Gate numbers at airports is something taken as a given by passengers – you get told which one your flight is leaving from, and you make sure you get there on time! However the other day I was taking a look at a map of Hong Kong International Airport, and came to an interesting discovery – gate numbering doesn’t have to be sequential or logical.
What gates do exist?
The Wikipedia page for Hong Kong International Airport has this to say about the gates:
The airport has a total of 90 boarding gates – 78 jet bridge gates (1–4, 15–36, 40–50, 60–71, 201–219, 501–510) and 12 virtual gates (228–230, 511–513, 520–525) which are used as assembly points for passengers, who are then ferried to the aircraft by apron buses.
So why are the gate numbers non sequential, and jump all the way from 1 to 500? The airport map has part of the answer.
Gates 1 through 80 are located in the main terminal building.
Gates in the 2xx range are in the Midfield Concourse, accessed by the automated people mover system.
And gates in the 5xx range are located in the North Satellite Concourse, accessed by shuttle bus from the main terminal.
But what about the gaps in the 1-80 range for the main terminal building?
Someone posed this question on Wikipedia back in 2006.
Since the Airport’s opening in 1998, the signs in the departure area have read “Gates 1-80”.
However, I found that there are a lot of gates that “didn’t exist”.
Those gates were Gates 9, 14, 20, 37-39, 51-59 and 72-80.
The last time I landed in Hong Kong, I noticed that Gate 20 has been added.
What has happened to all the others? I would really be interested to know.
Kylohk 14:51, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
As did someone else in 2017.
Should there be something to explain where gates 71-80 are? Because it seems that those gates do not exist, despite signs saying gates “33-80”
TheCoffeeAddict 04:08, 9 March 2017 (UTC)
So where did the gates go?
Gate 20 is an oddity – as late as July 2005 the gate didn’t appear on airport maps.
But gates 5 through 8 can be seen, along with gates 10 through 13 – none of which exist today.
Thankfully there is a source of truth to consult – the airport aircraft parking / docking chart produced for the use of pilots.
Bay numbers directly correspond to gate numbers, with the following terminal adjacent parking spaces marked:
- Bays E1 – E4: north concourse
- Bays E15 – E19: south concourse
- Bay N20: central concourse
- Bays N22 – N34 (even): north side, central concourse
- Bays S23 – S35 (odd): south side, central concourse
- Bays W40 – W50 (even): north side, south west concourse
- Bays S41 – S49 (odd): south side, south west concourse
- Bays N36 – N70 (even): north side, north west pier
- Bays W61 – W71 (odd): south side, north west pier
- Bays D201 – D219: Midfield Concourse
- Bays N501 – N510: North Satellite Concourse
So how to explain the gates that don’t appear?
Gates: 5 – 8 and 10 – 13 were once virtual gates used by shuttle bus passengers – since renumbered as 511 – 513 and 520 – 525 with one gate being shuffled from the ‘north’ to the ‘south’ concourse.
Gate 9 and 14 didn’t fit into the ’10 gates on the north and south concourse’ pattern.
Gate 20: added to the airport after completion, by squeezing in an extra parking bay between gates 15 and 22.
Gates 37 – 39 were omitted so that the south west concourse numbering could start at 40.
Gates 51 – 59 were omitted so that the north west concourse numbering could start at 60.
Gates 72 – 80 were omitted so that signage in the main terminal would read a nice round ‘gates 1 – 80’.
Gates 2xx were numbered in their own group due to their remote location via the automated people mover.
Gates 5xx received even higher numbers due to the long shuttle bus ride required to access them.
Clear as mud?
One final oddity
Before the opening of the Midfield Concourse, passengers to gates 33 – 80 were directed to use the automated people mover instead of walking.
But today it has been changed to gates 40 – 80 and 201 – 230.
Presumably directing four gates of passengers to walk instead taking the automated people mover was to free up capacity for passengers headed to the Midfield Concourse, who don’t have the same option.