With Hong Kong and Singapore both major business and financial centres, flying business class between the two cities makes this one of the most popular routes for business travellers in Asia.
But it begs the question, which airline – and in some cases, aircraft – should you choose on your next intra-Asia business trip?
Executive Traveller takes a look at your options across flight times, airport lounges, business class seats, onboard service and more.
Scheduling your Hong Kong to Singapore business class flight
With a flight time just shy of four hours, four airlines fly non-stop between Hong Kong and Singapore, although only Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines offer business class, both with 7-8 return flights per day on average.
Each airline's schedule has its pros and cons – Cathay Pacific, for example, has a handy overnight flight that gives you a full evening in Hong Kong before heading to the airport, but if you'd rather work a full business day on the ground and jet off straight after, Singapore Airlines can get you moving sooner than Cathay.
Scheduled flights can vary from day to day, but here's a snapshot of your departure time choices when travelling on Mondays:
- Cathay Pacific: 1:45am, 8:10am, 8:30am, 11:15am, 2:30pm, 3:20pm, 4:40pm, 8:25pm
- Singapore Airlines: 8:00am, 9:05am, 12:25pm, 2:25pm, 3:40pm, 6:50pm, 7:55pm
Here's how that looks on a timeline, to highlight your choices:
Just be aware that one of Cathay Pacific's daily flights, CX717, flies from Hong Kong to Singapore via Bangkok, which doubles the journey time. We've not included this in the list of non-stop flight times above, but it's worth keeping an eye out for to ensure you're flying straight to Singapore.
Notably absent from the above is Hong Kong Airlines – based in Hong Kong, as the name suggests, but which does not fly to Singapore.
Two top airlines to fly business class from Hong Kong to Singapore
In alphabetical order:
1. Cathay Pacific
Although Cathay Pacific uses a variety of aircraft on flights between Hong Kong and Singapore – including the Airbus A330-300, Airbus A350-900 and Boeing 777-300ER – the business class experience is relatively consistent, regardless of which aircraft you end up travelling on.
This means you can expect a lie-flat seat in the business class cabin, much as you'd find on long-haul Cathay Pacific flights, paired with direct aisle access.
On Airbus A330 and Boeing 777 flights, you'll spot Cathay Pacific's familiar Cirrus business class seats, with the cabin arranged in a 1-2-1 layout.
Each seat transforms into a fully-flat bed, with a blanket and pillow provided: although pyjamas remain BYO.
Cathay Pacific doesn't offer first class between Hong Kong and SIngapore, but occasionally flies Boeing 777s on the route that have six first class seats up the very front, which are not sold as first class.
When this happens, it's usually not possible to pre-select one of those first class suites in advance, in case the aircraft type is changed: but if the flight is relatively full and these remain available, you may be able to ask for a seat change at check-in: particularly if you're a high-tier Marco Polo Club member or other Oneworld frequent flyer.
On Airbus A350 flights, you'll instead find an upgraded version of the Cirrus business class seat found on those other aircraft types, offering a higher-quality inflight entertainment screen and better storage, among other less-noticeable refinements.
Flight reservations with Cathay Pacific can be made directly via the airline's website, www.cathaypacific.com, including one-way, return and multi-city trips. To save time, you can narrow your search to business class flights only, by selecting business class when entering your desired travel plans:
Reservations are also available via travel agents for paid flights, and if you have any Cathay Pacific Asia Miles or other eligible Oneworld and partner airline frequent flyer points, you may also be able to book your Cathay Pacific business class journey using those points, subject to availability.
For example, you can use American Airlines AAdvantage miles, BA Executive Club Avios, Qantas Points and many other types of frequent flyer points, to book Cathay Pacific business class.
If you're already booked onto a Cathay Pacific flight, you may be able to use your Asia Miles to upgrade to business class.
These upgrades are limited to the next-best class of service only, so on flights with economy, premium economy and business class, you'd need to be flying premium economy to have a chance at upgrading: although on flights with only economy and business class, you may be able to snag a business class upgrade.
Despite being a relatively short flight, you can expect the experience to mirror that of a much longer journey, with complimentary beverages and meals tailored to the time of day, inflight entertainment with noise-cancelling headphones, and on selected aircraft, paid access to inflight Internet.
2. Singapore Airlines
While Cathay Pacific keeps its business class experience straightforward and predictable, Singapore Airlines instead flies six different types of aircraft between Hong Kong and SIngapore, across which you'll find five completely different business class seats.
This ranges from the airline's newest – and arguably, best – business class seat, where selected seat pairs can even be turned into double beds, through to some of the oldest aircraft in the fleet: offering angled-flat beds without universal direct aisle access.
Here's your guide to that web of different seats, and which aircraft you'll find them on.
Singapore Airlines' Airbus A380 flights between Hong Kong and Singapore are where you'll find the airline's newest business class seat, offering the expected features of a fully-flat bed with direct aisle access...
... and if you're travelling as a couple, selected pairs of seats can also be transformed into a double bed:
Next-best are the business class seats you'll find on Singapore Airlines' Airbus A350-900 and Boeing 777-300ER flights, which are roomy with plenty of space to work and relax, and which fold forward to create a single bed:
Step aboard Singapore Airlines' Boeing 787s and you'll instead find a 'regional' business class seat: somewhat narrower than the seat above, but which again goes fully-flat, and with direct aisle access assured:
On flights operated by the Boeing 777-200ER, the seat steps back a generation, but is still perfectly acceptable. Mirroring what you'll find on SQ's oldest Airbus A380s, there's again plenty of room to move, although taller travellers may find the foot space a little restricted, given the way the bed narrows towards the end, underneath the seat of the passenger in front.
