Sunday, 18 October 2015

Enjoying Hong Kong Airlines Premium Cabin (Part 4: HKG-PEK)

Welcome to my final part of my Hong Kong Airlines Flying Experience! 


For my other parts: 

Part 1: Click here
Part 2: Click here
Part 3: Click here

After arriving from Taipei, I had half a day to spend at Hong Kong. I wanted to meet up with a friend but he wasn't free so I decided to stay put at the airport to rest at the lounge and do some plane spotting at both the air side and land side (Sky deck). 

At the Sky deck, there were many plane spotters but I didn't recognise any of them. After a while, I made my way back to the terminal and headed for the air side. 

Here are some photos of my time at Hong Kong Airport.

Terminal 1 - land side 



Look at the long queue at Hong Kong Airlines, don't you hate queueing up? This is for web check-in passengers.


This is the normal queue, yet the passengers at the web-check in queue didn't want to go over when a staff told them it was shorter. 


This row is for Hong Kong Airlines passengers


Airport Express train is at a very convenient location. Comparing to Changi Airport (Singapore), I find Hong Kong Airport's public transportation better. 


You can head down this way to the bus terminal. 


Starbucks is almost everywhere! 


This is terminal 2


I went over to the Aviation Discovery Centre where the Skydeck and the Cinema is located. (Terminal 2 land side)




Aviation enthusiasts would get excited to see all these exhibits. 


Ironman in Hong Kong, I can't imagine! 








Skydeck 

Entrance to the Skydeck 

You have to pay to go up, I don't understand why they can't make this free. 


The view of the airport tarmac from the Skydeck



All you need is a DSLR camera and you can zoom in to photograph this Cathay Pacific's Airbus A330-300 on approach to runway 25 Right. 


The plane spotters in action when this Air Asia's Airbus A320 came in. 


Look at the number of taxis queueing up! 


Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-300 arriving from Singapore


Once that was over, I went over to the air side to take more photos of the aircraft. Please enjoy these photos! 

Aeroflot Boeing 777-300ER


American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER


Jeju Air Boeing 737-800. The airline could certainly give this aircraft a fresh coat of paint. 


Dragonair Airbus A330-300 


Korean Air Boeing 747-400


Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A330-200


Jetstar Japan Airbus A320


Jin Air Boeing 737-800


Thai Airways Airbus A330-300


Delta Airlines Airbus A330-200


Royal Brunei Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner


Japan Airlines Boeing 777-200ER


Emirates Airbus A380


EVA Air Airbus A330-200


Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400


EI AL Boeing 777-200ER 


 Air New Zealand Boeing 777-200ER (Old livery)


Jet Airways Boeing 777-300ER


Once I was done with plane spotting, I spent the rest of the remaining free time at the Club Bauhinia to rest and do some work. More photos of the lounge can be found at this trip report.

I had my lunch before taking 3 hours of nap. 

The welcome drink - ginger tea, a hot meal and a glass of orange juice to start my stay at the lounge.


Local Hong Kong Beer and a cup of mushroom soup


My favourite Barbecue Pork Bun and Custard Bun


The view from where I was sitting


Keeping track of my flight, I didn't have to worry as the staff would go to the passengers reminding them of the flight. 


A bowl of red bean soup before making my way to the gate. 


While I was enjoying this bowl, a staff came and notified me about my flight's gate and I was disappointed to hear that my aircraft was once again parked at a remote parking lot. So I packed up and made my way to the gate which was around 10 minutes of walking.

When I reached there, there was already a long queue at the Gate 511 and it so happened there was another flight (Dragonair) departing from the same gate and as a result, some of the passengers on my flight joined the queue, and you can't blame them for the mixed up. It was a pretty messy and disorganised affair and a few of the staff had to check the boarding passes of the Dragonair queue to ensure the passengers were not boarding the wrong one. 

Later on, the Dragonair flight began boarding and most of them were on the bus waiting to go. A new queue was formed and it was my flight. The business class passengers like myself hang around near the counter and I was dismayed to see the Dragonair passengers alighted from the bus and made their way back to form another line and I heard from the Dragonair staff that the aircraft had technical problem and they had to wait. So it was a mess at that time. 




Our flight was moved to gate 511 and boarding started not long after .


Flight route: HKG-PEK

Miles: 1234 


My ride: B-LNE 





Pratt and Whitney engines


Boarding the aircraft via the staircase gets you this kind of view.



Date of departure: 6th September 2015
Airline: Hong Kong Airlines
Flight: HX304
Route: HKG-PEK
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Registration: B-HNE
Delivered on 21st October 2010
Configuration: C24 Y259
Engines: 2 X PW4168A 
MSN: 1039
Gate: 511 changed to 512 
Load: 100% in J class
Duration: 3 hours 5 mins
Departure runway: 25L
Arrival runway: 36L
FL: 350
Schedule departure: 2010
Boarding: 2015
Push back: 2106
Take off: 2125
Schedule arrival: 2340
Actual arrival: 0020 

By now, I know what to expect from the service. Greeted by the waiting crew at the door, another one came and showed me to my seat. It wasn't a warm welcome to the crew, I felt she just did it because she had to. Anyway, this time I chose the bulkhead seat at row 11K (first row of Business Class) and was disappointed to see my seat mate turning up so fast, hardly had time to settle down. 

