Recently I wrote about the new SFO-HKG route on Hong Kong Airlines. I flew business class going to HKG, and economy class going back to SFO. I was a bit worried about flying the return in economy class after being spoiled in business class on my outbound leg, but I was extremely happy with economy, impressed in fact, to say the least!
Check-in and Security
Check-in at Hong Kong Airport is usually very smooth for any airline, so it was no exception for Hong Kong Airlines. They use a few different check-in aisles, so be sure to check the airport screens where to go. This time I was at aisle “F” for flights to both Los Angeles and San Francisco.
There was a line with about 15 people in front of me, but of course by the time I reached the front of the line there was barely anyone behind me. Such is my luck. Wasn’t a problem anyway, line went swiftly and waited about 5 minutes only, including the interviewing and questioning which a third-party airport security company handles for US bound flights. Questions included how long I was in HK, looking at my itinerary, asking where I stayed, etc. How that prevents terrorism I don’t know, but I suppose someone might slip and say they were smuggling things? I find it a bit personal and intrusive asking where I stayed. Should be irrelevant as a HKID holder. This is travel during the Trump-era (shudder).
HKIA security always goes quickly and rarely is there a line, so only took another 5 minutes to get through security. Nothing notable to mention here, other than keep up the good work HK airport staff!
Many of the Hong Kong Airlines flights use the 200 numbered gates, which are the newer ones. You have to take the automated people mover to the last stop. It’s very nice over in that terminal with a few restaurants and shops. It’s a lot more peaceful with less people mulling around as compared with the main terminal. Hong Kong Airlines flagship lounge Club Autus is also there and I stopped by there before my flight.
Boarding involved a few more questions such as if my bag was with me the whole time and things like that, much less intrusive than before check-in. Security will also look through your bag for any banned items, such as the very dangerous bottles containing purified water, lol. It’s not a big deal, just takes a couple of minutes longer to board that’s all. In reality, this exercise is useless. Security only opened the top of my bag and didn’t rummage through it at all, so I could’ve easily brought on water.
Otherwise boarding was smooth and quick without incident with plenty of staff around to hurry you onto the plane.
Business Class (lie-flat seating): 33; Economy Comfort (15 degrees recline): 99, Economy: 202 = Total Capacity 334.
The seat map is very hard to find since the A350 aircraft is new. It’s not yet listed on Seatguru or Seatexpert, so you can refer to the airline’s own website or below.
Hong Kong Airlines has an interesting product in economy; Economy Comfort and Economy. Economy Comfort is a regular economy seat with more legroom (34” pitch) and recline at 15 degrees.
The prices are officially (in Hong Kong dollars) $240 for a short-haul; $520 for long-haul; and $940 for ultra-long haul. Pricing may be different on the plane versus at check-in, so I suggest seeing if you can obtain a better upgrade price during check-in.
I am telling you now, if you’re taking economy and want a little more legroom and recline, purchase the Economy Comfort upgrade. This is the best deal you will find and will make your flight much more pleasurable. While I’ll say I’m average height at 5’8”, my knees couldn’t touch the seat in front of mine no matter how much I slouched. The economy comfort cabin also had more open seats so you may be able to score an empty seat next to you if the flight isn’t full. This cabin also seemed not as crowded as the regular economy seats towards the rear.
The seats are new and comfy, the “thin” types. Well equipped with touchscreen IFE, USB port, and universal outlet for laptops. The airline magazines and duty free catalogs are in a separate magazine compartment which is nice, leaves extra room in the netting to store your personal items.
I wasn’t expecting an amenity kit since competing airlines seemed to have gotten rid of them in economy. I was very pleasantly surprised to see a full kit including socks, toothbrush, eye mask, ear plugs! It’s the little touches which make the difference. Blanket is good quality fleece (not your typical economy thin piece of fabric) and the pillow was big, and you can tear it along the perforated area to turn it into a neck pillow. (First time seeing a neck pillow in economy, score!) Even looked like it could double as a seat cushion. (But I don’t know if I’d want to put it by my head after I sat on it for a while, if you get my drift. haha)
While the IFE screen was smaller than when I took business class (as expected), the offerings were the same and perfectly suitable! I watched Disney’s Coco this time. (If you read my flight reviews, you can discern I enjoy the same entertainment as a 10 year old.)
