An Uncomfortable Hong Kong Airlines Flight: HX646 Hong Kong to Incheon

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None of the overnight pseudo-red eyes to Korea has great timing: one leaves too late or arrives too early. This flight is scheduled to leave at half eleven, but the downside is that it is due in to Incheon at an ungodly hour. On this occasion, it arrived before four o’clock in the morning.

At the Airport

I arrived about an hour and a half before departure and the Hong Kong Airlines checkin area was perhaps the quietest I have seen it, with just a couple of passengers. I checked in, proceeded through security thence to the gate. The gate was 230, which requires a train ride two stops. But there’s more. Once arriving at the relatively new, expensive midfield terminal one still needs to take a bus. Even getting on the bus forty five minutes before departure, there was a wait of around fifteen minutes for the straggling passengers to board. The bus was very crowded – I was standing with someone’s hair in my face most of the time – and the traffic fumes were coming in the door. Hong Kong Airlines should feel embarrassed about this poor arrangement, but more to the point, the airport authority should feel ashamed that it is building such an uncomfortable, backwards facility in this day and age.

Equipment

Hong Kong Airlines’ equipment varies widely and this was an unlucky night. The plane was an Airbus A320 (ship number B-LPM). The plane was in an all-economy configuration. There were no adjustable headrests, seatback screens, or power sources. The legroom felt very tight. I was in the last row (59) so my seat did not really recline, while the seat in front reclined far enough back to knock over a can placed in the drink holder indentation in the non-extendable table. This is basic bad design, and made for an uncomfortable flight.

The cabin crew distributed blankets and pillows to those who wanted them.

Flight

The flight looked full. We pushed back on time and had a smooth flight until the initial descent, where there was a fair bit of turbulence. We then landed and after a long taxi arrived at the gate well ahead of the (padded) schedule.

Service

Shortly after takeoff the crew provided a meal service, followed in short order by drinks. Throughout the flight the cabin crew were friendly, polite and helpful.

Food and Drink

There was no menu but the meal option was between pork rice and beef with mashed potato. I chose the latter and it was decent.

Conclusion

Nasty gate, nasty plane. The good cabin crew and decent tuck couldn’t make up for a lacklustre, uncomfortable plane and waste of time at the airport. I wouldn’t opt to take this flight again.

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