Review: Cathay Dragon 602 A320 Economy Class Hong Kong to Xiamen

Introduction: Too Low for a Tulou
Cathay Dragon 602 A320 Economy Class Hong Kong to Xiamen
Barkla Concept Hotel Xiamen
Fuxinglou Tulou Yunshuiyao
Hakka Capital Hot Springs Resort
Cathay Dragon 603 A320 Economy Class Xiamen to Hong Kong


I arrived at the airport at 9:45 AM in anticipation of my flight departing at 12:45 PM. For some reason, group check-in requires people to be at the airport way early – though as an aviation enthusiast, I’m not complaining!

A friend kindly guested me into the SkyTeam Lounge. While I was hoping to get another review with pictures, though unfortunately, the lounge was jam-packed this time, so I passed. If you’re looking for a review of the lounge, here’s a review I wrote earlier in the year.

img_2930SkyTeam Lounge Hong Kong

I picked up a rather obstructed picture of one of China Airlines’ gorgeous new A350s on my way out, which I’ve been wanting to try for a while.

img_2925China Airlines Airbus A350-900 Hong Kong Airport

I also got a picture of a Singapore Airlines 777. Gorgeous!

img_2933Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200 Hong Kong Airport

Unfortunately, our gate was at the north satellite concourse, which required a bus ride there, as check-in noted. While I do like the concourse itself, the actual bus ride is kind of a pain in the ass. Well, at least I got nice views.

img_2934 Dragonair Airbus A320 Hong Kong Airport

img_2938 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Hong Kong Airport

I sat at the gate area with my friends, and unfortunately boarding with the school I wasn’t able to be first onboard. The gate area wasn’t so full, what I’d expect for an A320 with ~160 seats.

img_2946 Hong Kong Airport North Satellite Concourse Gate Area

Our A320 was in the old livery, which I may be seeing for a while, but it’s gorgeous nonetheless. Gate 508, the gate we were assigned, is a “corner” gate, where the jetbridge is really long, but that translates somehow to better views of the airplane.

img_2943 Dragonair Airbus A320 Hong Kong Airport

img_2947 Dragonair Airbus A320 Hong Kong Airport

Boarding was called soon, though unfortunately as a group we decided to board last…

Cathay Dragon Flight 602
Sunday, November 13th, 2016
Origin: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 508 Dep: 12:45 (13:00)
Destination: Xiamen (XMN) Gate: 16 Arr: 13:55 (14:20)
Duration: 1 hr 10 min (1 hr 20 min)
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 43K (Economy Class)

When going down the jetbridge we got pretty good views of the plane, though unfortunately there was a queue on the way to the plane (not that I’m used to that anymore, but…).

img_2948 Dragonair Airbus A320 Hong Kong Airport

At least that translated to better views pre-boarding.

img_2951Dragonair Airbus A320 Hong Kong Airport

I was thrilled to find that this plane featured the new economy class product, which I had been dying to try for a long time. These planes feature eight of the Cathay Pacific Group’s regional business class seats in a 2-2 configuration, though they’re different in the way that they don’t feature individual PTVs, but rather just have tablet holders in place. I don’t know why that is, but oh well, such is life on an A320…

img_3104Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Business Class

Cathay Dragon installs 150 modified Zodiac Aerospace Dragonfly seats in a 3-3 configuration on their A320. The seats are clad in Cathay Pacific’s newest seat covers, also seen on their A350, so naturally they’re very, very well padded (though not to the extent of their old economy seat, unfortunately – let’s hope that’s not true for the A350).

img_2954 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

img_2955 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

I tried to make as many cabin shots as possible, as Cathay Dragon’s

img_2956 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

img_2957 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

img_2958 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

img_2959 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

img_2960 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

img_2961 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

The seats are rather attractive, and are rather wide, at 18 inches. They make the entire cabin seem pretty bright and modern.

img_2962 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

I was seated in 43K, a window seat on the right side of the aircraft (as is my preference, though when I have full control of my seat selection I like to be nearer to the very back for better cabin photos).

img_2963 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

img_2964 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

The seats feature a quasi-semicircular headrest, which was customised for Cathay Dragon specifically, as it isn’t featured in the “normal” Dragonfly seat. It looks pretty slick, in my opinion, and is designed pretty well – it isn’t the rock you get in Virgin Atlantic 787 economy.

