Review of Hong Kong Airlines flight Hong Kong Shanghai in Business

Airline Hong Kong Airlines
Flight HX234
Class Business
Seat 20G
Aircraft Airbus A330-300
Flight time 2:35
Take-off 10 Feb 16, 21:00
Arrival at 10 Feb 16, 23:35
HX 13 reviews
BombieFlyer
By 1045
Published on 2nd December 2016
Hi fellow FRs!

As promised, this report is the continuation of the previous two reports depicting my getaway trip to Bangkok from Shanghai.
1. PVG-BKK February 6, 2016 FM855 "Are we there yet?" Shanghai - Bangkok
2. BKK-HKG February 10, 2016 EK384 "Would you like to keep the bottle, Sir?" Bangkok - Hong Kong
3. xxx-PVG February 10, 2016 xxxxx "You can't make me fly in Economy after that!" [YOU ARE HERE]

Without further ado, let's start shall we?

Background
You saw me last time when I was making my way out of the jet bridge. Suffice to say EK made me and my partner the happiest people in HK that day. We finished a few bottle of Dom ourselves and we were barely able to make a straight line walking towards transfer counter. Or so I thought….

He was walking faster than the speed of light. I was not sure whether that was the side effect of champagne or I was the one walking at snail's pace. Anyway, I just followed him and we actually headed towards immigration counter. Oh no! I didn't fill in the entry card, I didn't even have one with me because I thought we would just transfer in HK without ever making it landside. Luckily plenty of those cards were available near the immigration counters. I tried to write steadily but when my head was spinning around, my handwriting looked worse than a 5-year old.

So we queued and we passed immigration in about 5 minutes. What do we do next?

The Flight
Route: HKG-PVG
Date: February 10, 2016
Flight: HX234
Equipment: A330-300
Registration: too drunk to check
Seat: 20G (moved to 20K during take-off and landing)
Scheduled Time Departure: 14.05
Actual Time Departure: 14.05
Estimated Time Arrival: 18.05 (HKG time)
Actual Time Arrival: 17.55 (HKG time)

So my partner was still full of energy as he raced the escalator toward departure level. At that time I still had no clue as to where we will be going, what we will be doing, which airline will fly us back to Shanghai, etc.

HKG was not too busy that day. There were empty check-in counters and there were bustling ones. Overall it was decent!


He kept on walking past the check-in islands until we reach the very first island which was dedicated for Hong Kong Airlines. Ahhhaaa! Not bad! I've flown HX before with my mom between Shanghai and Hong Kong so I knew exactly what kind of service would be offered and the cabin layout. HX's area was rather busy with many economy class passengers checking-in. My partner saw that line and he was like "I'm not queuing there!"
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So he walked to the customer service/elite passenger area and naturally I followed him
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The ground staff tried to stop him from entering the area alas he was faster! So he pulled out our original booking confirmation and gave it to the agent behind the counter. The banter went more or less like this:

Agent: "Sir, your booking is in economy cabin. Please kindly check-in over there" (she pointed towards economy class area)
My partner: "Is there an upgrade possibility?"
Agent: (startled and almost choked to death) "Uhhmm I'm not sure. Let me check the booking class you had paid and I will check with my manager"
Agent: "Sir, yes there is a possibility to upgrade for both of you. Do you want window seats or middle seats?"
My partner: "Perfect! We'll take the middle seat so we cant sit together" (while he was looking at me and gave me the evil sinister look for previously denying sitting side-by-side onboard Emirates)
Agent: "Okay, the price for upgrade is this" (while circling a number on a piece of paper repeatedly)
My partner handed his credit card to the agent
Agent: "These are your boarding and lounge passes. Please note that the lounge and the gate are far apart. The gate is at our new terminal and you need to take the shuttle train"

Et voila!
photo 20160210_171137 copyphoto 20160210_173436 copy

I can't believe what just happened! He couldn't believe too. When I confronted him about the cost to upgrade, he just said "You can't make me fly in Economy after that! We're on holiday so let's just continue the happy moment till the last second". I was gobsmacked but at the same time felling happy too as it was my first time trying HX's business class. All the walking and the adrenaline rush finally took its toll. We had to sit down and just shut our eyes for a while. We found benches to sit on and my partner just passed out like a broken filament bulb. I went to buy water at a nearby Agnes B cafe. For you FR members based in HKG i am sure you know what i am talking about. The cashier was also showing funny face when he saw me buying 3x 1.5L of water.

