Airline review: Cathay Dragon, Hong Kong to Fukuoka, Japan, economy

THE PLANE

A330-300; Cathay Dragon currently has 24 Airbus A330s. Cathay Pacific rebranded its subsidiary Dragonair as Cathay Dragon in 2016.

THE ROUTE

Hong Kong to Fukuoka, Japan

CLASS

Economy, window seat 37A

LOYALTY SCHEME

Marco Polo Club, part of oneworld. On arriving in Hong Kong after an overnight Cathay Pacific flight, my Qantas Frequent Flyer membership allows me to use one of Cathay's four business class lounges for a hot shower, real coffee and a quiet place to work.

DURATION

Two hours, 50 minutes

FREQUENCY

Eleven flights a week

THE SEAT

The blue mosaic-patterned seats are in a 2-4-2 configuration. Each one is 18.45 inches (46cm) wide with a 32-inch pitch (81cm) and has a USB port and an under-screen storage shelf for your phone while it's charging, a folding tray table with separate cup holder, and plenty of storage pockets.

BAGGAGE

Economy passengers can take up to 30 kilograms of checked baggage; the carry-on limit is a standard seven kilograms.

COMFORT

The seats are comfortable enough with bendy headrests and it's a short, daytime flight so there's no need for blankets or pillows. Still, it's quite a noisy flight, full of excited holidaymakers heading from Hong Kong to Japan or onwards to northern China (23 of Cathay Dragon's 53 destinations are in mainland China).

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ENTERTAINMENT

There are 309 movies (as well as TV programs) and it's the same inflight system as my previous Cathay Pacific flight that day so I don't have to waste time browsing and can finish a movie I hadn't finished watching, a nice bonus. Over-ear headphones are provided. The Silkroad inflight magazine has articles in English as well as Chinese; there's also a duty-free catalogue. Music options include Desert Island Discs podcasts and "Earworms" language-learning episodes so I can brush up on my Japanese. The announcements come in English, Chinese and Japanese, which makes for a few lengthy but unavoidable interruptions to the inflight entertainment.

SERVICE

Cathay's uniforms can look a little old-fashioned but when the female flight attendants welcome us aboard wearing their red skirt suits with their distinctive curved necklines and those Cathay "brushwing" brooches, it's like stepping aboard the starship Enterprise, an effect that's only enhanced at the end of the flight when the customer service manager announces they're preparing the cabin for "the landing". Sometimes airlines skimp on the service on short flights. Not Cathay. Their flight attendants offer the same warmth and efficiency you'd expect on a longer flight; when my touchscreen freezes during my return flight, two flight attendants reset it twice and keep checking on me until it's working properly. Before landing, the inflight entertainment system lists boarding gates for connecting flights, a thoughtful touch (why doesn't every airline do this?).

FOOD

For a short flight, the meal is surprisingly delicious. My pre-ordered vegetarian meal is a vegetable risotto served with crackers (no cheese), a mushroom salad and a lemon cheesecake.

ONE MORE THING

Cathay Dragon, formerly Dragon Air (until November 2016), now has its home on the Cathay Pacific website, cathaypacific.com You can also check in for Cathay Dragon flights using the Cathay Pacific app.

THE VERDICT

The attentive service, broad selection of movies and tasty meals on this short trip are of a standard might you expect on a long-haul flight, without the jet lag.

OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE

★★★★

Louise Southerden was a guest of Walk Japan.

See also: Airline review: Cathay Pacific, Boeing 777-300ER, economy class

See also: Cathay Pacific error sees first class tickets sold for one tenth of their normal price

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