Hello, flight-report community, and welcome to another of your humble flight-reporter’s signature quicky jaunts to Asia, this time, sampling the business class offerings of Hainan and China Eastern, as well as my first Asian LCC flight, with Cebu Pacific.
HU7976 YYZ-PEK - 1/22/2018 - 787-9 - J - Check it out here HX313 PEK-HKG - 1/23/2018 - A330-200 - J - You are here 5J151 HKG-CRK - 1/24/2018 - A320-200 - Y - Coming soon MU5046 CRK-PVG - 1/25/2018 - A320-200 - J - Coming soon MU207 PVG-YYZ - 1/25/2018 - 777-300ER - J - Coming soon
Background and boarding time
When last we saw your humble flight-reporter, he had just arrived into Beijing from Toronto on Hainan, with a tight connection onto Hong Kong Airlines, which went surprisingly smoothly, given PEK’s reputation for transits. For full details of that experience, and a way-to-long description of how and why this trip came to be, please see the above-linked YYZ-PEK flight-report.
I ended that report about to join the boarding line for my flight to Hong Kong as I arrived in the gate area with boarding already underway, and that where we’ll pick things up in this report.
Again, I’d like to stress that I went from deplaning HU7976 to boarding HX313 in about eighteen minutes all told. I was absolutely helped by it being a quiet time of night, but still, I was quite impressed by the PEK transit experience.
One background note on this flight — because it was booked through Hainan, I was not able to select a seat automatically at booking, despite Hainan and Hong Kong being under the same corporate umbrella. But I was able to get my seat of choice fairly simply by using the live chat support feature on HX’s Web site.
The Flight Report
Flight: HX313 From: Beijing Capital (PEK) To: Hong Kong (HKG) Date: 1/23/2018 Aircraft: Airbus A330-200 Registration: B-LND Seat: 12A ATD (STD): 20:44 (20:10) ATA ( STA): 23:32 (23:35)
For this flight, Hong Kong had assigned one of its older-cabin A330-200s, with a 2-2-2 angle-flat business product. I’ve seen reports of their clearly superior 1-2-1 staggered config on this route, but I guess those are going to more longhaul routes as HX continues to grow that business.
For this flight, I’m in 12A, port window in the second row of seats in the forward J cabin.
HX’s colour scheme is…. not subtle, shall we say? The pillow is comfortable enough, and the blanket more than good enough for this short hop down to HKG.
We were at a gate that has two jetways, but boarding was done entirely through door one, for some reason.
Legroom is what it has to be for an angle-flat seat to work. Unfortunately, IFE is of the flip-up mini-screen variety, although I suppose that was pretty much “the way it was” back when this product was modern.
So the seatback just has your safety card, and other literature.
Headphones are located in cubbies between the back of the seats in front.
Seat controls are pretty obvious.
Wired IFE remote control (hardly seems necessary for the right-in-your-face flip up IFE screen) and a bottle of Evian are located under the armrest.
Headphone jack, USB port, and power outlet, and reading light are between seats.
Service begins with a choice of water or orange juice.
Since screens have to be stowed for takeoff and landing, there are displays on the front wall of the cabin for showing the not-so-moving map (at this point), and for the safety video a bit later.
The cabin fills up slowly, and 12B is still empty towards the end. Would I get lucky? Not so much. Its occupant shows up late in the boarding process. We ended up flying with the whole forward J cabin full — impressive since the flight was showing C9 on ExpertFlyer before my flight from Toronto. Perhaps HX offers very attractive last-minute buy-ups to J on this flight? Or perhaps there were a lot of opups?
The menu is presented. Let’s take a look. Drink orders for after takeoff are taken shortly afterwards.
Arrival forms are also distributed before departure — a detail I always appreciate.
Hot towels are also offered as boarding completes.
The captain — who sounds like either an Aussie or a Kiwi — welcomes us all aboard, and let us know we’re all done boarding, and just waiting for ATC permission to push back. It’s granted about 10 minutes behind our departure schedule.
It’s a short taxi distance-wise, but it’s a 20-minute slog to the end of the rather busy runway. Here, a Xiamen 757 gets airborne just before our turn.
Finally, about 8:45 pm, we take our place on the active runway, and away we go, taking off towards the north before making a bit left turn and flying west for a bit, and then turning south to head towards Hong Kong.
