Tried & Tested

Airline review: Hong Kong Airlines A350 business class

4 Jan 2018 by Valerian Ho
HKA A350

BACKGROUND

Hong Kong Airlines took delivery of its new A350 in September 2017. The aircraft has been deployed on its new route to Los Angeles, which launched on December 18, 2017.

LA airport

CHECK-IN

My shuttle arrived at the Tom Bradley International Terminal B at around 0730 for my 1045 flight HX69. The terminal was very busy that morning and the driver needed some time to find a parking space.

The departure hall was very crowded and it was not easy to find Hong Kong Airlines counters, though I finally spotted a signboard pointing to check-in area A.

HKA counters at LA

There was a short queue in the business class lane, and it took around ten minutes to check-in.

TSA passenger screening is on departure level 4, which can be reached via the escalator next to the Hong Kong Airlines counters. Again, there was hardly a queue, and I was airside by 8am.

LA International Lounge

THE LOUNGE

Hong Kong Airlines business class passenger can use the LA International Lounge located on level 6, around a three-minute walk from security (Hong Kong Airlines provided very clear directions to the lounge on the Lounge Invitation ticket).

LA International Lounge 3

The lounge was not crowded that morning. It was spacious and had plenty of seats. There is a balcony, which has a clear view of the terminal. The overall design is modern, with grey, white and red as the main colour tone, and there are a lot of USB ports in the facility.

LA International Lounge 5

Since it was the morning, the food choice was more limited than perhaps the rest of the day. It included cup noodles, sandwiches and pastries. There was also Starbucks coffee, and alcoholic beverages available.

LA Airport gate
LA Airport gate

BOARDING

I left the lounge at 10am and made the one-minute walk to gate 148. Boarding began five minutes later.

HKA A350 biz cabin

THE SEAT

The 334-seat A350 has 33 business class seats from row 11 to 21 (without 13 and 14). The seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration and each passenger can enjoy direct aisle access. Row 11 does not have seat H as the space is occupied by a wardrobe.

The seat product is similar to that on the A330. It has a generous 44-inch seat pitch. There are also some new details, like the carpets, the pillows and blankets (present in the seat upon boarding) are now a modern grey instead of purple colour.

HKA A350 biz seat 1

The airline has gotten rid of the massage function in the seat, but the touch panel control has been improved with easy to select options and better responsiveness. The in-seat magazine rack has been moved to seat level to allow more space in and around the side table, which is complete with two USB ports (while international charging points are under the seat).

HKA A350 table

Other highlights included the work/dining table, held vertically in the seatback panel. It is very firm which is useful for working and eating. Another smart design note is that a passenger can push the table away and leave the seat without having to first clear it.

THE FLIGHT

I settled down in my seat 16A. A crew member offered me a welcome drink with an orange juice and water. I was given a menu and the crew noted down my pre-meal drink option.

Doors closed and we pushed back at 1045 before taking off at 1100. After the seatbelt sign was switched off, a crew member distributed slippers and amenity kits, which consisted of eye mask, socks, dental kits, earplugs and L’occitane hand cream and lip balm.

HKA A350 drinks

One of the cabin crew then took my order for the in-flight meal and delivered my drink (lemon tea) and nuts, followed by the lunch.

Birds eye view of new Business Class tableware

Hong Kong Airlines has introduced newly designed chinaware, glassware, and cutlery in business class, which has been inspired by the Bauhinia flower as seen in Hong Kong Airlines’ logo.

The starter was an organic side salad, abalone celeriac mousse tart and sliced lobster with lemon chimichurri sauce. I was impressed to see such a wide range just in the starter, and the lobster and abalone were delicious.

HKA A350 soup

A Chinese bean curd, ginkgo and diced pork soup followed. It was great to see an airline serving soup, which isn’t that common, and an added bonus to enjoy a taste of home.

HKA A350 main

Main course options included vegetarian, beef and chicken. I chose the latter: chicken breast stuffed with peppadew pepper and mozzarella in demi-glace sauce, roasted sweet potatoes and seasonal vegetables. The whole dish was colourful and tasted good.

HKA A350 dessert

My meal was wrapped up with a chocolate cake.

HKA A350 business flatbed

The cabin lights dimmed and changed to a purple colour tone. I reclined my seat into a fully-flat bed to get some sleep. It has a generous length – I am 190cm (6’ 2”) tall and still had room to spare when lying down. The armrest has also been built wider, which is useful during the flight, and the space between the semi-open foot well has been partially blocked with a cushion, thus avoiding my foot falling into the gap when sleeping. I had a really good sleep for around six hours.

HKA A350 mid-flight snack

I woke up because of turbulence. The attentive crew asked if I wanted a mid-flight snack – vegetarian brioche sandwich with pepper jack cheese and mixed vegetable, assorted Chinese dim sum or cheese plate. I ordered the dim sum, consisting of sticky rice and rice noodle roll, which was a good option.

Wifi is available on the flight with each passenger granted 15-minutes access for free. After that, the charges are: US$4.95 Chart Pass, US$8.95 One-hour Pass and US$18.95 full-flight Pass. I purchased the full-flight package. There were no problems with sending messages, but sending photos was a bit slow. However, it is worth purchasing for the 15-hour flight, particularly if you have emails and work to do.

I also spent some time navigating the IFE system, which was smooth and responsive with a wide range of movies, music and TV programme options, plus live broadcasts of CNN, BBC World News and Sports24. Passengers can also experience take-off and landing from different aircraft camera view points.

Cabin lights went on two hours before landing for the refreshment service. The starter comprised fresh fruit while the main course had two options: beef lasagna with herb marinara and chive Alfredo sauce or roasted BBQ pork in Chinese five spice sauce, steamed rice, fried egg and seasonal vegetable. I chose the rice as I really missed my hometown food such as the BBQ pork (cha siu), however felt it could have benefited from some sauce. The meal was completed with cheesecake and cassis mousse.

ARRIVAL

A crew member came to each passenger to say thank you and goodbye before the flight started descend at 1800, which was a nice personal touch. We landed smoothly at 1830. Immigration was not busy and it didn’t take much time to collect my priority luggage and clear customs.

VERDICT

The 15-hour journey flew by. I enjoyed the comfortable lie-flat bed to rest, and had plenty of time to do some work on a firm table and strong wifi connectivity. I also appreciated the excellent service as the cabin crew took care of me and made me feel at home during the flights.

PRICE

A return business ticket in mid-April starts from HK$21,992 (US$2,813) including taxes, fees and charges.

FLIGHT TIME

15 hours 35 minutes

AIRCRAFT TYPE

A350-900

CONFIGURATION

1-2-1

SEAT RECLINE

180 degrees

SEAT WIDTH

23 inches

SEAT PITCH

44 inches

BED LENGTH

84 inches

CONTACT

hongkongairlines.com

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