Business traveller's guide to Hong Kong International Airport

By John Walton, July 27 2012
Business traveller's guide to Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong International Airport is the latest stop in our series of airport guides for the business traveller.

This cut-out-and-keep (or bookmark-in-your-favourites) guide tells you what you need to know, how to get there, where the lounges are (important for Cathay Pacific and Qantas passengers especially!) and what to do on a layover. Feel free to add your own suggestions in our readers' tips section too!

The basics

Hong Kong's new airport (Chek Lap Kok) replaced the old Kai Tak airport in 1998, and is frequently voted one of the world's best. It's certainly in the top ten busiest, with over fifty million passengers a year.

As the hub for Cathay Pacific and subsidiary Dragonair, Hong Kong is a major connecting airport for Australian overseas flights, and it's familiar to just about every frequent international traveller.

The airport is situated on Lantau Island, around 40km by train or car from central Hong Kong.

Wifi & Apps

Free wifi is available throughout the airport.

Hong Kong Airport doesn't have its own airport app, but you might find the free Hong Kong Railways (MTR+Light Rail) iPhone/iPad app or Android app useful. 

Major airlines

Cathay Pacific is by far Hong Kong's biggest airline, but most other major international airlines have flights to Hong Kong too.

Cathay subsidiary Dragonair focusses on the mainland Chinese and close-by Asian network.

Earlier this year, Qantas stopped its London-bound Hong Kong connection, and now offloads passengers to British Airways for the longer leg through to London.

Hong Kong Airlines is also unsurprisingly based in Hong Kong, with flights around the region and all-business class flights to London.

Virgin Atlantic flies from Sydney to London via Hong Kong.

Layout, terminals and connections

Terminal 1 is the main terminal -- and one of the largest in the world -- while Terminal 2 is primarily a check-in zone for low-cost carriers. There's a North Satellite Concourse for some short-range flights too, which uses buses from the main terminal.

Try imagining T1 is in the shape of a martini glass, with the base of the glass containing most airport services, including several business and first class lounges, and all the check-in and immigration areas.

Gates under 20 are in the base, with gates 20-30 in the stem. Gates in the 40s and 50s turn left at the top of the stem, or turn right for the 60s and 70s.

The top of the glass' stem (where gates 36, 40 and 60 are close to each other) also contains a lounge complex. It's the left-most orange section on the top floor of the terminal.

An automated people mover will shuttle you from near gate 1 to the top-of-the-stem area.

Those all-important (and world-beating) Cathay Pacific business and first class lounges are found at:

The Qantas and Korean Air lounges are near gate 15.

China Airlines' lounge is near gate 1.

The Air France, Emirates, Thai, United and Virgin Atlantic lounges are near gate 60.


The Regal Airport Hotel is linked to Terminal 1 by a covered walkway, and is our pick for airport hotels.

Also close by is the SkyCity Marriott Hotel, with the Novotel Hong Kong Citygate fairly close by in the Tung Chung complex too.

To and from the airport

The Airport Express takes just 24 minutes to whisk you to Hong Kong Central, and even less if you're jumping off at Kowloon. Return fares to Central are HKD180 or just over A$22 -- but you can only buy a single from the ticket machines. Don't worry, it's only about $2 cheaper than a return. Use the famous Hong Kong Octopus Card or one of the many ticket machines.

Buses are also available, but the real business traveller choice is between the faster, wifi-enabled train or a straight-to-your-hotel taxi -- Hong Kong's taxi companies are relatively inexpensive.

Ferries to Macau and other parts of the Pearl River Delta take between 30 and 90 minutes, direct from the airport.

Insider tips and tricks

Just to the left of the main arrivals door are a couple of mobile phone stores. Our pick for Hong Kong SIM cards is the 3 network, and you can get a month's data and a new SIM for around A$50 all-in, with the thing installed and working before you leave the shop. Bargain.

Check-in desks for most airlines  are available at the Kowloon and Central Airport Express stations, so you don't have to lug your bag to the airport on the return journey. We suggest that as soon as you check out of your hotel in the morning, head to the station to drop off your bag and check in for your flight. Then you can spend the day with only your light carry-on bag.

Hungry? The airport offers dozens of restaurants, even if you're not lounging it up. Crystal Jade has amazing xiaolongbao dumplings if that's your thing.

If you have a long layover and don't fancy whiling away the hours in Cathay's lounges, consider heading over to the Citygate outlet mall for some shopping. Federal Palace in the mall is great for some dim sum.

Or, under 30 minutes away, head into Hong Kong for your pick of Cantonese or international restaurants. We've got several recommendations for amazing food in HK, but Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons is an under-cover, air-conditioned shopping mall away from the Airport Express MTR station.

You could even use a few hours' transit to pick yourself up some new glasses from our favourite optician in Hong Kong.

Or check out our full stopover guide to Hong Kong.

AusBT reader tips

If you're a frequent traveller through HKG, or even if you've just discovered a nifty trick (or noodle bar) about the place, now's your chance to share your insider knowledge with other AusBT readers.

Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter: we're @AusBT.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

22 Feb 2012

Total posts 2

If you're planning for a day trip to Central while staying at regal or skycity marriott (or during a layover where you need to return to the airport on the same day), you should consider getting the airport express same-day return ticket from the ticket machine.  The price is the same as single journey - both are HKD100.


05 Jun 2012

Total posts 128

Hong Kong Airlines no longer fly to London

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 543

I prefer SmarTone. As a local Hong Konger, Smartone seems to be quite faster than 3 (at least in 3G networking).


05 Jun 2012

Total posts 128

"Hong Kong Airport doesn't have its own airport app".  Oh yes, it does, try searching for "Hong Kong Airport Authority" in the iTunes app store

Also, there are three more CX lounges (The Bridge, G16 and The Arrival) which you haven't mentioned

These criticisms aside, it's a good write-up :-)

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 543

This article was written last year, before the Bridge was opened. There is an App though.

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