Tips For Transiting Through Hong Kong Airport

Tips For Transiting Through Hong Kong Airport

When travelling from Australia to the UK (or vice versa) one of my favourite airports to transit through is Hong Kong International. I know Singapore Changi Airport gets a lot of love in the industry but for me Hong Kong Airport has far better shops, lounges and phone charging capabilities for those of us flying economy!

If you’re travelling long-haul via Hong Kong these are my tips and tricks for a smooth transit.

Having such a fun time in transit at Hong Kong Airport it requires a selfie!

Having such a fun time in transit at Hong Kong Airport it requires a selfie!

Arriving

When you arrive at HKIA you’ll need to pass through security to get to the departure gates. If you already have a boarding pass, follow the signs for ‘transfers’ and join the queue for security checks. You will need to throw away any unfinished bottles of water and get your electronic goods out of your bag. If you don’t already have a boarding pass for the onwards flight you’ll need to go to your airline’s transfer desk. Their locations are listed here.

Once through to departures head to the Information desk if you’re unsure about where to find any of the places I’m about to mention below. It’s a big airport but the staff speak perfect English so just ask for help.

Lounges

If you came in near Gate 30 or above you’ll handily already be near to the fantastic Cathay Pacific The Bridge Lounge and Hong Kong’s newest Plaza Premium Lounge. If you’re not flying business/don’t have an airline lounge pass you can pay to enter the Plaza Premium Lounge situated near Gate 40 in the West Hall. (Take the escalators, on your right if facing The Bridge, and head to level 7.)

Depending on how much time you have/what you are in need of, you can just pay for a shower suite. These recently updated rooms feature a powerful shower, sink, toilet and seat and come with all the toiletries and towels you could need – including toothpaste and shower cap. Entry costs $200 HKD (approx £16/ $33 AUD) for a Shower Package or $480 HKD (approx  £40/ $80 AUD) for 2 hours lounge use.

Find more information on fees and services here.

If you have a long layover you might want to consider booking a hotel near the airport.


Booking.com

Entrance to Cathay Pacific's The Bridge Lounge

Entrance to Cathay Pacific’s The Bridge Lounge

Shopping

To reach the best shops (and Starbucks) in the East Hall from the West Hall you could walk along several moving walkways in a row and enjoy the view, or you could cheat and take the Sky Train found down the escalators. It’s signposted as a way to reach Gate’s 1 – 20 but is also an easy way to get up and down the terminal.

Shopping is great at HKIA

Shopping is great at HKIA

Take time to shop up a storm in Zara, Jimmy Choo, Mac and M&M’s World. There are many more designer stores but these are just my personal favourites. I also love browsing all the Asian magazines at Relay, but this could just be me!

Is it just me who loves browsing foreign magazines?

Is it just me who loves browsing foreign magazines?

Eating

When it comes to feeding time there are large food courts in both the East and West Hall serving Asian and Western cuisine. The East Hall, in particular, can get rather busy so if you are looking for somewhere to sit down head to Pizza Express (just opposite the food court), Cafe Deco (a few shops down from Pizza Express) or head for the few hidden seats by the window behind Starbucks on the Central Concourse. There is also a Pacific Coffee Company on the Central Concourse if you are in need of a coffee fix.

Seating on the Central Concourse gets snapped up quickly

Seating on the Central Concourse gets snapped up quickly

Recharging Batteries

There are charge points all over Hong Kong airport for all sorts of sockets. Some have tables so you can use your laptop as it charges, whilst others are designed just for phones (look for the sockets hidden in pillars).

Internet

There is free and fast wifi all over Hong Kong Airport.

Exhibitions

There are a number of fun exhibitions dotted around HKIA. During my visit there was a “Childhood Memories” exhibition near Gate 31, which had a really interesting collection of retro toys from Hong Kong, and a selection of Bruce Lee memorabilia near Gate 62.

Childhood Memories exhibition at HKIA

Childhood Memories exhibition at HKIA

Smoking

Smoke (if you must) in the preassigned smoking lounges found near the toilets in the main terminal.

