Hong Kong (HKG) is one of Asia’s premier financial hubs and a very popular destination with good connections from London. There are a number of airlines flying London to Hong Kong (6,000 miles) non-stop with a flight time of around 12 hours.
In the past, an economy class airfare under £400 was seen as value for this route – however airfares have been somewhat firmer with the significant increases in UK Air Passenger Duty.
Good value business sale class fares have been in the £1,400-£2,000 band – but the £2k-£3k level is standard. In this article we will review all airlines flying London to Hong Kong – but first here are a few factors to consider:
Flight Times – Our preference is to leave London in the late evening and arrive in Hong Kong late afternoon – giving time to get to your accommodation, have an evening meal and then an early night.
Non-stop vs Connections – Obviously it is preferable to fly non-stop but you may find lower fares with a connecting airline. When flying via a hub airport watch out for long connection times.
Alliances – If you have frequent flyer membership(s), you may want to earn miles/points with your preferred alliance. Oneworld dominates this route with British Airways and Cathay Pacific flying non-stop – note, however that Qantas has exited and Star Alliance’s Air New Zealand will also drop the route shortly.
Peak Season – Avoid flying to HKG around the Christmas holiday period and also Chinese new year (next dates: Feb 10 2013, Jan 31 2014, Feb 19 2015, Feb 8 2016).
Exchange Rate – The Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) is pegged to the US dollar. The current rate to pound sterling is £1 to HKD12.25. The best time to visit Hong Kong is during weakness in the US dollar. It’s possible that in the future the peg will be removed and the HKD will be tied to the Chinese yuan.
Airlines flying non-stop LON to HKG:
Cathay Pacific – 4x daily flights from London Heathrow, 3 using Boeing 747s and 1 with B777-300. Offers economy (32″ pitch) and new premium economy seats (38″ pitch). Excellent business class and first class products with full flat seats. Cathay has its own lounges at Heathrow T3.
British Airways – 2x daily flights using B747s and a popular option for UK travellers and BA Executive Club members. Economy seat pitch quite tight at 31″ – alternatively you can pay extra for an exit row (£50 fee booked between 14 and 4 days before flying, subject to availability) or choose to fly premium economy with 38″ pitch. BA’s business class Club World, in our experience, is a a very decent all-round product – try to choose a seat on the upper deck (with 2-2 config) as the main deck has a more cramped feel at 2-4-2. Watch for BA sale fares.
Virgin Atlantic – Daily flight to HKG using Airbus A340-600. Standard 31″ pitch in economy – the A340s 2-4-2 config means plenty of availability for couples wanting to sit together in a 2-seater window row. Upper class is 1-1-1 in original herringbone arrangement; on the ground there are the excellent Clubhouse lounges. Prices similar to BA.
Air New Zealand – Non-stop option for Star Alliance members with 5x weekly LHR-HKG flights using B777-200ER. Good economy seats with up to 33″ pitch. Pacific Premium Economy has 41″ pitch on the 777 while the impressive business class is a flat seat 1-1-1 herringbone arrangement. Note this service is set to be dropped from March 2013.
Finnair – This is a viable Oneworld option as Finnair is able to take the shorter northern routes to Asia. Daily (late evening) flight from Helsinki to Hong Kong using an Airbus A340 taking just under 10 hours. 3 hour hop from London (A320s) with departures spread throughout the day. Good product and service and some competitive prices on offer.
Jet Airways – Flies LHR to HKG via Mumbai or Delhi. Flights from London on a B777 or A330 takes around 9 hours; onward flights to HKG on an A330. Offers some good economy and business fares but watch for connection waiting times and night-time flights.
Emirates – Flies from London to Hong Kong via its Dubai hub. London Gatwick to Dubai flown with B777-300ER with 10 across economy seating (3-4-3 instead of the standard 3-3-3). Dubai-Hong Kong operated by both 777-300ER and Airbus A380. Watch for connection time in Dubai.
Qatar Airways – Operates London Heathrow to Doha flights with a variety of aircraft (B787s, B777s, A340s, A330s) and then Doha-Hong Kong on A330s. As with Emirates, when choosing flights watch for long transit times – total journey times range from 16 hours to 36 hours. If flying business choose the lie flat seats on the 787 with 1-2-1 configuration.
Other European carriers serving Hong Kong are Air France-KLM (via Paris or Amsterdam), Lufthansa (via Frankfurt or Munich) and Swiss (via Zurich). Other main Asian carriers that can get you from London to Hong Kong are Korean Air, Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines – where you can find some flights on the A380.
Some more “offbeat” options from London to Hong Kong:
Turkish Airlines – Occasional competitive fares in economy and business via its Istanbul hub. IST-HKG operated using Boeing 777s.
Air China – Flies London to Beijing (A330) and then the 3 hour hop to HKG on an A320.
Royal Jordanian – Another Oneworld carrier with flights via its Amman hub using Airbus A330s. Note the Amman-Hong Kong flight makes a stop in Bangkok.
China Eastern Airlines – Flies London-Shanghai-Hong Kong and offers some low business fares. Be aware of long total journey times of circa 30 hours.
Aeroflot – Skyteam’s Russian carrier flies London Heathrow to Hong Kong via Moscow using Airbus aircraft. Can offer reasonable business class fares but watch for some overnight connections.
Article last updated January 2013.