Vietnam, Cambodia, Macau and Hong Kong Trip Report: The First Class Side of the Pier Lounge and Flat Seats Hong Kong – Ho Chi Minh City

Index:

I like the Hong Kong airport a lot. It’s generally bright, there are great amenities, and I love all the different planes taking off and landing from there that I don’t see at home on a regular basis.

Plus, from a connecting perspective, transfer security is usually pretty quick. I’ve never waited more than a couple of minutes in line for security screening, and I don’t have to take off my shoes.

What I don’t like though is the walking. I’ve come into where it’s a 10 minute walk to the nearest transfer point. Fortunately this time was closer. But once through the transfer, and up a level to departures, it can also be quite a long walk across the terminal. I was going to be leaving from a gate in the 40s, and the nearest lounge would be The Pier which is not far off in the low 60s.

The Wing is certainly the preferred lounge for an arriving first class passenger who could use its recently renovated first class side — or for a top tier elite member of a oneworld frequent flyer program (I’m currently both an American Executive Platinum and a British Airways Gold, though my BA status will be downgraded soon). oneworld top tier elites can use first class lounges of member airlines when flying same-day with the alliance (although American’s members do not get lounge access on domestic itineraries, and there are excepted lounges — British Airways has first class lounges that such members can use, but their Concorde Room is off limits).

However the Wing is close to immigration and gates 1-4, and I would be departing from the other end of the airport. So I headed over to the Pier, the better to be able to leave the lounge closer to flight departure time.

The Pier is downstairs, at tarmac level.

The Pier’s business class side has been renovated, and the first class section is getting a facelift currently. The last time I visited the Pier the first class side was simply closed. (Here’s the old first class Pier lounge.) This time there was a set-aside special seating area for first class, where they offered menu service and ample seating for the modest demand.


After having a look at where I’d be situated, I decided to walk to the other end of the (business class) lounge for a shower. I was immediately shown into a shower room, which was stylish and stocked with what I’d need.

The only issue? Cold water. Very cold water that didn’t warm up until I had given up, taken my shower, and was nearly done. At least it helped wake me up. I didn’t have this problem the last time I showered at the Pier.

Back through the more crowded business class section:

And to the relatively empty first class roped-off area.

The first class side had its own modest buffet area, though of course you could use the full buffet in the business class section.

I didn’t eat anything, from the buffet or off the menu. Once I had showered I only had a short bit of time to catch up on email after 16 hours without responding to messages. Then I headed off to my gate, which was nearly ready for boarding.

When I headed through the gate my boarding pass buzzed. They had new passes to offer because there had been an aircraft swap. I was actually disappointed by this — I was slated to try out Cathay’s new regional business product for the first time, so a swap to a different configuration wouldn’t give me that chance.

But I did have a good product to try — long haul business in fact for the short hop to Ho Chi Minh City.

There wasn’t much to the short flight. Taxi was fairly quick, we were shown the safety video, and our time in the air would be marked by a meal service and an opportunity for some quick scanning of the StudioCX entertainment system.

I was asked my meal choice ahead of the rest of the cabin, which is something I’ve seen Cathay do in the past — presumably they’re recognizing top tier oneworld elite status with meal priority to make sure I get my first choice of Thai green curry chicken.

Dessert followed, a small container of ice cream.

I spent about 30 more minutes watching television after the meal was cleared, and then it was time to shut down to prepare for landing around 6pm.

Clearing immigration was quick and I was out of the airport in not more than 20 minutes or so.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. A golf cart service (a la Thai) between gates and lounges or between arrival gate and immigration (for non-transit pax) would take things to the next level. Considering there are only 6 pax maximum per FC cabin I wouldn’t think this would be a major resource drain.

  2. @CW there are paid golf cart services in HKG. And Thai even does it for first class passengers there, not just in Bangkok!

  3. Yes, going gate to gate at the HKG airport can be quite a schlep, but can be a nice way to stretch your legs after a flight (providing you have ample time).

    Back when I was AA Platinum, I had access to CX lounges, and they are very nice (and no shower issues!). And the CX lounge food is definitely better than the onflight food.

  4. Nice report!

    I tried cathays new business class regional and was extremely disappointed. No foot rests. They have sections that come up under your legs, but without footrests. It doesn’t take the pressure of the back of your legs. Maybe ok if you are originating in hkg but after a transpac, it was very tough. I just love CX F, but may need to overnight in HKG from now on.

  5. So passengers arriving and not transiting Hong Kong on CX can use The Wing or The Pier? I thought they were just limited to using The Arrival. (Will be flying CX for the 1st time in a few months)

  6. It’s sad to see the unhealthy trash that these First Class lounges push on the traveler………contrast that to the Westin Well Being Program that includes their “Eat Well” program and highlights super foods……….that is the type of game changer that will make me change my loyalty to their brand…….when are airline clubs going to take that challenge?

  7. @Euro – no, you cannot use The Wing/Pier on arrival since you would have to clear transfer security to get up to the entrance to those lounges.

  8. The cabin manager makes a point to introduce themselves to all oneworld emerald members, even in coach. I had a similar experience where I was the first person served in coach, and the FA proceed to push the cart all the way to the back to begin their service. The same crew also gave me a set of playing card prior to departure (this was in 2010). People around me were wonder who I was.

  9. Bummer on the cold shower. The LH FCT apparently had that problem on my stay last month, but I was napping in a day room & the hot water was back by time to shower. Still too bad u missed the Wing. Wonderful cabanas

  10. I need a “what lounge can I use” wiki. Does something like that exist?

    SO and I will be flying CX F 3 times in the next year (SFO-HKG). But all will then have connecting flights in CX J (to BKK; to JNB; to CNS). Flight to BKK has short ~3 hr layover, but the two other flights have 12-14 hr layovers and we’ll be doing day trip into HKG.

    What lounges will we have access to? On return flights, we’ll be fling CX J into HKG and F from HKG back to SFO. Will we get access to different lounges because return leg is in F vs J?

    Thanks!

  11. @Deo Looks like the note actually says “15D LEFT (BEEF)”, which makes a bit more sense, though I thought the entree was supposed to be chicken. Maybe the ‘beef’ is in reference to that side dish/salad thingy. Regardless, it definitely should have been removed prior to presentation.

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