Airline review: Mongolian Airlines Boeing 737-800 economy, Hong Kong to Ulannbataar

THE ROUTE

CX6202 / OM298 Hong Kong to Ulaanbataar

THE AIRCRAFT

Boeing 737-800

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Blue Sky Mongolia. Redeemable only on Mongolian Airlines flights.

CLASS

Economy

DURATION

Scheduled as 4 hr 40 min, though we depart five minutes late and arrive 25 minutes early, covering a total distance of 2907km.

FREQUENCY

Daily. Departure times vary from one day to the next.

CHECKING-IN

Online check-in can be done up to 48 hours before flying. My journey begins at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport, where boarding passes are issued to Hong Kong, then from Hong Kong to Ulaanbataar. My bags are checked through to the Mongolian capital. After landing in Hong Kong, I pass through the transfer gate security to the departure level in Terminal 1, and then board an airport train to Midfield Concourse that opened in 2015. Confusingly, it's still considered part of Terminal 1. Gates 200-230 are located here. My flight departs from Gate 208.

BAGGAGE

Two bags not exceeding 30kg can be checked in, plus one carry-on piece.

THE SEAT

Three rows of business-class seats are configured 2-2, with economy rows 4-28 configured on a 3-3 basis. I'm seated in 22F, by a window. There are no power outlets, or entertainment screens in the back of the seat in front. Nor is there an in-flight magazine to flick through. Oddly, a Trade & Development Bank napkin is draped over every headrest.

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COMFORT

The one concession to comfort is fleece blankets, which the stewardesses hand out after take-off. Plus, there's ample legroom – always a relief.

ENTERTAINMENT

In-flight entertainment beams out from overhead screens. Drama The Upside starts playing 40 minutes after take-off. It's a Hollywood remake of a French film that was called The Intouchables and beats a Marvel movie any day. After a break, we're treated to a gala concert by Mongolian doppelgangers for Barbra Streisand, Axl Rose and Korean pop star, Psy. Shane Jacobsen is all that's missing.

SERVICE

We're offered water and a selection of newspapers in multiple languages immediately after the seatbelt signs have been turned off. Then it's lunchtime. After lunch has been cleared away, the in-flight staff spend the rest of the flight seated by the kitchen area at the back, talking among each other.

FOOD

Lunch is a choice of chicken with rice or beef casserole with mash potatoes, beans and carrots. It's surprisingly tasty. Sides include a green salad, bread roll and a generously sized Toblerone, all washed down with Mongolian beer, Austrian wines, juice, soft drinks, tea or coffee. The staff repeatedly oblige when a row of people order one beer after another, stuffing them in their hand luggage to drink after they've landed. Why didn't I?

ONE MORE THING

Mongolian Airlines have code-share agreements with Cathay Pacific where all CX-coded flights between Hong Kong and Ulaanbataar are operated by Mongolian and Cathay operate all OM-coded flights departing Hong Kong to other Asian ports.

VERDICT

A no-frills experience with the bare necessities. Temper your expectations and it will be a pleasant experience.

OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE

3

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