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Old 01-10-2019, 04:59 AM
 
6,542 posts, read 2,196,759 times
Reputation: 7538

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Providing enough details so we get the initial contextual questions (have you done ___) out of the way. (Next year we will pony up the additional $1k for Air Canada for what should be a smooth and easy transfer in Toronto to avoid this potential madness, but they are not in the budget right now.)

I am transferring in Beijing for the first time in this airport in May (yes it's all in one itinerary) taking Air China from JFK to HND. I have travel insurance with Generali in case of major delays or other issues. Coming it's a 4 hour layover which should be adequate time to transfer.

However, going home cuts it close with a 1 hour 40 minute layover (HND to PEK). There is mixed sentiment on the web on whether that is cutting it too close for an international connection. The biggest problem is for the dates, flight times and cost I need, short connection times are all that is available going home. I am well aware that the Airliner will often (but not always) hold the plane knowing there are regional connectors and don't want those seats empty or to pay for rebooking. (Also I purchased business class tickets for both legs if that makes any difference.)

If anyone is familiar with PEK and can assist on an action plan on how to get to the connection both ways with minimal hassle that would be great. I am willing to pay extra for a service but no more than $250 max. (most of the VIP services I researched do not include security and cost upwards of $1k. )

I am not interested in staying in China at all, I just want to transfer and get on the connecting flight as efficiently as possible without having to be Usain Bolt as soon as the plane lands. Peace of mind when traveling is of the utmost importance to enjoying my trip. Our connecting International flight back to JFK is early in the morning but I just don't want to risk being separated from my luggage or stuck in Beijing and having to take another PTO day.

I know, that's what the insurance is there for, but I'd rather not have to use it

Thanks in advance for any tips... To help guide suggestions specifics around the following would be extremely helpful:

- Golf Carts? Where to get them?
- Any apps or cheat sheets? The PEK airport website sucks.
- "Blue stickers/tags" (What do they mean??? Do they really help???)
- International Transfer Desk hours REAL hours of operation and reliability?
- Security protocol - Does this include immigration stamp or not? Conflicting information online. APEC card doesn't help get expedient since USA is transitional member?
- Paid Interpreters available for a fee? Reports say staff English tends to be poor (I've tried multiple times to learn Mandarin to no avail)
- Last but not least - Is Air China really useless when helping its own customers connect to it's own connecting flights? (Specifically within T3?)
- Worst case scenario should I call insurance, change airlines on my own and file a claim, or rely on Air China to rebook me? A few posters on Trip Advisor commented on Air China ineptitude when it comes to rebooking International flights on other carriers even within Star Alliance.

Sorry for the long post.
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Old 01-10-2019, 07:46 AM
 
Location: Hougary, Texberta
9,022 posts, read 12,620,622 times
Reputation: 10980
I think you've got it locked. I've been in and out of PEK a number of times, both internationally to onward international flights as well as domestic to international etc. The signage is really good, and I've never had a problem. I've been on a flight that arrived late, and the airline had carts/helpers available to process everyone through and make connections.


I speak no Mandarin beyond a restaurant, and have never had an issue at PEK. Shenzhen, different story, but we won't go there. Mornings are the best transfer time, in case there's a smog day, and connections domestically are notorious for being stacked the later in the day they are.


The extra VIP services aren't worth it, and the airline wants you to make your connection probably more than you do. Only suggestion is that you smile and agree with whatever the nice customs officer wants, and you'll blitz through. They tend to be arbitrary about some things, and it's just not worth the flight. I've lost nail clippers, a non-bladed keychain tool, lighters, etc. Things I've taken on literally dozens of flights somehow caught the ire of PEK.


For insurance, check your credit card. Many/most of the premium cards already have travel trip/delay insurance as part of the benefit if you've used the card to purchase the airfare. No sense spending extra money if you don't have to.


PEK is huge, but it's well laid out in a hub and spoke, and lots of moving sidewalks. From one extreme to the other once you're through security is about 20 minutes. If you're doing international arrival to departure, you're *A, you'll land, walk to the hub, and likely walk right back out to where you were, just one level down.


Good luck, have a safe trip, and remember to relax. It will all work out.
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Old 01-10-2019, 07:58 AM
 
6,542 posts, read 2,196,759 times
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Thanks Mike for insight, however do you have to go through customs declaration even if you are not technically entering China?

Should we just put pretty much anything that could be questioned into checked baggage to avoid hassles?
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Old 01-10-2019, 08:07 AM
 
Location: Hougary, Texberta
9,022 posts, read 12,620,622 times
Reputation: 10980
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tencent View Post
Thanks Mike for insight, however do you have to go through customs declaration even if you are not technically entering China?

Should we just put pretty much anything that could be questioned into checked baggage to avoid hassles?
You do immigration, not customs though. Everything is really well marked and centralized. There's no way to miss it, get lost or anything else. Your bags will be interlined, so you won't see them at all. Their security checkpoints are run by, if not police, better than TSA level numpties, so they tend to be more professional, and also better. I'd make sure liquids etc. etc. are all checked, and any spare battery packs aren't. They've gotten pickier about them, and will likely check, but that's only because domestically there's people packing around 50K mAh battery packs, and those don't meet airline safety. 20K or less, and there's no issue at all.
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Old 01-10-2019, 11:21 AM
 
6,542 posts, read 2,196,759 times
Reputation: 7538
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyyc View Post
You do immigration, not customs though. Everything is really well marked and centralized. There's no way to miss it, get lost or anything else. Your bags will be interlined, so you won't see them at all. Their security checkpoints are run by, if not police, better than TSA level numpties, so they tend to be more professional, and also better. I'd make sure liquids etc. etc. are all checked, and any spare battery packs aren't. They've gotten pickier about them, and will likely check, but that's only because domestically there's people packing around 50K mAh battery packs, and those don't meet airline safety. 20K or less, and there's no issue at all.
Debating on whether to leave my laptops at home...
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Old 01-10-2019, 11:47 AM
 
Location: Hougary, Texberta
9,022 posts, read 12,620,622 times
Reputation: 10980
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tencent View Post
Debating on whether to leave my laptops at home...
I took mine, but I was there for work. Didn't move the needle. They genuinely didn't care.
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