Review: Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong Airport

Introduction
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Interlude: 30 Hours In Abu Dhabi
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Review: Le Parker Meridien New York


Since we were landing at 6AM, I assumed there was no way our room would be ready by the time we got to the Grand Hyatt. As a result, we decided to have a quick shower at the airport before continuing into the city.

While arrivals lounges are pretty common for European airlines, there aren’t many Asian airlines with such an offering. Cathay Pacific offers The Arrival, which is open daily from 5AM until 12AM (which are especially long hours, because in Europe most arrivals lounges close in the early afternoon).

In terms of accessing the arrivals lounge, it’s available to Cathay Pacific first & business class passengers, as well as oneworld Emerald members. In all cases, no guests are allowed.

Upon landing we began the long walk towards immigration. Arriving at gate 19, it was quite a haul to immigration, so it took us about 15 minutes to get there, even with the moving walkways.

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Walkway to immigration Hong Kong Airport

Fortunately the queue was short, at which point we found ourselves in the arrivals hall.

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Arrivals hall Hong Kong Airport

The arrivals lounge is located in the walkway between Terminals 1 & 2.

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In our case that meant turning right after exiting immigration.

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Arrivals hall Hong Kong Airport

Once between the terminals we took the escalator down a level. This was an area immediately below the Airport Express station.

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Signage for Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong Airport

There we found ourselves in a hallway leading to various transportation options.

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Walkway to arrivals lounge

On the left side there was a Plaza Premium Lounge, while on the right side was the Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge.

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Corridor where Arrivals Lounge is located

There was quite a traffic jam to get into the arrivals lounge, as several passengers seemed to have boatloads of luggage, which the lounge doesn’t really seem equipped to handle. Within a couple of minutes we were admitted by presenting our lounge invitations.

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Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong entrance

I had visited the lounge a bit over six years ago shortly after it opened, and it somehow felt a bit smaller this time. The lounge consisted of a single large room. There was a long table with high-top seating which stretched the length of the lounge. On the counter were three iMacs.

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Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong seating

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Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong iMacs

Then near the entrance was a sitting area with eight chairs facing the TV.

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Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong seating

There was also a small business center with three PCs and a printer.

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Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong business center

And then behind the wall was a small buffet with just a few dining tables.

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Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong buffet

This was separated from the rest of the lounge by a wall which had a variety of newspapers available.

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Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong newspapers

The breakfast spread was certainly limited compared to what Cathay Pacific has on offer in their other lounges.

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Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong breakfast spread

There was cereal, toast, muffins, croissants, yogurt, whole fruit, fresh fruit juice, along with a couple of hot dishes.

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Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong breakfast spread

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Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong breakfast spread

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Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong breakfast spread

Then there was a cooler with soda and bottled water.

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Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong drink selection

There was also an espresso machine which seemed like it could have been a bit more “industrial,” given how much use it probably gets.

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Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong espresso machine

In addition to the buffet, there were a few a la carte menu options, consisting of several types of cooked to order eggs.

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Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong a la carte breakfast spread

The one thing which I really disliked about the lounge was that it was extremely hot, and the air felt “stuffy.” That’s only made worse by having just gotten off an ultra longhaul flight, where you want some sort of “fresh” air.

Anyway, the main perk of any arrivals lounge are the showers, and this lounge has about a dozen of them. Aesthetically the showers were quite nice, though there was no separation between the shower and the rest of the bathroom, so water tended to flood out of the shower.

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Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong shower room

Overall I thought the shower rooms were nicely designed, though they were also on the small side, and the air circulation didn’t seem to be very good. So you can imagine how hot the rooms got when showering.

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Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong shower room

Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong bottom line

Ultimately it’s nice that Cathay Pacific offers an arrivals lounge, as most Asian airlines don’t have such a facility. It’s certainly better than nothing, though I feel like the lounge is extremely small for the number of passengers it potentially serves. I think the main perk of this lounge is having access to showers. Other than that, I probably wouldn’t kill any time here, as the lounge itself is dark, small, and warm.

Have you ever used Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong arrivals lounge?

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Comments

  1. The trick in avoiding the crappy arrivals lounge is to have a “connection” ticket in hand that shows you are leaving within 24hrs out of HKG. (Create a ticket with points and cxl it if you have to) Proceed from immigration to the normal gates and go to the normal lounges. Once you “discover” your mistake just go to a CX rep and they will escort you through immigration again and then you can leave the airport. By this point I was several Jim Beam’s in but a great mood.

    Sounds annoying but it’s worth the extra meals and booze at the new First Pier, Wing etc. especially when you have an early arrival and hotel may not be available until mid afternoon.

  2. Agree with the lounge temperature (bordering on unbearable during my 2 visits in 2012 and May this year).

  3. It’s so odd.

    For an airline that does such an amazing job at their HKG departure lounges, their outstation lounges and now this just seem poorly thought through and executed.

    The SF lounge looks ok, but their lounges in SIN and BKK are really bad. And 12 showers with no ventilation for hundreds of people coming off longhair flights doesn’t sound awesome.

    I wonder who makes these decisions.

  4. I don’t think this lounge was ever really designed for people to linger around in. It seems catered to people coming into HK on business. Arrive, take a shower, grab a bite to eat, maybe use the business center a bit to print anything you need, then off to the meeting or whatever.

    Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if it was a bit larger.

  5. Qatar’s new JFK-DOH and DOH-JFK flight on their a350 is wide open in business class from April 2016 and on.

  6. Quick point: one must be flying on a CX-metal flight to gain access (i.e. a OW Emerald arriving on AA’s DFW-HKG will be denied entry).

