Flight Review: Hong Kong Airlines short-haul HX284 & HX285

We booked a killer deal to Hong Kong, but decided to take a quick trip to Taipei. After weighing all the costs (and being gluttons for punishment) we decided to visit Taipei first, which meant tacking on a two-hour flight after more than 15 hours in the air.

Making the booking
We weighed several options. Frankly, I would have preferred a more conveniently-timed EVA Air flight, but we didn’t want to risk our inbound flight being delayed and having problems changing carriers. It also would have required us to clear immigration in Hong Kong and for us to get our bags then transfer them to EVA.

Instead, we stuck with Hong Kong Airlines, which allows you to merge separate reservations together so your bags are automatically transferred.

We started the search on Google Flights and found a $170 round-trip ticket (we found round-trips cheaper than separate one-ways). For some reason after selecting dates, HKA would then show up with a price of $155. I took the data to Kayak and Momondo, which led me to now-defunct Zuji. It had the tickets for $70 each way...a savings of about $15 per person.

The computers in LAX wouldn’t allow agents to print connecting tickets, so we had to stop by the transit desk in Hong Kong to get our boarding passes.

The security line was light and we had plenty of time to visit the Plaza Premium Lounge before our flight. It’s in a different part of the airport, but is quickly accessed by a people mover.

From there, it was time to board. The A330 was about 30% full so boarding was quick and we pushed back early. The flight felt completely empty because everyone was so spread out.

The crew were cheerful despite the late hour. I was impressed they offered a complimentary meal service on such a short flight. There was only one option of a small, hot sandwich and it hit the spot.

Since it was a short flight, I didn’t spend too much time with the Inflight Entertainment system, but I noticed there wasn’t as much content as the long-haul A350. The remote felt strange to use after becoming accustomed to the touchscreens. Still, Cantonese captions and all, it served its purpose of putting me to sleep and we arrived in Taipei almost a half-hour early.

We made our way back to the airport early using the 1819 bus. It dropped us off well before the HKA ticket counter opened. Finally, a little after 5am, workers arrived and quickly took our luggage and printed boarding passes for our flight.

Security and passport control lines were long, but moved quickly. We still had plenty of time to visit the only 24-hour Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal 2.

It was busy, given the early hour, but we snagged seats outside near the replica of Taipei 101.

About an hour later, the crowd thinned considerably so we went to the made-to-order breakfast area.

I had the beef noodle soup, which was a let down compared to the delicious soups we enjoyed in Taipei. I’d recommend sticking to the well-stocked buffet.

Soon it was time to board, and we made our way to the gate. It was harder than anticipated to find because of a lack of signage directing us toward the right area. Once we figured it out, we got there just as boarding was beginning.

Again, we were on a former Singapore Airlines A330. The larger, double-aisle aircraft is a change to the 737s or A320s we’re accustomed to seeing on short-haul routes in the United States. The cabin seemed older than it was, but I suppose that might happen doing more frequent flights.

The service was great on this flight. The cabin crew was attentive and made quick work of the mostly full flight. I was again impressed they served a meal for the short flight.

This time, it was a generous portion of noodles, that I think was Zhajiangmian. I also appreciated the Taipei touch of a pineapple cake. I then sat back and enjoyed a movie. Before long, we were landing in Hong Kong.
Flight Review: Hong Kong Airlines short-haul HX284 & HX285 Flight Review: Hong Kong Airlines short-haul HX284 & HX285 Reviewed by Brandon on April 01, 2019 Rating: 5

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