No more in-town checkin for Cathay Pacific flights to the USA

By David Flynn, October 25 2017

Cathay Pacific travellers heading from Hong Kong to the USA are no longer able to use the convenient in-town checkin facility at Hong Kong's Airport Express stations at Hong Kong Central and Kowloon.

It's fallout from the latest clamp-down imposed by the US Department of Homeland Security and removes one of the greatest time-savers for business travellers, who until now have been able to dump their checked luggage at the station, check in for their flight and either speed their way to the airport or spend the rest of the day in Hong Kong.

The move doesn't impact travellers heading to any other Cathay Pacific destination, and Cathay's flight CX888 to New York via Vancouver is exempt from the new rules.

Also caught up in the changes are American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Singapore Airlines (which has daily flights between Hong Kong and San Francisco).

A statement issued by Cathay Pacific advises that "while passengers may still check in online, they are asked to check in their baggage at the dedicated counters on Aisle B at Hong Kong International Airport , where they will be subject to a short security interview."

"Passengers without check-in baggage should proceed to the boarding gate directly as early as possible, where they will be also be subject to a short security interview."

The airline suggests that all passengers travelling to the US "arrive at the airport three hours prior to departure to ensure they can proceed through all airport checkpoints in good time."

Read more: Travel tip – drop your bags at Hong Kong's CBD airline check-in desks

David

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.

CX

09 Aug 2014

Total posts 9

Great, another reason to avoid the US.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Jan 2016

Total posts 61

Has there been any further details on these changes?, or if it will impact Aus flights to the US. I have seen updates from Lufthansa that state passengers will be subject to a short interview either at check in or at the gate, with the changes coming into effect from Thursday but no updates from QF or VA.

25 Oct 2017

Total posts 3

My mother travelled SYD-DFW on QF a couple of days ago and said every single passenger was questioned prior to boarding. Actually made the family a bit concerned.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jun 2015

Total posts 107

Do you know what type of questions and at what point?

At checkin, prior to boarding, CBP on arrival??

25 Oct 2017

Total posts 3

She was asked why she was travelling, who she was visiting etc. It was before my mother got to the lounge so probably at check in or border security. She talked to my sister so I am not too sure of the details but my sister called me a little bit concerned that something might be going on.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 326

Around check-in, not sure whether just before or just after. Trying to move the onus for doing this to BEFORE the flight, not after you arrive at the US border.
S
S

13 Sep 2013

Total posts 105

Does this affect other carriers flying to the US from HKG?

United, Delta, AA, SQ etc?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 326

Yes, Homeland Security has ordered some tightening of procedures so (at least some) passengers are asked a few questions prior to all flights to the USA. As indicated above, nothing too invasive, but where you're going, why, where you're staying, etc.

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

Who conducts the interviews? USA Department of Homeland Security staff, airline staff or someone else? Australian Border Force staff would be pretty unlikely to regard this as its jurisdiction.

Has Hong Kong SAR government agreement been necessary for this to occur?

Is it also occurring in Beijing, Shanghai and every Australian airport that has nonstop flights to the USA?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 326

In MEL, they are being done by uniformed security staff (not the same people who do the scanners), who are contracted by - I think - the airlines. Homeland Security is putting the onus on the airlines to do this screening.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 326

And yes, this is to apply worldwide to ALL flights going to the USA. Nothing to be too concerned about. Same type of questions you used to get asked at immigration in the US on arrival; now they're asking before you get onto the aircraft.

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

John Phelan, incredibly helpful answers - thanks.

I haven't flown to Israel but a male businessman said to me that he and his mate were subjected to (respectively) two hours and 90 minutes of grilling by El Al security staff at check in when he flew to that innovative nation. Apparently he had samples and the security staff could not (or pretended not to) understand why he'd need to take so much stuff. They were eventually given boarding passes. He told me it was extremely tiring answering similar questions over and over.

This USA procedure seems less invasive and briefer but what if the security staff member took a dislike to you because you were tired and snapped at him (never wise, but it must happen.) Might you be denied a boarding pass due to personal enmity?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Jul 2017

Total posts 13

I've been several x to Israel on an Irish passport and spent almost 4 hours with security each time just making my flight. Both in an out of the country I've been questioned vigorously and searched.

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

Last time I went to the USA (2016) I didn't get asked a single question: the male staff member was nice and quick.

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

An article in 'The Australian' this morning discusses this. Air France says it passengers will complete a questionairre (i.e. a form.)

Other airlines' approach is similar to what John Phelan suggested, but Lufthansa states that the 'short interview' may be in one of three places.

Article headline is 'new screenings for all US-bound passengers.'


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