Hong Kong / Japan / Taiwan / Vietnam

My honest review of HK Express, a Hong Kong Budget Airline

As of April 15, 2020, HK Express is suspending all its flights until June 18, 2020. Check HK Express website for the latest information.

The beauty of having Hong Kong as a travel hub is flying with HK Express. Also known as Hong Kong Express Airways Limited, the airline flies to many destinations in Asia including Japan, Vietnam, Korea and Thailand.

As one of the Hong Kong budget airlines, HK Express has amazing promotions throughout the year. I flew with HK Express seven times over the last four years and saved a significant amount of money. So I want to share everything I know about the budget airline and how you can save money by flying with HK Express.

Related Post – Solo Traveller’s Guide to Hong Kong

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My HK Express review is opinions of my own, and I did not receive any compensation of any kind. I only want to share what I love. 

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How is Hong Kong Express Airways?

I have flown with many different airlines throughout my travelling life. From long-haul flights with full-service carriers to many different budget airlines throughout the world, I’ve been on too many flights that I lost count.

And it is hard to compare the low-cost airlines with the major airlines because you get what you paid for.

However, I will share with you all the reasons why I like Hong Kong Express and why I think they are a good airline in my review.

HK Express flights are affordable

HK Express prices are very competitive and the promotion prices are even more attractive.

From what I have found, rates are much lower than other larger airlines. It is possible to find flights for $15USD for a one-way trip from Hong Kong to Hualien, Taiwan! However, the price does not include check-in baggage, seat selection, in-flight meals or any other add-ons.

Ability to book a one-way ticket

You can book a round-trip ticket or a one-way ticket with HK Express. The beauty is the flexibility of flying into one city and flying home from another city. It all depends on the route or itinerary at your destination. The flexibility to have an open-jaw ticket is a definite selling point!

And the price of a one-way HK Express ticket is not inflated like other commercial airlines. For some of the major airlines, booking a one-way ticket costs more than booking a round-trip ticket. I have no clue what the reason is behind it, but all I care about is how I can book the cheapest one-way ticket. And HK Express is the answer!

HK Express travel routes

HK Express flies to many destinations in Asia. The list of cities may change from time to time, depending on the demand but the budget airline flies to a lot of popular cities in Asia. I particularly like to travel to Japan, and HK Express flies to a lot of different cities in Japan.

The list of destinations will change over time, so check the travel routes before you start planning for your trip.

Comfortable in-flight experience

I am not an expert by any means, but I can tell HK Express planes are somewhat standard regarding the quality. The size of the seat, legroom, and everything else seem “normal.” Nothing really to rave about but also nothing really to complain about either. After all, the plane ticket price is low, so you get what you paid for.

However, I will say that I find the entire plane experience to be quite good. For example, the air condition level is sufficient, the air quality is good, etc. And having a comfortable environment is especially important to me because I have a fear of being in an enclosed space and not having enough air flow. So being comfortable is extremely important to me. I felt relaxed and comfortable in my past experiences with HK Express.

Incredible promotions that you can benefit from

I have seen many low cost airlines promotions where the promotional deal is fantastic, but you only have one hour to book for a travel period that is one year away. Okay, I am exaggerating a bit, but my point is, some of the low-cost carrier promotions are hard to take advantage of.

With HK Express promotions, the booking period is quite generous. And the travel period is really long, i.e. sometimes the travel period can be up to six months!

I really took advantage of online promotions. For example, I was able to book a return trip to Japan in January for a travel period from September to October. I only paid $150USD!

Most of all, I saved a ton of money in the last three years flying with HK Express. I paid $510USD for seven flights. If I purchased my tickets with other competitors, I would spend at least $1,585 for all the same flights. I saved $1,075USD! That is a 67% savings!

HK Express destinations

I have flown with HK express a couple of times in the past few years. They operate within Asia and to most major cities.

