kong had wrapped up, and it was time to go on to my next destination. I had an award redemption ticket on Cathay Dragon (KA) booked via my British Airways account.
After a minute or so handling check-out formalities at the Island Pacific, I took a cab to Hong Kong station to catch the Airport Express.
At Hong Kong and Kowloon stations, a facility known as “in-town check-in” exists, wherein you handle your check-in formalities at the station, receive your boarding passes, and hand over checked-baggage. Many airlines (list here) offer this service. Naturally the home team Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon is one of them.
By coincidence, the business class check-in line was the busiest versus economy and first. I suppose that’s what you get for checking in on Hong Kong island. My agent advised me that the flight would be delayed by a half hour. Oh quelle horreur, I am going to have an extra half-hour of champagne and dim sum time in the Cathay lounge.
The journey takes less than a half-hour from Central, and with my documents in hand, I head straight over to security and exit immigration (south), which aren’t too busy circa 11:30 AM on a Sunday. The addition of automated gates capable of reading an electronic passport have been very helpful, I guess.
My departure gate was 31, today. Cathay lounges are found by gate 1 (The Wing), 65 (the Pier), 16 (the Deck) and 35 (the Bridge). I opted for the Pier, with its tea house, noodle bar, and barista coffee facilities. The full run-down of Cathay lounges in HKG can be found here.
It was a decent walk, but the reward justified it. After an early start (sans food) for a couple of phone calls to the US, my stomach demanded food. After a pit-stop at the bar for a glass of champagne (GH Mumm), I went to the noodle bar for fresh-steamed pork & vegetable buns, siu mai, and noodles. I quite enjoyed the buns, but the siu mai were decidedly “mass produced” rather than “nice dim sum” in overall flavor and texture. Flyertalk noted that this coincided with the handover of Cathay’s lounge catering to Sodexo. You might recognize the name as your alma mater’s dining operator.
After another round and some (quite nice) dragon fruit for dessert, it was time for the hike back to gate 31. Just as I arrived, the business class queue was being boarded. They must have known that I was coming.
KA (formerly Dragonair) uses a 2-2-2 recliner configuration in business class. The seat is more than roomy enough for the regional routes flown by KA. HKG-HKT is only 3 hours. That said, the frequent flyer community does note that it is a downgrade versus Cathay Pacific’s long-haul 1-2-1 business product.
If you’re wondering, KA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cathay Pacific. It is decidedly *not* a low-cost carrier by any means, considering the price to fly, in-flight service, baggage allowance, etc. You will find some smaller blogs out there calling it a low-cost. They are wrong.
Back to our originally scheduled programming!
I took a copy of the Sunday edition of the South China Morning Post and navigated to 15H, and aisle seat on the right side of the aircraft (an A330-300). The flight attendants made *two* beverage runs before departure, so I helped myself to what tasted like an orange-mango-champagne cocktail. I do believe that the first few sips would have covered my weekly dose of Vitamin S(ugar).
After a brief update by the Australian pilot and perusing the paper (complete with the customary lamentations about the Hong Kong residential real estate market), we were in the air.
As soon as we passed 10,000 ft, the flight attendants distributed menus and took drink orders. Champagne (Taittinger) and Earl Grey tea for me, please.
The selection for lunch included prawns in cream over pasta, sliced lemon chicken, and pork satay with nasi goreng. I opted for the latter, though the FA advised me that it would be spicy. Given that Cathay catering tends to be very restrained in the flavor department, “YAY!” The starters included a small salad and beef medallions for an appetizer. The FAs also came around with bread (I went for garlic).
The pork was perfectly tender, and giving the rice a 3-4 out of 10 on the spice scale would be generous. This was an utterly unnecessary meal, but I needed to have a bite so that I could pass on my findings to you, the reader.
For dessert, various Haagen Dazs (I believe) ice creams came around. I declined, as I am not a big HD fan.
Coffee and tea were offered, so I took some more Earl Grey.
During the last hour, I decided to “test” the crew – again for science, for your benefit – by pressing the champagne button (aka the call button) for one last glass. As with Cathay mainline flights, the crew was incredibly prompt. It’s moments like this where one doesn’t miss US carrier service.
Our arrival in Phuket was non-descript, and my bags were among the first off the carousel, so everything ended on a strong note. Now I have one month of Thai food to look forward to.