Dragonair is the regional subsidiary of Cathay Pacific and an airline we used to fly quite a bit in our former life as Hong Kong residents.

Dragonair and Cathay Pacific share a number of similarities which is a good thing in my book but I’m not alone in my sentiments. Dragonair was recently voted “World’s Best Regional Airline” and “Best Regional Airline in Asia” by over 18 million travelers in the 2015 Skytrax Awards.

Dragonair flies a number of short haul routes that Cathay Pacific doesn’t and they do it at extremely reasonable prices to boot. I thought about using miles (Dragonair is a member of the oneworld Alliance, too) for our recent 2.5-hour flight from Hong Kong to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and even thought about paying cash for business class, where we prefer to sit. But we caught an unbelievable sale on economy class tickets that seemed almost too good to be true. Except it was.

(I later read that this route was the first the airline ever flew commercially, formerly as Hong Kong Dragon Airlines out of the old Kai Tak airport.)

My daughter, dating back as far as I can remember, has always loved the Dragonair logo. Her name for the airline has evolved from “Crazy Dragon Airlines” to “Mushu Airlines” (the dragon reminds her of Mushu in the Disney movie Mulan). This is her imitation of him (her?) at the lovely Shangri-la’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa before we boarded our plane back to Hong Kong.

My daughter's imitation of the Dragonair logo

Use of Hong Kong International Airport Lounges

Eligible Dragonair passengers may use the airlines’s G16 lounge or any one of Cathay Pacific’s six lounges.

My sapphire oneworld Alliance (of which Dragonair is a member) status allows lounge entry regardless of where our seat on the plane is. Based on our departure gate location, this means we luxuriated in Cathay Pacific’s The Wing business class lounge near immigration prior to take-off.

Cathay Pacific's The Wing business class lounge in Hong Kong International Airport

I love The Wing. It’s like there’s something new to see around every corner between The Long Bar, dining areas including The Noodle Bar, showers and then some. If you’re lucky enough to sit on the first class side, be sure to enjoy the champagne bar as I did on our return flight to LAX in Cathay Pacific first class.

If you like lounges and don’t have status, the Plaza Premium lounge (a Priority Pass member) at HKIA is free for some American Express cardholders or about $64 USD for adults with children at a slightly reduced fee for a two-hour pass. It’s not nearly as posh as Cathay Pacific’s lounges but has a buffet, chair massages and other comforts.

Priority Pass deal (affiliate): 10% discount on all membership plans on the first year. Fares are in USD.

We used the Malaysia Airlines lounge in the Kota Kinabalu airport on the return flight. I found it to be quite pleasant with a kids’ room, plenty of premium drinks, comfortable seating, and a number of hearty Malaysian dishes on offer at the buffet.

What It’s Like On Board Dragonair

A shot of what our Dragonair economy cabin was like.

Just like any other airline, the experience you have on board Dragonair depends on the aircraft. Our Airbus on the outbound flight was a bit older but our return aircraft (pictured above) was newly upgraded with the same onboard entertainment that Cathay Pacific has. Instead of StudioCX, it was StudioKA but with exactly the same plethora of movies, TV and gaming options.

The touch screens are so easy to use that even young kids can manipulate them. I believe there was inflight WiFi but I was more interested in catching up on my favorite British TV shows than checking email.

Even on our short flights, Dragonair served two very nice meals which is a luxury that has been lost on domestic U.S. flights. Guessing correctly that I would have previously stuffed myself with dim sum and other local delights in Hong Kong prior to this flight, I requested the fruit platter for myself and a kids’ meal for my daughter online. The dietary options on Dragonair and Cathay Pacific are quite robust so be sure to select your preference in advance (I remember the vegetarian meal being quite good on our last KA flight).

While I forgot to take a photo of my incredibly fresh fruit plate, I snapped one of my daughter’s breakfast since it was served first. She ate the entire thing claiming these are the best pancakes she’s ever had. No joke.

A children's meal on a Dragonair short haul flight between Hong Kong and Kota Kinabalu

As it was early in the morning on the outbound flight, I didn’t notice any alcoholic beverages being offered (nor did I ask) but they were flowing generously on our night return flight to Hong Kong. And, also unlike the U.S., all beverages are complimentary.

Excellent Service

Due to weather, our outbound flight was delayed but as it wasn’t a full flight, the gate agents took the liberty of moving my daughter and I to a row with a vacant seat so that she could sleep—a move that I greatly appreciated.

This recent set of flights highlighted that, in my opinion, Dragonair’s service and offerings are evolving closer to Cathay Pacific’s which I’m sure is a deliberate (and welcome) move.

The bottom line is that you can feel good about flying Dragonair regionally from Hong Kong, a major gateway to the rest of Asia. We always have.

Flying Dragonair regionally from Hong Kong is awesome. Here's why.

Have you flown Dragonair lately?

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. We flew Dragonair last year to Da Nang and we absolutely loved them. The crew were so friendly and the food was very good, for such a short flight.
    I am off to Kota Kinabalu in few days time, staying in Shangri La Tanjung Aru for few nights and after reading your review I cannot wait!