Home > Topical issues > For Travellers

Booking Tips for Air Passengers

Booking Air Tickets

1. Airlines have different types of ticket fares with different terms and conditions. You should check these terms and conditions and the respective restrictions before choosing the type of ticket. Most airlines have a website that provides information on the conditions of carriage, which generally describes the obligation of the airline and that of the passenger. For example, under what circumstances and how much of ticket price will or will not be refunded, items that will be charged extra, etc.

2. When comparing the ticket prices of different airlines, consider the total price of the ticket, which includes all applicable taxes, fees, charges and surcharges. Please take note that some Low Cost Carriers may add to the headline price for items such as baggage and meals while conventional airlines do not.

3. Double-check the booking details (flight date, time, passenger's name, etc.) before confirming the booking. Once a ticket is confirmed or issued, airlines usually impose additional charges when changes are requested, depending on the type of ticket.

4. The procurement of an air ticket normally means the establishment of an air transportation contract between a passenger and the airline. Both have their rights and duties outlined in the terms and conditions of the ticket. You should read these terms and conditions carefully before purchasing the ticket.

Price and Charges

1. The ticket price usually consists of taxes, fees, charges and surcharges where applicable. Price details should be displayed by airlines during the booking process.

2.Common taxes, fees, charges and surcharges for passengers departing from Hong Kong International Airport include HKSAR Air Passenger Departure Tax, carrier surcharges and any charges collected from the destination airport.

3. Each airline has its own fees and charges stipulated in the terms and conditions. For instance, some airlines impose extra charges on hold baggage, sports equipment and musical instruments.

Code Share Flights

1. A code share flight is one operated by an airline and simultaneously marketed by itself and another airline each under its own flight numbers. Sometimes a single flight may be marketed by two or three airlines where it will simultaneously be sold with the distinctive flight numbers of those airlines. Airlines have the responsibility to inform their passengers when the flight they are selling is operated by another airline.

2. It is important to know whose terms and conditions will apply when your flight is operated as a code share flight since your rights in case of flight delay and cancellation, baggage allowance, etc. may vary with different terms and conditions of different airlines. Please contact your agent or airline concerned direct for details.

Important point

Whenever you are booking a ticket, it is important to note the terms and conditions provided in the airlines website. If the information is considered not sufficient or if you are in doubt, always seek clarification from the airline concerned.

Packing Tips for Air Passengers

Baggage Allowance

Please contact your airline concerned direct for details.

Restrictions on Dangerous Goods

Dangerous Goods are articles or substances which are capable of posing a significant risk to health, safety, property or the environment when transported by air. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) classified dangerous goods in 9 classes, which are:

Class 1 Explosives
Class 2 Gases
Class 3 Flammable liquids
Class 4 Flammable solids; substances liable to spontaneous combustion; substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases
Class 5 Oxidizing substances and organic peroxides
Class 6 Toxic and infectious substances
Class 7 Radioactive material
Class 8 Corrosive substances
Class 9 Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles

As a passenger, it is an offence under the Dangerous Goods (Consignment by Air) (Safety) Regulation (Cap. 384A) to take dangerous goods (except for certain dangerous goods in very small quantity and in special condition) on board an aircraft. The law restricts the type and quantity of dangerous goods allowed to be carried by passengers, because they can be a danger to you and the aircraft in flight due to temperature and pressure difference.

Examples of dangerous goods which passengers are forbidden from taking onboard an aircraft are as follows:
  • Gas cylinder and sizeable pressurised container which are commonly used in general household (not including those mini aerosols for personal use);
  • Flammable gas, liquid or solid e.g. lighter refills, gas soldering iron, gas camping stove, flammable glue, paint, printing ink, phosphorus;
  • Some household Items e.g. thinner, pesticide;
  • Corrosive substances e.g. wet-cell batteries;
  • Explosives e.g. firework, signal flares, ammunitions;
  • Other dangerous goods e.g. magnetised or radioactive material, toxic or infectious substance like diagnostic samples, chemical.
There are other unlisted forbidden dangerous goods. Please follow airline instructions.

