Flight Report
CA 106 Hong Kong - Dalian
Economy Class

Last Minute Flight

With a typhoon approaching Hong Kong and threatening the long weekend, I decided to take drastic action by flying out for a short trip. Armed with plenty of Asia Miles, I explored what location was small enough yet interesting for a 2.5-3 day trip. With most of the region under the summer monsoon, there wasn't much choice to begin with. In the end, I settled for Dalian, which was forecasted to have a sunny weekend.

The Typhoon 1 signal is just a preliminary warning that a storm is within 800km of Hong Kong. It was still bright and sunny when I reached the airport. I had already checked in earlier in the day at the Airport Express counter, so leisurely made my way to the gate. Strangely, Air China stops all online check-in 3 hours before departure, which I thought was excessively early.

Gate 46

I knew from my booking that today's flight would be operated by a 737-800. However, I was surprised to find we would board at Gate 46, and not some Gate 5xx in the North Satellite terminal, which is designed for narrowbodies only. I slowly walked along the length of the terminal to spot. Gate 46 was near one of the furthest ends of the Y-shaped terminal.

Late Arrival

With a 1725 scheduled departure, it was a bit worrying to see the plane arrive at the gate at around 1710. We were not going to depart on-time today.

Typhoon 3

During my spotting, my friend was texting me with concerns her flight back to Hong Kong that evening would be affected by the typhoon. I had sent her photographs of the beautiful blue sky to reassure her things seemed fine for now. She then informed me Typhoon 3 has been hoisted.

Boarding took place about half an hour after the scheduled departure time. It wasn't a full flight, with about 25% of the seats being empty. The flight attendants came on the PA after a long wait at the gate noting the Guangzhou ATC has imposed air traffic controls and our departure would be further delayed by 20 minutes. This seems to be a norm flying into China nowadays!

We departed at 6:35pm, an hour and 10 minutes behind schedule. I wasn't so annoyed about this since I didn't plan any sightseeing that night upon my arrival in Dalian anyway.

The skies were clear and I didn't feel a strong wind as we reached the western tip of the runway for take-off.

A 747 was right behind us. Good that our small plane would not be taking off in its wake.

Typical of flights on Chinese carriers, the flight attendants do all the talking, welcoming us on board and giving a briefing of the flight distance and time. Neither the pilot nor first officer would get on the PA from start to finish.

Smooth Ascent

Considering it was Typhoon 3, the take-off was very smooth and uneventful. The sunset was very nice and lasted quite a long time.

As there were plenty of empty seats, people moved around a bit and soon I had the row of 3 seats all to myself. The dinner tasted decent and the flight attendants came around for drinks and promptly responded when I called for them.

We finally arrived at 10:12pm after just over 3 hours. I noticed some water droplets running along the window during the descent, but the conditions were fairly smooth even with a number of turns to align with the approach. At that hour, the airport was not so busy and I was out of immigration very soon. Taxi touts were on hand at the exit trying to gouge an extraordinary 100 yuan for a ride into town. I circled a bit and found another tout offering 50 but eventually found the "official" stand, which was an airport worker standing on the street just outside the doors hailing taxis. There were no signs and no markings on the pavement for taxis to park and wait. Considering the terminal is new, I was surprised they didn't even save a spot for a taxi stand. My taxi fare using the metre came out to 40 yuan.

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