Review: Engaging Myanmar – Dragonair 252 Hong Kong to Yangon Airbus A321 Economy Class

Introduction
Dragonair 252 A321 Economy Class Hong Kong to Yangon
Inya Lake Hotel Yangon
Yangon Airways 917 ATR 72-212 Yangon to Bagan Nyaung-U
Hotel Umbra Bagan
Teaching in Myanmar
Yangon Airways 910 ATR 72-212 Bagan Nyaung-U to Yangon
Myanmar Life Hotel Yangon
Dragonair 251 A321 Economy Class Yangon to Hong Kong


I made my way to the airport a long time before the flight departed. When flying economy I want to arrive at the airport as late as possible, but as 27 people we had to do group check-in, which meant everyone had to arrive three hours before the flight.

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Hong Kong International Airport Old Plane

We checked in, where I was assigned an aisle seat, and made it past immigration by 9, where our gate was announced. After some dinner (after all those lounges, the food court again – ahh!) I made my way to the gate with a few of my friends, and we hung out and played card games outside the gate. While I’m more for taking one for the team than getting the best pictures for a trip report when it comes to travelling with friends, being the first onboard never sucks.

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Boarding Area Hong Kong International Airport

Our flight was leaving from a remote stand, which has its pros and cons:

  • Loading a bus over to a plane is never easy
  • On the other hand, no matter what cabin class you’re flying, just get to the front of the line, as on the bus it’s who’s near the door that gets on the plane first

Seat 46H was at the second last row of the plane, so it was like the idealistic flight for pictures.

I realised that Hong Kong Airport now has gates 201-230, which I’ll explore next time I get time for myself at the airport. The new signage also features yellow, which kind of highlights the gates more, if not as aesthetically appealing/representing of Hong Kong Airport.

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Signage Hong Kong Airport

I chatted with my friends for a while, when our teachers came and it was time to board. Marco Polo passengers, OneWorld status passengers and business class passengers were loaded on the bus first, and I was the first in the economy queue, so quickly stood next to a flight attendant (subsequently we, along with an old lady who apparently travelled to Myanmar once a month, had a conversation about what I was doing in Myanmar).

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Remote Stand Bus Hong Kong Airport

It was interesting to get on a narrowbody plane with PTVs – suffice to say I was chirpy boarding the aircraft. While I only managed to grab a blurry photo, my friend Adrian grabbed a much better picture of the ex-Qatar Airways A321.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Hong Kong Airport

While I was giddy to get onboard, I was rather cautious about any crew interactions, given my last flight on a Dragonair narrowbody was a flump.

Dragonair Flight 252
Saturday, November 14th, 2015
Origin: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 522 Dep: 22:20 (22:25)
Destination: Yangon (RGN) Gate: 2 Arr: 00:15
+1 (00:00+1)
Duration: 3 hr 25 min (3 hr 5 min)
Aircraft: Airbus Industrie A321
Seat: 46H (Economy Class)

Right after I got on the plane I walked through business class, which I’d flown before on the A330. Presumably I’d be in business class if flying with family, as the seat costs ~HK$2,000 more than economy, but group tickets are especially cheap, and business class consists of only 24 seats. Plus, school wouldn’t put us upfront in any case.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Business Class

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Business Class

Dragonair has 25 rows of economy class in a standard 3-3 configuration. While their seats are on the industry leading side, they’re not especially any wider nor narrower on the A321 than they are on the A330, in my opinion.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Seatmap

Being the first one on the plane, I went picture happy. None of the pictures are HD, which I’ll probably regret when I get a real camera, but it’s good to have a silent camera around sometimes, even if the quality isn’t as good.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Cabin

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Cabin

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Cabin

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Cabin

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Cabin

I finally got to row 46, where my seat was the aisle on the right side. For a flight with two seats by the side (on a four-abreast or an eight-abreast), I’d prefer a window seat just for the views, but for a plane with three seats abreast I like unobstructed access to cabin photos, so I was really happy with my aisle seat.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Seats 46H, J, K

