After shuttering its popular Hong Kong arrivals lounge in 2018, Cathay Pacific is hoping to once again offer business travellers arrivals lounge facilities as part of a redeveloped Hong Kong International Airport from 2024: but only if the new arrivals lounge can be a significant upgrade compared to what was offered previously.
While that former lounge was closed to make way for airport construction works, its relatively small footprint often meant crowds, long lines for just eight shower suites, and came with a relatively limited food and beverage offering versus what passengers would otherwise enjoy on departure.
Speaking to Executive Traveller at the opening of Cathay Pacific’s newest airport lounge in Shanghai, Vivian Lo, the airline’s General Manager Customer Experience and Design, explains the thought process behind planning for an all-new arrivals lounge.
“At the moment, we don’t know (for sure) if we’ll have a new arrivals lounge yet,” Lo shares honestly, because the previous lounge “wasn’t ideal for us: it was too small, and either wasn’t utilised, or in the morning, you’d often have to queue for at least an hour (for the shower).”
“The design, the equipment, and the food offering were not meeting our other standards, so if we were going to do that again (open a new arrivals lounge), we would really revisit what the right proposition would be, and the right offering for us after 2024, once the new runway has opened.”
When asked about opening an interim arrivals lounge at HKIA – one that would serve passengers flying into Hong Kong over the next five years – Lo explains that there simply isn’t enough space available at the airport.
“Right now, Terminal 1 is very, very congested, and all the airlines currently in T2 will be moving to T1, so within T1 there's a lot of, I won't say compromise, but there's a lot of reallocation in order to accommodate a lot more airlines than (the terminal) was designed for,” which puts floor space at a premium.
“So in the short run, we don't think we’ll have another arrivals lounge: but at the same time, we’ve really thought about what would be important for our customers and what the alternatives are,” hinting at Cathay Pacific’s collaboration with Pure Yoga and Pure Fitness.
In lieu of arrivals lounge access for the airline’s Marco Polo Club Gold, Diamond and above-Diamond members, these travellers can instead visit Pure Yoga studios or Pure Fitness leisure clubs in-town in Hong Kong up to 12 times per year, to refresh and revive after their international flight.
“That’s a different way of trying to fulfil some of that demand for an arrivals lounge, as we thought we’d do something different for now, and then when the opportunities return, we might consider a new arrivals lounge, but that really depends on what would be available at the airport,” Lo sums up.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Shanghai as a guest of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon.
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