Update Aug 5: Please refer to our newest article
If your flight leaves from Hong Kong airport early in the morning, you may want to know the best way to get there.
Figuring out When you Need to Arrive
Different airlines close their checkin desks at different times. For example, some airlines require you to check in at least one hour before departure, while for others the checkin closes forty five minutes before departure, or sometimes even less. If you are planning to arrive for an early morning flight, appraise yourself of exactly when you need to get to the airport at the latest.
The first Airport Express leaves Hong Kong station at 5.50 a.m., Kowloon station at 5.53 a.m. and Tsing Yi at 6.00 a.m. It takes twenty four minutes, so will have you at the airport at 6.14 a.m. After that the headway between trains is ten minutes.
The Airport Express basically runs like clockwork, so you can plan around this timetable. Arriving at the airport station there are no exit barriers, free carts are arranged on the platform and there is stairless access to both Terminals One and Two from the train, so from the time you step off the train you should get to the checkin aisle for your airline in under five minutes – if you know where you are going it will be more like two or three minutes. The aisles are in reverse order, so if checking in to e.g. aisles K or H (Hong Kong Airlines and Dragonair, respectively) it’s closer coming off the front end of the train, while for aisles B or C (Cathay), it’s closer coming off the back end of the train.
If you want to use the intown checkin facility, the opening hour depends on your airline. For, example, Cathay’s intown checkin opens at 5.30 a.m., but only for flights ninety minutes or more afterwards.
HK’s A-numbered airport buses publish a first departure time. Full details can be found on the websites of the bus companies Cityflyer and Long Win. Each shows you the routes and if you click on the timetable icon you will see the time of the first scheduled bus departure. Many services start at around 5.10 a.m. For example, A10 service starts at 5.30 a.m. and A11 and A43 at 5.10 a.m.
Bear in mind that the departure time is from the first stop so the first departure from a given stop will be later depending on how far down the route it is. Travel time to the airport will vary depending on how far the journey is, though at that time of day at least traffic tends to be light. These buses are generally reliable but as with many bus services, the timetable is a guide not an exact rendition like it can be with the Airport Express, so if you are worried that the bus timing is a bit tight to make your flight you may wish to consider alternative forms of transport.
The cheaper E-numbered buses also operate at similar times, starting at around 5.30 a.m. in general. Bear in mind that the E routes tend be to slightly slower than the A routes due to more stops. See the timetables on the websites of Cityflyer and Long Win.
If you would like to take a bus and these services are not early enough, you may consider the limited nightbus service. These are listed on the airport website. Main services include the N11 for Hong Kong side and N21 for Kowloon side, but in fact there are services from most parts of Hong Kong – look through the route listings for more details. Like E routes, night buses tend to make more stops (for example at various airport outbuildings and stops in Tung Chung) so pay attention to the estimated journey times – the time it took you to take the A11 from the airport, for example, will be shorter than the time it takes you to take the N11 back to the airport.
Taxi and Cars
Hong Kong generally has a plentiful supply of taxis around the clock so you can find a taxi at any time in the morning to take you to the airport. Cost will depend on where you are coming from although the airport helpfully provides a rough indicative chart here. Uber is also an early morning option.
Staying at the Airport
If these options don’t appeal to you bear in mind that there is an airport hotel directly connected to the main terminal building, the Regal Airport Hotel as well as some hotels fairly close by, such as the Novotel Citygate in Tung Chung town centre, several minutes’ taxi ride or a short bus ride from the airport.
Guest Blogger: Christopher R.