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Review of Low Cost Carrier Hong Kong Express

A new player has emerged on the Hong Kong aviation scene.  Whisper it quietly… a budget airline!  Woo hoo! Having spent years flying the low cost carriers of Europe and more recently, Air Asia, I am very happy to pay less for a no frills seat.  All that I ask of the airline is that it maintains the very best in safety standards and is reliable.

HK Express

I recently tested out Hong Kong Express on their inaugural flight to Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Hong Kong Express currently flies to 8 destinations; Penang, Kota Kinabalu, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Kunming, Taichung, Osaka and Tokyo.  All great places to visit, especially on a cheap fare.  

I had a quick look for a pretend weekend to Phuket, departing Fri 7th March and returning 11th March 2014. The base fare was HKD $700 each (there is no differentiation in price between child and adult ticket) and after tax the total comes to HKD $2536.  The equivalent fare with Air Asia is HKD $3600.  The only issue with the Phuket flight (especially when flying with kids) are the flight times.  Outbound lands in Phuket at 2am and the return departs at 3 or 5am…  Flight times on the other routes are at much more sociable hours.

If you are booking an infant ticket, there is no bassinet inflight.  However, you can pay HKD $160 extra to book the bassinet row seat.  You cannot book an infant ticket online, you have to phone the Call Centre.

Anyway, I digress.  Let me tell you about my flight to Chiang Mai…

Check In at Hong Kong Airport

Flight times to Chiang Mai are good: outbound departs 5/6pm depending on the day and return departs Chiang Mai at 8 or 9pm.  Flying time is under 3 hours so it really is a perfect destination for a long weekend.

Check in desks for Hong Kong Express are located at Terminal 2.  There are some great shops here and if your plane is delayed or you have spare time on your hands, I highly recommend a trip to the Aviation Discovery Centre on Level 6.  After you have been through Security, the train will connect you into the main part of the airport.

There are extra fees for checked bags so if you are planning on bringing more than hand luggage, factor this in to the price of your ticket.  Save money by pre-booking your checked bag in advance (HKD 80 per flight in comparison to HKD 250 at the airport).

A major positive for this low cost carrier is that your seat is allocated at check-in (unless you have paid extra for a bulkhead/exit row in advance).  This avoids the total bunfight of ‘bagsying’ a seat the moment you step onboard à la Ryanair.

Onboard

Hong Kong Express does not have priority boarding.  However, ground staff will assist you if you feel you need some help (i.e. you’re flying alone with a million children).

HK Express Seat

The airline operates a fleet of A320s.  They are fairly new, having been acquired by Hong Kong Airlines (the sister company) several years ago and now converted with the Hong Kong Express livery.  The seats are in a 3 – 3 configuration and compared to the budget airlines of Europe, the seats are comfortable with a good amount of legroom.

Food

HK Express Menu

If you’re feeling peckish, you can buy food and drink onboard, including alcohol.

Entertainment

Make sure to bring your own entertainment as there are no seat back TVs.  Here are my tips on how to entertain young kids on a flight!

In Conclusion…

Overall I was impressed and if fares continue to stay competitive, I will definitely use Hong Kong Express again.  Only time will tell how reliable the service is but that’s an issue with any airline you fly with.

In the interests of full disclosure, I was flying with Hong Kong Express as part of a press trip for their inaugural flight.  Which also means my greeting on arrival is not a regular feature of the Hong Kong Express experience (sadly).

HK Express

5 comments

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  1. Phil

    Hi – I read this last week (w/c 6 Jan 14) and having checked HK Express on flightstats.com I priced a few ‘fantasy’ trips. The prices were great so I set about planning some real trips. Yesterday 13 Jan i went online to book some bargains. Imagine my surprise to see that the flight costs had gone up by about HKD800 (base fare) from KD290 (base fare). After adding tax etc they are no longer the LCC they looked to be. Sadly, I’ll be booking with established carriers (at very slight premium to HK Express revised price) as I am now unwilling to risk any possible scheduling issues for such a small saving. Very sad given that HK is screaming out for a European/US style LCC to shake CX et al up.

    BTW – I emailed HK Express with above info to and asked for an explanation. My email has hitherto gone unacknowledged.

    1. Nicola

      Hi Phil – I can’t believe the sale flights had gone up so much. I know they work on demand/supply but you’re right, it is frustrating as HK punters need the LCCs! Don’t blame you for booking elsewhere this time, let me know if you get a response from HK Express

      1. Phil

        Hi – no reply as yet. FYI, trip to Chiang Mai for 4 adults and 2 kids was HKD600 cheaper on Air Asia who I have used a few times already without complaint.

  2. jim

    I recently took a flight on Hong Kong Express from KMG to HKG and I found two incidents that were so incredible I have to write and let other flyers know. So be aware when you choose Hong Kong Express on your next trip.

    Checked baggage charge – I had to pay CNY 292.00 in cash for my 17kg checked in baggage. I found the charge was so outrageous when I paid CNY 349.00+tax for the ticket. The charge for one piece of regular checked-in baggage was as much as the ticket price – wow! You can see other reviews also complained about the excessive baggage charge. I purchased my tickets on Ctrip and it did not warn about the big charge. I later learn on HKE site about the charges.

    Food and Drinks – I forgot the exact words from the announcement but essentially what it said was you are NOT ALLOWED (NOT JOKING) to eat/drink your food or drinks that you have brought on the plane with you. I guess they want to sell you their food and drinks. I don’t know if any other airlines do this… and I have flown on many airlines.

    1. Nicola

      Air Asia can also be quite funny about you bringing food & drink onboard as they want you to buy from them

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