While Hong Kong Airlines has been encountering some economic difficulties recently, the airline is still a good – and often relatively cheap – option on flights within Asia as well as between Asia and the United States.
I had a chance to fly with the airline in economy class from Osaka to Los Angeles and back to Tokyo in April, sampling three of the aircraft types it operates. The first of the flights, from Osaka to Hong Kong, was operated by an Airbus A330-300.
Continue reading this review to see what the flight was like.
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Check-in at Osaka Kansai Airport
As the flight was scheduled to depart at 7AM sharp, I checked out of First Cabin Kansai Airport around 5:20AM, and got to the terminal about ten minutes later. I headed straight to Hong Kong Airlines’ check-in counters which were on the very left side of the terminal.
After the agent scanned my passport, she asked if I had ESTA. And, after I mentioned that I had visa because I had been to Iran previously, she asked me to wait for a moment. Just like the last time I went to the US, it took the agent (and two more staff) several minutes to figure out how to check me in.
With boarding passes for both my flight to Hong Kong as well as the connecting flight to Los Angeles in my hands, I headed through immigration and security. Even though the Hong Kong Airlines was the first flight of the day, it still took about 20 minutes as there were quite a few fellow passengers ahead of me in the queue.
As it was too early in the morning for the Priority Pass lounge at the airport to be open, I headed straight to the automated train platform. I got off at the “gates 1-3 and 12-16” stop since my flight was departing from gate 14.
Before boarding started at 6:25AM, I paid a quick visit to a convenience store to get some snacks, and then – once my zone was called for boarding – got onboard through the L2 door.
Hong Kong Airlines A330-300 Cabin and Seats
Once onboard, I walked down the second aisle to my aisle seat, 44H. Before doing so, I quickly peeked into the aircraft’s business class, though.
Hong Kong Airlines operates A330-300s in two different configurations – one with angle-flat business class seats and the other with lie-flat staggered seats. The aircraft that operated my flight was equipped with 32 staggered seats spread across a single cabin between the aircraft’s first two pairs of doors.
The aircraft’s economy class consisted of 260 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration (2-3-2 in the very back of the plane) spread across two cabins. The red seats were quite comfortable and provided more than enough legroom for the fairly short flight.
Given that it was a four hour long day flight, no blankets, amenity kits, or similar were provided.
Departing Osaka Onboard Hong Kong Airlines Flight 617
With everyone settled in their seats, the cabin crew went around offering earphones. Then, at 6:53AM, they closed the doors.
Just a minute later, the Captain welcomed us onboard over the PA. Among other things, he mentioned that it would take us ten to fifteen minutes of taxiing to reach our departure runway – 06R – and that we were expecting a flight time of 3 hours and 50 minutes.
After the announcement, the safety video was played. And, at 7:03AM – just three minutes behind schedule – we were pushed back out of our gate.
Fifteen minutes of taxiing followed before our 7:18AM take-off from runway 06R.
Hong Kong Airlines Medium-Haul Flight Meal Service
The seatbelt signs were switched off five minutes after take-off at which point the cabin crew sprung into action with the breakfast service.
Before actually starting serving the breakfast, they first announced the two options:
- Pork with noodles
- Scrambled eggs with potatoes
Given that I was at the very back of the first cabin, it took quite some time until I received my meal.
However, the scrambled eggs were quite good, and were served with some slices of chicken, potatoes, and vegetables. The main dish also came with sides of bread and blueberry yogurt.
Hong Kong Airlines A330-300 In-Flight Entertainment System
While taxiing to the runway, as well as while waiting for my meal to be served, I took a look around the in-flight entertainment system.
While the Hong Kong Airlines A330-300 in-flight entertainment screens had a decent resolution, the touchscreen function was very unresponsive and the system itself was quite slow – even when controlled with the remote control.
The interface was intuitive and its design was very traditional.
As for the content, there was a decent selection of about 50 Western movies including new releases and classics. And, there were about 50 episodes of TV series. Unfortunately, there were only 2 to 7 episodes per series, and the selection was not that great.
There were also about 70 Western music albums. Besides that, there were ten or so games.
The in-flight entertainment system also offered a “Kids World” which was a selection of child-friendly movies, etc. from the overall selection. It didn’t feature a separate design like some other airlines’ IFE systems do.
During the flight, I started watching Hidden Figures – a movie about Katherine Johnson and two other NASA mathematicians that were crucial in getting the first Americans into space.
While I fell asleep while watching it as I was very tired, I finished watching it on my connecting flight to Los Angeles. I highly recommend the movie. In fact, I watched it for the second time on my flight back.
Arriving at Hong Kong International Airport
I woke up around 9:50AM, just a couple of minutes before the First Officer announced that we were starting our descent and were expecting to land about 20 minutes later.
Ten minutes later, the seatbelt signs were switched back on in preparation for landing, and at 10:13AM, the landing gear was lowered.
We landed at 10:16AM, and got to our parking gate at 10:20AM – twenty-five minutes behind schedule.
Hong Kong Airlines A330-300 Economy Class Summary
Considering that this was a fairly short daylight flight, there wasn’t much that could go wrong with it. And, while Hong Kong Airlines didn’t do anything that would be extraordinary, it did not disappoint either.
The seat was comfortable, the food was of decent quality and portion, and the service was on par with what I would expect from other full service airlines on the route.
As such, if you find yourself in a situation where Hong Kong Airlines provides the cheapest option – or the best timing for your needs – on flights within Asia (and beyond), I can only recommend picking the airline.
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