Besides A330s and A320s which form the backbone of its fleet, Cathay Pacific also operates a fleet of eight Airbus A321 aircraft.
Originally both my flights to and from Da Nang were scheduled to be operated by the A320. Luckily, though, the return flight was later changed to an A321 giving me a chance to try another type in Cathay Dragon’s fleet.
Check-in, Lounge & Boarding at Hong Kong Airport
After Yukihiro and I arrived at Hong Kong from New York, we headed to The Wing first class lounge first. Then, we headed over to The Pier, Cathay Pacific’s other excellent first class lounge.
We had access to both of these since our inbound flight was in first class.
We left the lounge around 5:40PM, a little too late considering that our flight was departing from gate 509 in a satellite building only accessible by a shuttle bus at 6:15PM.
Nonetheless, we managed to make it to the gate in time to catch the flight.
We arrived at the gate around 6:05PM – the time the gate was scheduled to close.
For one reason or another, though, boarding was only getting started at that time.
With no one in the business class lane, we were heading down the jetway in no time.
While doing so, we briefly stopped to take some photos of the beautiful Air China 737 wearing the Pink Peony livery. In addition to that, there was a little “traffic jam” in the jetway, and so it wasn’t until about five minutes later that we were able to get onboard and settle in our seats.
Cathay Dragon A321 Business Class Cabin & Seat
There were 24 recliner seats in the Cathay Dragon A321 business class cabin arranged in six rows of four (2-2). The seats were covered in Cathay’s signature green cloth and were largely the same as those on the A320.
Between each pair of seats, there was a console which doubled as an armrest. It also featured a small drink table shared by both of the seats.
Besides that, a universal power outlet, the seat controls, the in-flight entertainment controller, as well as a seat pocket with a safety card and other printed materials could be found on the console.
On the other side of the seat, there was just a simple armrest.
The seat back in front of me was equipped with a coat hook, a USB charging port, a small pocket barely fitting an iPhone 8 without a cover (it didn’t fit my iPhone X), a slide-out tray table, and a personal screen.
The screen was basically the only difference between the A321 and A320 seats.
There was also a small storage space under the seat in front. While it wouldn’t fit a larger carry-on, it worked well with my smaller camera bag.
Upon boarding, a pillow was waiting on each seat and (non-noise cancelling) headphones were available in the seat pocket.
Cathay Dragon Business Class Pre-Flight Service & Departure
Going back to the flight itself, as soon as I settled in my seat, I was offered a welcome drink. The choices included orange juice, a vodka cocktail, or water.
I chose orange juice, and beside the drink, I was also given a packaged wet towel.
Then, one of the flight attendants brought me the menu and took my drink order (Coke Zero as usual).
Newspapers were offered a minute later.
At 6:20PM – five minutes after our scheduled departure time – the captain welcomed us onboard and mentioned that we were expecting a flight time of 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Two minutes later, the cabin crew closed the doors and played the safety video.
We were pushed back at 6:30PM – fifteen minutes behind schedule – and after a fairly long taxi, we took off at 6:51PM.
Cathay Dragon Business Class Dinner
Seatbelt signs were switched off just five minutes after take-off at which point the dinner service begun. The menu included a choice of two mains – braised pork belly and chicken stew. I went with the latter.
While the garlic bread was great as usual and the appetizer was decent, I didn’t like the main too much.
Considering that I was still full from eating non-stop for the previous twenty hours or so – first in Flagship First Dining in New York, then onboard Cathay’s first class, and finally in The Pier lounge in Hong Kong – I left most of the main on the plate.
To finish the meal, Haagen-Dazs ice cream was served. The flavors offered were different from those on my flight to Da Nang a few days back, and this time, I opted for “mango and raspberry.”
I also had some peppermint tea.
In case you are wondering, below is the list of drinks that offered on the flight.
Cathay Dragon A321 In-Flight Entertainment
Once done with the meal, I watched some TV shows on the in-flight entertainment system. While the screen was not “super high resolution” like some personal screens nowadays are, the resolution was more than decent.
It was certainly considerably better than the resolution of the 777-300ER first class screen. It was also more responsive.
Cathay Dragon’s IFE system, StudioKA was essentially the same as Cathay Pacific’s StudioCX. There are, I believe, no differences in the content offered, and more or less the only difference between the two was the branding.
There was more than enough entertainment to keep one busy on this short hop.
A decent selection of western movies – both new and older – as well as TV shows was offered. Unfortunately, as is usually the case, each TV show only featured a couple of episodes rather than the complete season.
In addition to that, there were also dozens of albums to listen to and quite a few games to play.
Of course, there was an in-flight map as well.
Arrival at Da Nang Airport
About ten minutes before 7PM Vietnam time (one hour behind Hong Kong), the captain made an announcement that we were starting to commence our descent towards Da Nang.
At 6:57PM, the seatbelt signs were switched on, and less than fifteen minutes later, the landing gear was lowered.
We landed at Da Nang airport at 7:13PM and came to a full stop at our parking gate next to a Bangkok Airways A320 just one minute behind schedule, at 7:16PM.
Cathay Dragon A321 Business Class Summary
This flight was largely similar to my flight from Hong Kong to Da Nang. That said, I enjoyed the meal on the other flight a bit more than the one on this flight.
On the other hand, flying on the A321 instead of the A320 had the benefit of built-in in-flight entertainment screens. While iPads were provided on the A320 flight, I still preferred the larger screen on the A321.
Overall, the experience onboard Cathay Dragon’s A321 was on par with what one could expect in short-haul business class.
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