Review: To Shanghai for Books, Parks and the New Economy – KA 804 Hong Kong to Shanghai A330-300 Economy Class

Introduction
Dragonair 804 A330-300 Hong Kong to Shanghai Pudong Economy Class
Hyatt on the Bund Shanghai
Exploring Shanghai
Dragonair 891 A330-300 Shanghai Pudong to Hong Kong Economy Class

Comfort 5/5 Service 2/5 Amenities 3/5 Little things 3/5 Meals 5/5 Overall 4/5


 

Since Cathay Pacific released their new economy class cabin product, I actually had been dying to try it. Having tried the old economy for over a day and a half in total, I was damn keen to see how the new one compared.

At check-in we were already disappointed by the check-in agent announcing that the only seats left available were E and F seats, and we were assigned those somewhere in the middle of the rear economy cabin.

I arrived at the airport about two hours before departure, in hopes of getting a bite to eat before getting on the plane (admittedly I pig out on the plane, but breakfast and lunch are still two different things…right?).

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Hong Kong International Airport

After eating and getting to the gate, a short twenty minute delay was announced. After we rejected our thoughts of visiting the Plaza Premium Lounge, we decided to wait by the gate, where our A330 hadn’t arrived.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Gate

Gate 4, opposite Gate 3 (which our flight was departing from), seemed to be pretty long. Definitely ranks with Hong Kong International Airport Gate 50 as one of the longer jetbridges I’ve seen in a while.

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Hong Kong International Airport Gate 4 Jetbridge

Eventually an A330 pulled over, and it would be the one flying us to Shanghai.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300

The boarding process was a little disorganised, given that they let all the Marco Polo and business class passengers first (no, not some, I do mean all of them) and then the economy class passengers. Though I was first in the queue, the rear economy cabin was near full by the time I boarded.

Dragonair Pacific Flight 804
Monday, October 20th, 2014
Origin: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 3 Dep: 10:55 (11:45)
Destination: Shanghai (PVG) Gate: 59 Arr: 13:30
 (13:50)
Duration: 2 hr 35 min (2 hr 5 min)
Aircraft: Airbus Industrie A330-300
Seat: 44F (Economy Class)

Finally. Finally the new economy class seats. Ahhh!

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

The new Economy Class is really aesthetically pleasing. I loved the diamond patterning on the seat cushions. I hate airlines with a bland single colour code in all their seats, and with a minimalistic three colour tone (dark blue, light metallic blue and a middle sort-of-aquatic blue), this cabin immediately became one of my favourites.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

Having partially acquainted with these new economy seats back from Singapore, I knew what to expect. I crawled past my slightly bulky seatmate (more on him later) and acquainted with the seat.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Legroom

First of all, before I continue, the seat was plush. Really plush. And while the padding on the old economy was good, it felt like a pig’s toenail compared to this. It had a second layer of cushioning above the “metal” of the actual seat, and felt like a sofa to me.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Cushioning

As with the premium economy seat, there was a little recess which I could store my phone, pencils, con- other items…

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Recess

The screen was big and high quality, and touchscreen. I truly support technology, though I have to say that the screen relied on body heat, and the screen heated up so it didn’t sense my body heat on the screen, so it wasn’t really functional. While it’s a good idea in theory, they need a remote.

Of course, The Fault in our Stars had to be on the screen when the touchscreen stopped working… 😡

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Screen

Under the screen there were a couple of USB ports, situated perfectly to have my phone in the recess while charging.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class USB

Also, there was a hook where we could hang coats and glasses (not that I’ve seen a seat this year without these).

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Coat Hook

The table itself was of a pretty good size for economy, and, as with the new business class, was foldable in two sizes.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Tray Table

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Tray Table

While it’s nothing special, the penholder at the bottom of the tray table is a nice touch.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Penholder on Tray Table

Shortly after we boarded we were passed out blankets. The blankets themselves on Dragonair are substantial, comfortable, and are also used on long haul routes on Cathay Pacific (and they’re fine for that length too, as shown on my flight earlier in the year from Hong Kong to Auckland).

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Blanket

While the headphones were by no means high quality, they weren’t bad either, and were substantial for my flight.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Headphones

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Cabin upon Boarding

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Seat

The Fault in Our Stars was (thankfully) cut short by the safety briefing.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Safety Briefing

After that the crew passed out menus.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Menu

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Cabin after Safety Briefing

As the heat source seems to come from the center of the screen, I was able to navigate the screen to play the airshow for the rest of the flight. Interestingly I now see a range of airshows played across the group, but they show the same information, so it’s all a matter of style with the same substance.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Airshow

I resorted to switching off the screen for a while for it to cool off, so I could look at the entertainment selection for a bit before it heated up again.

Sitting in the middle means no takeoff pics. Bummer!

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Cabin right before Takeoff

After takeoff I briefly visited the toilet, which was old but fully functional.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Toilet

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Toilet

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Toilet

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Toilet

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Toilet

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Toilet

Of course, Dragonair isn’t only for the common folk… 😉

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Toilet Sign

I sat and chatted with my aunt for a while. The recline on the seat was fairly good, but there was a pretty old man behind me, so I looked back and reclined my seat so both the man and the cane had ample space to move around.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Cabin

Before the meal service I also managed to check in with the entertainment selection. While it was extensive, it didn’t seem to have many good movies, unfortunately.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Entertainment Selection

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Entertainment Selection

Meal service soon rolled around, and I chose to take the fish fillet with tomato, olive and red capsicum sauce. It looked horrible, to start. But it was almost definitely the best economy meal I had this year. (Not that there’s much competition for that title.)

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Meal

The fish was flaky and perfectly cooked, whilst the spaghetti next to it was seasoned beautifully and was appropriately seasoned with olive oil without having it being oily. It was a beautiful combination.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Meal Presentation

I looked around, and noticed that the crew had skipped a few rows for meal service. WTF?

The crew were informed by hungry passengers and they returned to give them food without a sort of apology, as if it were the norm.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Cabin during Meal Service

The ice cream to follow was, as expected, rock hard.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Ice Cream

Shortly the crew came around with tea and coffee.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Tea

‘Nuff said that the service was pretty bad. While the crew were generally friendly and smiled, they were far from efficient. I had to press the call button for them to remove our row’s trays fifteen minutes after the meal, and it took another five minutes for them to answer.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Cabin after Meal Service

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Cabin after Meal Service

I tried to get up for the toilet again, and my seatmate, a bulky man in his late 30s or 40s, scooted over to let me out of my middle seat. However he failed to notice that his phone was plugged in his USB and was in his lap, and I had to go under the cable to use the toilet…

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Cabin after Meal Service

Meal service finished above Ningbo, about a quarter to two hours into the flight.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Airshow

I kind of drifted off for about half an hour or so, when the captain announced “cabin crew, thirty minutes till landing”.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Cabin before Landing

Landing was fast, and pretty smooth as well. Soon we were on our way out of the aircraft.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Cabin after Landing

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Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 2

Overall, even though I had a pretty crappy flight with crappy service and a middle seat, I was impressed by the new economy class. I’d fly the new economy again in a heartbeat given the chance (if I wasn’t given a choice to fly business, which is still much better than economy).

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