Here are our top tips to make your journey even smoother.
Buy a single ticket at the ticket machine
The automated ticket machines at HKIA sell only single and same-day return tickets – not the more practical ‘round trip’ ticket which lets you take your return journey up to 30 days later. Those are sold only at the airport’s ticket counters.
But why bother? The round trip ticket costs HK$160 (A$20) if you’re heading to Kowloon and HK$180 ($22) for Central, which is only A$2.50 cheaper than buying two singles (at HK$90 each way for Kowloon and HK$100 for Central). So just grab a one-way from the machine and be done with it.
And if you’re just heading into Hong Kong for the day, to break up a long stopover, you’ll be pleased to know the same-day return ticket costs as much as a one-way ticket: HK$90 to Kowloon and HK$100 to Central.
Skip the ticket counter in the airport arrivals hall
If you’re buying anything other than a single or same-day return ticket, you could join the line snaking around the circular counter in the arrivals hall.
But because you know better, you cruise past the counter and head up the stairs to the station itself and you buy your tickets at the station counter where the queue is much shorter, if there’s one at all.
Use your Octopus card
If you’ve got one of Hong Kong’s stored-value Octopus smartcards, you can use this instead of buying a ticket.
Train coming? Don’t fret
Airport Express trains run every 12 minutes from shortly before 6am to just after midnight. So if there's a small line at the ticket machines or desk, take it easy - there’ll be another train along soon.
Get free wi-fi on the train
Want to check your email en route to the city? Hong Kong Airport has free wi-fi but if you were too busy lining up at immigration, then grabbing your bags and making a move, the Airport Express has a wireless hotspot provided by local carrier PCCW.
You can get instant access to this by choosing PCCW as the roaming network on your mobile phone and pressing *166# – you’ll receive an automated SMS with details for 24 hours of free access.
Look for a quiet carriage
Several cars on the Airport Express are labeled as quiet zones.
That means there's no blaring audio to accompany the video programs shown on the in-carriage TV screens. This is good.
However, it does't mean that your fellow passengers are supposed to refrain from yammering away on their mobile phones. This is not so good.
Check your luggage in at the Airport Express station
The Airport Express stations at Central and Kowloon have check-in counters for all major airlines flying out of Hong Kong airport.
Our advice? On the day you fly out, head straight to the Airport Express station first thing in the morning. Check your luggage in and then hit the city for the rest of the day. When you’re done you can make your way to the airport knowing that your bags have already gone ahead of you.
Change your return station
If you buy a round-trip ticket to Kowloon but end up needing to head back to the airport from Central, you can pay the difference at Central's Airport Express ticket counter and your card will be revalidated to work at the Central turnstyles.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.