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!"
So he walked to the customer service/elite passenger area and naturally I followed him
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"
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!
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.
The lounge has this lovely display of airplane models
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
Wi-fi password is available at each table
Toilet is clean though I did not see any shower facility
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
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.
I only managed to take one shot before my partner told me boarding had started.
The gate agent was quite strict during boarding. She only allowed business class passengers and HX's elites to board.
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 :)
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
Seat control and IFE remote control
A bit of wear and tear here
Water bottle, slippers, and headphones were already placed
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
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.
The purple pillow was very thick and fluffy. Just the way I like it. Cathay, you should learn from HX!!
Purple blanket. What else?? Quite thick!
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
I could not use the IFE. In fact, the IFE was only activated once we were above FL100
The headphone was unfortunately not a very good one. Same like MH's :(
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'.
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
Interface was not very good. Quite confusing actually! The system was also quite slow to response
I went to the lavatory and guess what… the red theme continued!
The lavatory itself was very spartan
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.
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.
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!
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
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…
I also asked for a nice cup of camomile tea. Don't you just love the mug?
Service concluded with a nice warm oshibori on a nice ramekin
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 : )
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.
One of Emirates twice daily flight was parked next to us
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
Hong Kong Airlines
Hong Kong Airlines Lounge
Hong Kong - HKG
Shanghai - PVG
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
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