The personal service I received was amazing, possibly on par or even better than in some business classes. The staff on my flight was stellar. Usually flight attendants leave you alone and don’t help too much in economy, but each one had high energy, hospitable attitude, and a great smile! I am really impressed with this airline and they can easily take market share away from the competitors once people start learning about them. Perhaps they were excited to visit San Francisco (only one of the FAs had been there before.)
The staff spoke Cantonese, English, and Mandarin. One of the flight attendants working my section was Taiwanese he said, since I spoke in Canto and he didn’t understand.
Food & Drinks
If you read my business class review, you know Hong Kong Airlines has a partnership with Cockscomb for business meals. Economy is a little more simpler with regular type meals. 3 selections for the initial meal. It was fairly standard, nothing to write home about, but tasty enough where you wouldn’t complain about it. Salad had a Chinese twist with some wood ear I believe it was, I had the pork and rice dish, and dessert was a very chocolatey mousse.
The galley offers snacks in between the meals in case your stomach starts the growl. Nice to see unlimited snacks so the passengers don’t starve! Pretty much right at the halfway point of the flight, my stomach was getting really grumbly since I stayed away working on the blog and watching movies. I asked the flight attendant about a snack and she coincidentally was carrying a tray of pizzas, talk about impeccable timing! The pizza was surprisingly delicious and piping hot. I ate one, and was still hungry since it was dinner time in HKT, and grabbed another from the galley. There were plenty of extra pizzas since 1/3 of the plane was still sleeping, yay for me.
Pre-landing I opted for the dim sum and noodles, but probably should’ve gone for the eggs. The actual dim sum was decent, but there were only two pieces. The noodles were mushy from being overcooked. Doesn’t matter though since the pre-landing meal is the least important to me. I could always eat again right after landing. FA forgot to offer me a croissant, but I got one as she was walking by the second time and she apologized. That croissant was delish, though it’s probably hard for any carb with butter baked in to taste bad.
I’m extremely happy to see Hong Kong Airlines flying the route between HKG and SFO. (They also fly to LAX and YVR on the West Coast.) It offers an extremely competitive product and pricing in both business and economy.
The flight left HKG on-time without issue, so we landed on-time, if not a few minutes early. If you get a good tailwind, you could arrive an hour or more early on windy days. We were the only plane to arrive at SFO around that time so immigration was completely empty, never had such a pleasurable experience arriving in the US. Made it to the baggage carousel in 5 minutes since I had Global Entry.
Bags started coming onto the belt about 5 minutes after waiting there, so around 10-15 minutes after landing. Amazing plane to belt time, grabbed my bag and made it through customs in another 5 minutes and caught an Uber out of the airport. This was the quickest arrival into the United States EVER. Don’t know if this will always be the case since I see a flight from Seoul and Osaka scheduled to arrive SFO around the same time. We probably just beat those flights in the day I flew.
Economy class on Hong Kong Airlines is extremely comfortable. I would not hesitate to take it again. The plane and seats are new, staff is excellent, and prices very competitive. In fact, for an economy trip over the Pacific, I’d say this trip was phenomenal and the experience on HX really blew me away. Shockingly I had virtually no jetlag upon coming back to the US. This is probably attributed to the fact that A350 is pressurized at a much lower altitude, around 5000-6000 ft, so less tiredness. And slightly more humidity and less noise versus other aircraft types.
Shoutout to some of the FAs on my flight, Andy, Amy, and Michelle!
This flight was provided by Hong Kong Airlines. All content and opinions expressed are true and original to the author.