This is my experience in Beijing, China in the Summer of 2009.
If you came to this webpage first, it's better if you
start from the beginning of the story.
Saturday-Sunday, July 11-12
Flight to China
My flight from LAX to Beijing leaves 1:40am on Sunday morning. But to check-in
for the flight, I actually have to arrive at the LAX airport on Saturday night.
My tour actually begins in Xi'an, China but I will land in Beijing first and take a connecting
flight to Xi'an. The layover at Beijing should be 5 hours (down from 15 hours!)
It's long but bearable and a vast improvement from the 15 hour layover that the tour
operator had originally booked for me.
Most of my tour group is leaving from New York City and will meet me in Xi'an
to begin our tour.
I flew with Air China, the airlines headquartered
I didn't have much of a choice because the tour operator
booked this airline for the group tour. In fact, I should have insisted
on flying with a different airline to China.
One awful thing about Air China is they do NOT fly out of LAX's International Terminal
which is the more desirable terminal. Air China flies out of Terminal 2 which lacks in all
sorts of amenities that the International Terminal has
like chairs, food places, free wifi, etc. In fact, Terminal 2 is
like being in a third world airport. Your friends, who were there to see you off,
will find it difficult to wait with you for your flight at Terminal 2 because there are no chairs.
It helps to have a place to sit with your friends.
You are left standing in this large open space.
There are no food places so you can't even get water.
Nothing is really available until you pass
through x-ray machine line and are at your gate. By this time, you are alone because your
friends are trapped in Terminal 2 hell and
cannot come with you to the gate.
They obviously designed Terminal 2 to be very unfriendly
I now realize I should have booked my airplane seat early.
I`m in a middle chair but over the wing. They had an aisle chair at the tail end of the plane
I think it is
better to sit over the wing than get a window
or aisle chair. Less turbulence during the flight.
It turns out I was right. The flight was turbulent but I was fine.
The Air China lady gave me my flight tickets to both Beijing and Xi'an.
She said I would have to pickup my check-in
luggage at Beijing but then only have to resubmit it
to their x-ray machine again so it goes forward to Xi`an.
I also have to go through immigration but can go
afterwards directly to my gate to Xi`an. Cool.
I should mention here there is a very strict
carry-on bag limit only 11 lbs!
My barbells are heavier than that.
However, check-in bag maximum weight is 44 lbs.
So they are encouraging you to pack all your stuff
in your check-in baggage. Another result of this, there was
lots of overhead space in the airplane! And you don't have to
worry about your carry-on bags being crushed by some idiot
who had overstuffed his bag.
I have over 2 hours to kill waiting at my gate.
It would have been nice to be able to check my email and
perhaps handle a few last minute support calls.
But there is NO free wifi at Terminal 2. Blah!
Again, this is in contrast to the International Terminal
which DOES HAVE FREE WIFI.
They don`t even have charging tables for laptops here.
From the number of laptops I see people using (about half the people at the gate), they should.
This whole situation is kind of ridiculous.
I will be avoiding Air China on my future trips to China.
Didn`t get much sleep during
the 12 hour flight to Beijing. The restroom door kept opening up and the
light shining out of it kept waking me. Also, there was a rude family
sitting behind me who made lots of noise and kicking my chair during the
last 5 hours of the flight. There's always one of these asshole families
on every international flight for some reason. Everyone is sleeping around you.
Get a clue and show some courtesy.
My face looks like it hasn`t gotten any sleep.
And my layover in Beijing is now 6 hours, not 5 hours,
because we are arriving one hour early!
I understand there`s free wifi at the Beijing airport.
I wonder if they have changing rooms over there.
I can`t believe I forgot to bring my wristwatch!