If you’re like me, you’ll get to the airport as late as possible, get to the gate after passengers have started boarding, and be one of the last people on board. I don’t see why people, especially Chinese people, want to rush onto the airplane. You’re going to be stuck in the long metal tub for hours, why make it longer than it has to be? In the US there’s a urge nowadays to grab the overhead baggage, but in Asia bags still generally fly free, so I don’t really get it. Getting back to the topic…
Most travelers aren’t like me, and will get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Hong Kong Airport is far from the worst place to be when waiting for your flight to depart, so I’d like to share with you some of my tips or suggestions, and show you some of the features HKIA has.
Hong Kong Airport has two check-in terminals, convenient called Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. The terminal designation is ONLY for check-in, after check-in you’ll go into the same terminal building as everyone else. Check-in Counter A-K are in Terminal 1, N-Q in Terminal 2. Generally speaking, if you are taking a budget or obscure airline, you’ll be in Terminal 2. Be sure to check the departure screens to make sure which row your check-in zone is.
Immigration entrance, you’ll go into security and x-ray lines, then head over to immigration. Pretty efficient and standard affair at HKIA. Keep in mind there’s two departure entrances, North and South.
From either immigration entrance you can reach the food court area conveniently on the upstairs level with a large selection of food, including Cafe de Coral, Saboten, McDonalds, Tsui Wah, etc. Hong Kong’s only Popeye’s Friend Chicken used to be there, but I didn’t see it on my most recent trip. At most countries you’ll want to avoid eating at the airport, but in Hong Kong it’s really not much more expensive than outside and there’s a wide variety of foods. If you want something a little nicer, there’s also standalone restaurants such as Cafe Deco or Pizza Express. There’s also plenty of seating and sunlight in the upper floor making it a nice environment to eat in.
Don’t forget the free Wifi at the airport! The network is “#HKAirport Free WiFi” I have no idea why they couldn’t have made the name shorter and easier. Like Airport WIFI or Free WIFI.
If you need to pick up a few pharmacy items, try Manning’s upstairs. Good incase you forgot a toothbrush, or want some gum. You’ll also see tons of mainland Chinese buying medicines to bring back to China with them.
Heading towards the departure hall you’ll need to go downstairs one level and it’ll spit you out into the shopping area with the duty free stores and high end brands. Shop if you want, prices are generally good and the stores guarantee the prices are the same as downtown. Just don’t expect as good sales as downtown. The best part is the HKD is tied to USD, so if you’re coming from a country with strong currency, shop away, cigarettes are always a good buy.
Finally you’ll need to head towards your gate by walking or taking the quick train shuttle. Ever since I signed up for the American Express Cathay Pacific credit card, I’ve been using the Traveler’s Lounge while waiting for my flight. I pay nothing and get access to free foods, drinks, TV, sitting areas. It’s a nice place to relax although it does get busy at times. I find the one towards the back of the terminal better, since there’s less people. However, the one near the entrance is newly renovated and has a better selection of foods, including Chinese noodles. There’s also a shower here in case you’re feeling stinky for $150HKD.
In case you are interested, you can read about my last trip on United Airlines, I’m not a big fan. Only one more leg to LAX left before my ticket used up, thank god.