Cathay eyes new Hong Kong flagship lounge, arrivals lounge
The airline is planning ahead for fresh lounges in 2025...
Executive Traveller exclusive
Cathay Pacific is scoping out its future lounge options at Hong Kong, with the possibility of an all-new arrivals lounge or a fresh ‘flagship lounge’ taking pride of place at its home port.
The moves are driven by the redevelopment of the airport’s Terminal 2, which is expected to open in 2024 along with the full three-runway system.
Located opposite Terminal 1 and connected to its own set of arrival and departure gates by an automated people mover shuttle train, T2 will also house many airlines currently operating out of T1 – which Cathay expects will free up more room to quite literally spread its wings.
This “reallocation of airlines” will in turn open up new possibilities for Cathay Pacific, says Vivian Lo, the airline’s General Manager for Customer Experience & Design.
“For the long term, and we are quite clear-minded about this, we want to focus our investment on Terminal 1.“
“Whether it is an Arrivals Lounge or a bigger, flagship lounge is something that we’ll study, so we’re doing a lot of customer insights… for the future flagship lounge,” Lo tells Executive Traveller.
Cathay’s The Arrival lounge was located in the public area between T1 and T2, and despite its compact size was a common pit-stop for travellers alighting from inbound early morning flights where they could have breakfast, tackle some work or freshen up with a shower before heading into the city for their first meeting of the day.
This popularity led to the lounge becoming quickly overcrowded to frustrating levels, but Cathay Pacific closed the lounge November 2018 saying “the premises will be returned to the lessor as part of the terminal redevelopment,” adding that “options for an alternative location are limited and not suitable” for the same purpose.
Meanwhile, Cathay currently has two flagship lounges in The Wing and The Pier, each at different ends of Terminal 1 and reflecting different eras of lounge design – the former being a sharper commercial treatment by Foster & Partners, the latter a softer residential approach by Studio Ilse.
One factor influencing the shape of future lounges will be Cathay’s research into how travellers use those lounges.
The airline found that 50% of visitors to a lounge are “indulgence-seekers” who arrive early and enjoy the lounge to its fullest, while the other half are short-stay “pit-stoppers”.
“We always had a lot of assumptions” about how the lounges are used, Lo says, “but now we’ve learned a lot more.”
The “indulgence-seekers” consider the lounge an integral part of their journey, “so they plan extra time to go to the lounge, which means they might allocate more time to dine and have a drink, so these are the people that would gravitate towards the dining room and bar.”
“Some of them actually come very early, but at Hong Kong airport they don’t really always allocate the gate that early, so those customers would go to The Wing First, which is a left turn from immigration, and then when their gate number comes up they’ll go into the lounge closest to their departure.”
While indulgence-seekers prioritise their lounge experience over their time, the pit-stoppers are more mindful of their own timetable.
“They come based on their budget of time,” Lo tells Executive Traveller. “But even within the 50% who are pit-stoppers, there’s a half-half split.”
“You have planned pit-stoppers who might be on a set flight every week or twice a week and have an exact routine.”
“They go to a fixed place in their chosen lounge, have a quick bite, clear their email and even have a list of things they want to do before leaving for their flight.”
The other half – or the final 25% of Cathay’s lounge cohort – are “indifferent stoppers” who are less fussy about their routine, with even the choice of lounge coming down to "the proximity of the (departure) gate.”
Lo says that taking into account “the different mindset as well as different budgets of time” will factor into “how we design our lounge proposition.”
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25 Feb 2015
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Please Cathay bring back an arrivals lounge! It would make me choose a CX redeye over another carrier’s day flight, knowing I could shower and freshen up immediately on arrival.