Fast-track your transit at Hong Kong airport

By David Flynn, December 28 2018
Fast-track your transit at Hong Kong airport

TRAVEL TIP | Hong Kong is a popular stopover point, especially for travellers on Cathay Pacific flights to Asia, Europe and the USA.

And even if you're not breaking your journey with a night or two in Hong Kong, it's a great airport to transit through with some top lounges to visit (especially those of Cathay Pacific and Qantas) before your onwards flight.

So it makes sense to reduce time spent standing in the transit queue with all those other passengers, and in turn maximise your lounge time.

That's why you don't want to step off the plane and, in a sometimes travel-numbed mental state, blindly follow the flow and head for the main transfer gates located at either end of the airport's arrivals level.

These are marked E1, E2 and W1 on the map below.

Most transit passengers trudge sheep-like to those gates, oblivious to the fact that there are also three smaller transit channels strategically placed throughout the terminal – and circled in green on the map below.

They're located adjacent to arrival gates 29, 42 and 63, and offer much faster transfers from the arrivals floor to the departures floor.

Despite being well-marked these secondary transit channels can still be easy to miss (especially those near gates 42 and 63) if you're on post-flight 'autopilot' and following the crowd along the moving walkways.

But keep your eyes open for them, because you won't need to head all the way to the east or west transit gates and you'll be facing a much shorter queue at these lesser-known channels.

There's just one caveat: only the main East (E1, E2) and West (W1) transit channels have airline desks where you can obtain a boarding pass for your onwards flight.

The secondary transit channels don't have any such facility, so in order to use them you'll need to already have your boarding pass in hand.

Bonus tip: when you walk off the plane, one of these transit channels might be in the other direction to where all the passengers are streaming – a quick double-back will see you settled into the lounge with a meal and a drink in no time at all.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1024

Whenever I connect through HKG, I work out which gate my connection is going from, then locate the nearest lounge to that gate and go through the nearest checkpoint to that lounge.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1204

These midpoint transit gates are more efficient but do not operate 24/7. If you arrive late at night or before 6 in the mornng, chances are they will be closed and you will be directed to the main transit points.

I would just add that you'll need a boarding pass to get through transfer security and they don't accept self-printed BPs for some airlines, Qantas being a case in point.

So you might still have to schlep to the transfer desk.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2550

That's a very good point, HT – I'll add that to the article. I usually get my onwards boarding pass on checkin at Sydney.

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 177

I only found out about these 'secondary transfer points' this year, they're a real time saver for sure. I now have a photo of the HKIA map showing their location in Evernote on my iPhone and when my CX flight lands in HKG I check the arrivals gate and often find one of these transfer points close by.

12 Feb 2015

Total posts 91

An update about hours of operation. I was just looking back at this story to give the details to my daughter who is transiting HKG in coming days. I found that the Hong Kong Airport transfer/transit guide leaflet (available online) published Oct 2017 gives hours of operation as follows - point near gate 63 from 06.30 to 23.59, point near gate 42 from 10.00 to 19.00, point near gate 29 from 06.00 to 23.59. The main transfer points W1 and E1 (nearest Cathay Wing lounges) operate 24 hours a day, but E2 is only open 06.00 to 23.59.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 May 2012

Total posts 180

Hi all, I am landing in from Sydney at 5.15am and transiting through. Are my only options W1 and E1? Thanks LTF

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2550

That's what CBR Boy's comment indicates, but I'd suggest you check the HKG airport website just to be sure.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 May 2012

Total posts 180

Will do, thanks

Will try this in Jan, thanks for the info.

04 May 2018

Total posts 43

You can also bring your duty free from the departure airport or last flight.

These transit gates have equipment to check it really is whiskey, or whatever, and Hkg is costly for many items.

27 Aug 2017

Total posts 23

Checking in 3 hours early with Cathay means its the toss of a coin which lounge to chose as a gate isn't allocated until 90mins.+/- before departure.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Apr 2017

Total posts 29

Timely tip. I got the email with link to this article while waiting to board SGN to HKG today. We arrived HKG Gate 24. Using this tip I turned right to Gate 27, while everyone else went left. Processed straight through the empty transit security and was upstairs in QF Lounge in <5 mins from deplaning. 😀

25 Feb 2017

Total posts 25

Clearly nobody here has ever had to do an Interline Transfer CX say from Gates 18 or 19 to Thai. It is a requirement to Do an Arrivals area TREK of almost a mile to W1 Desks. Even though there are 2 lanes of Moving walkways they both move W to E as the majority of passenger are arrivals into HKG. You can't enter the security area without a Boarding card and you cant get an Online boarding card if you have a separate HKG-BKK ticket which is only valid for One Way or a stay of over 30 Days as this requires a Visual check by Thai.Hence the Mile Long Trek.

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 316

29 Feb 2016

Total posts 11

Anyone know if these secondary transit channels are operating now, post-covid etc, and if so are they still much quieter and hence quicker?

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