The plane was less than nine years old, and belonged to Qatar Airways before its March 2014 delivery into Dragonair, so needless to say, the cabin was pretty sleek. It’s not often that your high school math teacher gets in the way of your aircraft cabin photo, but people need to set up too, yanno.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Cabin

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Cabin

The seat is identical in the most part to the A330, but as it was over a year ago, I’ll recap it here – but allow me to mention how spruced up a narrowbody economy cabin with PTVs seems.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class

The seats feature double cushioning, which means that on top of the “base” of the seat, there’s another layer of padding. This layer is present in Cathay’s premium economy and would be appreciated in business class (regional and international).

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Double Cushioning

The screen itself is touchscreen and, due to it detecting body heat as a sensor, which debilitates the sensitivity when the screen gains heat from the machinery inside working their asses off. I appreciate the touchscreen, but a remote would help – not that I minded given that I barely use the screen anyway.

The screen is also stocked full of the “prong” power ports and USB ports, which is cool – the way they’re lit up makes it cooler.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Screen

Legroom stays at the usual 32″ and is ample, if not industry leading.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Legroom

The tray table also has two positions – I found it easier to work all the way open, and after my meal I found it easy to just fold the tray table once so I could get past the armrest to access the toilet, etc.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Tray Table

Recline is also more than enough – it’s the standard 6″, but with the cradle effect it feels like more than it actually is.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Seat Control

I found the seat spacious even if the person in front was in the reclined position. The person behind me didn’t, though…stay tuned.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Recline Positioning (fully reclined vs. upright)

A coat hook was also available. The last time I was in an economy seat I didn’t have glasses, so I was curious to try how the thing worked for glasses, as advertised. It didn’t, so I stuck to the recess provided.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Coat Hook

Speaking of the recess, it was like a blessing for my glasses. I would’ve lost them otherwise.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Seat Recess

Provided were economy-style (i.e. crappy) headphones and a more-than-decent blanket. Hell, any headphones are good headphones for a flight of this duration.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Blanket and Headphones

I checked out the aircraft a bit, which featured the new Airbus interiors. New Airbus interiors always make for a quieter flight (rarely are the ceilings refurbished, so I know that the plane’s newer), and it’s normally much less dehydrating as well. Each seat also featured air nozzles, which is a win-win. The air nozzles were also adjustable.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Seat Panels

On the A330 I found the last row good seats for reclining, as there was ample space and I didn’t have to worry about anyone behind me. The same can’t be said for this aircraft, as recline here looks minimal.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Seats 47H, J, K

Those three seats were soon occupied, though 47A, B and C were reserved for crew rest seats. This didn’t stop a couple of the mainlanders from sitting there during the flight, despite the crew’s warnings.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Crew Rest Seats

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Crew Rest Seats

And is it just me, or does the carpet seem especially spacious and clean?

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Carpet

Soon enough the aircraft started filling up, and the front rows quickly filled up. Our school had covered all of rows 42-46, save the window seat on our side of my row.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Cabin

I visited the lavatory, which wasn’t refreshed, though was clean.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Washroom

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Washroom

The toilet featured Nobility amenities, as is the norm. They’re not bad, especially for economy, and they’re nice to have around.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Toiletries

The cabin filled up, and as far as I know every seat was taken except 46K. My seatmate Ayan moved to 46K when the safety video started playing, which left the middle seat open. That was pretty awesome, especially given our flight duration, and also meant I could take better pictures out the window.

The latter point proved useless in the nighttime.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Hong Kong Airport

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Airshow Hong Kong to Yangon

Most of my friends were now on their screens trying to get ready for the flight – loading up movies, music, or just falling asleep.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Cabin before Takeoff

I just plopped my blanket on my seat and settled in 46J for a few takeoff photos.

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Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

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Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

The lining on the windows seems to be a “new plane” thing, given that our inbound flight didn’t feature it.

