Need a low-cost alternative airline for flying to Hong Kong!
November 18, 2008 4:29 PM   Subscribe

For a friend: Looking for people's advice and experiences flying Air China or Delta to Hong Kong from Los Angeles. Also looking for other low-cost alternatives to Cathay Pacific.

I was born and raised in Hong Kong, and moved to the states when I was
just a child. My family and I would travel back every couple of years to visit friends and family and we would always fly Cathay Pacific Airlines from LA to Hong Kong. Last year, we were forced to fly United and the service and plane was horrible. So horrible, that I vowed never to fly United again.

I'm planning my trip back to Hong Kong for this winter and have been looking at airfare for the past couple of weeks. To my surprise, and I don't know why, but Cathay Pacific's airfare is incredibly expensive this winter. $1,300 for a one-way economy ticket from LA to Hong Kong! So, I'm in the market to try flying with another airline.

I did a few searches on Kayak and it seems like Air China ($600 economy one-way ticket) and Delta Airlines ($730) have the cheapest ticket prices for now. How reputable are these airlines? I've read a couple of reviews on Air China and it seems like their airplanes are old and outdated. What other airlines would you suggest flying that are a somewhat low-cost alternative to Cathay Pacific?

Thanks a lot!
posted by meta87 to Travel & Transportation around Hong Kong (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've flown Air China from SFO to HKG a couple times, so it's not exactly the same, but I did find it to be a crappier flight with crappier service than other airlines. However, I got there in one piece, on time and nothing particularly unpleasant has happened. Personally, I'd choose Air China unless you could fine another airline for less than $50, but maybe that's just because I find all flights to be fairly uncomfortable anyway.
posted by bluejayk at 4:41 PM on November 18, 2008

UA dropped their LAX-HKG service, so you can blame them for the higher price on CX this year too. Delta and Air China are both reputable and safe, but if you are picky about service and aircraft age, you may be out of luck. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for.
posted by clark at 5:06 PM on November 18, 2008

if you are picky about service and aircraft age, you may be out of luck. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

Sometimes you don't even get that. I flew longhaul (MEL-HK-LHR and return) on Cathay Pacific a few months ago and was incredibly unimpressed with the service, especially with my partner getting water flooding all over him from the airconditioning duct while the plane banked, and with the unapologetic, offhand attitude of the cabin crew to that. This was one of their 'refurbished' 747s.

I won't even go into the second leg apart from mentioning the seats held together with duct tape. Never flying CX again.
posted by andraste at 6:03 PM on November 18, 2008

Have you tried going into Guangzhou instead of Hong Kong? It might be cheaper to fly into CAN and then take a ferry/bus/train into HKG.
posted by nathan_teske at 7:13 PM on November 18, 2008

LA to Taipei and back: I think I actually told my agent "Show me creative fares, I don't care about where layovers may be, but please no Air China", as I had heard awful things about them, but I loved when he showed me the fares... well, I shut up and bought 'em. And I loved the flights. Really, really good.
posted by lottie at 8:35 PM on November 18, 2008

I've flown Air China multiple times, both from SFO to Beijing and within China. They all went pretty smoothly, and the flight attendants were polite and helpful. The planes are a bit old (no screens on the back of seats) but I've never encountered any broken seats or anything. Food and in-flight entertainment sucks, so bring something to read or load a couple of movies on an ipod. Overall, their flights aren't horrible but there's not much to rave about either. Air China's safety rating is pretty good though (not like China Airlines, which is a company from Taiwan). For the price, it's actually not too bad and gets the job done.
posted by extramundane at 9:47 PM on November 18, 2008

Thanks for the comments so far! Really helpful.
posted by meta87 at 10:50 PM on November 18, 2008

I would second the possibility of flying into Guangzhou. A few years back I flew from LAX to Guangzhou on China Southern Airlines. A new 777 and the service was good (of course, I was flying business class for the first and only time but the service did appear to be decent throughout the plane).
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:24 AM on November 19, 2008

Don't you need a visa for flying into Guangzhou / Shenzhen?
posted by sleslie at 12:51 PM on November 19, 2008

Don't you need a visa for flying into Guangzhou / Shenzhen?

A US or UK citizen would need a full visa; pretty much any other nationality can apply for a 24-hr transit visa. We really don't know the OP's immigration status or if he has any active visas.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:22 PM on November 19, 2008

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