Hanoi to Hong Kong on Hong Kong Airlines HX529

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At the Airport

I checked in a little over an hour before departure, but the ground agent even at that point urged me to get to the gate fast.

There was a long line for the initial ticket check which moved fast and then long lines for the sparingly manned passport control booths.  That took a while but security was pretty fast. The airport staff all come across as professional and helpful even though smiles were a bit thin on the ground.

The gate in use was gate 35. In fact boarding started less than twenty minutes before scheduled departure and was orderly.

Equipment

The flight was operated by an Airbus 320 (registration number B-LPJ). The cabin had a lot of red colour in its decoration scheme.

There was no seatback entertainment, nor any power sources. There were communal overhead televisions which showed “America’s Funniest Videos” – a misleading title – and then a subtitled Chinese game show.

Flight

Our departure was delayed slightly while we waited for a couple of late boarding passengers. The takeoff was quite impressive – as it was dark outside, rolling down the runway we were parallel to the terminal building which was brightly illuminated and as it is covered in glass one could see it all as it passed by.

There was some mild turbulence, for which the seatbelt sign came on immediately, but in general the flight was smooth. Without flight path or announcement, the route was unclear.

There were only a few empty seats in economy class, although the small business class cabin appeared to be empty. There seemed to be a lot of families with children on the flight, which added some noise.

We landed five minutes after schedule at the midfield terminal, from where it is a bus journey to immigration, adding more time.

Service

The crew was friendly.

There was a selection of newspapers laid out in the business class cabin for pasengers to take as they passed. After the seatbelt sign was turned off, they started their meal service. Announcements were in Cantonese, English and Mandarin, but not Vietnamese – it seemed as if there were no Vietnamese crew members onboard.

Food and Drink

There was a choice between chicken and rice or fish and mashed potato. I chose the latter. The nondescript white fish was covered in a tomato sauce and the mashed potato tasted a bit like Smash, so the meal was just okay.

The meal came with water, but neither I nor the passenger on either side of me was able to peel off the plastic lid. I asked for a beer but the flight attendant told me it was not served. At this point I am a bit unclear on Hong Kong Airlines’ policy on drinks as I have had complimentary alcoholic drinks on them before, I am fairly sure including in economy class. After the flight I consulted their website but it provides no clarification on this point.

There was no drinks service but there was a quick hot drink service. The coffee had ice cubes in the jug for reasons unknown, so was lukewarm.

Conclusion

Again Hong Kong Airlines provided a pretty basic flying experience, but adequate.

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