Ample legroom space 



The screen in front shows you the flight path during cruising. 



Welcome Drink! Only this was available when the crew came around with the drinks.


Just took off, enjoying every minute of it. 


The cabin of the old Business Class product 



A visit to the toilet 

Always nice to be able to view the outside world while doing your business. 





What's at my seat? 

Head set 


A bottle of water 


Blanket 


Slippers were provided 



The seat cover 


USB Port and Power point


The remote control  for your seat to make yourself more comfortable.


Storable IFE System - can be used only during cruising. 




The programs are identical to the IFE system on the newer J class product. 



My flight experience 

For unknown reason, we boarded the aircraft late after the mess at the airport. It was not a pleasant experience and this is probably why this airline received many complaints of its punctuality and disorganised boarding procedure. So if you are flying with Hong Kong Airlines out of its main base especially by airport bus to the aircraft, be prepared for delay. 

Once we were on board, we were furthered delay due to losing our time slot and had to wait for a new assigned departure time from the ATC. About an hour after the schedule departure time, we were finally on our way. The cabin crew came around to do the mandatory check. I have to say the Hong Kong Airlines crew so far on my 4 flights can't be compared to top airlines - they provide good service but not to the extend of being warm and hospitable and some are quite reserved, so don't expect much. 

After take off, I noticed my aircraft did a detour and the flight crew (an Australian Captain) fed us with updates along the way and apparently there was a storm nearby so we deviated to avoid them and not too long after, we were on our way to Beijing. Its better to fly in smoother air than to go through the bumps. I don't mind them, but for enjoying meal - its better to experience it in good weather .

Not long after the seat belt sign was turned off, meal service began. 

A warm towel was served


Here is the menu given by the cabin crew and we had a bit of time to decide. 

The meal on this sector is different from my previous flight (PEK-HKG).


I chose the Seafood option


For my beverage, I decided to try Hong Kong Style Yuan Yang - a type of Milk Tea


About Hong Kong Airlines' meal 


Mixed Seafood Meal - it was served hot and I enjoyed it. Probably the best meal out of my four flights.  


As the flight was turbulent at certain point, I had to hold on to the glass to prevent them from falling out. 


This is the Yuan Yang drink - served hot. I like the cup, wished I could keep it.


This is the appetizer: Minced Pork Knuckle with Fungus and Preserved Radish Salad


Had a choice between ice cream and fruits, I chose the latter .


Window shot photos

A Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 was behind my aircraft


At runway 25 Left, we were cleared for take off seconds later. 



On approach to Beijing Airport 



On arrival at Beijing Airport

The immigration queue was very long and it took around 45 minutes to clear, by then my luggage was already out. After that, I made my way to the paid lounge at the land side of terminal 3 and I had to squeeze myself in the shuttle bus to get there. The ride may be only 15 minutes, but it felt like an eternity as it was packed to the brim. Good thing is the air condition in the bus was working fine! After arriving there, I took around 15 minutes to find the lounge and many people were seen sleeping at the benches. 
At the lounge, I paid around 400 RMB for the twin room and guess what? Water supply was turned off to prevent disturbing the others according to the staff!!! 

Quite a basic room, but at least I had some good rest. 


This is how the entrance of the lounge looks like, only terminal 3 has this lounge. 


You can check out the rest of my Beijing Airport photos in part 1.

My rating: 

Website: 5/10
Hong Kong Airport Experience: 8/10
Club Bauhinia Experience: 8/10
In-flight service: 6/10
Seat comfort: 7/10
IFE system: 6/10
In-flight meal: 7/10
Cabin interior: 7/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
Punctuality: 2/10
Overall rating: 64/100

Conclusion

This is the last sector with this airline and I was fairly satisfied with it, the delay and the chaos at Hong Kong Airport boarding gate spoiled it for me. I understand that Hong Kong Airlines has limited gates so some of the flights have to depart from the remote parking lot, but that is not the issue. The issue is how the airport staff managed the situation when things go wrong. Flight delay is part and parcel of travelling but to have 3 out of 4 flights arriving late is certainly not a good record. As for the Business Class products, both products are average and the old product is my preference. In-flight service on all 4 flights was decent, but not the Singapore Airlines, Qatar or any other top airlines's kind of service, at least they were professional and helpful. In-flight meals are not bad, and the portion is just right for me, so no complaints about it. Comparing this airline with its main rival, Cathay Pacific, it has quite a bit to catch up such as cabin product and punctuality. Overall, I am satisfied with my experience with this airline and won't hesitate to fly on it again if the airfare is right. 

Thanks for reading! 

Do check out my part 1, part 2 and part 3

Cheers,
Charles 





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