Plane-Spotting

Because the windows at Hong Kong airport are perfect for it. If you look really carefully you can even spot the cable car on Lantau Island that takes you to Big Buddha.

Are you travelling via Hong Kong Airport any time soon?

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53 Comments

  1. June 19, 2015 / 1:53 pm

    I’ve spent some quality time in the Hong Kong airport. It’s so nice to get stuck in a well-equipped space (unlike some of the disgusting ‘airports’ I’ve also been stuck in over the years). It makes all the difference! I didn’t realize, however, that the price to get into the lounge was so reasonable. I’ll definitely do this next time (and probably use the same tip in other airports)!

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      June 21, 2015 / 10:58 pm

      It definitely is a fair price to pay for the opportunity to feel half-human again! I’ve done the same thing in KL, Singapore and Abu Dhabi when flying Sydney to London and it really helps break up the journey. The facilities at HK are among the best.

  2. June 19, 2015 / 2:18 pm

    I’m going to Hong Kong at the end of the year – it’s my first stop on my flight over to travel around South East Asia from the UK, & my last stop before I go home. I’m really excited to get to HK & hit the ground running, but now also looking forward to spending a good amount of time in the airport on the way back home!

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      June 21, 2015 / 10:59 pm

      Haha it’s wonderful to know you won’t be stuck somewhere grotty whilst waiting to fly back home. Have a wonderful time in SE Asia. I’m very jealous!

  3. jacqui
    June 27, 2016 / 10:26 am

    hi I only have about 1hr in transit do I need to worry

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      June 27, 2016 / 11:33 pm

      Hi Jacqui, that should be fine. HK is much easier to transit through than say Singapore Changi which is so huge it takes a while to get inbetween terminals. Are you booked on a single ticket with the same airline? In that case they should be expecting you and will meet you at the gate to escort you if your first flight is running late.

      • Aria
        November 13, 2018 / 6:03 am

        I also have an hour and am switching airlines. Do you think that will be a problem? If I have a boarding pass in hand? I won’t need to clear immigration or anything, it’s just standard security?

  4. Lois
    July 4, 2016 / 10:30 pm

    Hi,

    I’m travelling through HK to NZ (from the UK), my inbound flight is with Virgin and I leave on an Air NZ plane (All booked as a single trip through Air NZ). I only have 1h 40m at Hong Kong, will this be long enough if I have to transfer my own luggage etc? The airlines have said I won’t be able to find this out until the day I travel D: I have really high anxiety and am only travelling as there’s literally no way around it. Anything you could tell me would be useful.

    Thank you

  5. Jayne Gorman
    Author
    July 4, 2016 / 11:14 pm

    Hi Lois, As your flights are all on one booking there is no need to transfer your luggage. Just confirm at check in in London that it’s checked through to NZ and then take all your essentials in your hand luggage. 1hr40 is not enough time to transfer your own luggage but with your bags checked through it’s more than enough time to grab a shower and/or something to eat instead!

  6. July 21, 2016 / 3:07 pm

    I am transiting Hong Kong in Feb 2017 . A shower is a must .Flying from UK to Auckland .So seeing how cheap it is its a must. The food looks great too . I transited Guangzhu in may this year and arrived in Auckland looking and smelling like something your cat would drag in. Yes a shower is a must .

  7. Jill Stanford
    November 2, 2016 / 8:22 pm

    My husband and I are flying in to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific (Business Class – love those frequent flyer miles) and transit to Singapore Airlines (Economy). What is the absolute minimum amount of time you would recommend for transit, if shopping, showering, and eating aren’t on the agenda? Thank you.

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      November 2, 2016 / 9:53 pm

      How exciting – Cathay’s business class is amazing. If you’re changing airlines I think you will need to collect your bags and recheck them in/go through security, in which case I would leave a 3 hour buffer.

  8. Jill Stanford
    November 3, 2016 / 11:47 am

    Thank you so much.