We drank the water like thirsty camels married to elephants. it was gone in a few seconds and we shut our eyes for a while. Feeling slightly better and regained consciousness, we made our way back toward airside. Security and immigration were fast and we found ourselves at the iconic airside area of HKG's terminal 1. The place was bustling with life! Since we both were quite hungry, we decided to make our ways to Club Bauhinia, the name for HX's business class lounge. I like the name!
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The lounge dragons were two very bubbly ladies. They informed us that they will not make boarding announcement and that our gate is in a different terminal. With that, we were allowed to enter the lounge and camped on a corner next to a window. It must have nice view during the day, unfortunately it was already dark outside so not much to see. The lounge itself is not very big and it was generally nice, nothing out of ordinary though.
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The lounge has this lovely display of airplane models
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The buffet area. It had hot meal options like dim sum, fried noodle, chicken curry, etc. It also had reasonable options of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
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Wi-fi password is available at each table
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Toilet is clean though I did not see any shower facility
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We did not stay long because we still had to catch the train to the newly opened Midfield concourse. This new terminal is predominantly used by Hong Kong Airlines and airlines with small frequency like S7, Malindo, Mega Maldives, and MIAT Mongolian. The design principle follows T1 though with more modern feeling attached to it. You can see more plants and greenery too. The terminal feels very empty and quite.


I think this shot showed the empty feeling I had. Quite contrast with Terminal 1
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Our gate was located not too far from the train platform. By the time we reached the gate, it was already quite packed with passengers and boarding was almost about to begin.
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I only managed to take one shot before my partner told me boarding had started.
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The gate agent was quite strict during boarding. She only allowed business class passengers and HX's elites to board.
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However, the funny (and maybe weird) was there was a misunderstanding between the gate agent and the crews onboard. Basically, we were told to wait in the jet bridge because the crews were not ready for boarding. They were still doing preparation. A mini traffic jam :)
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We were greeted by the leading flight attendant (i am not sure the term at HX to call their senior FA). Basically, the 'regular' FA adorns red scarf and this lady adorned gold/champagne scarf. First impression was "Wow i've never seen so much purple at once!". I was not sure about the addition of red as well. It is a very 'bold', 'loud', and 'noisy' combination in my very humble opinion. Nevertheless, the seat is exactly the same as Alitalia's, Etihad's, Air Berlin's, Emirate's, etc. It is the first gen Sogerma Solstys seat. Our seats were in the last row. It was a comfortable seat. The padding was plush though not too much storage space and I felt a little bit exposed.


The cabin was fairly full
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Seat control and IFE remote control
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A bit of wear and tear here
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Water bottle, slippers, and headphones were already placed
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I wanted to take picture of the literature rack but you can also see the blanket already being used by my partner who by then was in zombie state of mind
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I spotted that the seat on my right side remained vacant. So I asked the very bubbly and spunky FA if I could sit there during take-off and landing. She said "Ahh you are one of those avgeeks, lor?" I just chuckled! I prefer this window seat because my original seat felt wide open. I think the window seat had more privacy due to the way it is configured.
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The purple pillow was very thick and fluffy. Just the way I like it. Cathay, you should learn from HX!!
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Purple slippers!
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Purple blanket. What else?? Quite thick!
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While I was busy taking pictures, the spunky FA came back and served me pre-departure drink. I was tempted to take the champagne but in the name of civility, I decided against it and opted for a humble guava juice
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I could not use the IFE. In fact, the IFE was only activated once we were above FL100
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The headphone was unfortunately not a very good one. Same like MH's :(
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Blurry shot of our neighbour. We were pushing back while she was docking. Push back was slightly delay as PVG imposed the infamous 'flow control'.
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We made the beeline to runway 07R and we did not have to wait. The captain performed rolling take off. I had not experienced rolling take off at Hong Kong for a long time since HKG became super busy.


