Hong Kong Airlines’ NEW A350 Business Class

Today I had the chance to have a look at Hong Kong Airlines’ new A350 business class product. I’ve flown Hong Kong Airlines’ A330 with their staggered business class configuration, as well as their A330 with their ex-Singapore Airlines business class configuration. Hong Kong Airlines has a ton of different business class configurations, and this is the one that they’ve been planning to introduce on all of their future longhaul aircraft since 2016.

Reverse herringbone seats are some of my favourite seats in the industry – I actually prefer them to Apex Suites due to the extra storage space. I’m glad to say that Hong Kong Airlines’ newest A350s have a very nice iteration of reverse herringbone seats.

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class 

These seats are B/E Aerospace Super Diamond reverse herringbone seats. If you’ve flown on Qatar Airways’ 787 or A350, these seats will be familiar to you. Also, Virgin Australia, Xiamen Air, and American also feature the exact same seats on their aircraft (among others), with different finishes.

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class

Reverse herringbone seats are faced slightly away from the aisle. This means that Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines’ newest business class products are both reverse herringbone seats.

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class Seat

The seat I explored was one on the left side of the aircraft, with the seat controls located to the left by the window. There were three buttons for the most “standard” positions (upright, reclined, and bed mode), as well as an electronic interface for more intricate adjustments.

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class Seat Controls

The seat was really well-padded, which I wasn’t expecting. This proved especially nice in bed mode. The side armrest was retractable, so you could choose between increased bed width, or increased privacy (the bed was pretty wide to start with).

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class Bed Mode

The tray table retracted from the seat in front. On Qatar Airways a small issue with the tray table was that it was easy to bang my knees on it when getting into bed, as it slid under the TV. I found it smart that the tray table slid upwards upon retraction to be level with the side table.

This meant two things. The first was that there was more “upward” space to toss and turn in bed mode. The second was that when working, you could also adjust the tray table to be level with the side table, to create a uniform, single-level, large working space.

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class Tray Table

Speaking of the side table, it was large, and housed two large storage compartments.

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class Side Panel

The first storage compartment was deep, and also housed the 110V and USB power ports, as well as the headphone jack. The issue with that is that you have to leave the side table open when charging a device, which means you can’t use it as a platform for placing items at the same time (since there weren’t any “holes” for cables. Ultimately that’s a minor thing, though it could make a difference on a long flight.

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class Storage Area

The second storage compartment was more shallow, suitable for a phone, a book, or a small tablet.

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class Storage Area

By the retractable armrest was another storage compartment. Presumably this would be used to store headphones and a water bottle.

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class Storage Compartment

Then by the knees was another small storage compartment which could prove handy for a water bottle in bed mode. Storage sure won’t be a problem in this seat!

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class Bedside Storage

The footwell was located under the PTV. For the short time I lay down in the seat I didn’t have any issues with it being too small or too tight, though you won’t be able to do the chicken dance in bed.

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class Footwell

Meanwhile, to the left of the seat was a reading light.

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class Reading Light

The introduction of Hong Kong Airlines’ new business class product also came with the introduction of the Thales entertainment system. This is a modified version of what Qatar Airways has on their 787s, and what Singapore Airlines has on their 777s. I’ve never been a fan of it, since I’ve found the system incredibly hard to navigate, despite being ultra-responsive.

Turns out the improvements they made were very positive. Firstly I found the movie selection to be very easy to navigate, if the selection wasn’t the most extensive.

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class Entertainment System

Also, they introduced a setting called “Airmouse”, which means you could use the handset monitor as a “mouse” to select the movie you wanted (by waving it around, similar to a Wii remote mouse). The good news was that you could use the handset as a “standard” touchscreen remote as well, with buttons to navigate up, down, left, and right. While the Airmouse may be more convenient for some people, it might not be for others, so having the luxury of choice is definitely very much appreciated (more airlines’ entertainment systems need to understand this).

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class Entertainment System Handset

Speaking of the entertainment system, of course as the A350 there was also a very great wheel and tail camera…

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class Front Camera

Speaking of getting to visit the A350, this was such a fun day for me as an avgeek. Apart from getting to meet so many of Hong Kong Airlines’ executives (as well as the CEO of Thales – if you guys are reading this, hi!), we were bussed to a remote stand where we got to board the A350 (which meant really nice planespotting, as the A350 was parked at a maintenance hangar as opposed to a remote gate, so there were heavies nearby), we were free to walk around the aircraft, and it was a beautiful day outside. What more could you ask for?

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Hong Kong Airport

Additionally, no one seems to like looking at the economy cabin during new product reveals, so for a while I had it to myself. How fun is that?!

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350 Economy Class

Bottom Line

Hong Kong Airlines’ A350s were competitive to start with, though I do think the B/E Super Diamond seat is one of the best business class products out there. The countless storage options make me prefer reverse herringbone seats to Apex Suites, which is my other favourite business class configuration (not to mention that all seats are equally good in this configuration, whereas with Apex Suites a third of seats are significantly less private).

Cathay Pacific also made many modifications to their version of the reverse herringbone seat, which I remember enjoying. I probably need to have a closer look at my review of their product, 5since it’s been a couple years since I’ve last flown their A350. Both airlines are so competitive when it comes to seat spaciousness and storage, and I can’t wait to try this on a longhaul flight.

To add to that, the Thales entertainment system was also such a nice improvement to their current interface (which is good, though not particularly responsive). A lot of the time I find entertainment system upgrades to be lipstick-on-a-pig, though I can actually appreciate many of the changes being made here.

The A350 with new business class seats departs on HX771 for Bangkok tomorrow morning, and soon they’ll start flying the plane to Los Angeles.

Anyone booked on this configuration in the near future?

Advertisements

Any thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.