Finally, Boeing 777-200 flights – note, the absence of "ER" in the aircraft type – sport Singapore Airlines' oldest flying business class (as also seen on its Airbus A330s), placing seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, and which recline to form angled-flat seats rather than fully-flat beds.
As the aircraft type can vary from one flight to the next and on the same flights from day to day, it pays to check which bird is expected to appear on your flight, and if your schedule is a little flexible, choosing one aircraft over another can make a big difference to the experience.
Flight reservations can again be made via travel agents, or directly through the Singapore Airlines website, www.singaporeair.com, where you'll have the option to zone-in on business class airfares:
You may also be able to book your flight through the same website using Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles – just select "redeem flights" at the top instead of "book flights" – or through partner airline frequent flyer programs such as Virgin Australia Velocity, and those of Star Alliance.
However, Singapore Airlines doesn't always make its best business class seats available for booking using miles from some partner schemes, so depending on where your points are located, you may find that different frequent flyer programs provide different results.
If you're taking the most common path – booking direct via the SIngapore Airlines website, or using KrisFlyer miles – you can quickly and easily check which aircraft type is scheduled to operate any given flight, by clicking the "view details" link next to that flight:
By expanding SQ1 above, we can see that the aircraft type scheduled for this flight is the Boeing 777-300ER, which has one of the best business class seats flying between the two cities.
You may be able to upgrade to business class with Singapore Airlines using KrisFlyer miles or other Star Alliance miles, depending on the fare type and cabin you've booked, the aircraft operating your flight, and as always, availability.
With KrisFlyer, upgrades are all one-class: so on flights with premium economy, a premium economy ticket is needed to snag your upgrade – but on flights with only economy and business class, it's possible to jump from right down the back to straight up the front.
Notably, Virgin Australia Velocity points cannot directly be used for Singapore Airlines flight upgrades. Velocity points can be converted into KrisFlyer miles at a 1.55:1 rate and then used for an upgrade, but given the haircut those points face during the conversion, and the fact that KrisFlyer's upgrade rates aren't much different to the miles needed for an outright booking, it often makes the most sense to simply book your flight using points, if that's the goal.
As with Cathay Pacific, expect to enjoy complimentary inflight dining, entertainment, beverages and more during your journey between Singapore and Hong Kong.
However, Singapore Airlines also kicks things up a notch with its Book The Cook service, whereby you can pre-order your meal from a variety of dishes not normally on the printed inflight menu, particularly on flights departing Singapore where the variety is the widest.
Best business class lounges at HKG Airport
Your business class ticket unlocks airport lounge access when departing Hong Kong (and again, out of Singapore), and whether you're flying Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific, you can choose from a few different lounges.
With homegrown Cathay Pacific, you can visit Cathay's The Wing Business Class, The Pier Business Class, The Deck and The Bridge lounges in Hong Kong, as well as the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge, as Qantas and Cathay Pacific are partnered via the Oneworld alliance.
Similarly, a Singapore Airlines business class boarding pass unlocks the airline's own SilverKris business class lounge in Hong Kong, as well as the Thai Airways Royal Orchid Lounge, and the United Club, given the airlines' mutual membership in Star Alliance.
Cathay Pacific The Wing Business Class HKG lounge
Being closest to Hong Kong's main security screening and passport control channels, this lounge is the most conveniently-located for many flights, offering a bank of shower suites, a noodle bar, bartender-mixed drinks and espresso coffee, along with standards like WiFi and buffet dining.
Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Class HKG lounge
Located towards the far end of Hong Kong Airport's departure gates, The Pier Business Class is one of the airline's newest lounges, adopting a comfortable 'home away from home' design, along with a yoga studio, showers, a tea house, espresso coffee, bartender-served drinks and more.
Cathay Pacific The Deck HKG lounge
Like The Wing, The Deck is also close to passport control and security screening, having been revamped from the former Dragonair lounge in its place. This lounge is most popular with Cathay Dragon passengers and offers some of the amenities of the other lounges, but lacks bartender service or barista coffee, as all drinks here are self-served.
Singapore Airlines SilverKris HKG lounge
Taking on Singapore Airlines' newest 'home away from home' design ethos, the airline's lounge in Hong Kong feels like a modern inner-city apartment, but with the addition of complimentary buffet dining.
United Club HKG lounge
As a Star Alliance business class passenger when flying Singapore Airlines, you also have the option of the United Club here. It's an older facility than Singapore Airlines' lounge, and is slated to be upgraded in the coming years, so although you can access this lounge, there's no particular reason to – unless you fly this route regularly and are in need of something different.
What’s the best Hong Kong to Singapore business class experience?
With two world-class airlines flying between two of Asia's biggest business cities, you're unlikely to be disappointed regardless of which flight and airline you pick.
Both airlines have their positives and negatives: Cathay Pacific wins on consistency and airport lounges in Hong Kong, although Singapore Airlines offers a broader variety of business class seats that are bound to make the trip feel less repetitive for frequent flyers.
With Cathay Pacific, there's also the slight chance that your business class ticket may provide you with a first class suite on board the aircraft at no extra cost, where it appears on those Boeing 777 flights, although as Singapore Airlines sells first class between these cities, the only way you'll fly at the very front is by buying a first class ticket or upgrading from an eligible business class fare.
All in all, we're calling this a draw, as the 'best' pick comes down largely to individual preferences and needs, as well as schedule, and particularly with Singapore Airlines, which aircraft are operating each flight.