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Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

We took off the opposite direction of where we were headed, and as we levelled off turned back southwest bound for Myanmar.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Airshow Hong Kong Airport

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Airshow Hong Kong Airport for Yangon

Almost immediately after takeoff the meal service carts were rolled out, and I chose the braised beef. While the presentation didn’t win any awards, and the red wine’s alcohol didn’t seem to be fully burned out of the red wine sauce, everything else was sublime, from the cook of the beef to the sauce to the aggressively seasoned potatoes.

The girl across the aisle couldn’t eat anything due to some kind of nighttime heartburn, so I gave her my watermelon slices (she took those of everyone in the row). The dragonfruit stayed mine, the water bottle stayed mine and the ice cream stayed mine.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Meal -Braised Beef with Sautéed Potatoes

The ice cream was so refrigerated, when I hit the back of my spoon on it it made a “dink” sound (quoting my seatmate, “was that even legal?”). It was delicious when it warmed.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Meal – Mango-Raspberry Ice Cream

I folded out the tray table of the seat next to me, and put my meal there. Ayan put his meal next to mine and we folded up our tray tables – the joys of having an empty middle seat.

I had a little watch of Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch, a documentary aimed for kids where Matilda Ramsay talks about her dad. I got tired, so only watched the first episode.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch

Speaking of which the entertainment selection is vast – movies were on the list, so a lot of my friends had fun with that.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class IFE Selection

Service on this sector was efficient – the crew were polished, engaged in small talk when they had time (e.g. when I first got on the plane, when I told her what we were doing in Myanmar) and helpful, but then there are 172 people on the flight, which speaks enough. It was some of the best economy service I had.

The cabin lights went off, but the overhead dim “night lights” stayed on. While I want to maximise sleep on a longhaul, on a shorthaul it’s easier to have a bit of light so I can move around in the cabin without killing anyone.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Modern Cabin

I reclined my seat all the way, but the guy behind me had his legs dug into my seat. At first I was cautious about it, but given that he basically harassed the flight attendant for an extra meal, he didn’t deserve the extra space, so I slammed my seat backward. Sucks to be him. 😉

Then I pulled the blanket up to my neck and slept until the cows came home the lights came on for pre-landing.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Cabin Pre-Landing

I moved back into 46J for landing. The small street lights were rather charming, as the city is less developed than a lot of the others I’d flown into this year. Unfortunately, the pictures don’t do it justice.

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Landing Yangon Airport

We touched down right after 11:55pm, less than five minutes short of midnight.

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Yangon International Airport at midnight

We arrived at a gate at midnight on the dot, which is kind of ironic given that we had a remote stand back home. Nothing was next to us at this ungodly hour, as Singapore Airlines, THAI etc. all operate their flights in the daytime.

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Yangon International Airport at midnight

A problem with being at the last row is that I’m the last to deplane, though that isn’t an issue at the gate, especially when I’m with friends.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class Cabin Post-Parking

I was the last one to deplane, and made my way past the business class cabin, which didn’t look as appealing given I’d flown it before.

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Business Class

Soon we found ourselves in the terminal, tired and ready to get to the hotel.

BOTTOM LINE ON DRAGONAIR’S A321 ECONOMY CLASS

Dragonair’s Airbus A321 economy class is a great way to spend a few hours in. Ultimately, business class is always going to be better, but I felt like the difference here was as marginal as it gets.

The service, food and the actual flight experience was also well-rounded this time as well. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly Dragonair’s A321 economy class again, and the seat remains my favourite economy seat in the air.

A321 OR A330?

The Airbus A330 features the exact same seat, possibly with just so slightly more width.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

Personally, I’d choose the A330 if I could secure the first few rows – it makes for easier deplaning, and on the A330, being in a window seat is less problematic when it comes to climbing out of my seat.

On the service front, the A321 rocks it more because there’s less of a crew:passenger ratio (172 passengers vs. 265 passengers), and I’d definitely prefer it when travelling in a group. However, when travelling alone, the A330 rocks it, in my opinion.

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