I love seeing HK from above. It's just so bright! Too bad scattered clouds obscured the view of Hong Kong Island


Finally the IFE was activated. Again, heavy emphasize on red colour
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Interface was not very good. Quite confusing actually! The system was also quite slow to response
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I went to the lavatory and guess what… the red theme continued!
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The lavatory itself was very spartan
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Now let's look at the menu!


Not a bad selection, I would say on par with CX. Does it mean that CX has really gone down hill that far?? Hmmm I wonder….

Anyway, while waiting, I continued watching The Intern as I did not manage to finish it on my flight to Hong Kong. I like the small widget of flight map/information on the right hand side.


Service started with fresh crisp linen laid on each table.
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I wish I had asked for the spunky FA's name because she was very lovely in her own quirky way. She asked me "Mr. Bombieflyer… oh what a nice name! What can I get you to drink? We have everything tonight!" I said "I am inclined for the champagne but as you can see, I am already as red as a boiled lobster. So I'll have the Hong Kong style milk tea please?" "Lovely choice, coming right away!" said the FA. "I think you also need some water to go along" and she smiled at me.
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Then she set up the table. I must say, despite the overload of red and purple, HX did have very nice China. I especially like the salt and pepper shakers. I loved the bauhinia flowers!
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The appetizer came along with another top up of water and milk tea. The starter was good! Tuna was fresh and the wasabi punched my nerves and woke me up
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Then came the bread basket. I chose garlic bread. For the main, I had the coq au vin. Despite the low-key appearance, it was good!!! Cathay seriously needs to pay attention!


As for dessert, I just opted for fruits. I gave me a bit of a satisfaction knowing that I had made one 'better' choice as to what I consumed that day LOL…
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I also asked for a nice cup of camomile tea. Don't you just love the mug?
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Service concluded with a nice warm oshibori on a nice ramekin
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Overall, the meal service impressed me. It was simple, it was low-key, yet HX delivered. The whole meal service was done just before the captain came on PA to announce that we started descent to Pudong. I did not feel rushed, I thought Ms. Spunky FA managed the pacing very well. Pretty impressive for a 1 hour and 50 minutes flight in almost full business class cabin.

One last look at the cabin. As you can see, the FA still managed to conduct duty free sale : )
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The cabin was then secured for landing and I moved to the window seat again to record the landing. We made a straight-in approach to runway 34R, the newest runway at PVG and we taxied to Terminal 2. I can't really remember our arrival gate but usually CX, KA, and HX are assigned gates in high 60s.
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One of Emirates twice daily flight was parked next to us
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I gathered my belonging and get myself ready to leave the aircraft. By this time, my partner fully regained his consciousness and acted normal again. We left the aircraft and rushed to the immigration counter as the queue could be very long.

Later on, in the taxi, my partner said to me "Funny I don't remember anything. We had something fun, right? Did I embarrass you?" I just left it there and did not reply.

So ladies and gentlemen, that was it! That was the ending of my trip to Bangkok. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I thought this flight with HX was a very nice sweet ending : )



PS: fast forward 1 month later, my partner asked me "hey were you aware about the cost to upgrade our Hong Kong airlines ticket?" I nodded firmly. "Why didn't you stop me??? So expensive!!!!!!" I just laughed and left him alone
See more

Verdict

Hong Kong Airlines

7.4/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment6.5
meal/catering7.5

Hong Kong Airlines Lounge

7.0/10
Comfort7.0
meal/catering7.0
Entertainment7.0
Services7.0

Hong Kong - HKG

8.9/10
Efficiency8.5
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness9.0

Shanghai - PVG

6.5/10
Efficiency7.0
Access7.0
Services6.0
Cleanliness6.0

Conclusion

First time flying with Hong Kong airlines in their business class cabin left me quite impressed. It was simple and humble product yet it ticked all the check boxes for me. Good meal, complete beverage options, nice flat bed seats, okay-ish IFE, comfortable lounge, and nice crew. Despite leaving Hong Kong late, we still managed to arrive at PVG relatively on time. If I could make constructive feedback, that would be the general ambiance of the cabin and the IFE. Why so much red and purple? I find it quite garish. In addition, why can't the IFE be available gate to gate?

