Cathay Dragon First Class cabin

Indulgent Cathay Dragon First Class to Shanghai

This flight forms part of my trip to Tokyo for Cherry blossom season that was originally booked on Cathay Pacific First class but ended up on Cathay Dragon First class. It seemed I had initially booked my flight (after following forecast over a couple of months) to align with early flowering dates rather than the full bloom dates.  Tokyo would be my first stop on a cheery blossom tour going south-west after.

8 days prior my flights, I realised this and wanting to experience the peak cheery blossom in its full glory, so I tried to change my flights. Unfortunately ( and understandably) Cathay Pacific had no First availability either with cash or points. ExpertFlyer confirmed this. So I was left scouring for alternatives for getting myself to Tokyo. I also had some non changeable hotel bookings in Tokyo for 4 nights. But I was determined to experience full bloom and not extend my overall time in Japan to do that.

Luckily, I had come across Cathay Dragon business seats from Penang to Hong Kong and First Class availability from Hong Kong to PVG and finally a connecting Japan Airlines flight to get me to Japan.

Check-in

I checked in from Penang, which was fairly smooth and easy given a small airport. In hindsight I did have over 6 hour layover in Hong Kong, so I could have checked in (again) in HKG for review purposes.

Cathay Dragon Fist Class Lounge

Hong Kong Airport has some spectacular lounges, naturally being home to Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon, they have by far the best ones. While both airlines share the same lounges, confusingly, the First and Business class lounges share the same names, they are separate!

I review both the First class lounges, The Pier First and The Wing First, where I spent roughly 3 hours in each..

Boarding

About 35 minutes before the flight, I made a dash for gate 23 from the Wing First class lounge, which was a brisk 6-7 minute walk. There seemed to be an orderly queue of passengers getting ready to board.

Cathay Dragon A330 PVG bound
Cathay Dragon A330 PVG bound

I did not make out the grouping numbers, but First and Business were already boarding at that point so I quickly proceeded through.

There were separate boarding bridges for First & Business through door 1, were I was greeted and escorted to my seat just a few feet away.

Seat & Cabin

The first class cabin has 8 seats in a 1-2-1 layout offering a true flat bed seat. A clear difference to the 6 suite spacious 1-1-1 layout of Cathay Pacific First class I was originally booked on.

Cathay Dragon 1A First class
Cathay Dragon 1A First class
Cathay Dragon 1A Space
Cathay Dragon 1A Space

The bright site was was only 1 of 2 First class passengers on the flight!

Behind us where 42 regional business class seats that are the same as Cathay Pacific’s 2-2-2 config.

Within seconds, Grant, the First class/cabin service manager introduced himself, offering to take my jacket and offer me a drink.

My immediate impression was how similar the seats look to Cathay Pacific long haul business seats. And that’s because they are essentially the same hard product, with additional touches by Cathay Dragon. The stone colour finishes with wooden veneer table top, subtle hints of dragon red look stylish and warm.

The seat provides convenient storage options, with a space for small items by the seat controls and a larger storage area just in front of the foot, where you can place a laptop as well as reading materials. Shoes can be placed under the fairly large front ottoman which forms the end of the bed.

Entertainment system

There was a good sized and quality screen, with the programming that other than branding also seems to be the same as Cathay Pacific. There were a good selection of movies and series.

Cathay Dragon First entertainment options
Cathay Dragon First entertainment options

The seat contained noise cancelling headphones, which were perfectly ok and very handy given I forgot how noisy A330s and 777s feel now!

Service

A hot towel was offered on boarding along with choice of papers.

For my initial welcome drink I opted for the Dragon sunrise cocktail, which was refreshing!

Cathay Dragon First class welcome cocktail amuse bouche
Cathay Dragon First class welcome cocktail amuse bouche

This was served with the amuse bouche of king prawn.

The plane left the gate on time just after 5:15pm and departed about 10 minutes after.

Departing HKG Cathay Dragon
Departing HKG Cathay Dragon

Before I had even noticed, I had Grant inform me there was a mix up with menus, and they had forgotten to load the First Class menus!

I would imagine this would be quite a problem on a long First class flight. He was very apologetic and wanted to take more through all the dining options in both Asian and Western. I honestly didn’t mind at all.

In the interest of time in this short flight (I can be rather indecisive) and to make things easier for him, I opted to focus on the Asian menu options.

I opted for a chicken teriaki starter, and a hotpot of chicken and duck (I was thinking of bibimbap, when he described this, but it was quite different but great none the less.) for the main.

Cathay Dragon First class starter
Cathay Dragon First class starter
Cathay Dragon First Class main course
Cathay Dragon First Class main course

Both the starter and main tasted great, and seemed fresh though quite mild as far as Asian food is concerned.

The level of care and attention during the service really surprised me, then I realised the 1-1 ratio of passenger to crew in the cabin.

Grant checked on the food and everything else several times, offering tops ups etc without being overbearing in any way.

By the point I had finished the main, I had completely forgotten if I had actually chosen a dessert or there was something Grant recommended.

Then grant enquired if I wanted the dessert now, which I obliged. It was a slightly odd one, even though I like asian food, I dont normally like to have my dessert/or breakfast for that matter in a soup form.

Cathay Dragon First Class dessert
Cathay Dragon First Class dessert

Nonetheless, the dessert was rather nice finisher, it was like a warm fruity syrup and fairly light, which was just as well, since I was fully stuffed at that point.

Grant was again very prompt clearing away the dishes and plates.

About 5 minutes later, he came back and asked if I wanted any tea/coffee. I went for a milky tea, which came with a small box of chocolates.

Cathay Dragon first class after dinner service
Cathay Dragon first class after dinner service

There was a beautiful sunset after the dinner service.

Cathay Dragon Beautiful sunset
Cathay Dragon Beautiful sunset

First Class lavatories

All the drinks eventually passed through and it was time to visit the facilities. There are 2 first class toilets which was great! It was fairly standard but kitted out with Aesop products and even fresh flowers! (Take note and shame on you BA for ever removing these from First Class!)

Cathay dragon first class lav fresh flowers
Cathay dragon first class lav fresh flowers

Bed mode

While lounging for a while, and with 1 and half hour remaining I decided to try out the flat bed.

Cathay Dragon First class 1A bed mode
Cathay Dragon First class 1A bed mode

I was pleasantly surprised with how wide the bed was at the shoulder level, this is helped by the armrest coming down as well as an additional layer that goes up from the side of the seat to sit flush with the bed.

Cathay Dragon First Class bed width
Cathay Dragon First Class bed width

If you really needed some kip in this short flight, I envisage there would be no issues as it felt very comfortable.

All too soon, the British captain came back on the PA to announce the start of our descent. We were expected to land 20 minutes ahead of schedule (just when you would not even mind if there was an hour delay :D)

Overall thoughts

I had a very enjoyable flight. The service was super attentive and really set the scene for a relaxing evening. The hard product, while a few years old, is well maintained and excellent for the duration of these flights. Soft aspects of the service was what you would expect from Cathay Pacific First Class.

The consistency of service makes sense though as I imagine there might be a fair few first passengers connecting from Cathay Pacific’s ultra long haul flights into China. For a sub 3 hour flight there is really not much you can expect or need, perhaps other than a food menu!

I will be reviewing one of those very long haul Cathay Pacific flights in First Class later in the year, so watch this space!

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