Currently, HK Express has routes to the following countries:

  • Cambodia – Siem Reap
  • China – Ningbo
  • Japan – Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Takamatsu, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Kagoshima, Ishigaki
  • Korea – Seoul, Jeju, Busan
  • TaiwanTaichung
  • Thailand – Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket
  • U.S. Territories – Saipan
  • Vietnam – Da Nang, Nha Trang

Is HK Express safe?

To be honest, I didn’t look up any safety records or reviews for HK Express. I may have done that briefly in the past but didn’t research too much about it.

And over the last little while, there were a few incidents regarding low-cost carriers: not minor incidences, but horrific accidents.

But the same incidents can happen to any type of airline carriers.

So it really makes me think, I would be safest to stay on the ground! But it would mean that I will never travel again. What is the point in that?

However, air travel is considered to be one of the safest forms of transportation.

I have flown with HK Express several times in the past few years and haven’t had any issues.

HK Express is accredited by the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), and a member of the Flight Safety Foundation. But to me and the general public, it probably doesn’t mean much.

Regarding user experience, I feel the airline crew on the plane takes safety very seriously especially when it comes to putting on seatbelts, being seated while the seatbelt sign is on, etc. I can see that the flight attendants comply with all the necessary procedures before they close the door and before take-off. They follow instructions and procedures to make sure all the passengers are safe and well.

I don’t know what goes behind the scene, but from what I experienced, I feel HK Express does take all the necessary precautions to create a safe environment for all the passengers.

Loyalty Program: Asia Miles

You can earn Asia Miles when you fly with HK Express.

The previous loyalty program, Reward-U, is no longer.

The downside of HK Express

However, there are a few negatives of HK Express. Let’s dissect this, shall we?

1. Check-in baggage fees

If you travel with more than a 7kg carry-on bag, you will have to pay more for check-in baggage.

When you purchase your airline ticket online, you have an opportunity to buy check-in baggage at the time of booking. The price starts from $229HKD for a 20kg check-in baggage.

If you didn’t purchase check-in baggage as an option during your initial booking, you can either add it to your ticket afterwards online for a higher rate or pay even more at the check-in counter on the day you travel.

Excessive baggage weight (over 30kg), and sports equipment are additional costs as well. So check the full listing for all the baggage fee before you book your ticket.

The beauty of a low-cost carrier is the affordability for the actual plane ticket because it is typically cheaper than other airlines. However, you will have to pay for each piece of luggage you check-in.

Related Post – How to pack carry-on luggage under 7kg

2. Purchasing in-flight food

Your HK Express flight ticket does not include in-flight food. However, you can pre-order food while you are booking your ticket. Or you can purchase food when you are on the plane. It is 20% cheaper to pre-order your meal.

If you do try the in-flight food, the quality of the food is quite good, and it is not too expensive. The HK Express menu has hot and cold Asian meals, beverages (regular and alcoholic) and snacks.

I’m not sure if it’s really a disadvantage for HK Express especially if the flight is short, then you really don’t care if there’s food or not. It would be nice to have food for longer flights as all the other major airline competitors offer food (but their prices are also higher).

And you cannot bring your own food and beverage onboard. However, I don’t think the flight attendants will be mad if you brought your own candy or chocolate. Just don’t bring a whole take-out container of food!

Related Post – Try the best local food in Hong Kong

HK Express promotions I found in the past

I have flown seven times with the budget airline the past four years and have found their prices to be very affordable. I’ve listed all of my previous trips below and the promotions I found online.

From Hong Kong to Korea

In 2016, I flew to Seoul, Korea from Hong Kong for a short vacation. The outbound flight was $100USD, and the return flight was $75USD. And I purchased the ticket a month before my departure date. A larger competitor airline charges $330USD or more, and you have to book your ticket as a round trip ticket, not one-way.

