The airport to Hongkong island in record time

If you've just arrived in Hongkong, join us in the race to the Hongkong island taxi rank, and the quest for a new personal best.

We'll assume you've got the basics covered:
- booked a seat at the front of the plane to be one of the first off
- no checked in luggage to slow you down

Your next stop is the the airport express station, to catch the train to Hongkong island. Avoid the ticket booth in the arrivals hall, and go straight to the booth on the platform - usually there is a shorter queue or no queue at all. Buy a round-trip ticket to save time on the way back.

Now grasshopper, your next decision is the key to your success - where to board the train? Take my word for it and get on at the doorway just to the right of the ticket booth, take a seat near the door, and breathe deeply...

You'll notice that after Kowloon station (the last stop before HK island), a battle of nerves begins - who's going to break first and get up to stand by the door? Calls on mobile phones are ended, Blackberries are switched off. Is that a nervous tic in the suited executive across the aisle? A bead of sweat forms... the first person cracks and heads for the door - then everyone is up and moving, avoiding eye contact as they jostle for prime position.

The prize? This door opens right by the station exit gates, giving you a fighting chance to be first to reach the taxi rank, meaning you'll be first home and proving you are still number one in this little part of the Hongkong rat-race! Yeessss!

Hmm, all faintly ridiculous, but sadly true. If you're travelling here on vacation, smile kindly on the stressed-out business travellers reduced to this sorry state.

How about the return trip back to the airport? I always seem to be running late to get to the airport on time, so let me bare my obsessive soul to you and share a few ideas on speeding up your journey.

If you bought the round-trip ticket, you can head straight to the platform. If you need to buy a ticket at Hongkong station there is often a queue at the ticket desk on ground level. So if you are not checking in any luggage at the station, you can take the lift down to the platform level where there is rarely a queue, and buy your ticket there.

After buying your ticket, walk over to the ticket barriers and you'll see a charity collection box. Drop any loose change there to help a good cause and save hassle at the X-ray machines later. Now, where to sit? Fortunately the trip to the airport is relatively stress-free compared with the outward journey, but you might still want to choose a seat near to your check-in aisle.

If you go through the barriers, turn right, and take the second car from the end, you'll arrive at the airport near the Cathay check-in counters in aisles A, B, and C. Sit in the middle of the train to arrive near check-in aisles D, E, F, or G. Turn left after the ticket barriers and sit in the second car from the end to arrive near aisles H, J, or K. The airport website lists which airlines use which aisles.

You've already made use of the airline's internet check-in I hope? This buys you a few extra minutes grace if you arrive late for check-in, and (at least with Cathay) usually means a shorter queue at the 'online check-in' desk.

The only other advice I can give is to avoid the queue that I'm in, as I have a talent for choosing the slowest! Safe travels,



Haha! Great capture, I can

Haha! Great capture, I can really see myself in that race :) As of a coincidence, I also seem to choose the wrong line all the time, or is it just that we "racers" are the only one to even notice?

Maybe that is why I like HK so much!