Cathay Dragon Business Class Review Comparison: A320 Vs A321

Reviews : Transport

At the start of the year, I managed to snag one of the greatest mistake fares of all time – the Cathay Pacific tickets from Vietnam to the US. For these tickets, I had to start and end my flights from Danang. Danang is a coastal city in Central Vietnam with some superb hotels to boot, such as the Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, which we have reviewed before.

Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Limited, branded as Cathay Dragon and previously as Dragonair, is a Hong Kong-based international regional airline, with its corporate headquarters, Cathay Dragon House, and main hub at Hong Kong International Airport. The regional Hong Kong carrier Dragonair officially completed the transition of its rebrand to its new identity, Cathay Dragon, in 2016.

The rebrand of Cathay Pacific’s sister airline, aimed to “provide customers with a more seamless travel experience across the airlines” and to appeal to “the increasingly large number of passengers from mainland China who seek the convenience and assurance of an internationally recognised premium airline with global connectivity”.

This transition included the introduction of the new Cathay Dragon livery on what were Dragonair’s Airbus A300-300, Airbus A321-200 & Airbus A320-200 planes. Their premium class is meant to more or less match Cathay Pacific Class which I reviewed on their A330. Passengers now enjoy a more unified brand experience, from interiors and in-flight services such as pillows and blankets, seating, entertainment and meals, to the Marco Polo Club loyalty programme.

By comparison, I have also reviewed Cathay Pacific in First Class on Boeing 777, Cathay Pacific on the Airbus A350, and Cathay Pacific First on the 747.

We have previously reviewed the best Business and First Class airport lounges at Hong Kong airport, so you can also pick the best lounge for your trip if you fly via their airport hub in Hong Kong and if you stay in the city itself, you will want to pick a hotel with one of the best club lounges in Hong Kong too.

Cathay Dragon

Cathay Dragon offers three classes of travel; First Class where you can enjoy a spacious cabin, a flat-bed seat, enhanced entertainment, and their Asian hospitality. Cathay Dragon Business Class offers a comfortable personal space where you can work or relax. Cathay Dragon Economy Class offers convenient space, personal entertainment system, and attentive service.

Starting with one aircraft, Cathay Dragon has developed to become an award-winning Hong Kong-based carrier owning more than forty aircraft, and with a network covering the most popular travel destinations as well as business ports in Asia Pacific region. Cathay Dragon is well-recognised by its passengers of its extensive network in China. Given the flourishing economy in Mainland cities and aviation hub synergy of Hong Kong, Cathay Dragon plays an increasingly important role in connecting passengers around the globe and Mainland China.

Cathay Dragon is also the first local airline making an investment in local pilot training. In the late 1980s, the first generation pilot students joined the pilot training scheme and became the first batch locally born Chinese pilots. To date, over 150 cadets have successfully completed the scheme. Cathay Dragon is a member of Cathay Pacific Group is an affiliate member of oneworld® and partner of Asia Miles.

How To Redeem Miles On Cathay Dragon

Previously, I used my British Airway Avios miles to redeem flights on Cathay Dragon. Cathay Dragon, previously known as Dragon Air, is a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific, and a Oneworld affiliate. Cathay Dragon primarily flies short-haul and regional flights, while Cathay Pacific focuses on the long haul flights. Cathay Dragon, therefore, offers a great way to fly around Asia on Avios. If you want to fly on Avios for free as I do, I have outlined the three best Avios air mile credit cards with a referral bonus to get you onto that plane in style as quickly as possible.

Cathay Dragon Business Class A320 Vs A321

For the leg from Danang to Hong Kong and vice versa, Cathay deploys their sister company, Cathay Dragon, to service the route. Cathay Dragon focuses more on the short haul flights in Asia, while Cathay Pacific covers their long haul flights.

My flight from Danang to Hong Kong was an evening flight on Cathay Dragon’s Airbus A321. The flight had 24 business class seats, spread out across 6 rows in a 2-2 arrangements. I was seated in 12C, which was the left aisle seat on the third row. In this flight, there are also 148 economy class seats, in a 3-3 arrangement.

In comparison, my flight from Hong Kong to Danang was a morning flight on Cathay Dragon’s Airbus A320. Surprisingly, this flight only had a total of 8 business class seats, spread out across 2 rows. The flight also had more economy seats, with 150. For this flight, I was seated on 11H, which is the right aisle seat on the second row of business class.

My seat on the A321 was 21.5 inches wide and had a pitch of 42 inches. In comparison, the seat on the A320 was slightly smaller at 20 inches wide and 42 inches pitch. Both the seats were the older recliner seats into the shell, which could not be reclined into a fully flat bed. Either way, that was not really a problem as the flight was not too long at just under 2 hours.

The boarding process for the flight was quite similar, and we were served a welcome drink and a hot towel while we boarded. I had a glass of champagne for the A321 flight and a glass of soy milk on the A320 flight. The latter flight was a morning flight, so I did not want to start drinking so early in the morning.

Waiting for me on the seat of both flights were the noise cancelling headphones, as well as a large pillow. On the A321 flight, there was a small 10 inch TV screen. Surprisingly, on the A320 flight from Hong Kong to Danang, there was no TV screen in front of my seat! Instead, the flight attendants gave out an iPad to the business class passengers, which came equipped with StudioKA, the in-flight entertainment system.

Shortly after reaching cruising altitude, the flight attendants came around to prepare the table for the dinner service. For the A321 flight from Danang to Hong Kong, they served a Vietnamese shredded chicken and papaya salad, as well as a selection of bread from the bread basket. Later, the flight attendants came around in a cart with all the main course food option on display. The Eastern options for the main course were a grouper fish with steamed rice, while the Western option was chicken with fettuccine. I opted for the latter, which was just OK. For dessert, I had the cookies and cream Haagen-Dazs ice cream.

For the A320 flight from Hong Kong, the food served was for breakfast. Once again, they had both a Western and Eastern option which included a Big breakfast style selection with omelette, bacon, sausage, mushroom and grilled tomato, as well as a stir-fried ramen with beef and Chinese dim sum. I opted for the western option as well for this flight. The difference for this flight was that the food was served all at once in a tray. I also had a croissant and a good cup of coffee to go along with the food.

For both flights, the food options were solid. I liked the presentation on the A321 more, as it was a proper multi-course service. Similarly, the seats of the A321 was also slightly wider than the A320, so that is a plus.

Surprisingly, I found out that the economy class seats for the A321 also had a bigger pitch (30-31 inches) vs the A320 (29-30 inches), as well as being slightly wider, 18.7 inches on the A321 vs 17.5 inches on the A320. Those dimensions on the A321 are bordering on budget airlines, sadly!

I would rate the A321 ahead of the A320 for Cathay Dragon. The seat and food presentation are better, and at the very least, it has a TV monitor in front instead of having to use an iPad! Nonetheless, this is not to say that Cathay’s A320 is bad at all. It is, by all means, a very solid product, just worse than the A321!

Previously, I have reviewed more Cathay Dragon flights which can be found below:

Features

Flight Review: Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class

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During my December holidays, I used my British Airway Avios miles to redeem a flight on Cathay Dragon from Hangzhou to Hong Kong. Cathay Dragon, previously known as Dragon Air, is a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific, and a Oneworld affiliate.… Read More.

Review of Cathay Dragon Business Class A321, Danang to Hong Kong

In "Transport"

In early February, I took a flight from Danang to Hong Kong on Cathay Dragon. This flight was the first leg of the mistake fare that I managed to book from Vietnam to the US. Read More.