Review: Cathay Dragon A321 Business Class from Hong Kong to Da Nang

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.

In this review, I will cover the business class flight from Hong Kong to Da Nang. If you wonder what Cathay Dragon’s economy class is like, check my A320 and A330 economy class reviews.

Review: Cathay Dragon A321 Business Class from Hong Kong to Da Nang
Overview of the cabin while cruising towards Da Nang.

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.

Cathay Pacific Pier Lounge
Cathay Pacific The Pier first class lounge.
Hong Kong Airport
Heading towards the departure gate.

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.

Hong Kong Airport
Gates 501 through 530 are in a satellite building only reachable by a shuttle bus.

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.

Boarding Cathay Dragon Flight to Da Nang
Boarding in progress.

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.

Air China 737 at Hong Kong Airport
Air China 737 in the Pink Peony livery.
Cathay Dragon Airbus A321
Cathay Dragon A321.
Boarding Cathay Dragon A321
A little “traffic jam” in the jetway.

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.

Cathay Dragon A321 Business Class Seat
A pair of business class seats.
Cathay Dragon A321 Business Class Seat
The window seat is reclined to the maximum possible level.

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.

Cathay Dragon A321 Business Class Seat
Drink table and seat controls.
Cathay Dragon A321 Business Class Power Outlets
Power outlets.
Cathay Dragon A321 Business Class In-Flight Entertainment
IFE controller.

On the other side of the seat, there was just a simple armrest.

Cathay Dragon A321 Business Class Seat
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.

Cathay Dragon A321 Business Class Seat
Coat hook, screen, USB port, and storage compartment.
Cathay Dragon A321 Business Class Seat
Tray table.

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.

Cathay Dragon A321 Business Class Seat
Storage space underneath the seat in front.

Upon boarding, a pillow was waiting on each seat and (non-noise cancelling) headphones were available in the seat pocket.

Cathay Dragon A321 Business Class Pillow
Pillow.
Cathay Dragon A321 Business Class Headphones
Headphones.

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.

Cathay Dragon Business Class Welcome Drink
Welcome drink.

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.

Cathay Dragon Business Class Newspaper and Menu
South China Morning post and menu.

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.

Cathay Dragon A321 Safety Video
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 A321 at Hong Kong Airport
Ready for push back.
Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong airport at night.

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.

Cathay Dragon Business Class Dinner Menu
Dinner menu.

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.

Cathay Dragon Business Class Dinner
Dinner.
Cathay Dragon Business Class Starter
Appetizer.
Cathay Dragon Business Class Dinner
Main.

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.

Cathay Dragon Business Class Dessert
Ice cream, tea, etc.

In case you are wondering, below is the list of drinks that offered on the flight.

Cathay Dragon Business Class Drinks
Drink menu.
Cathay Dragon Business Class Wines
Champagne and white wines.
Cathay Dragon Business Class Wines
Red and dessert wines.
Cathay Dragon Business Class Alcohol
Alcoholic drinks.

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.

StudioKA Entertainment System
StudioKA.

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.

Cathay Dragon In-Flight Entertainment Movies
Movies.
Cathay Dragon In-Flight Entertainment TV Shows
TV shows.

In addition to that, there were also dozens of albums to listen to and quite a few games to play.

Cathay Dragon In-Flight Entertainment Music
Music.
Cathay Dragon In-Flight Entertainment Games
Games.

Of course, there was an in-flight map as well.

Cathay Dragon In-Flight Entertainment Map
In-flight map.

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.

Bangkok Airways A320
Bangkok Airways A320 parked next to us.

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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Get Your FREE "Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank" Guide

No, I am not going to tell you how to fly in first class and sip Dom Perignon for free…

But, I am going to introduce you to a couple of ways you can experiment with to try a business class flight without having to spend thousands of dollars.

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