KA904 HKG-PEK First Class
Living in Europe (and our American cousins will sympathise I'm sure) we take for granted that short-haul air travel is uncomfortable, cramped and accompanied by poor food and similar service. Envy those then who live in South-East Asia and Hong Kong in particular. They have access to a 3 class service provided by Dragon Air (subsidiary of Cathay Pacific) on routes such as this to Beijing. We had checked in for this flight at KUL from where we flew to HKG with Cathay (CX790) so I can't comment on check-in at HKG. It was a delight though to have a seat about as spacious as on long-haul Business, lie-flat (though not quite horizontal). The A330 is the workhorse of medium haul in Asia and this one had obviously flown quite a few miles. There were mild signs of wear around seat edges and where trolleys tend to go off course but everything worked well, the IFE was reasonable in content though the screens of course were small by current standards.
Food & Beverage
The in-flight catering was quite good actually. The food was fresh and nicely presented on a properly laid table. My wife tried a Dragon Cocktail (gin based) because of the lemongrass but it was too sweet so she switched to Champagne. The white wine was excellent and appropriately chilled.
The first course of sashimi and potato salad was light and delicate. The main of fishcakes with stir-dried broccoli was very gently seasoned which was refreshing as we had just spent a week in Malaysia eating some excellent but very rich food.
The Lounge (The Pier)
Wow, this lounge has a nice restaurant area with a really good range of asian food specialities on a buffet, waiting staff, a good range of wines and premium spirits (all complementary of course). There are several seating areas with different styles of furniture including leather covered sofas and easy chairs, single executive style chairs for the lone traveller and of course dining tables. At the far end is a truly impressive array of desk-top computers in mini booths separated by glass partitions, all hard-wired for internet. Just as well as the wi-fi here is wholly inadequate. The trend toward travellers carrying tablets, smart phones and the newer generations of laptops has caught a lot of airport lounges on the hop and they need to invest in more bandwidth pronto. It's fine to use a desk-top for e-mail and general browsing but when it comes to up-loading photos and filing copy on the run you really need fast wi-fi.
One other slight annoyance is that in common with most premier lounges there are no flight announcement but whereas in most first-class lounges staff will note who is in the lounge and come to inform them of their flight status, here there was just no attention paid at all. Since there is no departure board in view this was laborious.
The crew were absolutely first class, very attentive, friendly and concerned about our health when they discovered we were flying into mid-winter Beijing without coats. They insisted on giving us a blanket for the taxi, which is beyond the call of duty of any flight attendant. We look forward to flying Dragon Air again and will actively search out routes offering their First class - it's great value with Avios!