All in all, it delivered and I would not hesitate to fly with HX again in their J cabin. I also notice that their J ticket is quite affordable, way cheaper than CX. Given the fact that CX still demands premium for their so-so product, I think HX could have given CX a good run for its money

Related

12 Comments

  • Comment 376726 by
    NGO85 1581 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR^^

    HX really is a surprising package in J. I can say they definitely beat MU and CX on this route (probably the only major competition on non-stops). The coursed meal and elegant place settings is very nice attention to detail on a short 2 hour flight like this. I just did HKG-ICN, and HX is much more appealing than OZ in the catering compartment as well. The dessert is the only flaw, but that is true of all Asian carriers so you can't hold it against them.

    The full-flat hard product is also a nice advantage since most CX/MU plans would only be recliners or angled lay-flats. I've flown these seats many times and I agree 100% that the aisle seats are extremely exposed and make you feel awkward. The window seats are the most private since you feel like you are in a little cocoon. The purple/red combinations are an eye-sore, the CI purples look much more tame.

    Thanks again for sharing this report!

      0
    • Comment 376728 by
      BombieFlyer AUTHOR 92 Comments

      Hi NGO85!

      Thanks for stopping by!!

      I agree with you that CI's purple scheme is nothing compared to HX's. HX really brought the shock to another level. I guess the fact that HX is owned by Hainan which in turn caters to mainly Chinese mainland passengers play a significant role in the decision of purple-red combo.

      For this short regional route, HX is really not bad. I made some dummy bookings and I found that its pricing is almost always lower than CX for competitive PVG-HKG route. I am actually surprised that your experience also showed that HX beat OZ. I guess I will fly with HX more often to see how consistent they are.

      Once again, thanks for your comment :)

        0
  • Comment 376773 by
    indianocean 4687 Comments

    Well I must say that I'm quite surprised by the quality of service and comfort you had onboard.

    The Business class cabin is way much better than Cathay Regional Business class seat

    The last time I stopped by the HX lounge in HKG was three years ago and the new one looks quite nice. But I don't understand why the airline didn't choose to have a lounge in the new concourse. Once one has relaxed in the lounge, one has to take the APM to get to the boarding gate.

    Thank you for sharing.

      0
    • Comment 376860 by
      BombieFlyer AUTHOR 92 Comments

      Hello Indianocean

      Indeed the business class seat is a lot nicer than Cathay's regional. However, I do believe HX is also not very consistent in their business class offerings as I know they have a couple different versions of A330.

      Also, I do agree with you that they need to build another lounge in the new terminal considering it is the primary tenant. otherwise, it is quite a hassle and might potentially delay a flight

      Thanks for stopping by :)

        0
  • Comment 376826 by
    ashleyyau 165 Comments

    "I don't understand why the airline didn't choose to have a lounge in the new concourse."
    - They are making one there and would be opened in early 2017^^

      0
  • Comment 376861 by
    BombieFlyer AUTHOR 92 Comments

    Hi Ashleyyau,

    Thank you for this information! I really do hope HX opens a lounge there as it is more convenient from passenger's perspective!

    Thanks for your comment

      0
  • Comment 377073 by
    hometoyyz 218 Comments

    What a fun flight-report to read! I laughed. A few times.

    That said, aside from the colours, looks like a very nice cabin, particularly for an airline that's not positioned as premium. Service sounds like it was very good (I like charming yet quirky flight attendants), and the catering looks appealing for this kind of flight. (Looks... but doesn't necessarily read as appealing. (Note to HX: "Boiled potato cube" does not really do it for anyone... even if the actual product is pretty good.)

