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Hong Kong International Airport

 2014-03-04    Sum    Tips    HongKong    1970  

A Gateway to China – City Within a City.

Customer Experience

Hong Kong Airport grows on you the more often you fly to or transit through.

My first experience of Hong Kong airport was an early evening arrival from Singapore. It was a blur of colour and movement through immigration and onto the airport express train to Hong Kong Island and the shuttle bus to my hotel.

The return trip seven days later was much more laid back, check-in at Hong Kong metro station, then on the airport express back to the airport, through immigration and customs to catch the plane to Singapore – seamless without knowing the functions behind the scenes.

My next eight or nine experiences were transit flights, arriving from Perth or Singapore and transiting to Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu or Xi’an.

On two occasions’ flights to Hong Kong, with onward connections, were around two hours late leaving the originating airports.And on both occasions ground staffs were waiting at arrival gate with boarding passes, ready to fast track through the customs transfer point, then escorting to the departure gate. On one occasion we just made it as the last few passengers were boarding.

What was impressive was that a ground staff member came through to the gate to confirm that our luggage had made to the flight which was re-assuring.

My last three experiences at Hong Kong International airport have easily been the best. On each occasion the plane landed then taxied to a hard stand bay.

Shuttle buses were waiting on the tarmac, as we descended the stairs, then we were transferred to the main terminal. As we drove across active runways, when clear, it was amazing watching planes taxi, various airport vehicles move around, staff refuelling and cleaning: the airport was a hive of activity.

We entered the main terminal, ascended an escalator to the arrivals level just near immigration and through to baggage collection. For anybody that knows HKIA there can be long distances from arrival gates. Often it can be a fifteen or twenty minute walk by moving travelator or slightly quicker by the Automated People mover.

On each of the three occasions I was heading to nearby Shenzhen in China. There are many options to enter China:

1. By Airport Express via Kowloon, then the shuttle to Hung Home station to catch the metro to either Lok Ma/Futian or Lo Wu/Luohu of the two pedestrian border crossings.

2. Share limousine to the Huanggang or Shenzhen Bay crossings, a number of operators offer transfer to hotels as part of the cost. Another vehicle and driver is waiting on the Chinese border.

3. Ferry from HKIA to Shekou port (Shenzhen) or other Pearl River Delta ports in mainland China and Macau.

4. Take coach to various cities in the Pearl River Delta Region.

Twice I used the share limousine option which takes around three hours from arrival at HKIA to your hotel in Shenzhen. From arrival at HKIA to Shenzhen there are three border crossings to complete. This is ok however it is time consuming especially when there are queues at customs.

For most recent of my transfers, I chose the ferry option to transit from HKIA to Shekou. This removes the HKIA immigration process with only one crossing required when you arrive at Shekou.I found this an excellent way to enter China without the crowds experienced at the other crossings.

Prior to leaving Perth I booked return tickets for ferry online, allowing about two hours to board the ferry at HKIA. All that is needed is to present your pre-booked voucher to the ferry operator together with your boarding pass and luggage tag. The ferry operator then collects your luggage, and then transfers it to the boat.
There is a waiting area just near the ticketing counter, thirty minutes before the ferry departs you are called to a transit area, the ferry ticket is checked which also confirms that your luggage is on the boat. At that point you descend about 50 metres under the airport by escalator to take the Automated People Mover about two kilometres to the Sky Pier. This trip takes about five minutes.

At the Sky Pier there is another escalator to take you to the ferry gate. Once on board, sit back and relax: it’s around thirty minutes to Shekou.

At Shekou, collect your baggage from the jetty; proceed to immigration through the Foreigner area and customs. The whole process took around five minutes and then you can take an authorised taxi from right outside the port buildings to your hotel. Be careful of touts trying to offer unauthorised taxis – just smile and walk to the official rank.

The reverse trip to HKIA from Shekou is also really good. Airlines have check-in counters near the ferry ticketing counters. Your bag is checked in and basically taken to HKIA by the same ferry. Allow about two hours from the Ferry to your flight.
So…what makes Hong Kong International Airport a great airport?

It’s easy…it’s the thousands of people who work at the airport, the air crews, the cleaners who take pride in presenting clean wash rooms, the retailers and restaurants, the ferry and vehicle companies that make all aspects of the experience. The friendliness, the willingness to help when asked, the seamless transition – its one big team.

Passengers rarely notice what happens behind the scenes to ensure their journey problem free. I’ve been lucky to see various aspects of HKIA and I can’t wait for my next landing in Hong Kong.

This article was written by one of our clients,

Peter, Perth, Western Australia.

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