i'm going to start reviewing most segments of my trips so that i can provide more info to you guys. for this trip, i'm going to start with a review of hong kong express airlines.
i didn't quite know what to expect of this airline when we booked it via doljunts travel. all i was told was, it's not a budget airline (because they serve meals), and it takes off from NAIA terminal 1. but now that i've flown hong kong express, i can tell you a little more about it.
manila to hong kong
we arrived at NAIA at 545am, and was amazed at the long lines at the hong kong express counter (and most other counters, akshully). it took a while before we were attended to, but once at the counter, everything went smoothly. but maybe that's because none of us went over the baggage limit.
at 630am, we were given our boarding passes, and headed to immigration, but not before forking over P750 each for the terminal fee (i still don't get what this fee is for!). immigration and pre-boarding checks took a while. we cleared all of these in 30 minutes, just in time for boarding.
however, hong kong express didn't let us board until 730am, and i remember thinking that we were going to be late. after all, that's just 30 minutes to departure time, and boarding, with people taking so long putting their stuff in the overhead bins, takes a while!
amazingly, though, boarding was pretty swift, and we were taxiing down the runway at 8am. bonus points for hong kong express!
the flight attendants were nice enough, but service during the flight was nothing special. we were provided newspapers, blankets, and earphones. the food was below average. we were given a "chicken sandwich," which tasted like sour chicken adobo. my nephew franciz couldn't eat it at all, even though he told us he was really starving.
in-flight entertainment was also a dud. the only thing they showed were chinese videos, so we couldn't understand a thing. good thing it was just a two-hour flight. as for the plane, hong kong express uses boeing 737-800, which has a narrow aisle, but pretty good legroom when seated. lavatories for economy class are all the way to the back of the plane.
albeit those nega points, our flight landed earlier than the estimated arrival time. in my opinion, that more than makes up for the other boo-boos. for me, what really matters is i get to my destination on time. service and the other extras are just, well, extras.
hong kong express lands in a new wing of hong kong international airport, but they provide a bus to shuttle us to a gate in terminal 1, which leads straight to the immigration booths. this is very convenient compared to the other airlines i've taken to hong kong before, where you get to walk a long hall before reaching immigration. for me, this is one very great advantage to taking hong kong express (although arrival gates can change over time).
hong kong to manila
the flight from hong kong to manila departs at 930pm, which gives you a lot of time to do some last-minute shopping and sightseeing before you leave. however, we were a bit worried that we might have to lug our suitcases around with us in the city while waiting for our flight.
thankfully, hong kong express is one of the airlines that accepts in-town check-in at major airport express terminals (hong kong and kowloon stations). that means we could check-in any time within the day as long as we use the airport express to get to the airport. this really came in handy, and we enjoyed walking around the city without having to worry about pulling our suitcases around, or even rushing to make it a few hours before the flight to check-in, since we already had our boarding passes.
our boarding gate was also in the new wing, and it had slipped our minds that there was a shuttle bus to that other wing. shuttling to the new wing of the hong kong international airport came easy, though. as soon as you were at the gate, there was a bus waiting, and the trip took about five minutes tops.
boarding, once again, was late, but we left the airport on time as well. service this time around, however, was sloppy and a tad rude. the food was so-so (but better than the last, because my nephew was able to swallow a few bites), but again, the flight arrived earlier than expected.
service and food leave much to be desired, but the convenience of exiting right at the immigration booths at HKIA (could be temporary, of course) and the impressive on-time record might just make me a fan of hong kong express. it also doesn't hurt that the flight home leaves at 930pm, which lets you see more of hong kong, without letting you miss a day of work.
price-wise, i was lucky enough to get a Php 10,000 per person rate for the period right after chinese new year. but if it were any other season, i wouldn't get this flight for that price. but if i do decide to fly hong kong express again, i'd check with a travel agent first.
hong kong express
route: hong kong-manila, hong kong to other points of asia
reservation hotline: +852 3151 1888
email address: firstname.lastname@example.org