Booked: Thai Business Class, Malaysia Business Class & Cathay Dragon First Class

Filed Under: Awards, Travel

As I first wrote about earlier in the month, Tiffany and I are headed to Beijing in February thanks to a reasonably priced business class fare on Delta. We were able to route the trip through Detroit so we could fly the new Delta One Suites on their A350s, which have sliding doors.

However, the trip also gave us a significant amount of time on the ground in Beijing. Both of us have been to Beijing many times before, and personally it’s not my favorite city in China, and most definitely not in February. So our plan was to go somewhere else during our time there.

The goal was to take an easy flight and have several days on the ground in one place, though as usual, what we ended up booking is a whirlwind trip that has us on the ground for at most 36 hours at each destination. Somehow that always ends up happening. Let me share the details. Here’s a map of what we’ll be flying:

Malaysia Airlines A330 business class

For 40,000 AAdvantage miles we booked a one-way business class ticket from Beijing to Melbourne via Kuala Lumpur on Malaysia Airlines. I’ve flown their regional business class and I’ve flown their longhaul first class, though I’ve never flown their new A330 business class, which is the same product they’ll have on their A350.


Both flights are operated by A330s, so it seemed like a good opportunity to review that product.

Unfortunately the catch is that Malaysia only seems to make one business class award seat available per flight, so we’re booked on separate flights a day apart. We’ll hope a second seat opens up on one of the flights so we can travel together.

Thai Airways business class

As Tiffany just recently wrote about, United MileagePlus is making some changes to their award chart as of November 1, and one of the best redemptions is booking an award between Australia and Asia.

Thai Airways flies the A350 to Melbourne, so we wanted to fly that in business class. Personally I’ve never flown their longhaul business class product before, and it has been on my list of products to try. From there we’ll be connecting to Hong Kong on a Thai Airways 747.

Booking that entire award for 30,000 miles one-way is an incredible value, and I’ll be sad to see that redemption opportunity disappear in a couple of weeks.

Cathay Dragon first class

I’ve reviewed almost every single international first class product in the world. Based on the trips I have planned as of now, there are just five airlines in the world that have international first class that I haven’t yet tried. One of those is Cathay Dragon, which is Cathay Pacific’s subsidiary. So while it’s a fairly short flight, we redeemed Avios for the short hop from from Hong Kong to Beijing in first class. In reality Cathay Dragon just has reverse herringbone seats in first class, though I’m curious what the service is like.

Bottom line

As usual, we made this trip much more complicated than it needed to be. Or perhaps more accurately, I made it more complicated, and Tiffany was kind enough to go along with it. 😉

I’m really excited to try Thai business class (especially given how few miles we paid) and Dragonair first class. I’m also excited about Malaysia business class, though am monitoring that closely, in hopes of us being able to get on the same flight, or otherwise switching to another option, like Garuda Indonesia, Vietnam Airlines, etc.

Has anyone flown Cathay Dragon first class, Malaysia A330 business class, or Thai A350 business class? What should we expect?

  1. Not a big fan of Malaysia’s A330. Not much room for your feet. I felt very boxed in and the seats did not give many options on seat options. There were only pre-selected seat options (takeoff/landing mode, sleep mode and one more), and you can’t manually adjust your seat.

  2. Hands down best F class service i have ever received was on KA F on the HKG-PEK route this year in June. I truly felt like a King !

  3. Last week there was an “awesome” error fare with Malaysia which only lasted for a few hours, booked Kuala Lumpur to New Delhi for 330$ return ticket on their new Airbus A330 Business Class! Looking forward to it 😀

  4. Thai A350: Narrow seats, premium economy standard catering and underwhelming lounges. You might get lucky and get a good crew, you might not.

    Thai 744: As above except a seat which should have been retired 15 years ago.

    Malaysian A330: Narrow seat, average catering, tired lounge, but crew should be lovely.

    Cathay Dragon First: The shortest flight but should be the best pick out of all the products you’re flying.

  5. Looking forward to all of the reports!

    The best crew I’ve ever had was on Dragonair’s 3 AM PEK to HKG flight on an A320 in J (with recliner seats). You should be in for a treat.

  6. @LB I agree with the underwhelming lounges in BKK, however as a J or F you can use the newly renovated SQ lounges there which are brilliant apart from the lack of showers.

  7. I see mentions of Cathay J seats in F on Cathay Dragon aka Dragonair, If verified this must be rather new. A year ago, 2 at most, Dragonair A 330s had 6-abreast “Lie Flat” (hmmm…) seats, 12 per cabin, where the leg part rose horizontal but the back part remained slightly angled. Perfectly adequate for 3 hour flights or even the occasional HND-HKG. The J cabin was the exact CX Regional Business Class. Soft F service good but not extravagant. I did however find a positive difference in the KA Flight attendants’ attitude and willingness to go the extra mile, as opposed to many dull faces working at CX.

    My ultimate thrill was to have a KA flight from PEK to HKG operated by a CX 747 with the whole F cabin to myself, equipped with the relatively old F Long Range seats. Bespoke soft F service if there ever was one, performed by 2 FAs who were as sad as me to see the 747s go.

