In Hong Kong, Morning Airport Arrivals Take Less Than An Hour From Landing To Negative Covid Test (Don’t Show Up In Afternoon)

Back in May the process for entering Hong Kong was one of the most excruciating things I’ve seen in travel, taking the better part of a day. It involved being bused to the EXPO Center, long waits for testing and results, and receiving a monitoring bracelet.

While transit has opened up in some cases, the process for actually entering Hong Kong is still stringent – but has been substantially streamlined. Of course only Hong Kong residents are being allowed in. Air India was banned from flying to Hong Kong for two weeks for bringing a dozen people who tested positive for Covid-19 on a single flight.

Inside the transit area on arrival is a place where passengers wait to receive a Covid swab test. You can’t proceed to immigration without a negative test result. However if you arrive in the morning the whole process can take less than an hour from the time you deplane to when you leave the airport.

Hong Kong airport testing waiting area, Credit: oneworld Jetsetters, with permission

Hong Kong Airport testing, Credit: oneworld Jetsetters, with permission

Entering Hong Kong requires a negative Covid-19 test on arrival as well as a 14 day mandatory quarantine. You might test negative today but have just recently been exposed and still develop the virus.

Everyone needs to download an app and have a QR code generated prior to arrival and complete a health declaration form.

Codes are scanned and each passenger is given an envelope with information on what to expect and the tools for test sample collection. While the sample is being taken by a medical team, quarantine procedures are reviewed.

There is no charge for testing, though it’s only available to Hong Kong residents so that’s not unusual for resident health care. Anyone testing positive gets sent to an isolation ward.

Arriving in the morning means there’s no backup waiting for testing. Other reports seem to be late noon and later arrivals can take longer – in fact passengers wait for results at the Dorsett Hotel in Tsuen Wan and may have to spend the night there on a later arrival. That’s still better than the prior Expo Center process.

At least they feed you at the Dorsett.

After giving a sample, and assuming it’s not going to be an extended or overnight period, passengers are sent to a waiting area across the hall with complimentary water, sandwiches, muffins and additional snacks. Meals are provided, too. On request staff will provide blankets as well. One person arriving around noon reports that a lunch box was offered with 3 options (pork, chicken, and vegetarian).

Here’s how on person describes the experience later in the day, where they had to wait for testing results at the hotel:

On landing, we took the shuttle train to terminal 2 where the whole departure gates area has been transformed into a holding centre. When you get off the train, the first thing they ask you to do is download the Stay Home Stay Safe app and fill out the health declaration.

I had done both of these things prior to taking off so you can bypass any wait here. Then you pass another few people who all ask you the exact same thing; I got asked at about 5 different checkpoints to show the QR code and app on my phone so just keep your phone out the whole time, it’s the most important thing about this whole two week process it seems.

After having the bracelet attached and registered to the app, you have a little sit-down with someone who gives you your covid testing kit. Then it’s the testing itself: you’re given a cubicle number and scan a QR code to watch a video of how to spit in a cup. Finally you drop the test in a box and are directed to a holding area where you wait until you’re called to be given your hotel room number.

Lastly you pick up your day-10 covid test before waiting in a second holding area until it’s time for baggage collection and hotel transfers

Even when you test negative fro Covid-19 you still wear a monitoring bracelet throughout the required quarantine period, and have to test again as well.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Hi Gary,
    Thank you for this great report.
    However, as a Hong Kong resident by birth with significant ties to the territory I can only advise against any travel to Hong Kong at this time. The HKSAR is not a safe place following the implementation of the National Security Law. Anyone is subject to arrest and long term imprisonment for any or no reason. Please stay safe and stay away.

  2. why bother? at the moment, only HK residents can enter HK. and with all the nonsense starting from last year’s failed revolution and the current national insecurity law, HK as most people know and love it is finished.

  3. Hi, stupid foreigner get out of our Chinese ansterial Hong Kong island and return to your country of origin.

  4. I’ve never heard of Chinese ansterial Hong Kong island. Is that the new name since the clampdown from up north?

  5. A couple of weeks ago it took me 13 hours in the Asia Expo… Test may be fast, but the results are not hurried.

  6. Hi Gary, If the test is negative, what happens then? Can I quarantine in any hotel in HK or should we only go to some designated quarantine centre?
    Are there any hotels which allow such quarantining guests?
    I don’t have my own place to stay. Appreciate your response.

  7. I have to say, it’s certainly not the case that you can be out in an hour. Everybody needs to do the PCR test and that means a minimum of a six hour wait.
    Case in point – I arrived at 6am at the airport and I am still waiting for the pcr test results at 2pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.