Airline review: Dragonair, economy class, Shanghai to Hong Kong

THE ROUTE

Shanghai (Pudong) to Hong Kong

THE PLANE

Airbus 330-300 A33C. Dragonair operates 19 of these.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Dragonair's loyalty program is the Marco Polo Club rewards scheme. Passengers can earn points flying on Dragonair, Cathay Pacific and oneworld alliance airlines.

CLASS

Economy, 46D. The flight is full, so I'm pleased with an aisle seat. 

DURATION

Two hours and 10 minutes. A hold-up at Shanghai Pudong International Airport results in havoc and many flights are delayed or cancelled. Consequently we leave and arrive two hours late.

FREQUENCY

Dragonair flies the Shanghai Pudong to Hong Kong route 91 times a week, with partner Cathay Pacific flying the same route an additional 21 times. Dragonair also flies Shanghai Hongqiao to Hong Kong nine times a week. 

THE SEAT

Dragonair has three different configurations for its A330s. The A330-300 A33C has a decent-sized business cabin, with 42 seats arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration. The economy cabin accounts for 265 seats, with the 2-4-2 configuration turning into 2-3-2 towards the rear of the plane. In economy the seat pitch is 81 centimetres and width is 45 centimetres.

BAGGAGE

Economy passengers can check in a total of 20 kilograms, with no restriction on the number of pieces. Silver Marco Polo Club members can check in an additional 10 kilograms, Gold members an additional 15 kilograms; and Diamond members an additional 20 kilograms. Regardless of fare class, carry-on allowance is 5 kilograms for all passengers. 

ENTERTAINMENT

When a flight is around the two-hour mark a crucial decision has to be made. Do you go straight into a movie and hope that cabin announcements are kept to a minimum so you can make it through? Or do you opt for other entertainment? There are plenty of movies to choose from, spanning western, Chinese, Asian, arthouse, family and more, but I decide to play it safe and watch TV on my 23-centimetre touch screen. Most of the choices are Chinese sitcoms, but I find Game of Thrones and get through two episodes. There's a decent selection of music and games. 

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COMFORT

Dragonair was named as Skytrax's World's Best Regional Airline four times in a row (from 2010 to 2015; in 2016 the airline was ranked as 22 best overall), so I'm keen to see what the fuss is about. The economy seats feel commodious enough. And even with the person in front of me reclining all the way back, the seat pitch is adequate. 

SERVICE

Delayed flights can often equal irritated customers, but the flight attendants are onto it and ensure that everyone is happy once on board. Overall efficient and friendly service make for a pleasant flight to Hong Kong. 

FOOD

I choose chicken with rice for dinner and receive juicy chicken chunks doused in soy sauce served alongside steamed rice, a few slivers of bok choy and two slices of a root vegetable. To this day I can't work out what the vegetable was, but it all tastes fine. Fresh fruit pieces and Haagen-Dazs ice-cream follows.

ONE MORE THING

From late November 2016 Dragonair will be known as Cathay Dragon, a move designed to bring the Cathy Pacific and Dragonair closer together. We're promised a freshened-up look that echoes Cathay Pacific's design ethos, while still maintaining Dragonair's identity featuring modern Chinese design elements and menus that take inspiration from China and Hong Kong. 

THE VERDICT

Once on board the flying experience is smooth. Although the plane is full, service is quick and always comes with a smile. I look forward to experiencing the revamped Cathy Dragon product. 

See dragonair.com

Tested by Tatyana Leonov, who flew courtesy of ILTM.

See also: Cathay Pacific's last jumbo jet makes its final flight

See also: The best seats in economy class and how to get them

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