This post is both a farewell to Hong Kong Airlines personally and an acknowledgment that they are most certainly finally finished as an air carrier.
I have used Hong Kong Airlines a few times now to zip around Asia and have loved them. As my reviews have previously noted, their service has been top notch. They also give/gave good points earning options for my Virgin Australia Velocity frequent flyer program. My enthusiasm for them has been tempered by my concern over their precarious financial situation and concerns that every flight with them might be my last! They were bailed out again earlier this year. It looked like they would make it through the first half of the year. If they had a successful half year, they would probably be able to turn themselves around. So I booked flights.
None of us factoredon the Corona virus emerging.
Hong Kong airlines along with the main Chinese airlines and Cathay Pacific have been hit hard. This financial pain is now spreading across the airline world as the virus pops up in new places. Suddenly, HK Airlines financial future was looking dicier and dicier.
I had a Business Class flight this week from Bangkok to Hong Kong connecting with a flight to Australia with Cathay Pacific.
Hong Kong Airlines changed my flight arrangements six times over the 18 days before departure. This is a record for me. Never had this happen in my life!
Without boring you too much, they moved me from my original morning flight to an afternoon flight three hours later on the same day, No big deal so I accepted the change.
Two days later, they downgraded me from Business to Economy Class which I was not happy with. Despite having paid for a business class ticket no refund or compensation.
Then they cancelled that flight but did not tell me. This resulted in the following funny conversation:
So I secured myself on that 2am flight and was restored to Business Class.
On Tuesday last week, Hong Kong Airlines stopped offering any on board service apart from a bottle of water for a Bushiness Class and a cup of water in Economy. No pillows, no food, no peanuts, no entertainment. They closed one of their lounges at Hong Kong International Airport and cancelled a stack more flights. They also terminated 170 people on the same day having sacked 400 two weeks before. I am sorry to all those lovely staff.
This did not matter to me because they then downgraded me to economy (again). The final straw came when Hong Kong airlines cancelled this new flight again and didn’t notify me. No email, no call. I found out when I rang to complain that my flight was again in Economy Class! “Would you like a new flight sir?”
At this point I had had enough, I did not want to move to yet another new flight. (Have you counted the changes?!) So I asked for a refund. “No dice” said the airline. Despite moving you multiple times and downgrading you to economy (twice), we will charge you a refund fee of $US125 (equivalent). My Travel Agent spent two days negotiating with Hong Kong airlines for a waiver in view of their multiple changes of service and the Corona virus.
Hong Kong airlines would not budge.
At the point when the airline is more concerned with cash than customers, one knows they are finished. They are definitely finished with me. Just as the UK hotel chain Premier Inn who have proved to be less than customer friendly to people impacted by situations not in their control.
Chinese banks have bailed out Hong Kong Airlines multiple times. I think is unlikely they will be doing it again.
In the meantime, I switched to an Economy flight with Emirates. The round trip fare was the same as the aforementioned HK airlines cancellation fee. I got lounge access thanks to my Qantas Platinum status and a meal on board. In fact I got way more food and drink than Hong Kong Airlines were going to give me in business. And there was a pillow and entertainment.
Good bye Hong Kong Airlines. Thanks for a number of very fun flights. To all those dedicated professional staff good luck.
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- Six times Round the World- My 2019 Travel Highlights.
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- Premier Inn less helpful than North Korea in emergency situations
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