  8. Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge at the satellite terminal are currently closed for renovation, but they just open their regional golden lounge at the main terminal, not sure whether long haul passengers can use the regional lounge as the size its not big, only to cater regional business class passengers

  9. @Roger:

    Because a) TG 747s have no lie-flats in business class, but old slanty recliners, b) it lets them review a TG A350 in business class, and c) they’re taking a Thai 747 to Hong Kong, on a two-ish hour daytime flight where lack of lie flats isn’t really a big deal, and that way they can check off the AVgeek “I flew on a 747 upper deck” box without trying to sleep on seats where you slide down to the floor? 😉

  10. I’m also flying TG A350 MEL-HKG in Feb for Chinese New Year holidays. TG consistently have amazing business class fares to Australia at Chinese New Year – HK$13000 as opposed to SQ, CX, QF, etc which are HK$30000+++ (even the crappy mainland airlines are that expensive). I avoid the crush of humanity descending upon the world and go visit home at that time of year, and usually fly TG because of their fares, if not using miles. The 787 didn’t impress me much, but the 747 between BKK and HKG is a bit of a novelty. They’re not QR, but if you get a good crew it can be nice, and the new Thai style dining (Thai Samrab or something?) finally brings a bit of the amazing food of Thailand to TG.
    Word of warning – when flying to HKG, the boarding gate in BKK is going to be absolute chaos, especially if you’re flying during Chinese New Year holidays. They kind of try to enact priority boarding but announcements are limited and a few hundred mainlanders will suddenly swamp upon the boarding gate. That’s usually a signal for me that my time in the west is over and it’s back to China mode. Fun fun fun, elbowing your way onto the plane.

  11. @Lucky ~ Your super fan Alvin is your personal assistant now, please buy him a cup of milkachino while you are in Hong Kong in February ya…

  12. @Lucky / @Tiffany – Don’t forget that you can book a 30 mins head and shoulder massage in the excellent Thai Royal Orchid Spa. Make sure you get there early to get your name on the list

    The therapists are amazing. Very experienced. Such a relaxing way to get onto the flight.

    The Thai lounges are very dated.

    As well as the SQ Silver Kris Lounge at gate D7, check out the Eva Lounge at concourse E for some amazing 70’s retro club lighting and decor!

  13. Lucky have you ever tried Shanghai Airlines First Class Product. I think they only have it on their 767’s and I believe that they might br discontinuing it in the near future due to a fleet renewal. Anyway, it would be pretty cool if you could be able to fly a “low-liner” airline like Shanghai, even if it isn’t a very good product

  14. My partner Hugh and I used the ThaI A350 return from Kuala Lumpur to Milan during June/ July this year. Thai had (and still have) promo prices from Denpasar/Jakarta/Kuala Lumpur/Singapore and Manila through to Europe much cheaper than their prices from Bangkok.

    All the flights were just as Mark has shown. As he mentions there were time we were wondering what plane we’d be getting, and even which day we would be flying as they were in the process of changing schedules. Sometimes our “manage my booking”didn’t display properly or show at all against our booking number when they are doing this. Sometimes it was a an issue of which search engine we used to look up our booking.

    The lounge in Bangkok is only so-so. Better to eat up big during the flight. The massage in the spa is fine.

    Keeping in mind the very low prices we paid $AUD2,200 return each , it was excellent value. We got just over 21,000 Royal Orchid points each. That’s enough to redeem for a high quality hotel in Bangkok that would normally cost about $AUD220 a night. (No extra fees)

    I’d use them again if the price was right.

  15. Hope you enjoy your flights; i am interested to read about your coming flights. Does Malaysian offer beer or wine on their short-haul international flights (such as Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok?).

    I was lucky enough to experience Cathay Dragon First (from Shanghai to Hongkong on their A330 on October first this year (on a lunch-time flight: KA803)); their First class was a noticeable step above their enjoyable Business-class; they served Taittinger 2008 in a properly chilled champagne flute as a boarding/ pre-departure drink. I was v happy with Dragon’s First product.

    While it is better to enter a First cabin with low expectations, I do wish you a good, safe series of Southeast Asian flights (also am interested to learn about your thoughts on Delta’s A350).


    PS – I am hope you can review Bangkok Airways Blue Ribbon service someday -where guests, in fact, receive a blue ribbon

  16. KUL-MEL order the “nasi lemak”, I feel its the best business class meal in the sky from a pure flavor standpoint (there are airlines and dishes with better presentations).

  17. About MH 330 new business class, I felt like I was on the floor level when the seat was turned into a bed. The cabin also felt cramped.

  18. Call me biased, but expect some disappointment with Thai, especially on their 330s. Sub par seats with terrible reclining positions, and for some reason they just serve everything on one tray… even though it is a 3.5hr flight. Majority of the time TG’s catering is below average.

  19. Also very interested to hear of your experiences with Thai Airways. I found them extremely friendly but the odd thing was they would wake passengers for every small thing. I am not talking just meal services.

    Coming through with small refreshments/water, they woke us, coming through with a fresh flower, they woke us……….and I mean physically woke passengers not just waking by some ambient noises or action in the cabin. They talked to passengers until they woke and/or gently touched shoulders of those that didnt wake to the noise. They did not want me to miss out on my ‘free’ orchid! Granted it was a nice touch, but dont wake me for it! I will be interested to see if the same happens to you.

  20. @Dohyun Choi … Yes, TG regional is on one tray due to time constraints. However, it does also mean the meal service is finished quickly and one can get on with work, which is why I like to fly TG in business.

    CX regional is too fussy – and if you ask me the food on TG is better than CX across both economy and business (TG won Skytrax 2017 World Airline Awards Ceremony as the World’s Best Economy Class & Best Economy Class Onboard Catering)

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