Hong Kong Airlines proudly promotes itself as a SKYTRAX 4-star airline, but I think two stars may be more accurate.

They are a Velocity Frequent Flyer partner, meaning you can earn and redeem Velocity Points for travel with them.

I booked this one-way Business Class flight from Sapporo, Japan to Hong Kong for 38,000 Velocity Points + only AU$17 in taxes.

Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class

Fleet & routes

Not surprisingly, Hong Kong Airlines’ hub is at Hong Kong International Airport, where they are the second-largest carrier after Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon.

Their route network is focussed almost exclusively on intra-Asia flights, especially to Mainland China and Japan. However, they also fly to three North American cities, being Los Angeles, San Francisco (ending 4 October 2019) and Vancouver.

HK popular routes
Some popular routes for Australia-based travellers

The airline used to fly to the Gold Coast and Cairns, but those services were discontinued in October 2018.

If you’re travelling on a shorter flight within Asia, chances are you’ll be on an Airbus A320 with recliner seats like you’d find on Qantas and Virgin Australia flying within Australia.

Virgin Australia 737 Business Class seat
For comparison purposes: Virgin Australia’s recliner seat

There are two versions of the larger Airbus A330, one of which features angled-flat seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, and the other (superior) version which has lie-flat seats in a 1-2-1 layout (this review).

Finally, you could be on one of two versions of the Airbus A350 if you are flying to or from North America or select Asian cities. The more likely version has the same seats as in this review, however, you could luck out with one of the newest aircraft, which offers a reverse herringbone seat like the one found on Virgin Australia, Cathay Pacific and American Airlines.

Hong Kong Airlines New A350 Business Class seat
The newest Business Class seat on the Airbus A350

The cabin & seats

The cabin is set up in a 1-2-1 configuration, with the same style of seats that you’ll find on THAI’s 777-300ER aircraft.

Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class seat
Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class seat
Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class seat

The seats are staggered, with alternating rows being closer to the window and the aisle.

Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class seat

The seat converts into a narrow (read: cramped), lie-flat bed, with a cheap pillow and comfortable blanket but no mattress pad.

Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class seat
Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class seat

I appreciated the simple design of the seat.

Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class seat
Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class seat

However, it was obvious this aircraft was showing its age.

Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class seat
Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class seat
Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class seat

One of the many things I didn’t like about this product was the lack of storage.

Seat choice

Solo travellers will want to aim for one of the true window seats:

Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class window seat

and avoid those which are exposed to the aisle.

Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class aisle seat

Those travelling accompanied may wish to opt for the honeymoon seats, which are the two seats in the centre that are close together (rather than separated).

Food & drink

Ahhhhh, this was my meal:

Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class meal
Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class meal

You can increase your chances of getting something other than bland food by pre-ordering your main meal between 30 days and 48 hours before your flight, but only if you are departing from Hong Kong. Here is the link to do so.

I did appreciate that the meal service was quick.

Here is the full food and drinks menu for my flight—note the limited selection of drinks:

Customer service

Let me start with one positive: the check-in staff were efficient and very friendly.

Onboard, however, the cabin crew seemed stressed for the entire six-hour flight. I did not see anyone smile once. They forgot two drink orders and pressured me three times to fill out a customer service survey. I ended up filling it out (with my honest feedback), but held off on returning it until the end of the flight to avoid the awkwardness of them reading what I thought of the flight before deboarding.

This was one of the least impressive Business Class crews I have come across.

Inflight entertainment

You’ll get a small touchscreen with an old-school interface.

Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class inflight entertainment touchscreen

I will give the airline some points for its relatively good selection of Western movies.

Amenities

The lavatories are standard and nothing special.

Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class lavatory

As mentioned above, you don’t get a mattress pad but you do get a sad, cheap pillow as well as a big blanket.

The headphones are of substandard quality.

Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class headphone

Pyjamas are not provided but on long-haul flights, you’ll get an amenity kit. I did like the slippers, though!

Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class slippers

Wifi is available exclusively on A350 aircraft, with 15 minutes free or $US19.95 for the entire flight, but there are numerous reports of download and upload speeds under 1 Mbps.

How to redeem points for this flight

The two main ways that travellers in Australia will fly this product is by:

  • purchasing a cheap cash fare
  • using Velocity Points

Here are the figures for a one-way Business Class flight on selected routes between Hong Kong and:

DestinationVelocity Points
Taiwan18,000
Most of Mainland China26,000
Bangkok26,000
Kuala Lumpur38,000
Japan38,000
Vancouver92,000
San Francisco92,000
Los Angeles104,000

You can search for availability and book your Hong Kong Airlines redemption directly through the Velocity website.

Note that whilst Velocity Points and Status Credits are earned on most Hong Kong Airlines flights, those to and from North America are not eligible for earning points.

Lounge access

When departing Hong Kong, you’ll get access to Hong Kong Airlines’ flagship Club Autus lounge, which receives generally positive reviews.

Hong Kong Airlines' Club Autus Lounge

Overseas, the airline uses third-party lounges, which are mostly unnotable.

Related reviews

Summing up: why choose this flight?

I half-agree with Hong Kong Airlines’ tagline for their Business Class product:

Fly in affordable luxury

It is true that they have cheaper fares than their competitor Cathay Pacific and some other Asian airlines, but I question their definition of ‘luxury’.

As you can probably tell, I won’t be rushing back to fly Hong Kong Airlines, nor will I be recommending it to friends, family and Point Hacks readers.

What is great

  • Lie-flat seats
  • Improved product on new A350 aicraft
  • Comfortable blanket
  • Great lounge in Hong Kong
  • Easy to book on Velocity website

What is not great

  • Cold customer service with a lack of sophistication
  • Planes showing their age
  • Bland food
  • Limited drink selection
  • Out-of-date inflight entertainment system
  • Cheap headphones
  • Cheap pillow
  • No pyjamas
  • Substandard lounge offerings outside of Hong Kong
  • Wifi only available on A350 aircraft and suffers slow speeds

I’m sure others have had better experiences on Hong Kong Airlines than I did. Please share in the comments below!

Supplementary images courtesy Hong Kong Airlines.

Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class overview was last modified: July 29th, 2019 by Matt Moffitt