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Coming Up Next – The Ticket I Feel Most Heartbroken About

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While I’m trying my best to roll out my reviews (I’m fully aware that I’ve yet to complete my review set of a trip to Bangkok I did in February, though I’m prioritising flight reviews of newer airline products first), I’m also getting ready for my move to the UK. I’ll be getting an engineering degree at Imperial College, so will be based there for a few years, before deciding where to move onto next (yeah, so much for Young Travelers of “Hong Kong”, but…)

I had to get to the UK, and with no award space on any oneworld airline available for my dates, I decided to book a one-way ticket to London. Since my dad was travelling with me and he would be flying back, I focused on finding the cheapest ticket for him, as I knew my ticket wouldn’t be cheap either way. We ended up finding an Emirates ticket into London and out of Paris (where he needed to be), which had us on A380s on all four legs.

an airplane parked at an airportEmirates Airbus A380 Munich Airport

I technically could’ve booked a throwaway ticket out of Moscow in economy and reduced my ticket cost by about half, but collectively our family decided it wasn’t worth the risk, since I was entering the UK on a student visa. My one-way ticket cost a hefty ~HK$22,000 – though my father was luckier, and scored his roundtrip ticket for ~HK$19,000.

Why We Changed Our Plans Based On The Protests

I wrote a post a couple of days ago titled “I’m Flying Out Of HK On A Weekend. Should I Change My Flight?” This post considered those that were flying in and out of Hong Kong Airport on a weekend this September, and whether they should change their flight. My advice was that you needed to get to the airport super early if you were travelling at night, though I didn’t expect any big accommodations needed for those with flights departing in the morning.

Well, our original Emirates flight left Hong Kong on a Saturday at 7:10 PM, so understandably we all got a little worried. I started scouting some different options in regards to how our ticket could be changed. Sure enough, Emirates had availability on a flight departing at 7:50 AM.

My ticket was easy to change – there was a HK$1,000 change fee, though I can afford that – but my dad’s ticket required a HK$8,000 change fee and a HK$8,150 fare difference, for a total of HK$16,188 (HK$38 in taxes). My initial reaction was “no way”, but my dad pushed for the change; he seemed half convinced that the night flight we were originally on would be cancelled.

However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense:

  • We’d have to get to the airport 9-10 hours early if we stayed on our original night flight, which wasn’t cost-effective; my dad wanted to spend our last few days together in London, not at an airport, and we’d be stuck in the non-sterile area in potential danger since Emirates doesn’t open their bag drop desk until 4 PM
  • Paying to get on an earlier flight would bring our ticket in line with a full-fare Cathay Pacific or British Airways roundtrip business class ticket, a price he would’ve paid anyway (for the privilege of flying direct); in addition, it would bring us a much, much higher chance of successfully flying out of Hong Kong
  • My dad needed to fly out to Vienna for a meeting a couple of days after our arrival – so if the airport closed and he got delayed, he’d have to make alternative travel plans, which would’ve been quite costly anyway

Was this a choice that I personally, at this stage, would make? No. After all, I’m a student that makes less income than my tuition fee’s worth, and I can’t afford a change fee this hefty. As I said in my earlier post, if I were to decide, I would’ve arrived the airport early and hoped for the best. The change fee alone was more than some longhaul business class tickets I’ve purchased in the past.

However, under my dad’s circumstances, I believe that this is an emergency situation where my dad’s decision to change his ticket was justified.

Bottom Line

The reason I’m heartbroken about this isn’t because of the fee itself, but the reason behind why we had to pay it. Our total investment of HK$17,000+ was a direct result of how fragmented Hong Kong is right now, regardless of which way you look at it. Let me get myself straight: if I knew that an airport blockade was the way for Hong Kong to achieve what it needs to, I’d be all for it, and wouldn’t be half as sour about the change fee – unfortunately it seems like the only result they’ve achieved so far is tens of thousands of inconvenienced passengers, and most of them have completely lost sight of their goal.

Business is as usual on the blog. On the airline front I’ll actually also get to review Emirates’ 777 in addition to their A380, which is pretty exciting (I know it’s an underwhelming product, and that’s exactly why I’m so keen to try it). But above all, it’s hard to leave home with the state of turmoil it’s in.

0-weu-d3-4638819b7e3405970ad0c62d88c66fe2Emirates Airbus A380 Business Class

Should we have changed our ticket? Anybody else in a similar situation?


  1. Alvin, not related to the topic, but in case it’s helpful, it should be “cost-effective” rather than “cause-effective”?

    1. @ TC – Fixed, thanks! I type out what I hear myself “saying” in my head (and I couldn’t afford to change the ticket, much less hire an editor), so homophonic typos like these are common…

      1. Oh no worries at all, I totally understand. I will never forget the time when I wrote “as a pose to” in an essay, instead of “as opposed to”. But going to uni, you’ll have to make sure your writing is up to scratch! Add oil!

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