Our Whine Wednesdays topic this week is about the opening hours of the security checkpoints at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) for transiting passengers.
I recently arrived on a Cathay Pacific flight from San Francisco and we were super early, more than an hour before the scheduled arrival time and I believe it was 4:45am by the time I stepped foot in the concourse.
The problem with Hong Kong Airport is that even though they have a bunch of transit checkpoints they all have different opening hours which makes it confusing and annoying at the same time.
In the following you can see the transit map of HKIA to see what I mean:
The two marked checkpoints in the main terminal are open 24 hours but often with only one control lane staffed and ready to go. The other checkpoints in between have opening hours starting from 5am to 7:00am.
Hong Kong is a big airport, in fact one can say it’s huge and they are extending it right now as well. Early arrivals are common there, so why not align the opening hours of all checkpoints and at least have the 24 hours ones fully staffed?
My recent transit experience at midnight there wasn’t much better. Lots of flight delays as usual in HK these days and people were running to catch their connection just to find a giant line at the transit security checkpoint with only one lane staffed.
While we’re on the topic of operational hours at HKIA, the first airport train leaving at 5:55am to the city is also sort of a joke and a big negative for early arrivals. Especially since Cathay Pacific closed their arrivals lounge. There is a Plaza Premium Lounge right underneath the train station though, opposite to where the Cathay lounge used to be. It’s accessible with Priority Pass and certain premium credit cards.
Unfortunately HKIA has fallen way behind in reliability for passengers. The airport increased in passenger volume and traffic while undergoing construction and expansion on the tarmac. At the same time, the restricted airspace around Hong Kong (especially mainland China) leads to tons of delays.
The opening hours and operation of the security checkpoints are just a part of the problem puzzle but it has to start somewhere and airport management should get a grip on the situation again.