Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)

by | Jun 1, 2024 | Aviation, Transportation

In December 2023 I have visited Hong Kong, my point of entry was Hong Kong International Airport (HKG). The Airport is not directly located in the city like the old Kai Tak Airport but still not that far away. It only takes 25 minutes with the airport train to get to Hong Kong Station.

Arrival experience

I arrived on an Emirates flight just at sundown at the Airport of Hong Kong. My gate for my Airbus A380 was a more distant one, so it was quite a walk and included a short ride with the terminal train. The corridor to the terminal train solely had artificial lighting because there were no windows at all. The floor was a bit glossy but not in any way uncomfortable. All the arrival signs were rich in contrast and had a decent font size. With practically no room for error the walk to the terminal train and further on to immigration was very pleasant. At immigration you could choose between walking left or right, both sides of the building lead to non-Hong Kong resident immigration. If you are a frequent flyer and you already know the baggage carousel number, you can save some time by choosing the immigration counter near your designated baggage pickup point. Immigration was as easy as it can get, no fingerprints, no need to look evil into a camera, no questions asked, just a scan of your passport and a little note with your immigration details on it. Why can’t it be always that easy?

Arrival corridor at Hong Kong International Airport. The picture shows the signs for Immigration, Transfer, Tansfer Desks and the transfer to Mainland China.
Arrival signs at Hong Kong International Airport. The picture shows the signs for Immigration, Baggage reclaim, Tansfer Desks and the transfer to Mainland China.
Terminal Train at Hong Kong Airport (HKG)
Sign for immigration pointing HK residents or visitors in the right direction at Terminal 1 of Hong Kong Airport

Welcome to Hong Kong, time to claim your baggage. Just after immigration there are the usual screens to look up your flight and belt number. The screen is mounted on the ceiling so grab your smartphone and take a picture to find your flight. You don’t have to wait for the screen to change flight numbers because codeshare numbers are displayed in a second row which is a nice feature. If you have your number, you won’t need your phone to find your baggage carousel, the signs are huge!

Baggage claim display at Hong Kong International Airport showing hall and belt number of arrived flights.
Baggage carousel at Hong Kong International Airport with a huge illuminated sign showing the number of the belt.

Departure experience

When arriving from the city with the airport train it won’t take long until you end up in front of one of the departure boards where you can find your designated check-in area. They are ordered by airline and not by flight and departure time, which is a big plus, however you probably still need your phone to take a picture because the screens are not that big. Finding your check-in desk is not that hard, the letters of the check-in areas are huge. I had a Lufthansa Group flight, and the check-in area was divided into three lanes: first, business and economy. Guests with premium economy tickets use the economy lane. Every lane was easy to identify with signs at the beginning of the queue. With check-in done I took a quick look around the terminal. The check-in hall is huge with some shops and restaurants. But I did not waste any time and wanted to go airside. The first thing you must do is to scan your boarding pass and smile into a camera. You can do this either at an automated gate or with help from a human being. I choose the latter because I was not sure if this is for immigration or something else. I found out that this procedure is for automated boarding but more on that later. Security check and immigration was relaxed and quick.

Check-in information display at Terminal 1 of Hong Kong Airport showing the flights and associated check-in aisles
Lufthansa group check-in counter at Terminal 1 of Hong Kong Airport (HKG)
Picture of the departure hall at Terminal 1 of Hong Kong Airport showing various shops and lots of space for huge crowds.

Airside you end up one floor above the gates, there are some restaurants and lounges on this floor but eventually you must head down one level. The airside departure board mounted on the wall shows all the flights leaving in the next couple of hours. Again, code share numbers are listed separately but the screen switches from English to Chinese back and forth. Due to the size of the screen, you must take a photo but wait for your preferred language first if you don’t know your flight number. At the gate level of the terminal everything is hassle free, sings for directions and the gate are big and rich in contrast so if you know your gate number, you can totally relax and enjoy the airport.

Airside at Hong Kong International Airport right after immigration. The picture shows the escalator down to the gates on the left and the path to toilets, restaurants and lounges on the right.
Departure board at Terminal 1 of Hong Kong Airport with all flights and designated gates.
Airside at Hong Kong International Airport. The picture shows Terminal 1 with signs for directions to the gates and a glossy floor.
Airside at Hong Kong International Airport. The picture shows the vast Terminal 1 with moving walkways.

Enjoy the airport? Yes, there is a nice new landmark right next to you. It is 200 meters long, 28 meters high and is called the Sky Bridge. Since late 2022 you can walk on top of the planes coming to the airport. Sadly, it was already dark when I went up there and there are no chairs to sit and enjoy that great view.

Skybridge of Terminal 1 at Hong Kong Airport
View from the Skybridge of Terminal 1 at Hong Kong Airport showing a plane passing underneath

With boarding time coming closer I went back to my gate. The boarding process of my Lufthansa Group flight was split into boarding groups. Frequent flyers, First Class and Business Class passengers will board with groups one and two, and all the other passengers will follow later. Boarding was different than in other airports, it is fully automated, you don’t need to present your passport or boarding pass, because you already have done that after check-in right before you get to the security check. You just smile into the camera, and you can walk onto the plane.

A typical gate area at Hong Kong Airport has a huge sign showing the gate number, electronic boarding gates with camera and a front desk.
The picture shows a boarding group sign of Lufthansa Group at Hong Kong Airport.
Boarding gate with electronic gates and a front desk at Hong Kong Airport.

Accessibility & Challenges

As at any larger airport I visited so far you need to take a picture of the arrival board at baggage claim and the departure board because they offer lots of information but with small font size.

Verdict

Apart from the arrival and departure board there is not much to write about when it comes to challenges. The airport design is straight forward, the signs are big and rich in contrast, so orientation is quite simple. Even Immigration, check-in and the security check are hassle-free. If you bring your smartphone, you can overcome the remaining obstacles easily.

Stuttgart Airport (STR), Germany

Stuttgart Airport (STR), Germany, a night and day experience. In mid-September 2023 I made a trip to Tübingen near Stuttgart, Germany. I had two options to get there, by plane or by train. As Deutsche Bahn (national railway company of Germany) is famous for its unreliability I decided to take an Austrian Airlines flight to Stuttgart Airport (STR). While the arrival experience was great, departure was quite the opposite.