After a long layover in The Pier, Business Class Lounge at HKG, we were eager to hop on our final leg of the (extended) day to Phuket. We boarded through gate 509, which required a shuttle ride from the 4th floor of the International Terminal, along with other passengers departing on flights at gates 501-510. They waited until the bus was packed as full as possible before closing the doors, but fortunately it was only a 5 minute bus ride.
Cathay Dragon boarded the A321 from a single boarding door at the front of the plane, so the process was a little hectic.
The A321 features a 2-2 Business Class cabin configuration. The recliner seats and IFE were dated, but comfortable enough for a 3.5 hour short-haul flight covering 1,400 miles.
To give a common reference point, the A321 Business Class cabin feels similar to, but a step above the 737-800 First Class cabin. The cabin itself felt very clean, as did the seat fabric and light bedding.
Window seats have large gaps along the sides of the aircraft, which make them feel more spacious than center seats along the aisle.
Leg space is moderate — more than enough for a short regional flight. As someone over 6 feet, I wouldn’t suggest the bulkhead as the wall limits your ability to stretch your legs under the seat in front of you. Seats have plastic pedestals beneath them where you would otherwise stow a personal bag, which means you’re likely going to have to stow anything larger than a purse up in the overhead compartments.
Tray tables are tucked under the seat back screens, and fold outward.
Seats have recline and footrest buttons along the middle console, as well as a button to return upright for takeoff and landing. Beneath the console is a lateral compartment for the aircraft info sheets and headphones.
The IFE remotes are housed under the armrests in the middle console, and feature the classic remotes.
Power outlets are available between seats, but there were no USB ports.
As is usually the case, the Cathay Dragon flight crew were extremely kind, and we were offered welcome drinks and pre-packaged sanitary wipes toward the end of the boarding process.
Menus were distributed shortly after takeoff.
We started with the fresh seasonal fruit.
I ordered the dim sum selection for my main course which was excellent. My wife ordered the tomato spicy chicken stew and rigatoni, which she said was bland and had an unsavory sweet sauce.
We wrapped it up with Haagen Dazs ice cream. They had 3 of my favorite flavors (kiwi mango, raspberry mango, and cookies & cream) which made it impossible to choose just one.
The rest of the flight went by fairly quickly. We touched down early at 5:15pm, a whopping forty minutes ahead of schedule, and had a gate immediately ready for us to taxi into. After deplaning, we were able to clear immigration and book our Grab ride by 5:30pm. Our check-in bags were the first to come off the conveyor belt at carousel 6, so we were able to catch the tail end of sunset on our first night in Phuket.
Despite the sluggish and somewhat chaotic boarding process, we really enjoyed this regional leg out to Phuket. The seats were comfortable for a brisk 3 hour hop, and I really enjoyed the dinner and excellent cabin crew service. Arriving into Phuket so far ahead of schedule was great, since we used that little bit of daylight to find our Grab driver (which can be pretty confusing at Phuket International Airport) and get to the resort by sundown. We eventually found him at the famous “flag pole” in front of the airport, and embarked on a short 20 minute Grab ride ($18 USD) to the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa where our Ocean Front suite was waiting.