Flying time to Hong Kong is around 16 hours nonstop from New York City, 15½ hours nonstop from Los Angeles, or 14 hours nonstop from San Francisco.
Airlines and Airports
Airline and Airport Links.com. Airline and Airport Links.com has links to many of the world's airlines and airports. www.airlineandairportlinks.com.
Airline Security Issues
Transportation Security Agency. www.tsa.gov/public.
Easy to navigate and full of amenities, Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)—also known as Chek Lap Kok, after its location—is a traveler’s dream. Terminal 1, one of the largest in the world, handles arrivals and departures for most major airlines. The newer but smaller Terminal 2 handles all other airlines, including budget carriers.
Although the lines usually move quickly at security and immigration checkpoints, it's advisable to arrive at least two hours before departure. Remember that check-in counters are a long distance from the gates. Most major airlines let you use the In-Town Check-In service at the Hong Kong or Kowloon Airport Express stations up to 24 hours before your flight (confirm with your airline first). You can check luggage as well, saving you the bother of lugging bags out to the airport.
Once you’re at the airport, there are multiple options for meals, from fast-food outlets to sit-down restaurants. Many open as early as 6 am and close as late as midnight. Beyond immigrations in Terminal 1, you’ll find a few places that are open 24 hours, including Café de Coral and McDonald’s in the Departures East Hall and the Starbucks at Departures Central Concourse and Departures Check-in Hall. There’s also a 7-Eleven convenience store in each terminal, although the one in Terminal 1 is on Level 5 of the Arrivals Hall, making it inaccessible once you’ve passed through security checkpoints.
Travelex currency-exchange machines in each terminal make it easy to get rid of your leftover Hong Kong dollars. Another way is to take advantage of the wealth of duty-free shopping choices throughout the airport, especially in Terminal 1. If you’d rather relax before or after a flight, you can pay to use one of the 24-hour Plaza Premium Lounges with restrooms, showers, massage services, online access, and hot meals. Packages range from HK$200 to HK$800. Free resting lounges (without showers and other perks) and miniature gardens with comfortable seating are at the Departure Level near Gates 21, 26, 34, 41, and 61.
Most of the airport’s public areas have free Wi-Fi access. Otherwise, you can use one of the 62 free computers available throughout Terminal 1 or the 24-hour Internet Zone at the North Satellite Concourse. For local calls, courtesy phones are placed at convenient locations throughout both terminals.
If you have a long layover, catch a movie at the airport's 350-seat IMAX cinema, which is the largest in Hong Kong. You can also wander through one of the frequent art exhibits that pop up throughout the airport.
When arriving in Hong Kong, you’ll be asked to fill out an immigrations form. An immigrations officer will collect an arrivals slip and give you a departure slip that you must show when you leave the city. An airport tax is normally included in your ticket price. If it's not, the fee is HK$120. It's levied only on those 12 years and older and is waived for all transit and transfer passengers who arrive and leave on the same day.
Hong Kong International Airport. 2181–8888; www.hongkongairport.com.
Plaza Premium Lounge. 2261–0888; www.plaza-network.com.
The Airport Express train service is the quickest and most convenient way to and from the airport. High-speed trains whisk you to Kowloon in 21 minutes and Central in 24 minutes. Trains run daily every 10 minutes between 5:54 am and 11:28 pm and every 12 minutes between 11:28 pm and 12:58 am. The last train from the airport departs at 12:48 am. The trains have Wi-Fi access, plenty of luggage space, and comfortable seating with video screens showing tourist information and the latest news.
The Airport Express station has stops at the AsiaWorld-Expo, Tsing Yi, Kowloon, and Central stations. Excluding the AsiaWorld stop, all stations connect to the MTR. One-way or same-day return tickets are HK$90 to Kowloon and HK$100 to Central. Round-trip tickets valid for one month cost HK$160 to Kowloon and HK$180 to Central. Tickets are cheaper if purchased online or through a travel agent. It’s the most expensive public transport option, but the speed and dependability justify the extra cost. The Airport Express Travel Pass is a good option if you are planning a very short stay, as it allows you unlimited travel on the MTR for 72 hours; the HK$220 pass includes a single airport journey, and the HK$300 pass includes an airport round-trip.
The Airport Express also provides its customers with free porter service, and free shuttle buses run every 12 or 20 minutes between major hotels and the Hong Kong and Kowloon stations—there are several routes, and a list of stops is displayed prominently at the boarding area. Service begins at 6:12 am and ends at 11:12 pm. To board, you must show your Airport Express ticket and airline ticket or boarding pass.
Citybus runs five buses ("A" precedes the bus number) from the airport to popular destinations. They make fewer stops than regular buses (which have an "E" before their numbers). Two useful routes are the A11, serving Central, Admiralty, Wan Chai, and Causeway Bay and ending in North Point; and the A21, going to Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan, and Mong Kok. The A11’s operating hours are from 6:10 am to 12:30 am, while the A21 runs from 6 am to 12 am. Should you arrive in Hong Kong outside of these hours, you can take the N11 or the N21, which are night buses serving the same routes. The buses are comfortable, have adequate luggage space, and include free Wi-Fi access. The onboard announcements are in Cantonese, Putonghua, and English, so you won't miss your stop.
Several small shuttle buses with an "S" before their numbers run to the nearby Tung Chung MTR station, where you can get the MTR to Central and Kowloon. MTR trains run parallel to the Airport Express route, but they cost much less (HK$27.50 from the airport to Central). However, you won’t have the same amenities, and travel time is longer as the trains make more stops.
Taxis from the airport are reliable and plentiful. Trips to Hong Kong Island destinations cost around HK$295, while those to Kowloon are around HK$240. There is also an HK$5 charge per piece of luggage stored in the trunk. Vigor Airport Shuttle Services runs the hotel coach service, which stops at 96 hotels on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. The coaches depart every 30 minutes for HK$140 to destinations on Hong Kong Island, HK$130 to those in Kowloon. Vigor also offers Mercedes-Benz limousine transfers for HK$650 to HK$860, depending on the destination and type of car. Parklane Limousine and Trans-Island Limousine offer comparable rates.
Airport Express. 2881–8888; www.mtr.com.hk.
Citybus. 2873–0818; www.nwstbus.com.hk.
Parklane Limousine. 2730–0662; www.hongkonglimo.com.
Trans-Island Limousine Service. 3193–9332; www.trans-island.com.hk.
Vigor Airport Shuttle Services. 2186–6883; www.vigorholding.com.
Cathay Pacific is Hong Kong's flagship carrier. It maintains high standards, with friendly service, good food, an extensive in-flight entertainment system, and an excellent track record for safety. Cathay has nonstop flights from both Los Angeles and San Francisco on the West Coast and from New York–JFK on the East Coast, with connecting services to many other U.S. cities. Singapore Airlines is also another highly rated airline with flights to Hong Kong from multiple American cities, including daily flights from San Francisco.
If you are on a tight budget, Air China and China Airlines offer lower-cost flights between New York and Los Angeles and Hong Kong, although the savings are reflected in the service and amenities. Several other airlines also offer service from the United States to Hong Kong, usually with connections in Asia.
If you're planning to travel to three or four Asian destinations, you might want to consider One World's Visit Asia Pass, which provides travel throughout Southeast Asia via an array of airlines. Cities are grouped into zones, and there's a flat rate for each zone. The pass doesn't cover flights from the United States, Europe, or Australia and New Zealand, however. Inquire through American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, or any other One World member.
One World. www.oneworld.com.