Hong Kong Airlines A330 Business Class Review Bottom Line
Hong Kong Airlines is struggling, there’s no question about that, but if you were to judge by the crew’s demeanor and professionalism, you’d think differently. My Hong Kong Airlines A330 business class review highlights that my experience on this one hour flight was truly excellent. The only qualms were the recliner seat and the lack of IFE.
The Good: Superb crew, hot meal (in an hour-long flight) and a deep recliner make this an excellent option to Taiwan.
The Bad: Although the recliner far surpasses the comfort of your traditional business class recliner, it was still not as good as a true angled or fully flat seat. Hong Kong Airlines stopped paying for IFE content, which meant that my IFE screen was basically useless.
The Noteworthy: Even with their job security in question, the crew was perfect. They were kind, attentive, effective, and efficient. Although there were some language barrier issues, they truly tried their best to make sure I was comfortable.
Note: I took all of these flights in the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since travel and work slowed down substantially in the last few months, I took time to catch up writing these reviews. Hope y’all enjoy! This flight was from mid-2019.
Hong Kong Airport and Boarding
Hong Kong Airlines operates out of HKIA’s satellite terminal. After spending a few hours at the Hong Kong Airlines Lounge, I proceeded to my gate. There was one issue when I arrived at the gate listed on the TV monitors, there was another aircraft there (a MIAT Mongolian 767). After wondering what was going on, I was informed that there had been an aircraft swap for my flight. HNA Group Airlines constantly have aircraft swaps last minute. Initially, my flight was supposed to have fully flat seats in business class, by the time I was on board, I had deep recliners.
When the updated gate was finally announced, the aircraft was already at the gate. Boarding began soon after, with business class boarding first in a separate line.
Before the aircraft swap, I was expecting a 2x2x2 cabin with lie-flat seats. When I boarded, I found a 2x2x2 cabin with deep recliner seats. These seats reminded me of American’s old 757 seats (LUS) that I was able to fly from Charlotte to San Juan some years ago. The cabin seemed tired. Yes, it was dated, but it felt worn and damaged. There were 4 rows of business class.
When I arrived at my seat, 12K, I found a large pillow and thick blanket. Each seat had controls on the inside of the seat. The button for “bed” was a true stretch, it wasn’t even flat. There was also an IFE control below the seat controls. Speaking about IFE, Hong Kong Airlines discontinued IFE options after deciding not to pay for entertainment titles. The screen was all white with a fixed message. At least the main screens were set to the moving map. Each seat had power ports and USB chargers, as well as headphone jacks. Legroom was generous and, due to the angle, the footwell did not feel constrained.
Departure and Take Off
Once I was done fidgeting with the seat and seeing how bad the angle really was, the flight attendant working my aisle came by and brought me a bottle of water and an antiseptic towel. By the time boarding was done, business was 5/24 full. No wonder HK Airlines isn’t doing well financially: HKG-TPE is one of the busiest routes in the world. Economy, based on a quick peek, was about 65% full. As we taxied to the runway, the FAs did the manual safety demonstration. There was a language barrier, but this would not be an issue.
The ferry between HKG and TPE is about 397 miles. American Airlines/Delta Airlines/United Airlines will not serve meals on flights below 990 miles (in some cases greater). Hong Kong Airlines served a full hot meal, and two rounds of drinks, on the flight. While we were still on the ground, the FA gave out menus (!!!!) for the meal. There were even options (!!!) and the menu itself was beautiful. During taxi to take off, the FAs took meal orders and put them in the oven.
The menu read as follows:
As soon as we began a slower climb, the FAs came by and brought out the meal tray. I ordered the noodles. These were brought out with a small ramekin of fruit and a small plated dessert. It was all served in one tray in order to give the FAs time to serve the (theoretically) full cabin. I was surprised by how good the meal was, it was tasty and hearty. To drink, I ordered orange juice and drank the water bottle. The meal was cleared from my seat ~30 minutes after takeoff.
Seat Recline and Comfort
Like I mentioned before, the seat is meant to be “angled flat”, but ended up just being angled and lumpy. Each cushion ended up angled at a different plane than the rest. For a short flight, maybe up to 3 hours, the seat would be comfortable. For anything above three hours, I would feel uncomfortable (and borderline in pain due to my back). For the short hop to TPE, I just relaxed and listened to music. On a long haul flight, the lack of IFE would make boredom a real problem.
Notes on Service
All things considered, this was one of the best flights I have ever taken as far as service goes. The flight lasted ~65 minutes, yet the crew served a hot meal and two rounds of drinks. They noticed I was tired, and asked if I needed extra pillows or blankets. When I was done with my meal, they took the tray away in under 2 minutes. They walked around the cabin numerous times. Before arrival, they thanked me for flying Hong Kong Airlines. If one didn’t read newspapers, anyone would think that this airline was thriving and that the crews’ jobs were not at risk every passing day. I commend and highlight the absolutely flawless service provided by Hong Kong Airlines.
The flight was short and great. By the time we landed in Taipei, even though we were slightly delayed, I felt sad to leave the aircraft. I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to fly Hong Kong Airlines again, but this was truly a special experience. I would call it “fab without the glam” because the service was fabulous yet the hard product was past its prime. I truly wish the best fortunes for Hong Kong Airlines, I hope they can weather the storm and come back; I do not want to see their crew unemployed. Truly a wonderful experience.