From Hong Kong to Japan

In 2017, I spent three months in Japan. I paid $95USD flying into Osaka, Japan and flew back to Hong Kong from Tokyo, Japan for $75USD. A larger competitor airline charges $440USD or more for a return flight between Hong Kong and Tokyo. Moreover, the airline charges more if you book your ticket as a one-way ticket. A sample price for a one-way ticket for Hong Kong to Tokyo is $900USD. It costs less to book a return ticket! Bizarre!

Around January 2018, there was a promotion for flights between Hong Kong and many destinations in Japan. I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to book a trip nine months in advance, but I’m sure glad I did!

So I booked a flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo, Japan for $100USD and a flight from Kagoshima, Japan to Hong Kong for $50USD. A competitor charges about $680USD for a round trip ticket between Hong Kong and Kagoshima where you have to transit in Tokyo. But a one-way ticket from Hong Kong to Kagoshima costs more than $1000USD! It is insane that a one-way ticket cost more a return ticket!

Related Post – See Japan in one month from Tokyo to Hiroshima

From Hong Kong to Taiwan

Earlier this year, I flew to Hualien, Taiwan from Hong Kong for $15USD! Yes, I typed $15USD!! I paid $15USD for a 1.5-hour flight from Hong Kong to the east coast of Taiwan! And I didn’t have to book it months in advance. A larger competitor airline charges $270USD or more for a round trip ticket, and you have to connect via Taipei or Kaohsiung in Taiwan. (Note: the route from Hong Kong to Hualien, Taiwan is no longer available on HK Express).

Related Post – How to spend 3 weeks in Taiwan

From Hong Kong to Thailand

I was browsing on HK Express website and saw a promotion for flights from Hong Kong to Chiang Rai, Thailand. A return ticket from Hong Kong to Chiang Rai with HK Express costs about $100USD. I found this deal at the end of October of 2018, and the trip was for the beginning of November to December of the same year. Again, the competitor airline charges anywhere from $350USD, and you have to connect via Bangkok, Thailand.

How to save money with Hong Kong Express

Sign up for HK Express newsletter and book with promotion code

First things first, sign up for HK Express newsletter, and they will notify you of their promotions.

There are many promotions throughout the year. They promote specific routes or have promotions like get your return ticket for $1HKD.

I read the newsletter religiously because the promotions are not advertised in great lengths on the website. Each deal has a specific discount code so make sure to enter the code when you search for flights.

Browse HK Express website

Whenever you are planning a trip, and you are flying from Hong Kong, check the HK Express website and see if there are any current promotions.

The website doesn’t have a section for last minute tickets, but the homepage will display the current special offers. Play around with the destinations and dates to see the actual cost of the flight. You’d be surprised how cheap the tickets cost!

It is that easy to save lots of money while flying with HK Express.

Is HK Express for you?

Air travel can be quite expensive. But if you can take advantage of promotions and flying with low-cost carriers, you can save a ton of money.

You can really benefit from all the savings by flying with HK Express. Flying with HK Express is perfect for you if you are:

  • Based in Hong Kong or travelling from Hong Kong to other Asian cities
  • Flexible in when you travel
  • Flexible to where you go
  • Travel with a 7kg or less carry-on bag and one personal item (handbag, laptop bag or camera bag)
  • Want the flexibility to book one-way tickets or open-jaw tickets

Then HK Express can be an excellent choice for you. You can save a ton of money by flying with the Hong Kong budget airline while visiting all your favourite cities in Asia.

Related Post – How to pack less for your next trip

My HK Express review: yay or nay?

Definitely a yay!

It has been such a saving grace for me in the past four years living in Hong Kong. HK Express flies to most of the places I want to explore at ridiculously low prices. Flying with anyone else is hard. Their prices are hard to compete with!

I’m not an affiliate for HK Express, but I genuinely like the airline, the affordability, and the range of destinations the airline flies to.

I hope you find HK Express review useful. Let me know in the comments if you like HK Express and have any memorable travel experiences with them.

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 18+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

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