img_2965 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

img_2966 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

Other customisations include a cup holder and a tablet holder, both of which are interesting additions, especially since Dragonair passes out tablets on their A320s (they weren’t passed out on this short flight, but they would be on longer flights).

img_2967 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

img_2968 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

I went for as many cabin pictures as possible before a flight attendant sternly made me go back to my seat. Thanks, mom!

img_2969 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

img_2970Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class View from Seat 43K

I explored the seat for a while, not having read/seen anything about it before. While, as I mentioned, the padding was good (not excellent), the seats were rather flimsy, as is the case for slimline seats. At least that translated to a fair amount of legroom.

img_2974 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Legroom

And by flimsy, I meant really flimsy. When I pressed down on the bottom of the seatback, the seat actually “popped” backwards, like you’d see in a slap bracelet.

The seat’s cupholder was actually a great place to put my phone when I wanted it idle and not in my pocket, since these seats don’t feature the incredibly practical recess that the international seats do (thankfully, the same isn’t true for the A350’s seats).

img_2978 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Cupholder

The seat features a recline button which offers about 5-6 inches of (sturdy) recline.

img_2980 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Recline Button

The seats also feature power ports, though I couldn’t grab a picture without looking like that math teacher at school that apparently does nothing Rowan Atkinson.

Looking at the seatbacks, you can tell that the seats are actually some of the slicker seats I’ve seen on regional configurations. They’re pretty well designed, compared to the likes of China Eastern, British Airways, Finnair or Yangon Airways (okay, I realise I’m not being too fair to Yangon Airways, but honestly they’re on par with the other three examples I gave in terms of their hard product).

img_2981 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Seat Backs

img_3096Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Seatback Note

The tray table was in a one-piece but was rather practical and a good size for working. There was also a little recess in the tray table presumably for holding a tablet…

img_2972 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Tray Table

…which makes sense, given the seatback is otherwise completely bare.

img_2973 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Seat Back

While the cabin features Zodiac Aerospace’s new SmartBin project, the actual panels still contain the old Airbus configurations.

img_2976 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Overhead Panels

They do contain air nozzles, though, which is a huge plus.

img_2977Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Air Nozzles

While no tablets were passed out on this short flight, the tablet holders do seem like they fit iPads, so if you bring your own the tablet holder may come in handy (to be honest, I’m not sure what the recess on the tray table is for anymore – it doesn’t look like there are many people that are going to bring two tablets).

img_2983Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Tablet Holder

We were held back a little, and finally got a welcome from the pilot calling for a 55 minute flight time, which was fine with me. We pushed back from the North Satellite Concourse, and made our way towards the runway.

img_2971 Dragonair Airbus A321 Hong Kong Airport

The actual traffic we got upon taxiing was rather interesting, as it included various heavies, some of which I will be flying in the future. 😉

img_2982 Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-800 Hong Kong Airport

img_2985 Aeroflot Boeing 777-300ER Hong Kong Airport

img_2990 Air China Airbus A321 Hong Kong Airport

img_2994 Orient Thai Boeing 747-400 Hong Kong Airport

img_2995 Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Hong Kong Airport

For some reason there were three American 777-200ERs parked at Hong Kong Airport, while American doesn’t even fly any American 777-200ERs to Hong Kong. Does anyone know why?

img_2996 American Boeing 777-200ERs Hong Kong Airport

Zodiac’s new SmartBin project was interesting, as we could clearly see that one bin wasn’t stowed properly (I had a feeling it wasn’t stowed properly when the light was white, and it quickly turned red).

img_2992Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class SmartBins

We passed a Cathay Pacific 777-300ER and a freighter 747-400, the latter of which made me a little nostalgic about the last time I saw a passenger Cathay 747, which they retired the month before my flight.

img_3003 Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Hong Kong Airport

img_3005 Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400F Hong Kong Airport

We took off over the city on runway 07R, which was the first time I remembered climbing out over that particular route in a while.

img_3006 Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

img_3009 Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

img_3012 Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

img_3015 Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

img_3019 Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

img_3026 Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

It was a beautiful day up in the air, as is the norm.

