Hong Kong Airlines (HX) has a new/old plane. An emirates A330, registration B-LHA. It’s a 17 year old airframe and a 330-200 series powered by Rolls Royce engines. They plan to buy further of these ex-Emirates aircraft so although the plane itself is old the cabin has been refitted. This is a review of the J class on B-LHA which differs considerably from the other aircraft in the fleet.
Broadly speaking current HX aircfaft consist of fully flat 1-2-1 seating or 2-2-2 recliner style side by side seating. This plane is 2-2-2 but features a product I’ve never seen before in J class. The seats are slightly angled and the cabin has a modern fresh feel. Initial impressions are good, however when sitting down you realize that the cabin seems to have been designed for Asian passengers.
The screen and foot rest feel quite close to the seat at the bulkhead, the seat of choice for a lot of frequent fliers; if you’re sitting in the rows behind then it does feel more spacious. However to be honest the footrest/tv screen is quite weird. It’s a standalone console with a tiny footrest which is open at the back. There’s a large amount of space behind each console at every seat which is strange. It’s a total waste of space which could have been avoided by putting the footrest and screen at the back of the seat or bulkhead thus making it feel less cramped. If this plane is only used within Asia then it’s acceptable in my opinion but for long haul it will feel cramped and there is an issue of stepping over your seatmate in the bulkhead seats. From a commercial point of view it also seems to make no sense as there’s 3 rows of J versus 4 on other aircraft of the same type at HX.
On the positive side, the screen is very impressive and for a change so is the software running it. It behaves like a tablet and is fast and responsive. Very clear and a good size. If anything it’s too responsive and you can scroll through the listings too fast!
The table is in the center armrest and is solid and a good size. It’s comfortable to both eat and work from though as I’m writing this on a 10 inch laptop I can just about see the screen in front. If you were using a large 15 inch screen laptop then you wouldn’t be able to easily watch something at the same time as working. In terms of seat controls they’re down below the center console and aren’t easy to access while the table is deployed, but everything is also accessible through the touch screen so not a big issue. There’s also a regular power plug on the front of the center console.
The seat is firm yet comfortable, a minor gripe is that the take off and landing default position is slightly reclined as on most planes yet you can’t make it more upright to eat or work. It would be more comfortable for using the table if it could be made more upright.
Storage space is minimal and to be honest I’m surprised HX is still ordering seats/planes without taking this into account. The old Singapore 33S aircraft are terrible for this with a large gap down the side of the seat that swallows electronics when you think it’s a side pocket. The A350 that were sidetracked from Hainan to HX also have very poor storage and this aircraft is no different. There is a small mesh pocket on the right of the seat and footrest, which isn’t very deep so could only contain a phone or passport. The plastic pocket to the side of the seat also isn’t deep and not suitable for anything except the smallest items.
The seat goes fully flat and this was a pleasant surprise. The design is clever with the narrow seat fitting flush with the padding to make a wider sleeping area. It was quite comfortable and at first during recline I thought I would be too tall at 6’2″ to lie fully flat bearing in mind the console is close to the seat, but after fully reclining I was able to lie fully fat. The open footrest becomes something of a bonus at this point compared to the tiny foot coffins of other airlines, at least here you have space at the back and even sides to rearrange your feat.
Now a final very serious point, no coffee machine! Flight crew and regular passengers will know how important this is! What doesn’t help is that HX uses a bag of coffee in Y and J which is literally a bag steeped in a pot of hot water and it’s as bad as it sounds. Apparently this plane will eventually be fitted with a coffee machine but in the meantime bring a coffee stick and HX please load some better coffee in J on these aircraft!
Modern, Light Design
No more excessive red design
Impressive touch screen with good movie and TV options
Comfortable fully flat seat
At seat power and separate USB
Cramped feeling to some seats with wasted space around console
No Coffee Machine!