Hong Kong Airlines – Testing another member of HNA Group

I was standing in the cold and crowded bus, next to gate number 520 and waited for the late passengers. It was almost half past eight and the flight was scheduled to depart in 5 minutes.

przed autobusem

I thought, that airport personnel will let us drive to plane and the rest of people will be transported in another vehicle, but I was wrong. As more passengers were coming, while trying to get in, they were squeezing those already inside of the bus.  This forced me to keep the same position for at least 15 minutes. I was afraid it may last even longer and I was right, as they hold us there until the last traveller was somehow pushed into the bus. It was not exactly how I imagined transfer to the plane, from a really nice terminal in Hong Kong International Airport. First of all, I hoped we will use jet way, instead of the the bus. Second of all, I was counting on better comfort in the bus itself. Before that, the contact with Hong Kong Airlines was superb.


New and intuitive check in machines in departure hall helped me to register smoothly and quickly. As it was a long queue to baggage drop off counter, the lady from business class desk let me to leave my suitcase there without waiting. Earlier in Poland, while booking the tickets, I didn’t have any problems to do this. I wish however the airline web page and reservation site had clearer design and were a bit more modern.


As I mentioned above, the first real inconvenience was a bus ride to the plane. However, soon I became hypnotized by the shapes of planes parked in the apron. We drove very close to them, from the tail side. There were many Cathay Pacific aircrafts, mostly A330-300 and 777-300ER but also planes of the other airlines including Singapore Airlines and Jet Airways. This was something unexpected, truly amazing and fully compensated me uncomfortable and cramped ride.



Moreover, when we I finally get off the bus, the view which I saw was magnificent and unique. Early morning sun poked up form dense and low situated clouds, illuminating the fuselage of the impressive Airbus A330-300. The Plane was standing in the foreground, against the amazing scenery of green mountains of Lantau Island. I didn’t want to leave this fantastic place on earth but it was a time to return do China again. The aircraft was one of the three A330-300s in Hong Kong Airlines fleet and if I remember correctly has B-LNP registration. This made it the newest A333 in HX services, being only 1,5 years old. I liked Hong Kong Airlines livery, especially that was almost identical to Hainan Airlines one. Apart from the A333, HX is using also fourteen Airbus A330-200s and ten Airbus A320. It has a very ambitious growth plan, so whole HNA Group, which owns Hong Kong Airlines, as well as Skytrax 5 star Hainan Airlines. This includes adding up to 10 new Airbus A380-800. It will however depend on China authorities, who are currently blocking the transaction as a protest against European Union carbon emission fees. HX is based in Hong Kong and it shouldn’t been limited by China political orders but due to being HNA Group (based in Hainan Island) subsidiary at the same time it must adhere to mainland China decisions.


Before I entered inside, I was instructed by the airline staff that no filming or photo making is not allowed. That impeded my job a little bit. I found interior of the plane in a very good condition, which was understandable as the machine was almost new. It was furnished mostly in red color materials and white/grey plastics. It was average but clean and shiny which made a nice first impression. The seats were modern and comfortable, having regulated headrest, 18 inch width and 31 inch pitch (the distance between the two rows of seats). For two and a half hour flight it was enough and I didn’t complain about it. I was not able to spot a difference between A333 comfort in HX and HU, even though apparently Hainan seats are accordingly, 19 and 32 inch, which make it a bit more comfortable. Bulkheads were also red and decorated with a elegant stripes. During the whole flight, flight attendants were professional and focused on passengers. In my subjective opinion they were fulfilling their tasks and duties, a little bit better, than their colleagues from Hainan Airlines. Plane was always clean, so as the lavatories.


Flight itself was also very comfortable. Both take off and landing were smooth and seemed safe. Before I got on board I have read a really terrifying story about low standards of pilots trainings and their abilities testing methods in this arline. According to Mr Christofer Allan, former Hong Kong Airlines pilot and pilot examiner the quality of training in this airlines is not sufficient and the carrier [doesn’t respect safety and standards](http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1287104/safety-questioned-hong-kong-airlines) in the way it should. This may put passenger life at risk in various difficult or emergency situations during the flight. I did’t noticed anything suspicious or worrying and enjoy the time spent onboard.


Once we reached our cruising altitude, we were served a breakfast. I selected sausages with omelet and mushrooms, provided along with fruit salad, bread roll, butter and small water. My wife got Asian style chicken with vegetables. Both dishes were quite tasty and I was positively surprised as the food was actually better then in Hainan.


Flight entertainment system was also almost identical like in HU but worked a bit slower. Film selection was poor and apart from TV series and I didn’t watch it at all during the flight.

In the end, I would like to once again emphasize that Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines have comparable quality of service and I didn’t find many reasons, why one of them has higher star rating. Of course I used economy class only and maybe while flying business, you may spot the bigger difference. Generally I was pleased with Hong Kong Airlines experience and I would fly onboard its planes again.

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