Hong Kong Airlines proudly promotes itself as a SKYTRAX 4-star airline, but I think two stars may be more accurate.
They are a Velocity Frequent Flyer partner, meaning you can earn and redeem Velocity Points for travel with them.
I booked this one-way Business Class flight from Sapporo, Japan to Hong Kong for 38,000 Velocity Points + only AU$17 in taxes.
Fleet & routes
Their route network is focussed almost exclusively on intra-Asia flights, especially to Mainland China and Japan. However, they also fly to three North American cities—Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver.
Some popular routes for New Zealand-based travellers
The airline used to fly to Auckland, but this service has been discontinued.
If you’re travelling on a shorter flight within Asia, chances are you’ll be on an Airbus A320 with recliner seats like you’d find on Qantas and Virgin Australia flying Trans-Tasman or within Australia.
For comparison purposes: Virgin Australia’s recliner seat
There are two versions of the larger Airbus A330, one of which features angled-flat seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, and the other (superior) version which has lie-flat seats in a 1-2-1 layout (this review).
Finally, you could be on one of two versions of the Airbus A350 if you are flying to or from North America or select Asian cities. The more likely version has the same seats as in this review, however, you could luck out with one of the newest aircraft, which offers a reverse herringbone seat like the one found on Virgin Australia, Cathay Pacific and American Airlines.
The cabin & seats
The cabin is set up in a 1-2-1 configuration, with the same style of seats that you’ll find on THAI’s 777-300ER aircraft.
The seats are staggered, with alternating rows being closer to the window and the aisle.
The seat converts into a narrow (read: cramped), lie-flat bed, with a cheap pillow and comfortable blanket but no mattress pad.
I appreciated the simple design of the seat.
However, it was obvious this aircraft was showing its age.
One of the many things I didn’t like about this product was the lack of storage.
Solo travellers will want to aim for one of the true window seats:
and avoid those which are exposed to the aisle.
Those travelling accompanied may wish to opt for the honeymoon seats, which are the two seats in the centre that are close together (rather than separated).
Food & drink
Ahhhhh, this was my meal:
You can increase your chances of getting something other than bland food by pre-ordering your main meal between 30 days and 48 hours before your flight, but only if you are departing from Hong Kong. Here is the link to do so.
I did appreciate that the meal service was quick.
Here is the full food and drinks menu for my flight—note the limited selection of drinks:
Let me start with one positive: the check-in staff were efficient and very friendly.
Onboard, however, the cabin crew seemed stressed for the entire six-hour flight. I did not see anyone smile once. They forgot two drink orders and pressured me three times to fill out a customer service survey. I ended up filling it out (with my honest feedback), but held off on returning it until the end of the flight to avoid the awkwardness of them reading what I thought of the flight before deboarding.
This was one of the least impressive Business Class crews I have come across.
You’ll get a small touchscreen with an old-school interface.
I will give the airline some points for its relatively good selection of Western movies.
The lavatories are standard and nothing special.
As mentioned above, you don’t get a mattress pad but you do get a sad, cheap pillow as well as a big blanket.
The headphones are of substandard quality.
Pyjamas are not provided but on long-haul flights, you’ll get an amenity kit. I did like the slippers, though!
Wifi is available exclusively on A350 aircraft, with 15 minutes free or $US19.95 for the entire flight, but there are numerous reports of download and upload speeds under 1 Mbps.
How to redeem points for this flight
The two main ways that travellers in New Zealand will fly this product is by:
- purchasing a cheap cash fare
- using Velocity Points
Here are the figures for a one-way Business Class flight on selected routes between Hong Kong and:
|Most of Mainland China||26,000|
Note that while Velocity Points and Status Credits are earned on most Hong Kong Airlines flights, those to and from North America are not eligible for earning points.
When departing Hong Kong, you’ll get access to Hong Kong Airlines’ flagship Club Autus lounge, which receives generally positive reviews.
Overseas, the airline uses third-party lounges, which are mostly unnotable.
Summing up: why choose this flight?
I half-agree with Hong Kong Airlines’ tagline for their Business Class product:
Fly in affordable luxury
It is true that they have cheaper fares than their competitor Cathay Pacific and some other Asian airlines, but I question their definition of ‘luxury’.
As you can probably tell, I won’t be rushing back to fly Hong Kong Airlines, nor will I be recommending it to friends, family and Point Hacks readers.
What is great
- Lie-flat seats
- Improved product on new A350 aicraft
- Comfortable blanket
- Great lounge in Hong Kong
- Easy to book on Velocity website
What is not great
- Cold customer service with a lack of sophistication
- Planes showing their age
- Bland food
- Limited drink selection
- Out-of-date inflight entertainment system
- Cheap headphones
- Cheap pillow
- No pyjamas
- Substandard lounge offerings outside of Hong Kong
- Wifi only available on A350 aircraft and suffers slow speeds
I’m sure others have had better experiences on Hong Kong Airlines than I did. Please share in the comments below!
Supplementary images courtesy Hong Kong Airlines.