Passengers confused and angry over Hong Kong airport flight information glitch

Passengers at Hong Kong’s airport were left confused and angry when the terminal’s digital screens suffered a glitch and could not display flight information for hours on Sunday, causing some to miss their flights and demand compensation.

Among those affected was Jacob Ng, a Macau resident who missed his flight to Cebu in the Philippines. He expressed dissatisfaction over what he called poor management during the failure that lasted for more than nine hours.

“I am disappointed at the Hong Kong International Airport,” Ng told the Post. “How can their risk management be qualified to tell good Hong Kong stories?”

The 40-year-old manufacturer arrived at the airport at around 12.30am, more than nine hours before his 9.40am scheduled flight. Ng said he entered the restricted passenger area before 6.30am with a boarding pass that did not contain any gate information, which he initially thought was normal.

At 7am, the glitch began, affecting the airport’s website and mobile app as well, but Ng said he was unaware of the situation in the restricted area.

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Macau resident Jacob Ng missed his fight Cebu on Sunday. Photo: Willa Wu

As he waited for more than four hours, white boards appeared inside the restricted area to provide handwritten boarding time and flight gate information.

Ng noticed white boards being erected near an entrance to provide handwritten boarding time and flight gate information.

He said the boards became crowded with passengers who rushed to consult airport staff, but he could not find any information related to his flight. Only after 10am was he told where his boarding gate was.

When he arrived at gate 34 at 10am, Ng found he said he was among six passengers who missed the 9.40am flight.

“The airline staff told me it was the airport’s fault. No one from the Airport Authority has approached me for any solution, like how I would be compensated,” he said. “The flight ticket and the hotel I booked for tonight has been wasted.”

With two large suitcases, Ng left the restricted area uncertain about his next steps – whether to wait in the city for another flight or return to Macau.

Other passengers, such as 27-year-old business traveller Peter Lapointe, only learned about what was happening by reading A3-sized papers affixed to the wall under the screens.

“Certainly, I did not expect this would happen to an international airport,” said Lapointe, whose flight to Vietnam departed at 3pm.

He said he had not experienced such malfunctions elsewhere and felt lucky he had arrived more than four hours before his flight departed.

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Travellers queue up for check in at Cathay Pacific Airways’ counters. Photo: Elson Li

Pictures shared with the Post showed that by 2.30pm, a large crowd of passengers had gathered at the white boards, looking for information about their flights. But the information was not arranged chronologically or alphabetically.

Display screens at some boarding gates even showed inaccurate flight information. For example, a 3pm flight to Tokyo at gate 211 showed a departure time of 9.15am.

F.Y. Wong, who had a ticket for the flight, could not find her flight information on the white boards when she entered the restricted area at 2pm.

“Luckily, I have the electronic boarding pass in my Apple Wallet that shows the flight details,” she told the Post at around the same time. “Otherwise I shall ask around to locate the boarding gate.”

Some users on Xiaohongshu, mainland China’s answer to Instagram, described the display glitch and manual update “a major backwards” step in a modern city such as Hong Kong.

One user said that even though she passed the security check two hours ahead of her scheduled flight, it took her more than 90 minutes to locate the flight information on the white boards.

Another user posted a picture showing that an Asiana Airline staff member was walking around with a handwritten board showing a gate change to passengers.

The Airport Authority later told the media that no flights were cancelled or delayed due to the system failure, but stopped short of naming any passengers who missed their flights due to the lack of information.

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