Recently, I had a fetish for Cathay Pacific, so much so that I booked 2 flights on it, which meant that I had 2 chances to explore the Premium Plaza lounges before catching my flight from Hong Kong International Airport.
My first trip included a transit through HKIA, while the 2nd one was a flight into Hong Kong itself. Therefore, I had less time at HKIA transit area in the former, considering that I had to clear the crazy transit screening in the short transit time I had (which didn’t help considering that the flight out of Singapore was delayed by 2 hours!).
For my first trip then, I could only visit the lounge on my return journey. And since I didn’t really fly through HKIA that frequently, I was rather disoriented after I cleared the security screening from my arriving flight, so I followed my instinct and found my way to the nearest Premium Plaza lounge at Gate 1.
(Note that even though I said “2 Premium Plaza lounges”, I was referring to those that were open to passengers who wanted to use an airline lounge despite not flying premium classes. Each of those PP lounge in HKIA has a “twin” lounge that is only for premium passengers, so one can’t enter even if he has the money. Unfortunately, I belong to the cattle class…)
The PP lounge near Gate 1 was, well, also near the immigration and security, so it was definitely a very convenient lounge to drop by. The curse of that location mean it was also super crowded!
Finding a space in the lounge was like finding a seat at a hawker centre during lunch time. Being alone, I had to make do with a “workstation”. They had long benches for communal style eating and some small cafe style tables for a more intimate session, which were all out of my capabilities to “chope” a place for myself.
All in all, I could not find the comfort I experienced in other lounges like those found in Singapore Changi Airport or Shanghai Pudong Airport.
Food wise, the range was just decent and the quality falling short of Hong Kong standards. Granted, you could find a range of savoury and sweet treats, but they were very limited in variety within each category. I liked the Fish Siew Mai the most, which almost tasted like fish balls with skin, and the others, like the noodles were passable. Surprisingly, I could not find bottled water like I did in other lounges, which was a big minus for this lounge.
Due to the crowd and constricted space, the lounge was noisy. Therefore, even though I wanted to have some quiet rest (I woke up early to catch my flight into Hong Kong), I was unable to do so. In fact, the lounge was so mass market that people brought their whole families of rowdy kids, which made the whole place felt more like a food court than an airport lounge meant for transit passengers to rest.
Since the lounge did not have a single window (it was located in the middle of the terminal’s space), the designers took on a dark design theme with soft lighting and heavy furniture. While this may work for high end lounges, the crowd packed into the small space made everything feel claustrophobic.
I would most likely visit this lounge only at super off peak timing, or when I am really rushing for time and yet needed a space to either work on my laptop or fill my tummy.
The other Plaza Premium lounge which I visited on another trip was like another petal on the same flower: similar, but different.
Located all the way at Gate 40 (located at the junction before the terminal forked out into 2 finger piers), one has to take the shuttle train to reach it. Though I made it sound like a tedious journey, it only took me about 5 minutes to reach the lounge from the immigration counters.
Due to the distance from the security screening, this part of the terminal was more peaceful and the same tranquility could be felt in the lounge too. Interestingly, it was also larger than the busier lounge near Gate 1, which add on to the overall positive experience of the place.
They served the same food as those found at Gate 1, so I shall skip this part. In terms of seating, there is a wider range of seat options, as well as availability. They have those pod-like seats for working, sofa, booth types, bar style and café types. Due to the size, they also had satellite food stations, though the choices are definitely less than that found in the main dining area.
Since this lounge was designed to be open concept, the sunlight streaming into the space made everything looked more cheerful – this was more palatable for tired travellers, I suppose.
I managed to find shower amenities in this lounge, though the toilet was rather disappointing. Not only was it small (and constantly occupied), it was not that well-maintained.
If you have to spend time at a lounge (not as a premium class passenger) at HKIA, do make the effort to drop by at this Plaza Premium lounge near Gate 40. The quiet and comfortable ambience definitely makes this a better option than the one near Gate 1 (which was supposed to be more convenient)!
Bonus! There’s Food Around the Lounge!
OK, one of the reasons why I recommend using the Plaza Premium lounge near Gate 40 was also because it was just above the food court.
It’s not that it was the only food court; there is one just right after the immigration clearance (which was also where you find the Premium Plaza Lounge near Gate 1). If you ever tried to look for public eating place after clearing security screening, you would definitely find yourself lost with that horrendous crowd; people were standing around prowling for seats vacated by others and tables were not cleared in time so you would be eating with the leftovers of the previous users.
Shuttle yourself to Gate 40 and you will find yourself in a “different airport”.
This junction also houses shopping and eatery, but the area was much quieter. Though still crowded (HKIA is after all one of the busiest airports in the world), it was still possible for me, as a lone traveller, to find seats at the food court.
Chee Kei 池记 Wanton Noodle
For me, I went for this Chee Kei stall selling wanton noodles. Unbeknownst to me at that point of time, it was actually quite well known in Hong Kong. (And guess what? They opened an outlet in Changi Airport as well!) Waiting time was long, which didn’t bother me, since well, the queues at the other stalls were long too.
The noodles were dry and stiff, which was no wonder, because when I peered into the kitchen, I saw they had pre-prepared the noodles; there were plates of noodles stacked in the kitchen. Instead, the wantons were prepared on-demand, so we can guess what was the signature item…
The wantons didn’t disappoint. They were a mixture of prawns and pork, and there were actually 2 prawns in each wanton! The prawns were fresh and firm and the pairing with meat gave them a very well-rounded texture.
I also ordered a bowl of “wanton in spicy sauce”, which was exactly what the name suggested. Oh well, I didn’t know they used the same dumplings for the noodles and this spicy wantons at the point of ordering, so I ended up A LOT OF dumplings to clear. That was still OK, considering that I didn’t find the noodles itself fascinating (and I didn’t finish the noodles either). The gravy was spicy, mind you, though I liked the kick from the vinegar added to the mix. My suggestion was to finish this spicy version first, before eating the “standard” version to clear your palette.
Now, remember I was reviewing about the Premium Plaza lounge? Despite the not-so-wonderful food options in both lounges, the one located near Gate 40 won not only for its less-crowdedness, but also because of its proximity to the food court. If you don’t like the food you find in the lounge, you can always drop by the food court where the quality is more or less guaranteed.
By the way, because I wasn’t expecting much from the food at Plaza Premium lounge (after my previous experience at the one near Gate 1), I actually had my fill with Chee Kei Wanton Noodles before I went into the lounge at Gate 40, because well, there will be a meal served onboard, so I didn’t want to eat my fill so near to my boarding time lol
This is actually my first post dedicated entirely on airline lounges, so I hope you enjoyed reading it! Take a look at my other posts on my KLM’s Business Class experience, or my experience at at The Haven at Changi Airport Terminal 3 for more lounge-related reviews!
Also, subscribe to my blog if you enjoyed my blog and be informed when my next foodie entry is posted! Till then, stay wanderlust!
The pictures of this post were taken using Google Pixel XL and Olympus TG870. The video, also posted on Youtube, was edited using Flimora.