My wife and I have flown from the US to Hong Kong several times, and have become pretty savvy when it comes to when to fly, where to book your tickets and which airlines are the best and what to avoid.
WHEN TO FLY
Prices are actually more affordable than you would expect, IF YOU KNOW WHEN TO FLY. Busy season for flights to Hong Kong are December (during Christmas time because all the overseas students go home for the holiday), Late January, Early February (depending when Chinese New Year falls) and late May – Early June (when school gets out). For those dates when i am writing this (October 2016) you can expect to pay a round trip cost of $1500-$2000 for an economy class fare with most of the major airlines. NOW if you can avoid these times you can expect to pay less than half that. My wife and I were able to find direct flight, round trip tickets from LA or San Francisco to Hong Kong for less than $600. Much better on the wallet and actually considering its a 15 hour flight, very reasonable. If you can avoid those 3 busy times, its more affordable than you would think!
WHERE TO BOOK YOUR TICKETS
When it comes to flights to Hong Kong most of the major ticket providers are going to be priced pretty much the same. Expedia, Hotwire, Priceline, etc…. are all going to have the same fares on the airlines across the board. The major airlines that fly to Hong Kong are Delta, United, Asiana and Cathay Pacific, plus a few smaller airlines and a few China based airlines. Prices will vary from airline to airline and there is a reason for it. (See below) There have been a few new travel sites that have come on board that I have become quite fond of. Skyscanner.com is fairly new to the US and they are great for cheap domestic fares, found round trip from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas for less than $50 during the summer. Skyscanner basically takes all the prices from the vacation sites (like expedia, Priceline, Hotwire etc…) and prices them against each other, similar to kayak.com does, but skyscanner.com does it quicker and cleaner, plus with a few lesser know sites like exploretrip.com and a few others. I havent found the same savings on international flights that i have on domestic but you might want to check there. Also, check directly with the airlines themselves, you will often find fares that are cheaper than the bulk rate sites.
WHICH AIRLINE IS BEST TO FLY TO HONG KONG?
This really comes down to personal preference and what your needs are. We have flown Asiana, United, Delta and Cathay Pacific. For me if I am sitting on an airplane FOR 15 FRIGGING HOURS I ask for a few things. Comfortable seat, good inflight entertainment, good service and decent food. That’s it, planes are not any faster from one airline to other, its 15 hours folks so you must be comfortable. Here are my ratings for the best and the worst airlines we have flown and the others will fall in between.
NOTE: I am a cheapwawd so these ratings are based on bottom of the barrel economy fares. If you have an extra $3000 to $10,000 you want to pay for business or first class seats be my guest, your experience may differ, but for the rest of us don’t have that luxury, these ratings are for you. If you are thinking that it’s the late 90’s and you can trick the system and get that extra leg room exit seat, tough, they now charge you an extra $200-$300 for that juicy seat :). Sorry.
UNITED AIRLINES FROM LAX TO HONG KONG (overall D)
The only thing saving them from a solid F was there service was decent. The seats and leg room are a joke. LEG ROOM – I have flown on old WW2 looking Alaska Air plane from SLC to Vegas that had more leg room than a flight from LAX to Hong Kong on United. The seats are tiny. ENTERTAINMENT – No personal TV. A lot of the other airlines will have hour own little personal TV attached to the headrest of the seat in front of you. Not on United though. They basically have a community TV in aisles that you get what you get when it comes to movies. FOOD – The food on United is terrible. We have breakfast that was an American omelet thing that was soggy and honestly gross. I am nearly 300lbs and eat just about anything, but even I couldn’t stomach it. For Lunch/Dinner that had a few choices, the best of which was a Chinese noodle dish that, honestly, if i cooked a bowl of lo mein noodles, then went to the pantry blindfolded and started putting stuff with the noodles would have tasted better. I am not exaggerating here. Others, most asian, sitting around us on the plane were looking at their food funny also. Overall, if you want to save $50-$100 on your round trip ticket to Hong Kong but want to be miserable for 15 hours, United is your best bet.
UNITED PROS: Cheap, but not by much, for the same price you can book Delta.
UNITED CONS: Zero leg room, with narrow seats, terrible food, aisle way shared tv for entertainment.
CATHAY PACIFIC FORM LAX TO HONG KONG (overall A)
If you are flying to Hong Kong you should stick with the airline that originated in Hong Kong (I am sure they have now been sold off to some major airline). They know how to do it right. LEGROOM – You will salivate as you walk to the back of the plane and see the luxury sofas and oceans of legroom those first class and business class people get (buy hey, some of them spent close to $10,000 for their luxury), you won’t to be too disappointed when you get to your seat. The seats and legroom get narrower and less legroom the further back you walk, but once you sit down you realize that it’s not that bad. Tight quarters, but manageable. ENTERTAINMENT – You will immediately want to start messing with your own personal entertainment device looking you straight in the eyes. They are now touch screen and have lots of great things to keep you occupied for 15 hours! (not really, but you will be happier than you would with United’s entertainment.) They had around 20 newly released movies all within one touch. Games like battleship and solitaire (good for inbetween movies) and a few tv shows. They had selections in English and Chinese. You can pound about 5 movies pretty easily if you wanted during the flight. Once you sit down you are greeted by a smiling face and a warm towel and cup of juice. Ahhhhhhh! not to shabby for us cheap wads in the back of the plane. THE FOOD – for airplane food they do a great job. Each meal has fruit, veggies and a main dish. They have selections for the American and Chinese palate. We had 2 main meals during the 15 hour flight, breakfast and a dinner. BUT you do have cup noodles just a touch of screen touch screen away. They will bring them to you with a cup of water or tea whenever you have the cravings. Not too bad ehh? Kick back and watch a newly released movie and enjoy a some cup noodles.
Now, Cathay Pacific will cost you $100-$200 more, but trust the Fat Gwailo here. It’s worth it. All the other airlines don’t compare. If anything just steer clear of United.
CATHAY PACIFIC FLIGHTS FROM LAX TO HONG
PROS: Legroom, Food, In flight entertainment, service.
CONS: You will need to shell out an additional $100-$200 pesos.
There you have it! Book your trip to Hong Kong and avoid the busy holidays. Do your homework on the ticket prices, you will save a bit. Finally, choose the right airline that fits your needs.