Hong Kong Airlines (HX) was founded as CR Airways in 2001, before converting to its current brand five years later under new ownership. Up until recently, it has been a regional carrier serving destinations in the Asia and Pacific region, asides from the route to London-Heathrow (LHR). However, the airline has set its sights on international growth, looking to add destinations such as Chicago (ORD), San Francisco (SFO), Sydney (SYD), and Melbourne (MEL). Service to Vancouver (YVR) kicked off earlier this year when the first HX80 landed in Vancouver on June 30, 2017.
To complement its aggressive expansion plan, Hong Kong Airlines is upgrading its fleet of aircraft with the addition of the extra wide-body Airbus A350, the first of which is expected to enter service very soon. Currently, the passenger fleet consists of 18 wide-body A330s (both -300 and -200 variants) and 11 narrow-body A320s.
My flight took place in an A330-243, the Rolls Royce variant of the A332. Inside, a patterned red fabric covered the floor and seats. Additionally, the walls and ceiling of the cabin was a familiar patterned white/beige.
Although I did not get to choose my seat because of my ticket type (you normally can), I was fortunate enough to get a window seat right on the wing. This resulted in an extremely smooth ride and (more importantly) some amazing views. Even better, the cabin is laid out in a 2-4-2 configuration which made it a breeze to get in and out as there was only one person between me and the aisle.
The seats themselves were on the average to roomy side of things, with ample legroom to stretch out as long as I moved my carry-on backpack to the side. Each passenger was also given a blanket, pillow, and personal care kit (which included a pair of socks, toothbrush, ear plugs, and mask). The only issue was the metal box under the seat, which forced my legs to the right.
Being completely honest, I am usually pretty satisfied with airplane food despite all the ramble about how it’s normally terrible in economy class. Still, the food on this flight really impressed me.
The first meal was served about two hours into the flight. There were originally three choices (including a roast beef with mashed potatoes option which sounded delicious), but only one was available by the time the cart got to me: pork with rice and veggies, which was really not bad. The saltiness of the pork and mushrooms was balanced by the blandness of the plain rice, although the vegetables were a little soggy and tasteless. On the side was a potato salad with smoked salmon, which was excellent by in-flight food standards. The dessert of maple syrup-flavoured cake was also great, and was topped with little maple leafs which was a nice touch.
About two hours before we were scheduled to land, the airline served the second meal. There were two choices available when the cart got to my seat: Indian-style curry dumplings and yang chow fried rice, of which I went with the latter. The main course was a pretty standard affair, featuring a medley of rice, barbecue pork, shrimp, as well as diced carrots and peas. On the side was a surprisingly-juicy fruit salad, and dessert featured a rich dark chocolate cake.
Overall, I would say that both meals were above average although I would go for the second if I had to pick between the two. Additionally, the Hong Kong Airlines cabin crew carted drinks and water every twenty minutes or so between meals, which was plenty often.
Because there aren’t any TVs built into the plane, Hong Kong Airlines provides complimentary iPad minis to watch movies, dramas, and documentaries, as well as listen to music. While this system increases flexibility by allowing for the iPad to be placed wherever it is most comfortable, it usually ends up on table tray, making it difficult to watch while eating. I personally enjoyed both Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Boss Baby, and didn’t have to worry too much about the fragility of the iPad because it came in a durable Otterbox case.
The plane also had PED power, allowing passengers to charge their laptops, phones, and other electronic devices. However, there was only one universal wall outlet and one USB-A outlet per pair of seats so you’d better hope the person next to you doesn’t have the same plug as you. Luckily for me, my neighbour only needed the USB to charge his phone, freeing up the wall outlet for my Chromebook.
Although I barely remember my last long-haul flight (my last flight was a Sunwing 4-hour to Cancun), I came away pretty impressed by Hong Kong Airlines. The seats offered plenty of space and legroom, food was great, and PED power allowed me to pass the time binge-watching The Sopranos.
However, I also got pretty lucky- first, by ending up sitting on the wing which significantly decreased the effects of turbulence, and second, by having sole possession of the wall outlet. If either of these things (moreso the latter) didn’t fall into place like it did, my experience may have been completely different. In the future, I hope that power is installed for each seat individually, and an iPad mount is installed on the back of each headrest.
All-in-all though, I had a pretty great time flying with Hong Kong Airlines and look forward to my return flight in January!