Most travellers lug their own baggage to the airport and drag it to an airline’s check-in desk, but in Hong Kong, why not take advantage of the free in-town check-in counters for Airport Express passengers?
Offered by most airlines including Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and more, you can drop your luggage and get your boarding pass in the city – rather than at the airport – which means you’re free to explore Hong Kong or to continue your meetings before flying out later in the day.
It’s also a crafty way to get your boarding pass early when the on-airport check-in desks might otherwise be closed, making way for a little extra lounge time.
Some airlines even let you check-in and ditch your baggage the day before you fly, which can be useful before jetting off early the next morning.
Hong Kong in-town check-in: the basics
The only catch here is you’ll need a ticket for the Airport Express train (or an Octopus card for the same), which costs HK$100 (A$17.30) from Hong Kong Station, HK$90 (A$15.55) from Kowloon Station and HK$60 (A$10.40) from Tsing Yi Station.
You’ll also find the in-town check-in counters only at Hong Kong and Kowloon Stations – not at Tsing Yi – but these are well-connected to the broader MTR network and are an easy-reach from most hotels…
… such as being one stop from the Conrad Hong Kong hotel at Admiralty (Hong Kong Station via walkway from Central), two stops from the Marco Polo Hongkong hotel near Tsim Sha Tsui or three stops from the Novotel Nathan Road at Jordan.
Hong Kong in-town check-in: what to do
At either Hong Kong or Kowloon Stations, simply follow the clear ‘In-town Check-in’ signs. If you’ve reached those stations via another train, exit through the MTR ticket barriers first.
Then, hunt for your flight number on the departure screens. In our case we were seeking Finnair flight AY70 to Helsinki, with the screens pointing us towards check-in counter 31.
If you’ve arrived super early and can’t locate your flight number, look to the side for a list of airlines and their corresponding check-in desks, where you can check your baggage and receive your boarding pass…
… before following the onward signage to the Airport train…
… or returning later to catch your flight.
Hong Kong in-town check-in: airlines
Almost all airlines departing Hong Kong allow in-town check-in – you’ll find the full list here on the MTR website, along with any special rules or timing restrictions that may apply to each one.
If your airline isn’t on that list, you can still catch the Airport Express but will need to cart your luggage with you and check-in at the airport the old-fashioned way this time around.
Note also that most participating airlines provide just one in-town check-in counter – and some even share that one counter with three or four other airlines – so while the queues here are often short to non-existent, don’t expect a separate check-in queue for business or first class from most airlines.
Take our tip: if your counter’s line happens to be long, your flight departs within the next few hours and you’re entitled to priority check-in, consider checking-in at the airport instead: but if you’re arriving early, be patient at the station to grab your all-important boarding pass.
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