This is the twelfth in a series of posts documenting my January 2019 trip around the world, which took me to Victoria Falls, Cape Town, Chiang Mai, and Hong Kong. You can read my last post, which covered what I did in Chiang Mai, here.
Cathay Dragon Flt. 233 Chiang Mai to Hong Kong (CNX-HKG)
Business Class, Airbus A320
Sched. Dep. 6:20pm Sched. Arr. 10:00pm
Actual Dep. 6:49pm Actual Arr. 10:14pm
After an easy fifteen-minute ride from the Holiday Inn, I was at the Chiang Mai International Airport. Thankfully, it was a lot more comfortable as a departing passenger than it had been on the inbound. And the business class flight on Cathay Dragon back to Hong Kong was a completely different experience than the economy outbound flight.
Upon approaching the terminal, I had to first run all of my bags through an x-ray scanner. Although my flight’s departure was more than two hours away, there was already a pretty substantial line at the Cathay Dragon counter for economy. There was just one passenger being helped at the business class counter, though, and I was quickly helped. Cathay uses Thai Airways ground agents, and the friendly agent advised me that my flight was delayed by forty minutes. I hadn’t checked the flight status before I left the hotel, but apparently, they sent an email right before I left. Oh, well. Another 30 minutes wouldn’t have done much. There was no wait at security, and a short line at immigration, before I was in the main international departures area.
The area is not that large, basically one large room. There are a few food places (including a Dairy Queen!), a massage parlor, a small duty free, and a bunch of souvenir shops.
There are two lounges after immigration at CNX: the Coral Executive Lounge, which accepts Priority Pass, and the Thai Royal Orchid Lounge. Cathay contracts with Thai, which is supposedly the nicer of the lounges, so I headed there to pass my two hours before delayed boarding.
The agent was extraordinarily warm at check-in, and advised me of the flight delay. The lounge itself is quite small, and is basically one room with four rows of chairs. The outlet situation could be better, but everything was clean and fresh but for water stains on the coffee tables.
The self-service food selection was pretty decent. There were wrapped sandwiches, a variety of tarts, and fruit on the center table. On the side were hot dishes, including steamed buns, dumplings, BBQ pork pie, and mini quiches.
Drinks were self-serve, including coffee machines, liquor, soft drinks and beer. The wifi wasn’t great, alas, and there was one British duo that was talking very loudly across the lounge. The agent came out and announced boarding for flights, including China Eastern.
After a while in the lounge, I headed back out into the main departures area, where there was a discount store where I picked up some souvenirs to spend the last of my baht. I also grabbed a DQ ice cream because I wasn’t expecting much from the meal, given the quality on the flight from HKG and the small size on the flight from CPT. I also discovered a Bangkok Airways lounge, with a sign on it indicating it had been closed since December 2017.
At around 6:20pm, boarding started. There were pre-recorded announcements that didn’t seem to be matching what was happening in front of me at all, which was very confusing. I ended up just joining the boarding line and ended up boarding after a lot of elites and business passengers.
The business class seats on the Cathay Dragon A320 plane were totally fine, and similar to U.S. domestic first class, in a 2-2 configuration. They were cradle-style, so went further flat than a typical recliner seat, though. They also had more storage, with a glasses/water pocket in the seatback and a little cubby under the armrest. Each seat had a standard power plug. The seats weren’t particularly plush, but comfortable, and covered in a stylish grey fabric. At boarding, there was a pillow (same as on the long-haul) and a light blanket on the seat, as well as noise canceling headphones. There was no built-in in-flight entertainment, but iPads were distributed shortly after take-off and there was a holder for them in the seatback. There was an oddly large amount of space between the seat and the fuselage as well, which worked for some storage. The tray table was large for an A320, and popped out of the seatback.
After I boarded, a young woman asked me to switch seats with her mother on the opposite side of the cabin because she didn’t speak English, which I was happy to oblige… little did I know…
Menus were passed out while coach was boarding, and once boarding was complete, I was offered a choice of a cocktail, juice, or water, and a moist towel. I think the cocktail may have been Cathay’s signature “Dragon Sunrise” – gin, guava, and lemon.
I tried to use the iPad but it was very confusing, as there were two different programs preloaded on it, one with about 10 newer TV shows and 15 movies, and then “Studio KA,” which had older stuff. It wasn’t that large a screen and was a bit clunky, so ended up sticking to my own entertainment.
The dinner menu actually sounded really good, with a choice of beef tenderloin, a shrimp cake/Chinese seafood dish, and “Nonya chicken.” I had no idea what “Nonya chicken” was, but figured it sounded healthy, so went with that when my order was taken immediately after take-off. I was also surprised that the wine menu appeared to be the same as had been on the long-haul Cape Town to Hong Kong flight on Cathay mainline.
About five minutes after takeoff, a tray was brought out with water, wine, cutlery, and the starter – a kind of ham and zucchini caprese salad. It looked 1000x better than the starter on my CPT-HKG flight, and I wonder if it’s because it was HKG-catered. It tasted good, but again, needed salt. It was accompanied by a pass of the bread basket, with a choice of garlic bread or a regular or whole-grain whole.
The main dish was moist for airplane chicken, though not super flavorful. There was no refill of my wine or water during the meal. For dessert, I was able to select one of a few flavors of Haagen-Dazs off a tray. About an hour into flight, the trays were cleared and the cabin lights were dimmed.
I was just watching a show on my Kindle and then the Japanese businessman next to me started getting all upset. He called the flight attendant over, who did not speak Japanese, and what I gathered from his pantomiming, he thought I was coughing too much on the flight. I honestly hadn’t even noticed it, and I imagine I was covering my mouth. He tried to get the Flight Attendant to make me put a mask on, but the FA rightly refused. The man put his own mask on. He didn’t seem troubled by the guy who had his bare feet up on the bulkhead wall. I had a glass of water and then made sure I didn’t open my mouth the remainder of the flight. That was nice.
We made up a lot of time in the air and touched down at HKIA at 10:08pm, and were at the North Satellite Concourse at 10:14pm, less than fifteen minutes late. From the plane, I had to take a bus to immigration. Although I was one of the first off of the plane, I was the last off of the bus, though, as they piled everyone into one bus. Thankfully, nearly everyone on the plane was a transit passenger, so there was no wait at immigration, and I was at baggage claim by 10:30, where my bag was already on the belt. I had bought a discounted ticket on the Airport Express train via the website Klook so headed right for the train, and grabbed the 10:36 departure.
It was about 25 minutes to Kowloon, and I grabbed one of the last shuttle buses for the night to the Hyatt Regency, where I was spending the night. I was there by 11:15, about an hour after landing – not bad.
For a regional flight, the Cathay Dragon experience in business class was pretty good and I’d have no qualms doing it again.