The seatbelt sign is extinguished very early — might as well go check out a lav, because that’s what we do. HX takes a decidedly no-frills approach to the forward lav on the 332.
Back at my seat, and my requested champagne and sparkling water are offered, along with a little ramekin of peanuts and almonds. I can’t same I’m familiar with Gonet-Medeville as champagne, but it’s decent.
Orders for the main course are taken, and I select the kung pao sole, which sounds pretty interesting.
The dinner tray is presented, complete with appetizer, cheese and crackers, and a litltle Godiva chocolate.
The starter was nothing special, but the smoked salmon was pretty good.
Bread was offered from ye olde bread basket, and I go with a couple of pieces of garlic bread. Mediocre — I’d give it a 5/10 on the airline garlic bread scale. But really, even mediocre garlic bread is pretty good.
The main is quickly delivered, and I was quite impressed with dish. The egg fried rice was pretty good, the veggies were cooked but still crisp, and the sole itself was pretty tasty, although it could have used a bit more kick. All in all, an enjoyable dish, I thought.
It’s not exactly an international-quality cheese board, but I enjoyed the cheese and crackers after my main nonetheless. What can I say — I just loves me some cheese and crackers.
Once I’d finished my meal, I was offered fruit or carrot cake for dessert. I went with the latter. Not bad. Not great. It was a bit too dry, and seemed decidedly grocery store cake quality. But it did the job.
Dessert done, a second hot towel — this one presented much more formally — was offered.
With the meal over, I decide to put the seat down into bed mode and chill out for a while. I thought it was acceptable for a short flight like this, and one of the more comfortable angle-flat beds I’ve flown. I even managed a 20-minute or so power nap while watching the IFE.
Speaking of the IFE, it’s not a bad system for a low-price airline like HX. Not super modern, but it had a not-terrible selection of movies in English. Of course, with only about an hour left in this flight, no time for a movie.
Moving map shows we’re making some nice headway.
I throw on a documentary telling the tale of a few crazy souls seeking out waves to surf in Iceland. In the winter. There’s not enough hot chocolate in the world. The offered headset look cheap, and certainly aren’t active noise-cancelling, but they form a good “seal” and are comfortable enough that I didn’t feel the need to break out my own set. Which puts them ahead of Delta’s much-vaunted LSTN set.
On HX, even the mood lighting is red and purple!
When the documentary — and my nap — is over, we’re almost there, just about to turn around and head back towards Hong Kong. The captain comes over the PA, and updates us on the flight, saying “the weather has improved” and is now 22. That’s pretty okay with me for January. Especially since it was -7 in Beijing.
Just like my last trip to Hong Kong, the first thing I see as we come in on approach is the Hong Kong-Zuhai-Macau bridge in all its glory.
Touchdown is right at 11:32pm.
A few minutes later, we’re taxiing our way over to the Midfield Concourse, just passing the main terminal.
This is my first time flying into, or out of, the Midfield Concourse.
And we pull in at about 11:40. All’s quiet at this hour.
We’re quickly hooked up to the jetway at door two, and it’s time to start making my way to Hong Kong.
Arrival into Hong Kong
I’ve long been aware of the train that runs the length of HKG, but usually choose to walk it for the exercise. Not an option with today’s arrival at the MFC, so downstairs we go, for a quick train ride almost all the way to immigration.
There’s a bit of a lineup for visitors coming into Hong Kong, even at this last hour — I really should register for the frequent visitor e-channel — but about 30 minutes after deplaning, I’m landside at HKG once again.
From here, it’s a short walk to the bus terminal, where I manage to catch the last bus of the night out to my hotel in North Point.
We’ll pick up the story tomorrow when I get back tot he airport.
Thanks for joining me for this short ride down to Hong Kong. I hope you’ll check in on the further parts of this adventure as it unfolds.
Hong Kong Airlines
Beijing - PEK
Hong Kong - HKG
Overall, I was happy with the experience with Hong Kong Airlines, though not thrilled or wowed in any way. Aside from the rather weak seat — which, frankly, is perfectly acceptable on a route of a length that could easily be served by a narrowbody with recliners up front — everything else was solid but not spectacular. I was pleased with the catering, and I thought the service was good — warm, if not terribly personalized.
I wouldn’t hesitate to fly HX again. But it sure would be nice to get one of the 330s with the flat beds. Or — dare I dream — a 350 swapped in?
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