If I had to live in an airport a la Tom Hanks (for whatever reason), choosing said airport would be a tough call. Luckily, I’ve had enough long layovers to put some mind to it, and in my discussions with people sharing my love of airports, the same three airports seem to get thrown up: Incheon International Airport, a place that regularly gets voted the best in the world, Changji in Singapore, another that regularly scores high marks, and lastly my very own special choice. Hong Kong International Airport.
I recognise my own bias, in part due to the fact that living in southern China I use Hong Kong as my hub for a number of my international trips. Also, having visited it many times, I’m aware of the cheats, and the sneaks.
So here are my five reasons that HKIA is the best airport in the world.
You can smoke
OK, OK, so those that don’t smoke will scoff at this and think well that doesn’t affect me, but actually it does. Any hub airport with people transferring that doesn’t have a smoking area has stressed people and thus worse airport atmosphere. But! Here’s the kicker with Hong Kong which elevates it from its rivals. It has a smoking area for incoming, as well as outgoing fliers (I say this whilst coming into Hong Kong after 24 hours of flying). Some of the smoking areas are even outside, meaning you can get some fresh air (smoking and flight fumes excluded).
It has a great layout
The layout is not only extremely good, and simple to master, but despite how huge the airport is, and there being two terminals, absolutely everything is linked like a huge city. If you did to decide to set up camp and live here, days could be spent simply exploring.
Great food selection
As airport food choice goes, the selection at Hong Kong airport is pretty decent. But more importantly (and unlike the UK), the prices (whilst not cheap) are the same as you would pay in downtown Hong Kong. Not only that, BUT you can buy food on your Octopus Card (the Hong Kong Subway card). What’s not to like about that!
So, if you travel through Hong Kong at least four times a year, you qualify for something called e-channel. E-channel is where instead of dealing with an immigration officer you don’t queue, but swipe your passport, do your fingerprint and whizz through. I estimate that this has saved me 24 hours a year, and I’m thinking about learning a pointless extinct language like Esperanto, Latin, or French in my spare time now.
It’s a super cheap flight hub
I always find it funny when places like airports, or airlines thank you for choosing them. “No Chinese Eastern, I did not choose you and your abysmal food, I chose the cheapest flight at 6 am on a Wednesday”, and Hong Kong is no different. IF other airports had cheaper flights I’d use them, but they don’t. Obviously, there’s always an element of luck, but generally speaking, HKIA has the cheapest flights in the region. So: cheap flights, great airport, and no immigration. Hong Kong International Airport, I love you.