Hong Kong Airport: Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Oneworld lounge transit guide

By David Flynn, July 15 2016
Hong Kong Airport: Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Oneworld lounge transit guide

Hong Kong International Airport boasts a wealth of Oneworld lounges, thanks mostly to being the home port of Cathay Pacific in addition to the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge.

Many travellers in transit at Hong Kong airport like to sample several of these lounges, especially the newest ones, between their flights.

But which lounges you can visit depends on not only the time between your connecting flights but also which gates those flights arrive into and depart from.

Here are some real-world tips for your next HK stopover.

Heading into Hong Kong

If you have upwards of eight hours between flights, you could visit all of the airport's Oneworld lounges – but I'd suggest heading into Hong Kong. Hop onto the Airport Express for around A$30 and inside of 30 minutes you'll be the heart of one of the world's greatest cities.

Hop off at Kowloon Station for the bustle of Tsim Sha Tsui, or Central Station for the sights of Victoria Peak, the shops of Pacific Place and Causeway Bay, and the bars of Lan Kwai Fong (LKF).

Read: 15 amazing whisky bars in Hong Kong

Your checked baggage will go through to your next flight so you'll be travelling light. That said, if you have a large four-wheeled cabin bag which you'd rather not tote around, there's a left luggage facility downstairs at Hong Kong airport's Terminal 2. At A$2 (HKG$12) per hour per bag it's very affordable but be ready for quite a queue to drop off your bag and pick it up again.

Of course, the wisdom of spending your stopover hours in Hong Kong depends on the specific time of your flights – there's much more to see and do of an evening than in the early morning.

How much time do you actually have?

Don't make the mistake of over-estimating how much spare time you've got between flights – what might seem like ample time to head downtown could be better suited to some leisurely lounging.

If you're heading to the city, allow 20-30 minutes to get past immigration and security plus another hour catching the Airport Express train into the city and back.

(If you're a regular visitor to HK, apply for access to the Frequent Visitor e-Channel – an automated immigration lane similar to Australia’s SmartGate system – to save time going in and out of the airport.)

You'll also want to be back at the airport around 90 minutes before your flight departs, although two hours is better suited to enjoying a little quality lounge time before your onwards flight (and boarding can close a half-hour before the flight departs).

Pulling all that together: you may have six hours between the flights (for example, arriving into Hong Kong airport at 6pm and leaving at midnight) but this could mean less than three hours in Hong Kong itself.

That's why many experienced travellers tend to stay at the airport and turn that downtime into lounge time.

Transit tips

Let's say you decide to stay at the airport and check out some of the Oneworld lounges, instead of rushing into the city and out again. 

First up: for very short connection times (two hours between flights) allow at least 20 minutes to get from Hong Kong airport's arrivals floor to the departures floor.

Most transit passengers trudge towards 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, and including airline desks for issuing boarding passes as well as transit channels.

However, there are also three smaller transit channels located throughout the terminal – adjacent to gates 29, 42 and 63 – which offer much faster transfers from the arrivals floor to the departures floor.

Although signposted they are easy to miss if you're on post-flight 'autopilot' and following the crowd along the moving walkways, but watch for them – they can shave quite some time off your transfer process.

Planning your Hong Kong Airport lounge strategy

With  a short transit between flights, the lounges you visit will depend on which gate your inbound flight arrives at and especially which one your next flight departs from.

Here's the hitlist.

Cathay Pacific's The Wing: first class and business class lounges are located at gates 1-4, at the end of the terminal closest to public checkin area (specifically, the southern immigration/security channel).

The Wing First Class lounge is restricted to travellers in first class; Qantas Platinum-grade frequent flyers and above; Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Diamond and above, and other Oneworld Emerald-grade  frequent flyers.

The Wing Business Class lounge (below) is for business class travellers, Qantas Gold and above, Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Gold and above, and other Oneworld Sapphire-grade frequent flyers, as well as Marco Polo Silvers provided they're flying with Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon (Dragonair).

Both The Wing lounges were impressive when they opened across 2012-13 but are already showing a little of their age, in part because of the spectacular new The Pier lounges at the other end of the airport.

At The Wing First Class, head for The Haven restaurant with its buffet spread and a la carte menu, grab a drink at the bar or try to snare one of the private Cabana rooms for a soak in the bath.

The Noodle Bar (below), Long Bar and Coffee Loft are the main attractions of The Wing Business Class.

Qantas' Hong Kong Lounge: near gate 15, just past immigration at northern end of the terminal (gate 15 is typically used by the daily QF128 flight to Sydney).

It's great to pop into any time but best in evenings – during the lead-up to departure of Qantas flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – for the 'plate of the day' dishes and BBQ pork plus dumpling and sweet treats served from yum cha trolleys. Oh, and they do excellent cocktails.

The Qantas Hong Kong Lounge is a combined 'premium' lounge for business class travellers on Qantas, Cathay Pacific and other Oneworld airlines (it's the Hong Kong lounge of choice for British Airways and Japan Airlines, for example).

Also up for entry: Qantas Platinum and Gold frequent flyers, their Diamond and Gold equivalents in the CX Marco Polo Club and other Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers, as well as Qantas Club members.

Cathay Pacific's The Cabin shut its doors in April 2018, however it was soon replaced by The Deck, which is situated at the site of the old Dragonair G16 lounge.