  9. Alya
    November 6, 2016 / 12:56 am

    Hey
    I am travelling from Auckland to Abu Dhabi (transit in Hong Kong for 1 hour 5 minutes). First flight with hong kong airlines, second flight is code shared with Etihad airlines (it is a single ticket, i.e. one booking). Do I need to worry ?

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      November 13, 2016 / 6:33 am

      Hi Ayla, not at all. As you’re on a single ticket you will be able to check in for both flights at the start of your journey and your bags will get checked through too. The airlines will look after you if there are any delays 🙂

  10. YP
    November 27, 2016 / 10:16 pm

    I have a 17h layover at HKIA (get in 3pm and depart next day around noon). Was planning on staying at the Regal Airport for convenience.

    Any tips on getting into the city and some easy things to see/do at that time of the day? This would be my first visit to HK.

    Thanks!!

  11. Thư
    December 10, 2016 / 9:03 am

    That’s shy to tell that This is the first time I take a flight. I’m that kind of worried too much about transit.
    I have only 80 mins to transit at Hongkong airport ( Vietnam to Osaka). Is it enough time to transit?

  12. Chris
    February 1, 2017 / 7:26 am

    Thanks for this. I needed a guide to transit and this gave me so much more! Really great stuff.

  13. Shilpa
    March 27, 2017 / 6:02 am

    Hi there,

    I’m travelling from Auckland to India. My flight is on 01st Apr and there is a 20 hrs stay at the Airport. Was just wondering, if someone can guide me with what I can do there. 🙁

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      March 27, 2017 / 6:09 am

      Is your stopover during the daytime? If so 20 hrs should give you enough time to visit Hong Kong briefly – the express train to central takes just 24 minutes. You could take the tram up The Peak, visit the markets in Kowloon and take the Star Ferry across the harbour. If it’s nighttime I would recommend a transit hotel. There’s a Marriott, Novotel and Regal Airport hotel all at International. http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/passenger/hotel-mice/regal-airport-hotel.html

  14. Dennis
    August 8, 2017 / 11:31 am

    Hi there. First time in HK airport in about 20 years (yikes).
    I am headed to Korea from NZ (via HK airport).
    My standby time is about 5 hrs, but my flight arrives at 9pm in HK.
    I was wondering how/where to eat/shop/shower or if anything was open around that time?
    Would this be after going through the security checks?
    Thanks!

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      August 9, 2017 / 12:27 am

      Hi Dennis, All the places I mentioned are post-security but unless you’re rechecking in your bag I assume you won’t be leaving the transit area anyway. Many places are open late with a few shops and restaurants open 24 hours. See here http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/shopping/24hours.html Best, Jayne

  15. Isaac Anchanattu
    September 17, 2017 / 3:11 pm

    I still love Changi but Hong Kong is a close second. Have you ever gone via Seoul. Transit there is pretty smooth and there is good shopping and free showers. Also Narita and Hamad are good. I go from the US East Coast to Australia.

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      September 19, 2017 / 12:56 pm

      I’m currently in Hamad and am seriously impressed with its sleek design and smart facilities. Changi is hard to beat with all its greenery, pool and cinema rooms though!

  16. Isaac Anchanattu
    September 17, 2017 / 3:16 pm

    I have a question. What would I need to do if I am flying SIN-JFK via HKG And SFO. SIN-HKG is on Cathay Pacific. HKG to SFO is on Singapore Airlines (premium economy). SFO to JFK is on JetBlue Mint Product. Would I need to go to transfer desk at HKG?

