Hong Kong finally relaxed entry requirements on September 26, 2022 (read more here), allowing vaccinated visitors to enter without quarantine for the first time since March 2020.
I entered Hong Kong on one of the first flights (read more here) and wrote about my experience. Readers have asked me to cover the lounge situation at the airport, which is rather interesting and convoluted.
My Entry Experience on September 26, 2022:
How quiet the airport was in March 2020 when I left last time:
Hong Kong Airport & Cathay Pacific Lounge Experience On October 1, 2022
The Airport Express is in operation, but I ended up taking Uber. There was not much happening outside of Terminal 1.
You are supposed to scan this barcode using the LeaveHomeSafe app, but I only did it in Hong Kong at establishments that required the blue code to enter.
It is sad to see how few flights there are daily from HKG compared to 2019 or even February 2020.
The economy check-in looked quiet.
The first-class check-in was open, although I don’t believe they sell first-class to any destination. Good for us Emerald members.
There was a separate area for exact flights to the Mainland.
The Wing (FIRST CLASS)
Two Cathay Pacific lounges are open at the HKG; The Wing (first class) and The Pier (business class). Usually, both these have a business and first sides.
You need to scan the LeaveHomeSafe barcode, and the person then checks that your (my) code is correct. You cannot access the lounge unless your code is blue, requiring several days in Hong Kong (and two negative PCR-RT tests).
There is usually a buffet with made to order menu, but only the latter is currently available. The lounges were operated by Peninsula first and then by Plaza Premium before Sodexo took over.
The lounge was relatively normal, with all these plastic divers on tables to ensure that they didn’t have too many people together.
I had a quick walk in the terminal. Most F&B outlets were closed, but there weren’t enough passenger movements to support them.
The terminal was mostly empty.
I was curious before my departure how the airport was divided to clean (HKG + Mainland) and dirty (rest of the world).
There were many warnings that if you passed Passenger Channel, you could not return. Employees checked your boarding pass to ensure you didn’t mistakenly enter the wrong side.
I have no idea what this “CLEANTECH” box is and what it sprays over you.
Most of the stores were closed, but a handful was open.
At least one Duty Zero store is open.
There were probably more employees around (total) than passengers.
One of the toilets was only for employees and was manned.
But you can always exchange currency at an awful rate.
I always tend to be the last one to board (remember the gates in Hong Kong only close 10 minutes before scheduled departure).
The Pier (BUSINESS CLASS)
I decided to quickly look at the Pier Business class lounge that transit passengers can use and Emerald members originating from HKG that don’t have the BLUE code on the app.
The kitchen with a made-to-order kitchen was open.
You can spend the transit time drinking away.
There was ready-made food available in the food hall.
So, you cannot access the Wing if your LeaveHomeSafe Vaccine Pass status is other than BLUE. You can enter the airport and board the plane, however.
You cannot get BLUE status on the app until you spend four days in Hong Kong. During those four days, you cannot access restaurants, fitness centers, and most indoor facilities, but you can enter malls and shops.
You can access The Pier (business class lounge) if you don’t have the LeaveHomeSafe app or the code is not BLUE.
The transit passengers can only access the ORANGE airport area where the Pier business class lounge is located (Pier First is not open – my preferred lounge).
The airport felt like someone turned time back two years to 2020, which is beyond sad in the current state of the Covid-pandemic.
The change two weeks ago (no quarantine) helps Hongkongers who travel to/from the city and no longer need to spend a few days in a hotel quarantine every time. However, it is difficult to see many tourists enter before you can access restaurants and bars from day 0.