Examples of dangerous goods which can be carried by air passenger and the relevant restrictions are as follows:
  • One cigarette lighter or one small packet box of safety matches on one's person;
  • *Toilet articles including aerosols such as hair sprays, perfumes and colognes, total quantity of these articles must not exceed 2 L and net quantity of each single article must not exceed 0.5 L;
  • One small mercury thermometer in its protective case in checked baggage only;
  • Portable electronic devices containing lithium batteries, such as cameras, cellular phones, lap-top computers, etc., for personal use only;
  • Spare lithium batteries for portable electronic devices must be individually protected to prevent short circuits and carried in carry-on baggage only;
  • Dry ice used to pack perishables, total quantity must not exceed 2.5 kg;
  • *Alcoholic beverages in retail packagings containing no more than 70 % alcohol by volume, total quantity must not exceed 5 L.

* If these items are carried in cabin baggage or on one's person, please observe the "Restrictions on carriage of Liquids, Gels, Aerosols (LAG) in cabin baggage"

If you are not sure if an item can be taken onboard aircrafts, please contact your airline.

Many dangerous goods can be shipped as cargo if properly prepared and declared. For further information, please contact your airline.

Security Restricted Articles

The following security restricted articles are prohibited from carriage as hold baggage and cabin baggage.

Apart from the restrictions on carriage of baggage as shown on this page, air passengers shall also observe other requirements relating to the possession of restricted items, such as stun gun, within the territory of Hong Kong. For details please visit the Hong Kong Police Force's webpage: Advice to Visitors.


A. Security Restricted Articles - Hold Baggage

Explosive or incendiary substances, devices or articles capable of being used to cause serious injury or threatening the safety of the aircraft including:

  • *ammunition;
  • blasting caps;
  • detonators and fuses;
  • mines, grenades and other explosive military stores;
  • pyrotechnics, including fireworks;
  • smoke-generating canisters or cartridges; and
  • dynamite, gunpowder and plastic explosives

*If the possession of such ammunition (in Hong Kong) by a passenger is lawful, he/she may make arrangements with his/her airline for its transportation as hold baggage on a flight from Hong Kong. The handling of such are strictly in accordance with the requirements of the Air Navigation (Hong Kong) Order 1995 and under conditions specified in the Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (Doc 9284).

B. Security Restricted Articles - Cabin Baggage

Category 1 - Guns, firearms and other devices that discharge projectile
Devices designed to cause serious injury by discharging a projectile, or capable of being mistaken for such devices, including:

  • firearms of all types, including pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns;
  • toy guns, replicas and imitation firearms capable of being mistaken for real weapons, such as gun lighters;
  • component parts of firearms (excluding telescopic sights);
  • compressed air and CO2 guns, including pistols, pellet guns, rifles and ball bearing guns;
  • signal flare pistols and starter pistols;
  • bows, cross bows and arrows;
  • harpoon guns and spear guns; and
  • slingshots and catapults.

Category 2 - Stunning devices
Devices designed specifically to stun or immobilize, including:

  • devices for shocking, such as stun guns and stun batons;
  • animal stunners and animal killers; and
  • disabling and incapacitating chemicals, gases and sprays, such as mace, pepper or capsicum spray, tear gas, acid sprays and animal repellent sprays

Category 3 - Objects with sharp points or sharp edges
Objects with a sharp point or sharp edge capable of being used to cause serious injury, including:

  • items designed for chopping, such as axes, hatchets and cleavers;
  • ice axes and ice picks;
  • ice skates;
  • razor blades, open razors (except safety or disposable razors with blades enclosed in cartridge), utility knives and box cutters;
  • lockable or flick knives with blades of any length;
  • knives, with blades of any length, made of metal or any other material strong enough to be used as a potential weapon (except knives with round ended blunt tip);
  • scissors with blades of more than 6cm as measured from the fulcrum;
  • martial arts equipment with sharp points or sharp edges;
  • swords and sabres;
  • darts; and
  • ski poles.