The Deck's relaxed feel stems from the same Ilse Crawford-designed palette as with other recently-revamped or -opened Cathay Pacific lounges, such as The Pier (more on that later).

The Deck will prove most convenient if your flight departs from gates 15 through 19, which includes many of the morning Cathay Dragon flights to China. If your gate is in the 20s there's no difference in lounge-to-gate time if you visit The Wing, which many first class or top-tier frequent flyers may wish to do.

Cathay Pacific's The Pier: Cathay's new flagship first class lounge, and easily one of the best in the world.

Hop off the people mover train and veer left towards gate 63 – it's a five minute stroll.

We love the carefully-considered, relaxed and calming design: it's been accurately noted that this lounge is like a luxury apartment owned by a friend with both better taste and more money than you.

If you've got the hours to spare, spend them here: make a booking for a foot massage or neck & shoulder massage, consider some time in the day suites, grab a meal at the restaurant and a drink at the bar.

Entry criteria to The Pier First Class lounge are identical to that of The Wing First Class.

If you're in business class or are one rung down on the frequent flyer ladder (CX or Qantas Gold, or Oneworld Sapphire), The Pier Business Class lounge is a little further along from its first class sibling, at Gate 65.

It's a knockout effort – arguably good enough to pass for a first class lounge – with a similar design ethos to The Pier First Class while marking its own identity.

Unique features include an extensive buffet, noodle bar, tea house, tended bar and at the far end, a relaxation room with day beds.

This is where to hang during that long layover. Entry requirements are the same as other Cathay Pacific business class lounges.

AusBT review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier Business Class Lounge, Hong Kong

Last among the Oneworld lounges at this end of the terminal is Cathay Pacific's The Bridge – it's located where the people mover shuttle makes its first stop, near gate 35.

The Bridge is split into two arms and features a cafe, a deli restaurant which bakes its own bread and pizzas – but I'd recommend walking those extra five minutes for The Pier Business Class lounge.

Plotting your lounge visits

If your flights arrive and depart from the top end of terminal – let's say, gates 1 through 24 – and you have relatively little time between those flights, just choose one lounge and settle there.

If there's a bit more time up your sleeve, and especially if it's early evening, you can do the Cathay Pacific lounge that's suited to your travel class or status and also add the Qantas lounge to your list.

Staying down the far end of the terminal, around gates 30 and upwards? Stay put.

You've got the airport's two best lounges – The Pier first class and business class – a short stroll away. The only reason to trek to the other end of terminal is to experience the Qantas lounge, if you've never visited it before.

If you have enough time between flights to visit the lounges at both ends of the terminal – The Wing, the Qantas lounge and The Pier – note that the airport's people mover shuttle only carries passengers one way, from the terminal's entry (low-numbered gates), so if you're headed the other way give yourself a decent 15 minutes of walking.

Most important of all: don't cut yourself short of time and end up rushing between the lounges in some silly effort to check them all off your list. This ruins the experience. Far better that you spend more time enjoying fewer lounges.

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David
David

David Flynn

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.

Michael Kao

Michael Kao

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 336

For CX flights bound for Australia, do they usually depart from a few designated gates or can be random? I have a trip coming up TPE-HKG-BNE on CX J with only 2hr layover, which lounge will be the pick?

tonbo

tonbo

05 Oct 2015

Total posts 12

They typically depart from the gates aound gate70, so the Pier and Bridge are the ones to visit.

lawrence huynh

lawrence huynh

16 Jul 2016

Total posts 5

If i am an arriving passenger for the quantas business class from sydney, will i be able to access 'The arrival' lounge one i arrive into Hong Kong, i am 16 :)

ChrisCh

ChrisCh

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2915

Nope, it's for Cathay Pacific and Dragonair passengers only – not Qantas.

11sjw

11sjw

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 285

If you aren't in a real rush and still have your Octopus card (or have exactly HK$3.50 in your wallet) you can catch the S1 bus to Tung Chung (nearest MTR station to the airport) and just take the standard MTR from there.  The bus drops you right near the Citygate Outlets, which in turn is near the MTR station.  I used this option during a 10 hour layover and had plenty of time in the city.

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2321

That's a good tip, and also useful for visiting the Citygate shopping centre for a shorter transit stop - just be sure to allow plenty of time (and either have a bag to pack your purchases in, or buy one at the mall!). 

Looking

Looking

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 118

Love the new "The Pier" business lounge. As it is so far along the terminal and it is currently not mentioned on the CX transfer wallet airport plan, the lounge is not so busy. The noodle bar is excellent, as is the tea house and the relaxing zone is superb.

Concur that the Cabin is incredibly busy and with limited facilities, skip this lounge.

 

"The Bridge" is also busy, but mainly on the bakery side, on the shower side, relatively quiet and with good runway views.

lawrence huynh

lawrence huynh

16 Jul 2016

Total posts 5

Is there a age limit i am 16

ChrisCh

ChrisCh

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2915

If you're below the legal drinking age in Hong Kong (18), you won't be allowed inside without an adult to accompany you in lounges where alcohol is available (all of them).

Nuttynorton

Nuttynorton

11 Jun 2016

Total posts 14

Does the qantas lounge serve any food after 9pm in hkg? 

Stu1601

Stu1601

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jun 2017

Total posts 1

How far away is the pier lounge from the MH departure gates?

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