Sunday, October 7, 2012

Summer of Travel 2012: China (Part 3 - Shanghai to Beijing)

(Don't forget to check out Part 1, United BusinessFirst JFK-SFO-PVG here and Part 2, Westin Bund Center Shanghai here)

After a short trip to Shanghai, I was excited to head back to the airport and to be heading off to Beijing for the first time.

Pudong Airport is quite a ways outside the city center, but it's an easy (and quite affordable) taxi ride. I was flying Air China, so my Star Alliance Gold status made the airport experience rather pleasurable. First, I didn't wait in a single line until it was time to board the plane. From the check in area, to the security checkpoint, to the lounge - my access to the priority lanes meant I was literally first in line each and every time. Not a bad way to travel!

After clearing security, I made my way over to the Air China domestic lounge.

Escalator up to the lounge
Lounge check-in area

I'd visited the international lounge before when flying back home from Shanghai, but never this one in the domestic area of the terminal. Typically, you'd expect the international lounge to be nicer, but I actually preferred this one. I thought the seats were more comfortable, and it wasn't nearly as crowded.

Love the open air setting

Big, comfy chairs

After grabbing a quick bite and catching up on email, I made my way over to the gate. Along the way I noticed something that I can't believe I'd never noticed before: people really don't like carrying their bags in China, at least not in the airports. Even for small items like a backpack or a purse, it seems most people would rather push it along in a cart. And I'm not just talking about little, old ladies - this really does seem to be the norm. If that sounds weird to you, believe me - it looks even weirder.

Maybe it's a deceptively heavy bag

The other thing that was odd to me (though not all that unusual after traveling to China a few times now), was how boarding was handled. There were no zones, no groups, no instructions or guidelines whatsoever for that matter. At some point around the time we were scheduled to board, they opened up the doors, and everyone just rushed to the front, boarding passes in hand. Complete and utter chaos.

I wasn't especially eager to board though - I wasn't able to pre-select my seat, and so there was no exit row to be had. "Regular" seats and me don't mix very well - but it was a fairly short flight, so really not that big of a deal.

Knees, allow me to introduce you to Seatback Pocket

In summary, a so-so in-flight experience, but a great pre-flight experience beforehand.

What quirks have you noticed when traveling abroad? Any travel habits that are different from the way we tend to do things in North America?

Next up, my review of the St. Regis Beijing. Click here to check it out.

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1 comment:

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