First announced back in 2016, Hong Kong Airlines’ (HX) new “Super Diamond” business class product has finally arrived with the airline’s fifth A350 aircraft, which landed at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) on September 1.
The new aircraft will initially be deployed to Bangkok for a month of crew familiarisation, before servicing the Los Angeles route later this year.
Business Traveller Asia-Pacific was invited to explore the new product at HKIA yesterday, summed up by the airline as “modern, stylish and personal”.
The cabin is arranged in a 1-2-1 herringbone pattern with a total of 33 business class seats, all offering direct aisle access to each passenger and enhanced privacy thanks to the angled design.
The seat is a Rockwell Collins’ “Super Diamond” product – also featured in the cabins of Taiwan’s China Airlines and Garuda Indonesia. The measurements aren’t greatly different from HX’s current business class model, though there are an extra two inches in length and three in width once the fully flat bed has been extended, for a total of 78 x 26 inches.
The overall look of the cabin has been given a contemporary overhaul. The interior has an icy grey and vivid red colour scheme while the seat materials feature luxe leather headrests and soft woven fabrics.
Soft, grey duvets and pillows have also been added.
Storage options include two covered panels, and an open space on one side, plus a deep foot well and concealed space in the adjustable armrest. Useful features also include a personal reading light and magazine rack, plus a full connectivity suite hidden in one of the two concealed storage panels.
The tray table offers three positions. The stowed position under the TV offers enough of a lip to act as a drinks tray at all times. To release the tray table there is a hidden latch underneath, and then there are two preset heights for the table to give passengers greater comfort and choice.
The seat control panel also offers three pre-set positions, as well as options to individually customise each part of the seat, from added lumbar support to raising the leg segments.
One of the main differences with the new product is the introduction of Thales Group’s latest AVANT in-flight entertainment (IFE) system, with a bigger 17-inch high-definition display. The new Graphic User Interface (GUI) is a more responsive touch screen with an intuitive design, improving the browsing and screening experience. This is the same system as seen on the likes of Singapore Airlines, Qatar and Hainan Airlines.
Another new feature is the “Air Mouse”, which offers a smart phone-like extra controller for reclined passengers who can’t reach the screen. The device also has a touch screen and an infra-red pointer, and passengers can also watch content directly on the Air Mouse should they prefer.
Passengers’ IFE data will also be integrated and fed back to the user, to inform for example that “30 per cent of passengers have watched Friends’, or “Tomb Raider is the most popular film on board”, to help passengers make entertainment decisions.
The aircraft will also be the first Asian aircraft to feature Inmarsat’s Global Xpress Connectivity to offer “seamless, super-fast Ka-band broadband wifi” for passengers in the sky.
Speaking at the event, Hong Kong Airlines’ vice chairman and president Wang Liya said: Our latest business class offering and state-of-the-art inflight entertainment system is the result of an ambitious effort to revamp our premium services for our customers.”