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When flying into and out of Hong Kong HKG and as a general rule, is it better to book a window seat at the right or left side of the plane? (I understand that actual weather situations, etc., may always bring about changes relative to such a general rule.) I'd like to have a nice view of the city and its surrounding coastline, if that's possible and as opposed to a view of the open sea (presumably in the East) only. I'll be on Cathay Pacific flights directly from and to Europe.

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    Don't get your hopes up too much. Hong Kong is often overcast and there can be a fair bit of smog & fog in the area. Blue sky is fairly rare, although it seem to have gotten significantly better this year. Chances are you won't see anything until you break cloud cover which tends to happen only very close to the airport. – Hilmar Aug 7 '18 at 0:31
  • @Hilmar Thx for the heads up. – Drux Aug 7 '18 at 4:10
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Just answering for the "into HKG" part of the question.

Assuming this is a direct flight from Europe (all bets are off if you connect somewhere else, obviously) and that the flight path is similar to that for LHR-HKG, probably left for a closer look at the city. It appears that the most common approach passes by the city and then loops back.

loop approach

However, at least some of the time the approach is more direct, in which case you may be able to see more looking forward out of the right side of the plane.

shorter approach

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    On the first path, landing, you would actually need to be on the left side (seats A) to see the interesting parts of the city (Central and Tsim Sha Tsui). Not sure what the proportion of the two approaches is (depends mostly on winds, possibly noise regulations). – jcaron Aug 6 '18 at 20:57
  • @jcaron Thanks, updated. Forgot the geography of Hong Kong there. – ex-user3761894 Aug 6 '18 at 21:12
  • Excellent. May I ask where you get such detailed maps of flight paths and how you determined the apparently most common approach? Also updated my question re direct flight. – Drux Aug 7 '18 at 4:13
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    @Drux I looked up the flight paths on FlightAware. Probably there are other sites that can show it as well. That particular site shows flights dating back a couple weeks, so I just looked at all of them. That's a pretty short window though, as common flight paths may change due to weather and other factors, so I wouldn't read too much into it. – ex-user3761894 Aug 7 '18 at 22:33
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I fly weekly out of HKG and back. I used to live in Tung Chung, near the airport, so I have good geographical reference points.

There's no way to predict where to sit for the best views. The planes land and take off in either direction, depending on the winds and traffic. It's not like the old days of Kai Tak, where the airport landings were scary and always in the same direction.

Some days you land from the west, some days from the east, regardless of the direction you're coming from. So it's a crapshoot. I don't have real data about the split, but to my untrained, frequent-traveler, eyes, it seems close to 50/50.

  • +1 Close to 50/50, but leaning in which direction? :-) – Drux Aug 7 '18 at 4:20
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    @Drux don't hold me accountable but I would say east to west landings are more frequent. – user67108 Aug 7 '18 at 5:20
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    For night landings (between midnight and 7:00 am), aircraft are required to land from the southwest unless weather makes it unsafe. About 80-90% of flights do so. See cad.gov.hk/english/ac_noise.html for details. – jcaron Aug 7 '18 at 7:34
  • @jcaron Thx, that's an excellent lead for my ETA is 6:50. I guess this YouTube video is from a landing from the east (with loopback) whereas that one is (just) perhaps from a landing from the soutwest. Does this make sense? – Drux Aug 7 '18 at 20:20
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    @Drux, both videos are actually landing from the east. The first one starts southeast of HK Island, going north, giving you a fantastic view of Victoria Harbour, then turns west (great video!). The second one is pretty much straight from the east. – jcaron Aug 7 '18 at 23:16

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