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      September 19, 2017 / 12:54 pm

      Hi Isaac, Usually if the airlines are in the same alliance or you bought the flights on one ticket your bags would be checked straight through and you go through the transit line but I think in this instance you will need to head to arrivals to collect your bags and then check them in for the onward flights. Call Cathay to check but that’s my understanding! Best, Jayne

  17. Imran
    September 30, 2017 / 3:57 am

    Hi. I’m flying from Auckland to Germany next month. I’m permanent resident of New Zealand. I have few hours stay at Hong Kong airport to catch my next flight. I’m bit confused with transit process. Do I have to pass through immigration or passport control desk to catch my next flight? I f yes then I don’t have much time to get a transit visa of Hong Kong. Or on arrival I will just go to my gate and don’t need to show passport. I will have my next flight boarding pass. I would appreciate if some One can share their experience of transit in Hong Kong airport. Thanks

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      September 30, 2017 / 4:01 am

      Hi Imran, if you are checked through to your final destination and already have the boarding pass you do not need to go through immigration. Just follow the signs for connecting flights. Best, Jayne

  18. Nguyễn Trường An
    November 11, 2017 / 11:55 am

    Hi.
    In case the mentioned name in the List of Tranfer desk doesn’t have my airline – Jetstar ( Airline : Jetstar Japan , Code : GK , Transfer desk : — )
    So how can i take the boarding pass in Transfer area ?

  19. Angie
    February 22, 2018 / 3:54 am

    Hi Jayne i want to go from Oregon to Guam but it’s pretty pricey via Hawaii or Japan. A friend told me that going through Philippines, Taipei or Hong Kong is way cheaper. Which do you think is the cheapest, safest, cleanest for couples traveling with a 13 and 7 year old.

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      February 22, 2018 / 7:16 am

      Hi Angie, I haven’t flown via the Philippines but have done via Hong Kong and Taipei and both airports are modern and easy to navigate. Hong Kong has the benefit of international food chains such as Pizza Express that the kids might enjoy but if you end up with a longer layover Taipei is a good option as they offer free sightseeing tours for passengers on long layovers. I wrote a little about it here for Skyscanner https://www.skyscanner.com.au/news/7-airports-that-offer-free-city-tours-during-long-layovers

      Hope this helps! J

  20. Cam
    March 7, 2018 / 6:45 am

    Hi Jayne, we have a 6.5 hr layover in Hong Kong, arriving about 1700 on a Saturday in December this year. is it worth trying to get a city tour whilst in transit?? appreciate. Cam

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      March 8, 2018 / 3:46 am

      Hi Cam, it’s doable to leave the airport in that time but as you’re arriving at night you’re limited to what you can do. As far as I’m aware HK airport don’t run any transit tours but you can catch the Airport Express to the city (24 mins) and see the harbour light show.

  21. April 29, 2018 / 9:00 pm

    Hello.
    I’m flying to dubai today april 30 2018 with Cathay Facific connecting flight from CEBU PHILIPPINE to HONGKONG then change airplane from HONGKONG to DUBAI. But my concern is if i arrive hongkong , do i need to wait and get my luggage before i proceed to thr next airplane?

    I really need your replies as soon as possible. Thanks

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      April 30, 2018 / 8:49 am

      Hi Mary, it will depend on the relationship between the airlines you are flying with. If both flights are with Cathay Pacific you will be able to check your luggage all the way through and not need to collect them in Hong Kong. Double check at check in that the bags are going all the way to Dubai.

  22. Colleen
    May 15, 2018 / 7:15 am

    Jayne,
    So cool that you wrote this post 3 years ago and you are still communicating with your readers! I am flying to Malaysia on Cathay Pacific. JFK to HKIA (15 hours) then HKIA to Penang. I am looking at the Plaza Premium Lounge for a shower and massage when I land. With a three hour layover will I have enough time to make it to their newest lounge and then back to my departure gate? Thanks so much for the help!! 😀

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      May 21, 2018 / 1:48 am

      Hi Colleen, that is definitely more than enough time to head to the new lounge for a much needed hot shower! It doesn’t take long to get around HKIA and as long as they have showers available you should be able to walk straight in.

  23. Ingrid
    May 19, 2018 / 5:03 pm

    Hi
    We are flying from Bali to HK with Cathy Pacific, we then have a connecting Virgin flight to uk. Our CP flight has been amended and we only have a 2 hr window. We are apprehensive that this will be cutting it tight, as the are seperate airlines I assume we will need to clear customs, collect our bags and then head for departures to check in again…… we we have enough time?

