China: Airlines & Airports

Airline, bus and train seats are narrower, less leg room, and stuffier than those in the west.  Be prepared, there is not much choice here.

Air Travel

Domestic air travel on major airlines is SAFE in China – due to sudden growth of the industry, the major airlines tend to use newer planes, and opt for A300’s or B747’s largely on most routes.  Airlines are reasonably good – but be warned on smaller city routes, delays and cancellations are the norm.

Remember your flight number, and listen careful to Chinese announcements referencing the number (in Chinese in smaller airports).

The “air corridor” between Shanghai and Beijing is heavily restricted with only 2 flight paths, that unfortunately intersect over a military training area near Qingdao – as a result, flights between the 2 cities are quite often delayed by 30 minutes to a couple of hours while they await clearance.

Planes will be held in China for Government officials.  So if flying around National Day (October) or National Peoples Congress time (Jan-Feb each year), expect more delays than normal – particularly with flights to or from Beijing.

Air China 1st Class “Window” Seat

Pack light and warm (remember domestic airline luggage limits of total of 20kg), Many times you’ll be forced to carry your luggage up & down stairs — for instance in subway stations and train stations.  If possible, consider ultra-light 4 way roller suitcase.

Check in at airports for domestic travel is a minimum of 1 hour prior to departure, but given the uncertainty of flight times and language barriers, 2 hours prior is better usually.

Once you are checked in, you need to process through provincial immigration (Public Security) where the police will scan your passport invalidating your previous hotel’s temporary registration permit, and giving you clearance to travel to the next city.

When booking (I suggest using cTrip or eLong), and if choice, I recommend my personal ranking based on quality/experience based on first/business class:
HU – Hainan Airlines 海南航空
CZ – China Southern 中国南方航空
CA – Air China 中国国际航空
HO – Juneyao Airlines 吉祥航空
FM – Shanghai Airlines 上海航空
MU – China Eastern 中国东方航空
MF – Xiamen Airlines 厦门航空
May 18th, 2018|