    The water pressure is fantastic. After being in a hot airplane cabin, a lukewarm shower feels amazing.

    I’ve found most Asian airports like to crank up the heat (especially Japan).

  7. 1) the arrival lounge previously didn’t allow J pax in. F, OWE, and Cathay’s own Diamond and Gold members only. It has turned into a madhouse since all J pax were allowed in. It is meant to be functional not fancy, but it has lost functionality since the hoardes of early morning J pax were permitted in.

    2) a small edit lucky: Cathay’s Gold members (who are OW Sapphire) are also allowed in. Always have been, even before the lounge policy was loosened to allow all J pax.

  8. What do you mean by lounge invitations? I thought boarding cards from the previous flight was enough. Where do you get the lounge invitations?

  9. I had the same impression that it is a VERY small lounge. I stopped in just to see it and it was almost empty since we were there in the early evening. I can imagine it’s a zoo in the mornings.

  10. It is a very small lounge, but nothing beats a hot shower after a 16 hour flight, 2 hours before a meeting.

  11. Ben, OW Emerald members don’t have automatic access to the lounge based on their status. You must arrive in HKG on Cathay or Dragon to get access.

  12. Was there last week at 06:00. Hard to find. VERY small, as in the pictures don’t really capture how small it is. The lounge was full to the point of people not knowing where to place their carry on luggage as to not block the tiny walkways. Coffee machine always had people in line waiting. Shower could not maintain a consistent temperature for myself or my wife; either getting way too hot or cold.

    They did store our luggage while we went to Kowloon for the day.

  13. I have visited this lounge a few times. The biggest problem with it is the shower. They need to put in a mixing valve. Water can go from scalding hot to ice cold or vice verse. Quite dangerous, actually.

  14. @caveman, you don’t need lounge invitations, generally just an inbound ticket gets you in. Had an 8 hr connection in HKG between DEL and JFK, and was able to use the arrivals lounge to store luggage so my wife and I could go into town to get some lunch. DEL wasn’t able to give us a lounge invitation with <24 hr connection, but ticket stub worked just fine.

  15. So what do you guys think? I have a 18 hour connection so I will be staying in HK that night, but should I use the arrivals to refresh or go to the Wing First and then play dumb and ask to be escorted to immigration? If the latter, how do you go from getting out of the plane to the Wing?

  16. Can CX print out an AA boarding pass? In a few months transiting through HKG off of CX – landing around 5am then departing AA HKG-DFW at like 130. Last time I transited through HKG I waited for the AA counter to open but that was only a few hours before the flight. Would be nice to check out the other OW lounges instead of being confined to arrivals

  17. @ManalapantoSantaMonica:

    I was contemplating doing exactly this when I fly CX F to SFO-HKG in October, i.e. book a 5PM HKG-HAN flight for $18 and Avios, then cancel it once I’ve “transited” and left the airport. I arrive 6AM, so spending a couple of hours lounging in The Wing or Pier seemed easier than wandering around the city ’til my room is ready.

    My biggest concern was my checked luggage. Can I just leave it at the carousel for a few hours? Should I collect it, store it and then go back through security and immigration to get to my “connecting” flight and then pass through immigration AGAIN? Is passing through immigration twice within a couple of hours likely to result in any heightened scrutiny?

  18. I was really disappointed with the Cathay arrivals facility, especially after arriving after a CX first class flight from SFO. It was crowded; there was a long wait for a shower, and the food offerings were disappointed at best. It makes the United arrivals lounge at SFO look really good (which it is!).

  19. @Lucky how have you still not signed up for the e-entry into Hong Kong? 😛

    All you need is an airline elite card (I suppose you might have a few of these 😉 and have entered Hong Kong 2-3 times in the last year. Then you can use the e-Channel lines rather than regular immigration on both arrival and departure.

  20. @Neil S.

    The Cathay Lounge at BKK is recently renovated with the same design philosophy as the ones at HND, MNL, and of course the Pier at HKG. I don’t see how the BKK lounge is really bad.

  21. @ejcsanfran @ManalapantoSantaMonica

    I’m surprised you two bums don’t just sleep, eat and shower in the airport each night via booking and cancelling award tickets instead of springing for hotel rooms. Let me guess – the only way you could fly to HK in J or F is on points?

  22. I have used this lounge after an overnight flight to HKG and my feelings are similar to Lucky’s. Compared to CX’s other lounges at HKG, the arrival lounge is a huge disappointment. Rank air, overcrowded, no place to put your things, and disappointing food. I feel CX should either improve it or close it, as it detracts from the brand. It is not worth seeking out. I’d rather go to the hotel before check-in time and shower at the fitness center.

  23. This doesn’t even look like a CX lounge, save for the Jurlique toiletries in the bathroom. Quite disappointing.

  24. The man in the striped shirt in the photo entitled “Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong seating” – HILARIOUS. He looks like he’s about to go you with a knife! All puffed up & glaring. You are becoming quite good at photographing people with hilarious looks on their faces, Ben.

  25. Having been Lucky enough to enjoy the Wing several times. Found it hard to miss on this flight throu Hnd-Hkg F onCx But changing to TG in biz to Hkt ( So No Access) Figure the HkG$250 to cancel my dummy booking I just made worth it !

  26. If the goal is a shower before heading to Macau, do you know if we can clear transit security to make use of the regular lounges airside and head back down to access SkyPier? Or is the best option to use Arrival and head into the city to catch the ferry.

  27. Can you enter this lounge if you are arriving on a CX business class flight, have about 8 hours at the airport, and then departing on a coach CX flight?

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