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- Tried & Tested
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- Tried & Tested
This review relates to Flight HX528 from Hong Kong to Hanoi – twice!
I took the Airport Express from Central to the Airport in plenty of time. I had attempted to check-in on line the evening before and things were proceeding smoothly until I got to the section for personal details. Search as I would, the UK (or GB or Britain or any other variant I could think of) was not available in the drop-down menu for ‘Nationality’ – Mariana Islands, yes, UK, no! So I had abandoned that option and, instead, went to the desk to check-in. I tried to explain my dilemma from the night before but got the sense that, notwithstanding the smile, this was not a message that was going to be passed up the line. Anyway, I got what I wanted which was a forward aisle seat.
Through security and automated immigration and I found myself a quiet corner of a coffee shop for my wait – I have no status with Hong Kong Airlines. Boarding was downstairs from one of the bus gates and I headed there in good time. After further passport and visa checks, we boarded the bus and headed a short distance to the aircraft, a rather more tired looking cousin of the immaculate, new A320 I had enjoyed a few days earlier. Still, it was clean and, as before, seating was comfortable and roomy.
We pushed back on time and headed out for take-off – about 10 minutes. Service of hot pork rolls and water commenced soon after the crew were released and all appeared fine. About half way into our 1’45” flight, the Captain came on to inform us that, owing to an on-board computer fault, we would be returning to Hong Kong. Hanoi would have suited us better, of course, but the airline did not want an aircraft ‘gone technical’ away from base. So we landed back in HKIA, taxied to a stand and were bussed back to the Terminal, having been told that the replacement aircraft would be ready in 30 – 45 minutes. People were stoical – certainly rather safe than sorry were my thoughts.
We were greeted in the Terminal by airline staff who immediately handed out water and, a little later, came round with cookies. There was plenty of action at the gate with staff buzzing around – I counted up to 12 at one point. The board changed from “Delayed to” to “Boarding Soon” but, inevitably, the promised 45 minutes stretched out to become 1’ 30” before we were bused out to a substitute aircraft – same crew, looking rather more tired, I have to say. We took off a second time 3’ 30 minutes behind schedule and, this time, the flight was uneventful. There was a drinks service and the opportunity to taste another hot pork roll (declined) before we landed in Hanoi.
The end of a holiday weekend in Vietnam meant long queues for Immigration but, once through, I was soon in a taxi and away.
Overall, a problem well handled by Hong Kong Airlines who, at least, got us to our destination when other low(er) cost airlines might have cancelled the flight altogether.
EDITED TO ADD: I e-mailed Hong Kong Airlines to raise the ‘UK’ issue and received the following reply – not sure Alex Salmond would have liked it!!
Dear Mr. xxxxxx,
Thank you for emailing Hong Kong Airlines Limited / Hong Kong Express Airways Limited.
Please be advised that our website put UK as England ,thank you