New Route

Rumours of Dragonair's imminent resumption of their Xian service circulated in aviation forums for a while, while the press release noted likely resumption to be in Q2. After fiddling around the Asia Miles redemption engine online, I found availability on the unannounced route but could not confirm the seats. After a long wait on the phone to get through to the Marco Polo call centre, I was able to secure a redemption seat at 20,000 miles before the official announcement came.

Having done online check-in, I wasn't so keen to get to the airport so early despite warnings of the Easter travel rush. It was the first day of the extended holiday, and I arrived an hour before departure to find the lines at the Dragonair bag drop to be not bad at all. In fact, Dragonair's Marco Polo check-in line was not doing any better.

Today's flight would be operated by a small A320 jet. Luckily, I checked in early online and secured my window seat at the front of the plane.

We departed on-time, and had a long taxi towards the western end of the runway. Along the way, a decommissioned Air Canada jet sat on the tarmac.

We took off towards the east under cloudy skies.

Flight deck announced due to air corridor restrictions, today's flight time would be longer at 3 hours. Meal service soon followed. It was quite tasty, which made the bad news seem a little better.

The plane was not equipped with any inflight entertainment whatsoever, so I looked out the window to pass the time. Too bad the window was dirty though. Soon, the mountains near Xian came into view.

Xian was enjoying a period of sunny skies before my arrival. It seems visibility was also fairly decent that day. I had originally worried about spring sandstorms.

Without televisions on board, I had no idea where we were or which part of the city this is. We made a number of turns to align with the approach.

The landing was smooth, and the terminal soon came into view. There weren't any large jets at all, and perhaps because the airport itself is huge, it also looked fairly empty.

We parked at the edge of the terminal, which meant a long walk to immigration. The facility looked new, but right upon disembarkation, signs of poor maintenance were everywhere. An ugly, worn-out red carpet covered the airbridge, and inside the terminal, the wall corners were already showing bad wearing. Once out of customs, there were no signs indicating the taxi stand although there was a sign for the bus.

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