Ireland is getting not one but two direct services to the Far East starting in June 2018. Cathay Pacific are flying to Hong Kong four times a week and Hainan Airlines are flying to Beijing four times a week.
Both airlines are rated as 5 star by airline ratings agency Skytrax which means they should be as good as each other. I believe one airline offers more than the other, so let’s have a look.
Flight Schedules to China
Flying four times per week apiece, the only difference is that Cathay Pacific will fly non-stop both ways the whole time. Hainan Airlines on the other hand will have two non-stop flights per week and two flights with a short stop in Edinburgh.
Together the carriers cover every day of the week except Friday. Schedules are similar on both airlines with late night departures from Asia and mid-morning departures from Dublin.
Seats and Service
Hainan Airlines have a 1-2-1 configuration on the Airbus A330 operating to Dublin and hopefully it will be the new cabin pictured below. This looks very comfortable indeed.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific will be flying the Airbus A350 to Dublin. Their highly regarded business class looks similar in many ways, also featuring a 1-2-1 configuration.
There are two reviews I think you should check out. One is from the blog One Mile At A Time about Hainan Airlines. He raves about the service even though on his flight he has different seats. The other is from Australian Business Traveller about Cathay Pacific, on what seems like another decent flight.
Frequent Flyer Affiliations
Cathay Pacific is a founding member of the oneworld alliance. This means you earn points when you fly with them in their own Marco Polo club as well as any of the alliance airlines schemes. Many Irish people have affiliation with the British Airways Executive Club so this is a big plus.
On the other hand, Hainan Airlines is not a member of any alliance. Their Fortune Wings club is worth joining if you fly them and partner airlines include Etihad Airways, Alaska Airlines, Virgin Australia and a host of other Chinese based carriers.
Which Equipment Is Better?
Since Cathay Pacific is flying the state of the art Airbus A350 from Hong Kong, they have the best aircraft hands down. It is a modern aircraft with a lower cabin altitude that makes you feel much better on arrival than older aircraft.
While Hainan is operating an older Airbus A330 aircraft from Beijing, these are the same ones that Aer Lingus operate to the United States and are still being made today. There is nothing wrong with them, especially if they have the refurbished cabins.
For those heading to mainland China, using Hainan to Beijing will be the best choice even if you have to make a stop in Edinburgh along the way if you choose a flight on that day of the week. Food, service and comfort are up there with the best in the world, even if the frequent flyer programme has few friends.
Members of oneworld alliance frequent flyer programmes would be best choosing Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong. Added benefits are non-stop flights, onward connections to Australia, New Zealand and other parts of Asia such as Singapore and Japan and the most modern aircraft around today. Cathay Pacific also have great inflight entertainment with their StudioCX system.
Which airline would you choose between Dublin and China? Hainan or Cathay Pacific and why? Thanks for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.