Date: February 15, 2018
Flight No.: KA294
Route: Hanoi Noi Bai to Hong Kong International
Airline: Cathay Dragon (Dragonair)
Type: Airbus A330-300
With the last Qatar Airways flight of my trip to New York, it was time to head back to Japan – but not before stopping in Hong Kong for a couple of days. Just like on my way to Hanoi, the airline that brought me back was Cathay Dragon.
This time around, though, it was their Airbus A330-300 widebody rather than the A320 that I took on the other flight.
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Transferring at Hanoi Noi Bai Airport
Since Japanese passport holders can only enter the country visa-free 30 days after their last departure from the country – and since I visited Hanoi on my way to New York less than a week prior – I wasn’t eligible to enter Vietnam this time.
That was not a problem, though, as I was able to print the boarding pass for this flight in Doha and I was traveling with just hand luggage.
Just in case you planning to transfer in Hanoi, opposite to the immigration counters, there are two doors leading upstairs to the security check area. Go through either of those – whichever happens to be staffed at that time – to get upstairs into the departure area.
Once airside, I had several hours to spare, and so, I sat down in a cafe for a while and then did some plane spotting.
A Delayed Departure Out of Hanoi
While the flight was supposed to depart at 7:50PM, about one hour before departure, I received an email saying the flight was “rescheduled” to 8:25PM. And, the aircraft itself arrived at 7:30PM. Once again, just like on my flight to Hanoi, it was still wearing the Dragonair livery.
Around the same time, I was called to the gate for a document check since I checked in online without stopping by the airport counter.
The boarding itself started shortly after 8PM, and as soon as I got onboard, one of the cabin crew members asked me for boarding pass. After telling her I was in 49D, she told me to “sit here,” since the flight was empty.
In fact, once the boarding was completed, there were probably no more than 40 or so passengers onboard. And, the whole rear economy class cabin remained empty.
Since the flight was totally empty, I decided to switch from the center section aisle seat that I originally settled in when I was told to “sit here,” and move to 32A – a window seat.
The seat offered decent legroom, and unlike the A320 that I took to Hanoi, the A330 also featured personal screens, and there was a headset waiting in the seat pocket besides all the usual printed materials.
There were no power outlets in economy, though. (Apparently, I just missed them.)
At 8:16PM, the ground staff was asked to leave the aircraft, and a minute later, the cabin crew closed the aircraft’s doors. Then, safety video was played, and at 8:22PM – about half an hour behind schedule – we left our parking spot.
We took off at 8:31PM after a very bumpy take-off run, and started climbing steeply.
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Flight from Hanoi to Hong Kong
The seatbelt signs were switched off just five minutes after the take-off at which point the cabin crew distributed the immigration forms and started preparing for the meal service.
In the meantime, I continued watching Back – a British comedy show – that I started watching onboard Qatar Airways. As for the IFE system itself, it was the same as onboard Cathay Pacific, except that it was branded StudioKA (Cathay Dragon’s airline code) instead of StudioCX.
About twenty five minutes after take-off, the meal service was done. Even though it was a fairly short flight, two choices of hot meal – beef with rice and fish with potatoes – were offered.
I went with the latter which came with a side of fruits and a cake, as well as a cup of water. Interestingly, the cutlery came in a ziplock bag.
Landing at Hong Kong International Airport
Shortly after finishing the meal, the seatbelt signs went on and didn’t go off again until our landing in Hong Kong.
Then, at 10:25PM Hong Kong time which is one hour ahead of Vietnam’s, the captain made an announcement saying that we would be landing at HKIA at 10:50PM.
By this time, we were already descending, and at 10:42PM, the cabin crew was asked to sit down for landing. Four minutes later, the landing gear was lowered, and at 10:49PM, we landed in Hong Kong.
It took us another four minutes to reach our parking gate, 111, where we came to a full stop at 10:53PM – less than twenty minutes behind schedule.
Since my girlfriend that took flight from Narita to Hong Kong was already waiting for me in the terminal, I quickly got off the aircraft and went through the immigration, ready to spend three enjoyable days in Hong Kong.
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Hanoi – Hong Kong Summary
Cathay Dragon provided more than adequate service in economy class on the short two hour flight between Hanoi and Hong Kong. Besides the hot meal, it was nice to have IFE screens since on the A320 flight to Hanoi, I forgot to install the StudioKA app on my phone which prevented me from watching any TV shows or movies.
Of course, I would have preferred if the flight wasn’t delayed, but then again, that can happen to any airline.
So, I can only recommend Cathay Dragon if it comes out as one of the most cost and time effective options for you.