Flying Anytime Soon?

China’s National Day is just around the corner, which means the trains, buses and airports will be busy, busy, busy. Planning a flight in China anytime soon? If it is your first time flying in the PRC, there are a few things you should know:

• The captain never speaks – Don’t worry if you never hear from the flight deck during the flight. They don’t come on the overhead speaker to “welcome you aboard” or point out any cool landmarks down below, like they do in the West. Wouldn’t you rather they concentrate on flying the plane, anyway?

• The flight attendants all look identical – Well, much more than you would find on a western airline. They will all be of similar height and weight. This is really not all that noticeable until you later fly on a western airline. On my flight back to the US to visit family, it seemed really odd that the flight attendants were all so diverse! They were all shapes and sizes, old and young.

• There is always turbulence when approaching the airport or climbing away – Just be prepared for a sometimes bumpy flight. I don’t know why this is, maybe I should ask DH the pilot. It always happens to me, and I’ve flown on over 15 flights in China. Keep your seatbelt fastened.

• Don’t bother looking out the window – This is not always the case, but usually there is just too much smog to see much.

• Instead of peanuts, you will get a bag of dried squid bits. I love ’em, but my sister-in-law nearly ralphed them all over me.

• Upon landing, don’t be too surprised if your fellow passengers jump up and start taking out their carry-on bags – even if you are still on the runway. This one really surprised me the first time, but now it is just routine. Everyone will want to get off the plane as quickly as possible. It is the same thing you find on the train. I’m just waiting for the day the plane brakes suddenly and everyone goes flying forward. I wait until everyone has made their mad dash off before I de-plane. They’ll just be waiting at the baggage carousel anyway.

• Someone will use their cell phone when they are not supposed to (not really a big deal anyway, but..)

• You will pass through passport control even on domestic flights – I think that China must have the best passport control in the world. Be ready to present your passport, boarding pass and ticket receipt before going through security, and be sure to smile for the camera. Don’t try to bring a water bottle or anything like that. (No alcohol allowed in carry-on. They always sniff the water to make sure it is not booze. Do yourself a favor and finish it before security.)

The good thing:
• Jets in China are all shiny and new – complete with sophisticated computer systems that can fly the airplane automatically. China probably has the youngest fleet of airliners anywhere in the world.

Anything I miss? Any funny Chinese airport/airplane stories to share?

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2 Responses to “Flying Anytime Soon?”

  1. Amira Says:

    I thought Chinese airports, airlines, and everything were tame after flying in Kyrgryzstan. The people stayed in their seats much longer after landing in China too(you might get trampled in Central Asia). And the passport control was much quicker- although my husband did perch our son on his shoulders in Urumqi so they’d move us to the front of the line. Worked great.

    I LOVED flying in China. So relaxing. Relatively speaking. 🙂

  2. global gal Says:

    Didn’t you write a post about the flight into Kyrgryzstan? 🙂 Sounds fun!

    I’m glad to hear that Chinese flights were relaxing for you! All of the flights I’ve taken in China were just fine, except for a hard landing or two. One of these days, I might even find a former student in the cockpit.

    My mother, sister and sister-in-law came to visit me last summer and on their arrival into Beijing, the flight attendant said: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ll be in the ground shortly.” That wasn’t a very good introduction to Chinese flying, since my sis-in-law is not too keen on flying in general. Makes for a good laugh, though.

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