Monday, 17 January 2005

Airport connections in Hong Kong

I might not otherwise have bothereed to mention it here, but after having previously complained about misleading advertising of the price of combined airport and city subway transit tickets in New York I feel obliged to report on my recent experience with very similarly misleading advertisements of the price of MTR subway connections to and from the Airport Express trains in Hong Kong.

To some extent, you get what you pay for: the subway and Airtrain connections to JFK are far less comportable than those in Hong Kong, and take at least 3 times as long to and from the center of the city, but cost less than a third of the price of the airport rail service in Hong Kong.

But the real difference was in how my complaints were handled. No one in the subway-Airtrain transfer station in New York would accept responsibility for the misleading advertisements, and even my written complaint produced only the most unresponsive of replies, none offering any redress of my grievance.

In Hong Kong, the station manager not only gave my compliant prompt and polte consideration on the spot but read the advertisement of “free MTR connections” for Airport Express passengers, admitted that it was misleading, and gave me a free MTR ticket to connect to the airport!

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region may not wish to think of itself as part of China, but this exemplified the spirit of “Serve the people!” as much as anything that happened to me elsewhere in the PRC on this trip.

On a related matter, it’s worth noting that the “city check-in” in Hong Kong is virtually useless for most passengers travelling to the USA, since despite passport checks at check-in and positive passenger-bag matching, the USA Transportation Security Administration refuses to allow bags destined for the USA to be checked in anywhere except at the airport. So if you are going to the USA, you can get “check in” and get your boarding pass in downtown Hong Kong, but you unlike travellers form Hong Kong to anywhere else in the world you can’t check your bags in advance downtown. You have to stand in exactly the same line to check your luggage once you get to the airport — how many people travel from Hong Kong to the USA with only carry-on bags? — as you would have if you hadn’t already “checked in”. The limitation is the fault of the USA, not the Hong Kong authorities or the operators of the city check-in service, but it should be more clearly spelled out when the city baggage check-in facility is advertised in in-flight arrival videos, airline ticket jackets, and airport and Airport Express literature.)

[Addendum: Reply from the Hong Kong MTR (23 February 2005 )]

Link | Posted by Edward on Monday, 17 January 2005, 22:52 (10:52 PM)

Ref not being able to check your baggage in in Central - Maybe this is in some way payback for the horrors of travelling to the usa? I have travelled extensively, and have never met such rudeness and brusqueness as in the usa compared to other countries - personally, I think it is about time that americans were treated like they treat visitors to their great countr. Happy travelling.

Posted by: ifa wentworth, 22 January 2005, 13:38 ( 1:38 PM)

"I have travelled extensively, and have never met such rudeness and brusqueness as in the usa compared to other countries"

Nearly every American I have spoken with says the exact same thing about the staff at LHR. Watching the Immigration folks at Heathrow yell at visitors (If you don't speak English, I'll just yell louder) makes me laugh.

And don't even get me started on the ex-commies in Russia. They are a total trip.

Posted by: Andrew, 16 February 2005, 02:18 ( 2:18 AM)
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