Category 4 - Worker's tools
Tools capable of being used either to cause serious injury or to threaten the safety of aircraft, including:

  • crowbars;
  • drills and drill bits, including cordless portable power drills;
  • tools with blades or shafts more than 6 cm capable of use as weapons, such as screwdrivers, chisels;
  • saws, including cordless portable power saws;
  • blowtorches;
  • bolt guns and nail guns;
  • hammers;
  • pliers; and
  • wrenches / spanners.

Category 5 - Blunt instruments
Objects capable of being used to cause serious injury when used to hit, including:

  • baseball and softball bats;
  • billiard and pool cues;
  • cricket bats, hockey sticks and lacrosse sticks;
  • golf clubs;
  • clubs and batons, such as billy clubs, blackjacks and night sticks; and
  • martial arts equipment, including knuckledusters, clubs, coshes, rice flails, num chucks, kubatons, kubasaunts.

Category 6 - Explosives and incendiary substances and devices
Explosive or incendiary substances or devices capable of being used to cause serious injury or threatening the safety of the aircraft, including:

  • ammunition;
  • blasting caps;
  • detonators and fuses;
  • replica or imitation explosive devices;
  • mines, grenades and other explosive military stores;
  • pyrotechnics including fireworks, party poppers, toy caps;
  • smoke-generating canisters or cartridges; and
  • dynamite, gunpowder and plastic explosives.

Restrictions on carriage of Liquids, Gels, Aerosols (LAG) in cabin baggage

The Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has implemented security measures for screening liquids, gels and aerosol starting from March 21, 2007 to comply with the guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

The security measures for cabin baggage at HKIA include:

  1. All liquids, gels, aerosols in cabin baggage have to be carried in containers with a capacity not greater than 100 ml. Liquids, gels, aerosols carried in containers larger than 100 ml will not be accepted, even if the container is only part-filled.
    All liquids, gels, aerosols in cabin baggage have to be carried in containers with a capacity not greater than 100 ml. Liquids, gels, aerosols carried in containers larger than 100 ml will not be accepted, even if the container is only part-filled.

  2. Containers have to be placed in a transparent re-sealable plastic bag of a maximum capacity not exceeding one litre. The containers must fit comfortably within the transparent plastic bag, which should be completely closed.
    Containers have to be placed in a transparent re-sealable plastic bag of a maximum capacity not exceeding one litre. The containers must fit comfortably within the transparent plastic bag, which should be completely closed.

  3. The plastic bag has to be presented separately from other cabin baggage for visual examination at the screening point. Only one transparent plastic bag per passenger is permitted.
    The plastic bag has to be presented separately from other cabin baggage for visual examination at the screening point.

  4. Exemptions will be made for medications, baby milk / food and special dietary requirements subject to verification.

For frequently asked questions regarding the restrictions on the carriage of liquids, gels and aerosols cabin baggage, please click here.

Carriage of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) Containing Lithium Batteries

If PEDs containing lithium batteries (such as laptop / tablet computer) are carried in checked baggage:
  • measures must be taken to prevent unintentional activation and to protect the devices from damage; and
  • the devices must be completely switched off (not in sleep or hibernation mode)

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

In view of the potential risk of the smartphone concerned and the latest requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States announced on October 14, 2016 (US time), the CAD has requested all airlines operating flights to and from Hong Kong to remind passengers not to transport the device on passenger flights to or from Hong Kong in carry-on baggage or in checked baggage.

Smart Luggage

Recently, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has issued industry guidance on the carriage of smart luggage, which features integrated lithium batteries for the purpose of charging an external device or to provide power to the wheels of the luggage, on board aircraft. It includes :

Checked Baggage# Passenger must remove the lithium battery from the smart luggage and carry the removed battery in the carry-on baggage.

Carry-on Baggage# The lithium battery from the smart luggage must be removable. If the battery cannot be removed, the luggage will not be permitted for carriage as checked or carry-on baggage.
(#Note : Passengers are also required to observe the applicable safety requirements regarding the carriage of lithium battery devices and spare lithium batteries on board aircraft.)