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      May 21, 2018 / 1:45 am

      Hi Ingrid, if you can’t check bags through I agree that will probably be too tight. I would suggest calling CP and explaining you have an onward flight and see if they can put you on an earlier outbound. Best of luck.

  24. Erin
    May 22, 2018 / 7:04 pm

    Hi there, we have a flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong then we have an hour & 5 min layover before we take a flight to Vancouver Canada. When we came to Bangkok we did not have to get our bags or go through customs until we arrived in Bangkok. I’m assuming the same thing will happen with returning home, will we have enough time to make it to our Vancouver flight?

  25. Palu
    June 2, 2018 / 9:00 pm

    I’ll stopping over in Hong Kong for over 20 hrs can I be able to get out of the airport or I need to have a visa I’m traveling from Tonga.

  26. Levi
    June 26, 2018 / 12:43 pm

    Hi Miss Jayne,

    Thank you for this information you done a great job, helps many people who travels,
    my question is same as Palu, I am from Philippines and travelling this December to my country coming from UAE
    i have 6 hours layover can i get a quick sight seeing outside of hong kong airport? if yes can you give me tips to go around and comeback smoothly, safe and sound to airpot ^_^ many thanks!

  27. Jonathan Powell
    June 28, 2018 / 7:05 pm

    Hi
    Me my wife and 2 kids are transiting HK terminal 1 and would like to take a shower. Are there any family facilities available?
    JP

  28. Ash Cheyne
    July 2, 2018 / 4:49 am

    Hi – flying to UK via Hong Kong & Frankfurt in a weeks time. Have 2.5 hours at HK – is that long enough to get through everything and take a shower ? Sound like the wee train is just an option ?

    Ash

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      July 3, 2018 / 1:51 am

      Hi Ash, in my experience that is ample time as long as there are no queues for the shower/lounge facilities.

  29. kim
    September 12, 2018 / 4:43 pm

    Hi, I am transiting in Hong Kong from philippines. But I plan on booking my ticket (going to Bahrain) upon arrival in Hong Kong, is there any problem with that? Also, may I know if what are the step by step process upon arrival in Hong kong before flying to Bahrain? (ex., get luggage, immigration, check in and so on…) Thank you!!!

  30. Lindsay
    October 17, 2018 / 7:04 pm

    Hi im travliing from UK to Auckland, with 9hr stay at Hong Kong Airport. Getting confused which lounge to book . east or west and if I can book a trip into hong kong. Land at 7am and fly out again at 9pm

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      October 18, 2018 / 2:00 pm

      Hi Lindsay, that sounds like enough time to leave the airport if you want to explore. Just make sure your passport allows you to apply for visa on arrival. The airport is easy to get around so just book the lounge that looks best!

  31. Adrian
    November 1, 2018 / 2:04 am

    Hello
    On 19 november ill have a KLM flight to Hong Kong, 1 hour and 25 minutes stopover and then a Philippines airlines flight to Manila.
    My question is, do i need to collect my bag and check in again for the flight to Manila?
    Both flights are on the same booking, not 2 separate bookings, but i see i have 2 different check in codes, one for KLM and 1 for Philippines airlines.
    I´m flying initially from Romania, thank you for your answer.

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      November 1, 2018 / 11:37 am

      Hi Adrian, It’s best to send an email or Tweet to KLM and ask if it’s possible to check the back through as it will depend on their relationship with Philippines Airlines. My guess is that if the flights are on the same ticket you will be able to check bags through to final destination.

      • Adrian
        November 2, 2018 / 5:50 am

        Hello
        Thank you for your answer, i´ve contacted KLM already, but their answer was not so clear, like:
        ” you´ll find out when you´ll reach the counter in the airport, if its not possible to check your bag until final destination, you´ll need to pick it up in HK and check it in again” …

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