Early morning let-down

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 February, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 February, 2000, 12:00am

We would be interested to hear from the relevant authorities why the Airport Express and the airport facilities, apart from the check-in areas and flight information board, seem not to function very early in the morning.

On February 7, we had a 7.10am flight to Kota Kinabalu with Dragonair to take a short break over the half-term/ Chinese New Year holiday.

We thought we would get the Airport Express to the airport, but luckily inquired beforehand to find that it doesn't start running until around 6am - too late to make airport check-in for the flight, so we had to book a (very expensive) car to take us earlier. Having arrived in good time and checked in we looked around for somewhere to get a cup of coffee and something to eat - nothing appeared to be open.

We went through the immigration and security checks hoping to find something on the other side, but that was even worse. No shops were open, no restaurants, no nothing.

We left from gate 32 and there were other flights leaving from adjacent gates at earlier times (a Royal Nepali Airlines flight scheduled for 7am) and later times (flights at or around 8am), but even just before we boarded at 6.40am, there were no available food or duty free outlets open. We have spoken to others who have left at this time and even later (8am) and gather that what we experienced is not unusual.

If the airport is to be open so early: Why is the Airport Express not available before 6am? Why are no duty free shops open? We wanted to buy some items and spent the money we would have spent in the airport duty free shops on the plane.

Most importantly, why are there no food outlets open at that time? It has been a mystery to us since the airport opened why there are no simple coffee outlets such as Delifrance or Pacific Coffee where one can get a good cup of coffee and a snack.

We can't compare Chek Lap Kok to other international airports for departure facilities, as we have never had to leave from one so early, but we do know that in many there is at least a coffee shop open in the arrivals area, so we would assume that the same is true for departures. What is the problem here? Surely staff could be employed on a shift basis to ensure the comfort of departing passengers, or don't we care what impression is given as visitors leave as long as they've spent plenty of money while they're here? TIM and MAGGIE LEWIS Chung Hom Kok