Dragonair/Cathay Dragon A330 vs. A321 Economy Class – Which Is Better?

Happy new year from Hong Kong, where it hasn’t been more beautiful in more than a year!

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I’m flying tomorrow, though it looks like the clouds are back tomorrow, so I guess I’ll have to live with that.

Reader Billie sent me a Twitter message last night:

I have a meeting scheduled in Shanghai in mid-March and I want to get there on Dragonair economy. I have the choice of the A330 and the A321 on Dragonair, and you seem to have enjoyed both. Seats at the front and the back are all available on both flights. What should I take?

Now Billie has a point that I’ve actually thought of. While I’ve talked about it briefly in the past, I’ve never actually came to a conclusion. For your reference, here are the reviews I have on each product:

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class

Here’s what I had to say after my Yangon legs. While I had a preference for the A330, I was a bit all over the place with my feelings.

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.

I’ll start off by talking about the advantages of each product before I compare them at the end. But let me reiterate this before I say anything: you’ll get a good experience either way, as both aircraft feature what I consider to be the best economy seat flying.

DRAGONAIR AIRBUS A330 ECONOMY CLASS

Dragonair’s A330 economy consists of 230/265 seats, depending on the presence of a first class cabin. As with most A330s, it’s in a 2-4-2 configuration, so your seat can range from awesome to pretty bad depending on where you’re seated.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

Advantages include:

  • If you’re in a window seat, you only have to climb over one person to get to the aisle, so access is as direct as it gets for economy
  • There’s a better passenger to toilet ratio – 57-66 passengers per toilet vs. 72 passengers per toilet
  • It works better for 4 person groups, as one person doesn’t have to sit on the other aisle – though this is void since Billie’s on a business trip which normally means travelling alone
  • If you’re an aisle guy, one person at most climbs over you
  • If your fare doesn’t allow seat selection, there’s a higher chance of getting an aisle or window seat – 6/8 vs. 4/6

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

Disadvantages include:

  • Service is usually slower, given that there are more seats
  • It’s more cramped in a middle seat given it’s four abreast, and there’s no window view at all – some fare types don’t allow seat selection
  • It takes longer to deplane
  • It’s a much louder, noisier, less intimate cabin, given there are so many seats (while the A321 has all seats in one cabin, it’s much longer)

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Economy Class View from Seat 44F

DRAGONAIR AIRBUS A321 ECONOMY CLASS

Dragonair’s A321 has a very intimate yet modern cabin, as it’s a narrowbody with PTVs. I like that, as it looks really sleek. But when it comes to the actual experience, does it beat the A330?

Advantages include:

  • Service is usually much faster, as there aren’t that many more flight attendants on the A330 compared to the A321
  • The cabin is much more intimate, so is great for privacy
  • Every seat either gets easy access to the aisle or pretty good access to the window – it’s not hard getting views out of a middle seat, as there’s only one seat between it and a window
  • The cabin is usually quieter
  • Deplaning won’t take too long, even if you’re at the back of a cabin
  • If you’re a fan of cabin pictures, you can get onboard first pretty easily, given how likely it is for the A321 to be parked at a remote stand
  • There are 24 business class seats, so you feel less like a pleb when passing through the cabin
  • Most people like the A330, so you’ll get a better score at an empty seat next to you

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class

However, disadvantages include:

  • Most people like the A330, which also means there’s less of a chance of an op-up
  • There’s a bigger chance at a middle seat (33% vs 25% on the A330) if your fare doesn’t allow seat marking
  • There’s a smaller passenger to toilet ratio – you’re essentially sharing a toilet with half the cabin, 72 people (it’s just six people, but that does make a difference)
  • If you’re a window guy/get seated in a window, you have to climb over two people – vice versa if you’re an aisle guy
  • If the flight isn’t full, you can spread out against four seats on the A330 – you can’t really do that on the A321

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Dragonair Airbus A321 Economy Class

WHAT WOULD I CHOOSE?

If I got a guaranteed window or aisle seat and wanted to work, I would choose the A330 by the side, for minimal disruptions on a two-hour flight.

Otherwise, I’d pick the A321, where you really won’t be going terribly wrong with a middle seat, or an aisle seat with no one in the middle if the load isn’t full. That said, you really can’t go wrong either way with Dragonair (or Cathay Dragon – whatever you call it). Both of these seats are my favourites in the air (yes, they’re the same seat).

If you have your own content loaded, you might even want to report back on the A320 new economy, Billie.

Dragonair Airbus A320 Economy Class

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