img_3029Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

It turns out that the SmartBin sensors are actually smart, as the overhead bin by row 39 with the red light burst open after takeoff. This was rectified after a while by a flight attendant, though I’m surprised there isn’t a sensor or anything that notifies the flight attendants, given that they were pretty much oblivious until they saw the bin themselves.

img_3017Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Cabin SmartBin

At this point, I decided to connect to the WiFi to see how the IFE worked. While I hadn’t downloaded their app in time, I did get access to the StudioKA website, which is a nice alternative in theory.

img_4689
Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 StudioKA Website

Unfortunately, all movies and TV shows were only available for the app, so I guess that’s bad news for some people, as you don’t know what you’re on until the moment you board. Hey, at least there’s free music!

img_4690
Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 StudioKA Website Selection

img_4691
Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 StudioKA Website Selection

As my hopes of being entertained were kind of destroyed, I had a look at the lavatory, which was much needed after an excessive amount of free breakfast at the SkyTeam Lounge (again, special thanks to my friend Jake and his father).

img_3030 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Lavatory

img_3031 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Lavatory Sink

img_3032 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Lavatory Amenities

img_3033 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class

I managed to take a pretty nice cabin shot of the aircraft upon returning to my seat.

img_3035Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Cabin

We were then served lunch, which was a reheated chicken bun. I’m not sure about this route, but I know that other hourlong routes used to only feature a drink run, so this was definitely a welcome change. The chicken bun I had was definitely good, but not amazing, on par with the economy roll I was offered on my Cathay Pacific flight from Taipei to Hong Kong.

img_3036 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Meal – Chicken Bun

img_3038Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Meal

As always, the biscuits are dry and brittle, and the orange juice doesn’t really scream “fresh”, from the packaging to the taste. That’s all acceptable, though I definitely would’ve appreciated a drink run.

img_3037Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Meal

Service throughout the meal was good, though rushed, as you’d expect in economy with less than an hour of flying time.

I tried to drop off for a little bit after the meal, and woke up around twenty minutes later when the captain was announcing our descent. My eyes were glued to the window for the remainder of the flight, as it was a gorgeous day in Xiamen. Our route grazed over some mountains before eventually entering the city upon our final descent.

img_3041 View upon Descent Xiamen Airport

img_3051 View upon Descent Xiamen Airport

img_3060 View upon Descent Xiamen Airport

img_3070 View upon Descent Xiamen Airport

img_3077 View upon Descent Xiamen Airport

img_3081 View upon Descent Xiamen Airport

img_3087 View upon Descent Xiamen Airport

img_3090 View upon Descent Xiamen Airport

It was interesting to see the flaps go up  as we zoomed over the Xiamen Air terminal on our arrival. I could tell there would be interesting tarmac views.

img_3093 View upon Landing Xiamen Airport

img_3094 View upon Landing Xiamen Airport

I managed to catch a Shandong Airlines 737 taking off during our arrival.

img_3095 Shandong Airlines Boeing 737-800 Xiamen Airport

I also saw some Xiamen Air planes in their old livery, including a 737-700. While their new livery is pretty modern, their old livery screams retro.

img_3097 Xiamen Air Boeing 737-700 Xiamen Airport

We ended up parking next to an ANA 767 at the far end of the terminal.

img_3098 ANA Boeing 767-300 Xiamen Airport

I got some final cabin shots before we left the plane, just in case we got one of the older planes on our way back (it was interesting, however, to see that most planes already have the new interior – that’s fast, considering I still don’t see any reviews up of Cathay Dragon’s new economy product).

img_3101 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Cabin

img_3102 Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Cabin

img_3103Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Economy Class Cabin

Bottom Line

There’s no question in my mind that these seats are better than Cathay Dragon’s old A320 seats. They feature power ports, have (limited) entertainment, and have headrests, and are also very well padded, which is more than I can ask for on a 3-4 hour flight, which these seats can be deployed on. I had no complaints about the food or service on this flight either.

Are these a replacement for Cathay Dragon’s current product? No, I’d still go out of my way to avoid these seats in favor of a real PTV, more legroom and a much better-padded product (these seats are still slimline, which I don’t like). However, this is a great solution for a seat that actually seems like it comes from the 2000s, without costing the airline too much.

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