Let me tell you about Hong Kong Airlines.
For some reason, when I booked my flight from Hong Kong to Taipei with them, I was under the impression they were a reputable airline. I'm not quite sure why. It was a wrong impression.
|Courtesy of google, https://www.planespotters.net/airframe/Airbus/A330/1051/B-LNZ-Hong-Kong-Airlines|
Ok, in all fairness, they were much more efficient than, for example, Jetstar, to inform of a flight time change. Oh, they informed me weeks in advance about my flight time change. Except they missed the tiny little detail of when the new departure time was. They also sent me a helpful text. “Old departure time: – - New departure time: --” Thank you so much, Hong Kong Airlines.
So, when they never followed that e-mail or text up with the revised departure time, I sent customer service an e-mail. They immediately sent me back a lovely automated e-mail thanking me of my query and promising a reply within 24 hours. Excellent.
After about 48 hours, I resent the message to a different e-mail address.
I sent three e-mails altogether. No reply to any of them.
It came to the day of my flight and it was time for online check-in. My mobile informed me that it cannot open a new tab (to get to the check in page) before closing any old ones, regardless of the fact that I had a grand total of one tab open at that current moment in time. Well, that wasn't Hong Kong Airlines' fault, just my silly cheapo Vietnamese smart phone-wannabe's, but still. I tried checking in on James' computer, which didn't work either. (Dunno if it was James' computer's fault, which I doubt, because I blame Hong Kong Airlines.)
Eventually I got my dad, in Europe, to check me in onto my flight. That worked, fortunately, and he was also able to tell me that the departure time was still the same as it was from the start. No change after all.
By the time I got to the airport, my original perception of the high quality of Hong Kong Airlines had retreated into the same corner of unicorn-filled Neverland that included polite, considerate, Vietnamese truck drivers with impeccable driving records.
I wasn't surprised that my flight was due to depart from gate 512, which is probably the furthest away gate there is.
I reached the gate, and they informed us we were boarding on time. I joined the queue. We waited, and waited, and waited. We saw the shuttle bus behind the closed doors of the gate, and it was waiting there for a good twenty-ish minutes. The airport officials did come check our passport and tickets though - this involved a single girl, vaguely haphazardly choosing who to come up to next, and taking a quick look at your documents. I'm sure you could've, without even seriously trying, got through the gate without your passport being checked, just by edging slightly forwards in the loosely held-up queue.
When we finally got onto the bus, and the bus drove up to our plane, we were given the exciting opportunity to have a pleasant, cosy ten-minute wait locked inside it, staring hungrily at the steps to the aeroplane. We watched a few random guys walk down the steps, and a few minutes later a gaggle of three or four chatty, laughing ladies who I deducted to be the cleaners, judging by their outfits and the bin bags they were carrying. It was quite interesting – obviously there are aeroplane cleaners, but for my whole previous 24 years they have managed to stay hidden from the passengers.
So, after a few more random people had descended the steps of our aircraft, the bus doors opened and we were allowed up and in.
As you can maybe guess, the quality of their organisational skills was comparable to the skills of an average Vietnamese waiter / waitress correctly taking in your complicated food order. There was no “rows 1-12 board first”, no “passengers in window seats board first”. Additionally, this was a surprisingly big aircraft, one of those long-haul ones with two seats, then four in the middle, then another two (and your own TV screen, which I never did try out...). And they had no concept of directing the passengers to the correct aisle, resulting in, as you may imagine, slight chaos.
I happily found my seat quite quickly, settled down and spent an entertaining ten minutes watching my fellow passengers not find their seats and the stressed air hostesses trying to lead them in the right direction, sometimes climbing over other seats or grouping together in one row, waiting for the passengers to get past. All in all, a captivating experience.
Nonetheless, when we finally got going, the flight did go well though, with a smooth landing in Taipei. And there were plenty of plusses: the air hostesses did try their best and they were friendly and had awesome outfits, you got free newspapers, there was plenty of leg room (not complaining about the big aircraft!), it was half-empty...
So, would I recommend Hong Kong Airlines? I must admit, as I just did, that it wasn't all massively straightforward, but they did manage to redeem themselves eventually. How, I hear you ask? You got a warm, FREE sausage roll on the flight. Seriously, what else could you ask for. And I'm not even being sarcastic. I think.
|Courtesy of google|
Anyhoos, made it alive to Taiwan! Aaaaaaand next stop: Taipei 101!