Based on the IATA guidance, individual airlines are introducing new requirements and restrictions on the subject. Passengers are advised to contact their airline concerned before departure should they have any query about the requirements and restrictions applicable to the carriage of smart luggage.

Air Passenger Departure Tax

Current Rate and Exemption of the Air Passenger Departure Tax

The current rate of the Air Passenger Departure Tax is HK$120 per passenger (12 years of age or above) departing by air from Hong Kong through Hong Kong International Airport, or by helicopter from Hong Kong at the Heliport at the Hong Kong - Macau Ferry Terminal. Pursuant to the Air Passenger Departure Tax Ordinance (Cap. 140), a passenger under 12 years of age is exempt from the tax. With effect from April 1, 1999, passengers who arrive and depart from Hong Kong by air within the same day are also exempted from the tax. For all categories of exemption, please refer to the Second Schedule of the Ordinance.(Open with new window)

Collecting the Tax

Air passengers will have to pay the Air Passenger Departure Tax when they buy air ticket from the airlines, travel agents or helicopter companies. Airlines normally will not collect departure tax at the check-in counter unless it has not been collected upon issue of air tickets.

Refund of the Tax for Unused Air Ticket

Passengers who have paid Air Passenger Departure Tax (APDT) upon purchase of air tickets but eventually have not departed from Hong Kong by air are eligible for tax refund from the airlines, travel agents or helicopter companies. No charge shall be payable for such refund.

Applying for Refund for Eligible Exemption

  1. Sea-to-air passengers (passengers who arrive at Hong Kong International Airport by cross boundary ferry service for onward departure from Hong Kong by air).

    With effect from 26 April 2005, same day cash refund of advance payment of departure tax is available at the Sky Pier at Hong Kong International Airport. Passengers who have been issued Refund Coupons upon check-in at the cross boundary ferry pier but have not collected the refund at the Sky Pier Refund Counter on the same day of travel shall contact the airlines concerned directly for the refund. Passengers who have not been issued Refund Coupons can apply by post only (please refer to the following paragraph (ii. b.) for the application procedures) to the Civil Aviation Department for tax refund.

  2. Other passengers

    a. Passenger may apply in person for refund in cash at the Civil Aviation Department's (CAD) 'Air Passenger Departure Tax’ Counter located at Aisle E, Level 7, Departure Hall, Terminal 1 of the Hong Kong International Airport upon production of all the following documents:

1. tax payment evidence (i.e. original air ticket / original helicopter ticket / e-ticket which indicates that Hong Kong APDT has been paid);
2. original boarding pass of the above departure flight (for the airline passenger only);
3. original ferry ticket bearing passenger's name (only for sea-to-air passengers); and
4. relevant documents to support of the claim to exemption.

As it takes time to process refund applications at the counter, passengers should allow sufficient time for the refund applications after check-in.

b. Passenger may also apply by post for refund in cheque by forwarding the duly completed "Air Passenger Departure Tax (APDT) Application for Refund" form together with all the required documents within 4 weeks of departure of the flight to:

Revenue Section, Finance Division
Civil Aviation Department
Level 5, Office Building
Civil Aviation Department Headquarters
1 Tung Fai Road
Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong

If the passenger has difficulty in depositing the Hong Kong dollar cheque in his / her bank account, please refer to Note (ii) of "Air Passenger Departure Tax (APDT) Application for Refund" form for alternative payment arrangements.

Enquiry on Air Passenger Departure Tax

You may raise any enquiries about Air Passenger Departure Tax, including application for refund, by:

(a) calling telephone no.: 2910 6242;

(b) sending an e-mail to: enquiry@cad.gov.hk; or

(c) writing to: Revenue Section, Finance Division, Civil Aviation Department, Level 5, Office Building, Civil Aviation Department Headquarters, 1 Tung Fai Road, Hong Kong International Airport, Lantau, Hong Kong.