Here are some of the airlines I’ve used in recent memory when travelling to Hong Kong. I had some great experiences with Emirates, etc… but that was a long time ago when those flights were still very affordable. I don’t think they qualify as affordable anymore.
This is my favorite, especially if you can get it on promo or by converting miles / points. The most important thing is to get the return flight from HKG to MNL on Business Class or First Class. For the Manila to Hong Kong flight, economy is fine because there’s no big advantage to paying a whole lot more for a higher class. If you are paying for it out of pocket, it’s quite expensive, so try to earn points or lookout for promos instead. I get this as a gift from sis who converts her points for these flights.
Why? Well, Cathay Business Class lets you in to ALL THE CATHAY PACIFIC LOUNGES in the Hong Kong International Airport. They currently have 5 exclusive lounges. Hey, gotta try them all! There should be 6 lounges but G16 is under renovation; anyhow, it’s no loss because G16 is a small lounge you can skip if pressed for time.
Each lounge has a buffet area serving quality food. The menu for each lounge is different from the others. The bigger lounges have a bigger selection of food: dimsum, noodles, sandwiches, pasta, chicken, pork and beef dishes, salmon, rice, cold cuts, pies, pastries, etc… The food is good, hotel-quality.
They have whole cabinets’ worth of fresh juices, bottled drinks, beer, wine, etc… you just take what you want. Some lounges have an automatic coffee machine, The Pier has an actual coffee cart with a nice Pinay barista who kept making us delicious coffee with latte art!
Most of the lounges have a bar area, as well, where you can request for cocktail drinks, I think. We just kept requesting for some Haagen Dazs. And yes, everything is free! Well, I mean, already paid for when you purchased Business Class / First Class tickets.
The bigger lounges also have premium, individual shower rooms. Feeling grimy? Get a shower! Two years ago, I was able to get a shower without having to wait in line, but this year, I had to wait for at least 45 minutes until it was my turn. So, take a shower during the afternoon when it’s less in demand. It’s in high demand in the evening, I guess.
The lounges also have their own wifi. Just ask reception for the password. They also have computers and workstations, but we weren’t really interested in them since I brought my own tablet. There are sockets all throughout the lounges where you can charge your devices.
I didn’t take pictures because it didn’t seem appropriate, and I wasn’t sure if it was alright with airport security. I didn’t want to be accused of casing the place.
SO, HOW DID WE GO THROUGH ALL THE LOUNGES?
Well, you gotta start with a plan! We made sure our flight was late at night, 8pm or later. We arrived at the airport before 12nn that day. That gave us about 8 hours to go through all the lounges. Next time, I plan to go in earlier and spend more time relaxing at the lounges I like. Why? Well, you paid a small fortune for Business Class, right? Gotta make sure you get the most out of it.
Know where the lounges are located. The Wing is to the left just after Immigration, the Cabin is by Gate 23, the Bridge is near Gate 35, the Pier is near Gate 65. We missed going to the Arrivals lounge because I’m not sure if it’s only for arriving passengers.
You have to present your ticket when you enter the lounge. You can go to any of the Cathay Pacific lounges, you can leave a lounge and go back in. Try not to bring heavy hand carry baggage, or use something with a stroller, because you will be traversing the entire airport building. But all the walking helps us digest the food we eat so we’re ready for the next round.
My favorite lounges are the Pier and the Bridge, but we still make it a point to check out each lounge to see what’s new. We go in order, The Wing first, then the Cabin, and so on. I make sure to bring a book or have episodes of a show on my tablet + headphones to entertain myself while relaxing in the lounge. FYI, iflix doesn’t work in HK, but while in the Philippines, you can save 10 episodes on your tablet and you have 10 days to watch them.
Don’t feel like you have to go through all the lounges if it’s too much for you. Don’t stress yourself out. If you have the time, just leisurely visit them at your own pace. The point is to enjoy and relax! I’m not saying do this lounge thing every time, but you can if you want to! I’m saying it’s worth experiencing at least once.
Here’s the Ultimate Guide to Cathay Pacific Lounges in Hong Kong Airport, it will show you what I’m talking about better than I can, except it’s severely lacking pictures of the buffet areas!
If you can, try to get a 777-300ER plane. This plane has the good business class seats that occupy 2 seats for one person. Spacious and private and the seat reclines! It’s like a small, private cubicle. Lots of space for my hand carry items.
On our last trip, unfortunately, we got the A330, and we got the Business Class seats that look like economy seats, like this. The food was also not as good (less courses) as the previous Business Class flight we had with the better seats. I had mistakenly assumed that all Cathay Business Class seats were the same. Now I know better. So check the seat layout if you can before making your final booking.
Also, schedule your flight near meal times so they serve you a real meal. One time, we made the mistake of taking an early morning flight and they served us this breakfast in a paper bag, crappy bread / pastry thing, cookies and a tetra pak juice (economy flight to HK).
Another good thing about Cathay’s Business Class is the attendants all call you by name, like Mr. X or Ms. Y. They memorize everyone’s names! You can also ask for all the wine, coffee or tea, soft drinks, juice, and water you can drink!
Also, try to be a member of the Marco Polo Club so you can skip lines.
Philippine Airlines is my usual choice if I have to pay for it in cash (not converting points or miles) or if it’s not part of a travel package. I wait for promos, and get Economy. There’s no point in getting a higher class for a 2-hour flight, and they only have one lounge in NAIA Terminal 2 and use Hong Kong Airlines VIP Lounge in HKIA.
At least they feed you real food if you schedule your flights near meal times.
They also have in-city check-in at Airport Express stations.
Service is generally good, you can ask for water, etc…
The crowd is hit or miss – sometimes you get nice, quiet, polite co-passengers; sometimes you get loud, noisy, annoying, cheering co-passengers.
I don’t have any particular love or hate for Cebu Pacific. It’s cheap. But you get what you pay for so it’s better if you know what to expect. I’ll tell you my experiences with it travelling to HK and it’s up to you to decide if you’re okay with it or if you would rather pay extra for better.
- no frills – as in no food… I can’t remember, but I think one time they served us a small packet of peanuts. I’m not joking. If you want food, it’s P150, I think, for instant ramen. Thank goodness the flight is only for 2 hours.
- pay extra for check-in luggage (P500 – P1,000) – with other airlines, you are automatically allowed one check-in luggage
- they play some games on board, like “bring me” – if you enjoy this or if you are annoyed by it, just FYI
- no in-city check-in at Airport Express stations – see above
- gates are far, far away – you have to allot some time to get to your flight’s gate; the flights I’ve had with Cebu Pacific have all been far, far away from the main airport terminal where all the food & shopping is. I remember having to take another train ride (like an inter-airport MTR) to another building, and then having to take a bus, too. If I remember correctly, the gates near the main airport terminal run up to gate #60+, while the Cebu Pacific gates were like gate #500+ or #600+. We almost missed our flight one time because I thought 15 minutes before the boarding time was enough time to head to our gate, but nope, it wasn’t. The gate was like 20-30 minutes away.
- crowd – hit or miss – sometimes you get nice, quiet, polite co-passengers; sometimes you get loud, annoying, cheering co-passengers
Would I ever choose Cebu Pacific again? It depends. If the price difference is very significant compared to the nearest similar flight from another airline, then yes, I’ll probably choose Cebu Pacific. If the price difference is around P3,000 or less, I would probably go for the better airline instead for the better experience. The extra P3,000 will be worth it for a better experience.
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