Hong Kong Airlines revisited – Trip Report Bangkok – HK return

This is a follow on from last month’s trip report on Hong Kong Airlines. Prior to trying them late last year, I had not heard much about Hong Kong Airlines. Their Partnership with Virgin Australia (which I have  Platinum status with) was the motivation to fly them and now after four delightful flights with them, I am hooked. The only issue is the on-going speculation, that  they may not survive financially. This promopted me to ask the question in my last report ” are they a great airline but a lousy business?:

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Booking: 6/10
I booked on the HK airlines website which functioned well for most of the transaction but  “hiccuped” at the payments stage. This was my problem last time as their booking system either froze, or crashed when trying to pay. For a customer, you need to be determined as I had to try and try six times before the payment went through. This needs to be fixed. It is very frustrating.

As noted, on my last flight, the cheapest fares were offered directly on the airline website and not through a travel agent.

I was not able to choose my own seats at booking or check in stage. It was lucky, I was happy with the airline’s choices.

Check in: 9/10
Check in on-line was straightforward coming out of Hong Kong but did not work on the journey from Bangkok to HK.

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Bangkok Check In

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HK Check in

The human check in staff in both airports were friendly, helpful and efficient. With no one in the business class line before me, check in took just minutes and before I knew it, I was at the priority line for immigration.

A sign was prominently displayed at the check in counter offering a paid upgrade from Economy to Business. I was interested to note that the cost of the upgrade was the same as what I had paid for my business class ticket in the first place.

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Hk Express Channel is called the Courtesy Channel

Security was a quick process for both flights, helped by the express cards.

Flying out of HK I was carrying three small pieces as hand luggage which is in excess to the HK airlines baggage limit but no one seemed to object.

Lounge: 8/10
In Bangkok, I had access to the Miracle Business Class Lounge which is at concourse D Level 3 of international departures. I was pleasantly surprised. The welcome to the lounge was warm. It did not feel too crowded (some of the Thai  Airways lounges can be so full, they can feel overwhelming). The lounge has a good selection of Thai and Western food and drink as well as  self-serve coffee station and alcoholic drinks. Wi-Fi was solid. For smokers, there is even an outdoor smoking area, which I did not use.  I did take a shower. The bathroom area was comfortable enough but a little faded.

On my second flight, I had a spell in the beautiful new Altiris  tried out the HK airways lounge at Hong Kong. One of the lovely features of the lounge is a staffed bar that produces a terrific range of cocktails…

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Boarding: 9/10

Upon arriving at the gate each time, I boarded immediately each flight with no waiting. Process was efficient but not very human. Eg no one said “thank you” or “wished me a pleasant flight”. These little touch points are sometimes missed.

The on-board crew at the plane door were again, extremely efficient in showing passengers to their seats. They were friendly but not overwhelmingly warm in their welcomes compared with Thai, Singapore and Malaysia Airlines staff.

A “welcome” drink came around within seconds, followed by arrival documentation and express card.  No amenity kit was provided.

On board: 9/10

My flight to Hong Kong was onboard the first Airbus A330-300 ever delivered to Hong Kong Airlines on 30 November 2012 (B-LNM). The plane has a total of 292 seats. The Business Class section, where I was sitting, had 32 flat bed seats with a 54″ pitch (distance between seats). The bed length is 74″. The seat width is a comfortable 21″ and seats are arranged 1/2/1.

In Economy, 260 passengers were seated with 31′ pitch and 18″ width in 2/4/2.

On my return voyage, I was on an Airbus 330 that was delivered in  2010. The aircraft has 283 seats.  30 Business Class seats are arranged in  five rows in  a 2/2/2 layout. Seat pitch is 60″ and width is 21″.


259 economy seats are arranged in 2/4/2. 31″ pitch again and 18″ width.

Take Off

After a long taxi at Bangkok which provided us passengers with some great views of the airport, we launched into a smokey Thai sky.

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Over Bangkok

 

On the  flight out of Hong Kong , we taxied for 24 minutes before we took off in steady rain.  We climbed to 5000 feet where we sat for five minutes at just under 240 knots, flying over rows of boats lined up for HK harbour. We then accelerated and climbed quickly through the clouds, experiencing significant turbulence for about ten minutes.

The Seat: 9/10

First up, the seat in the newer A330 cabin.

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The seat on my flight back to Bangkok in the older A330.

 

 

 

Lavatories

Entertainment: 7/10

The airline has a good range of western and Asian movies but I found the TV selection a little underwhelming. Good enough for a short flight which was taken up with meal, reading and work. Systems functioned smoothly .

There was no on-board wifi.

Meals: 10/10
I was again blown away by the choice and range and quality of their meals. Unfortunately, the airline does not give you time to linger over the menus as the crew come around before take off to get your full meal order. They also take back the menu so I could not enjoy perusing it for too long!

In 2015, Hong Kong Airlines announced a partnership with Blue Elephant, a famous Thai restaurant in Bangkok, to provide Royal Thai cuisine to Business Class passengers from Bangkok. I chose the sliced beef with egg noddles.

Meal service began the hot towel (of course!). This was followed with a drink and mixed nuts.

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We started with a delicious green mango l and cashew nut salad. Fresh and tasty.

The beef was also very tasty.

I ate half of the delicious coconut jelly. The Godiva chocolate vanished in one swoop. On my second flight, I gave it to my seat mate who accepted it gratefully!

On the flight back to Banhgkok, we started with a delicious salad.

I chose ch

I chose the healthy option for dessert on this flight: fruit salad which I thought was underwhelming in size, presentation and interest. Only black spot in all of my flights with them.

Landing

Both flights landed early. I suspect Hong Kong Airlines “pads” their timings to maintain  their record as one of the world’s most punctual carriers.

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The Verdict: 

My Flight Rating: 86%-which is consistent with my last rating of them. By comparison, my average rating of Cathay Pacific is 96% and Thai is 95%

About the Airline: Established as CR Airways in 2001, they became Hong Kong airlines in 2006. They carried almost 7.5 million passengers in 2018, making them Hong Kong’s 3rd largest carrier.

Fleet: 43 Destinations: 47

Skytrax: rates Hong Kong Airlines as a 4 Star airline. Their customers give them 6 out of 10  In June 2017, Skytrax ranked Hong Kong Airlines second best regional airline and 24th best airline in the world.

Safety Rating: Airline ratings gives them 7/7

Frequent Flyer Program: They are part of the HNA Fortune Wings club along with Grand China Air, Grand China Express, Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Express Airways and Lucky Air. Passengers with Virgin Australia can earn and redeem miles with HK Airlines

Positives: Service, HK lounge, meal

Negatives: Their frustrating booking payment system. No wifi

Would I fly them again? Yes- assuming they survive

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the review Martin. Really appreciate it and I’ve passed on your comments to all the appropriate departments that involve the customer journey. Very sorry for the website frustrations. That is one I put a special note on the team.

    On a side note, for some reason a few of your photos are showing upside down.

    Thanks again!

    Dennis

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