HK Express flies to Chiang Mai and as of last week they added a Bangkok flight. HK Travel Blog took one of the first flights to see what it was like.
Quite a few airlines plow between Bangkok and Hong Kong, but looking at flights a month or so out there were not many cheap options. HK Express was showing as less than 1,000 baht for a one-way ticket. I booked on the HK Express website, which was simple, but the cost went up to over 2,000 baht. Some of this was taxes and fees, which no frills airlines often exclude in their pricing (this can still be done in Thailand, I think, unlike Hong Kong) but the “convenience fee” for credit card payment irked me as I had no choice but to pay by card. Still, at around $550 for a one-way ticket, this was a good though not amazing price. HK Express charges extra for things like meals and checked baggage, or priority seats in the front row.
At the Airport
Checkin was at row U at Suvarnabhumi, which was shown on monitors although the airline name signs at the end of the aisle did not indicate it. There was a long queue except for the premium ticket queue, so I went to Family Mart, bought a drink and came back to wait in line. In fact the queue moved fast, and I was waved over to the premium ticket queue, so the final wait was around ten minutes.
Checkin was fast and with proper card boarding pass. The ground agent asked to see my cabin baggage and put a label on my bag, but did not weigh it.
Overall checkin was a bit chaotic although mine was fine – many of the ground staff looked stressed and some passengers were in long arguments with the supervisor about luggage. Admittedly the airline had only just started service at the airport, but it did feel less than calm. Signs were only in English and Chinese, which can’t be that helpful for Thai passengers.
There was a bit of a wait at passport control and I then proceeded to the departure gate – E2, centrally located in the main building and more convenient than some gates used by full service airlines such as Cathay and Thai.
The aircraft was an Airbus A320. The seats were of an older generation which meant good size and quite comfortable, albeit with little recline. There was no inflight entertainment and the inflight magazine wasn’t a great read.
Most of the passengers were Asian. The flight was not full and in the middle of the aircraft had quite a lot of empty seats, but the area around my row (28) was full and so I ended up stowing my bag in the overhead cabin some rows in front. We pushed back on time and had a smooth flight, though the co-pilot’s barely intelligible English did not inspire confidence in me. Announcements were made in English, Cantonese and Mandarin.
We arrived at a remote stance (V133) to be bussed to immigration in Hong Kong. Although half an hour early, the late schedule of this flight meant that I still ended up having to fork out for a taxi home versus waiting hours for a night bus, which somewhat mitigated the good value of the ticket price.
The HK Express crew uniform, especially the male one, looks a bit too casual for my taste, but the crew was professional and alert. They offered food and drink to buy on board, as more fully detailed in our review of HK Express’ Narita flight.
HK Express needs to make their ground experience at Suvarnabhumi more efficient, but that aside this is a welcome new flight – competitively priced and convenient. The late flight time though a bit too late for me could work well for those who want to enjoy more of their evening in Bangkok. Overall HK Express again came through as a solid budget choice.