    And hey... if your traveling companion wants to spring to move you up to J, that's a good travel day in my books!

    I'd say this trip report made me significantly more interested in trying out HX. Hainan has already been on my to-do list for some time... perhaps together. Someday. I'll just bring sunglasses... or something... anything... to take the red glare off that cabin.

    Thanks for this very informative and entertaining report!

      0
    • Comment 377230 by
      BombieFlyer AUTHOR 92 Comments

      Hi hometoyzz!

      Make sure you bring sunglasses with excellent UV protection because the colours will certainly poke your eyes. Like NGO85 said, CI's purple is pale in comparison to HX's :-)

      Glad that you had a few chuckles. I always try to infuse some fun in my reports

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

        0
  • Comment 377140 by
    ashleyyau 165 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this flight report with us BombieFlyer! I found the feud’s tags on the same luggage :P

    Your report shows HX J product is very compelling on this route. You got lucky that your flight did not delay much since HX’s HKG-Shanghai route is famous for its serious delay lol For the food, the appetizer is much better than CX. The seat and crew services looks good on this flight.

    Form my observation HX improved a lot in these years while CX deteriorate hugely (especially in 2016). HX is now stabbing CX in the back and they will start new route to North America next year. They will also upgrade their J seats to B/E Aerospace's Super Diamond seat (same as CI A350’s J and AA B789’s J). I haven’t flown on HX before but will surely give them a try in the future. My only criticism is HX’s FFP which uses the same one with its parent company, Hainan. But HX has a much less airline partners for earning miles i.e. HX miles cannot credit to/from Alaska or Etihad while Hainan can.

      0
    • Comment 377231 by
      BombieFlyer AUTHOR 92 Comments

      Hi ashleyyau,

      I agree with you that HX is trying hard to break the dominance of CX. And I think that is only good for the customers because truth be told, CX is not what it used to be. It has gone downhill so much that even its excellent lounges won't be able to cover the disappointment many loyal CX flyers have. I really look forward to try HX's super diamond seat. Hopefully HX will streamline its business class seat offerings so they have more product consistency.

        0
  • Comment 377325 by
    KévinDC TEAM 3961 Comments

    Thanks for a fun and entertaining report! I've stumbled my way a little tipsy through HKG many times, haha, I'm also usually the one who doesn't keep up. But I would have to have to go through immigration and check in again landside...waaaay too much work ^^

    I didn't know HX offered upgrades for purchase at the airport--good to know if I ever fly them again. I wouldn't want to fly Economy either right after getting off EK in F!

    Overall, for a regional flight, this is a great product. Full-flat full aisle access on a short-ish flight, you just can't been that. CX is great, of course, but they serve the regional market inconsistently with a mix of regional and long-haul products. I'm not sure if HX has any A330s left with the 2-2-2 angled seats they used to have. If this cabin is consistent across their routes now, then they are giving CX a run for their money, product wise. Of course, it's always more difficult to compete outside of the major alliances, but EK and EY have been doing fine! HX is a good little airline and I had a good experience with them so I wish them well. Though I agree with you--I'm not a fan of all that red. I can imagine it assaults the eyes, especially if you're a bit hung over ^^

    Thanks for sharing!

      0
    • Comment 377436 by
      BombieFlyer AUTHOR 92 Comments

      Hello KevinDC!

      I also did not know that HX does that. My best bet is the cabin was not full and my partner had purchased eligible economy class tickets for upgrade. I suspect in the end we paid the fare difference between our economy class ticket and the lowest business class fare for that particular flight. Hence, the shock when the credit card statement arrived in our mail box ;)

      HX still has the 2-2-2 J cabin. In fact, I flew in this cabin again just 2 months ago. While it was not a deal breaker for a short regional trip, I think you do have a point that if HX keeps the consistency, they will give CX a run for its money.

      Thanks for visiting and for the comments Kevin!!

        0

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