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Ben2015

Beijing Airport Transfer Time

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Ben2015

Hi all

 

I have an upcoming transfer at Beijing airport but I am a bit worried because of the short time in between. Between when my flight lands (at Terminal 2) I have EXACTLY 2 hours before my next flight leaves from Terminal 3.

 

I hear from friends that it is doable but I am worried that any delay with baggage (because it is not the same booking) or transfer could cause me to miss the connection. Also Air China seem to be strict that check-in for international flights closes 1 hour (?) before departure meaning I only have 1 hour to get off the plane, collect baggage and transfer.

 

Does anyone have any tips for a smooth transfer?

 

I know there is an airport shuttle bus between the terminals but I am considering just finding the nearest taxi and paying him something like 50RMB just to get me to T3 as fast as possible.

 

Thank you for your help!

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ChTTay

I was in a similar situation a year or two ago. My flight was delayed, I landed in Beijing, had to switch terminals then hop on a flight to Yinchuan. I ended up getting to the check in desks for my onward flight 30 minutes before departure ... the women just said 'you are very late' and told me to go to 'oversized baggage' to drop off my bag. I then ran through the airport to the plane, got on 15 minutes before take off. The funny thing was that 10 minutes after me a group of businessmen got on like it was no big deal.

 

I don't know if they've tightened things up these days. That was also with China Eastern or Southern, not Air China.

 

What makes you think they 'seem to be strict'? Have you ever flown Air China? I feel sorry for the air stewards because no one listens or does what they're told.

 

Also, every time I've flown Air China I've been delayed. I'd worry more about a delay than anything else ...

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Ben2015

Thanks for your reply!

 

I say 'seem to be strict' just based on their website information: http://www.airchina.com/mm/en/travel_information/general_travelling_inforamtion/closing_time_for_check_in/closing_time_for_check_in.shtml

 

Your experience is interesting it sounds like they are fairly relaxed at check-in. For once I am just praying for a delay on the connecting flight haha!

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roddy

Baggage can sometimes be tagged to indicate there's a short transfer time and so it should be given priority. Might be worth asking, although it'll depend if the first airline does it, and if anyone at Beijing pays attention...

 

Actually wait, technically you're not transferring, you just want your bag quickly. Well, worth asking at check-in...

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Ben2015

Yes you're right toddy. Technically the two flights are not connected at all. I am going to see if the check-in staff at my departure airport will put a priority label on the bag of sorts. As you say though, whether the Beijing ground staff pay attention to this is another matter. 

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m000gle
Were this journey booked as a single itinerary, albeit one with multiple legs and a stopover in PEK/ZBAA, you would be fine.  The "airline" (including any alliance and codeshares involved) would be obliged to get you from origin to final destination; and, as 2 hours is well above the minimum transfer time, any missed connection would be up to them to resolve and pay for.  In this situation, your luggage would be checked through and you would have nothing to worry about, beyond a potential delay.

 

However, as you appear to have booked two separate itineraries, the first with its destination as PEK/ZBAA and the second originating there and taking you to points beyond, the "stopover" situation gets a bit more dicey.  The first airline is only obliged to get you to PEK/ZBAA; whether early, late or otherwise doesn't matter.  The second has no obligation to wait for you, rebook etc; if you're late, and miss the flight cut off, tough.  The potential savings in involving multiple airlines and itineraries is, effectively, offset by the financial risk taken by the traveller.

 

As others have already indicated, 2 hours should be sufficient time for getting from one flight to the next, even if changing terminals, and even if only just.  Getting luggage tagged as "priority" can help; but that's about all you can do as you're really at the mercy of delays en route, the speed of the luggage processing/carousel (assuming you have something checked) etc.

 

TL;DR - You're probably fine; but have a credit card or fistful of cash at the ready, just in case a rebooking is required.

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tysond

Agree with m00gle: If it's not a partner airline and an official "transfer", you are taking a risk.  Make sure you have enough money available to you for another flight and even a night in a hotel.

 

Story time:  One time I flew into the US from Singapore via San Francisco to Seattle.  I was due to connect back and go on a holiday in Japan, but there was a massive snowstorm in Seattle and the airport was closed, with my flight to Japan being middle of the next day, it looked like it was impossible to get there.  Sure I would get rebooked but I would miss my flight and meeting my wife in Tokyo and my flight the day after to ski resort, and a day of skiing (at least) etc.

 

So a friend and I, despite being exhausted from tough business meetings and many days of 3-4 hours sleep, rented a car and drove overnight through snow and mountains from Seattle to San Francisco to meet up with our connecting flights.  We nearly died a few times but that's another story.  I arrived a few hours before my flight, but then discovered that in fact I had not checked my details and was departing from Los Angeles not San Fran.

 

So I got on a flight down to Los Angeles, but we were delayed and circling LAX for a long time.  Eventually I got out, sprinted to the baggage claim, sprinted to the international terminal and arrived at checkin 25 minutes before the departure time of the flight to Tokyo.  Of course the flight was closed but the checkin agents called up and asked if they could re-open.  They did, and escorted me through all the security checks.  Thank you Singapore Airlines.

 

So - it can happen... but it is not guaranteed.  I've arrived 50 minutes before a budget airline flight with a 1 hour cut-off, and they have simply denied me (fortunately in my home city).

 

Arriving from an international destination to Beijing is usually fairly timely, luggage claim is fairly quick.  

 

But if you come from domestic China to Beijing to another domestic China, it's super unpredictable.  The good news is maybe your second flight gets delayed too.

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abcdefg
I have an upcoming transfer at Beijing airport but I am a bit worried because of the short time in between.

 

1.  Are you arriving Beijing on an international flight? (I mean from another country?) If so, you will have to clear customs and immigration before getting on your flight out of Beijing.

 

2.  Will you have checked luggage? I assume the answer to this one is yes from reading the above discussion.

 

Those two factors are important to consider in addition to the ones listed in the above replies. If the answer to both questions is "yes" you are more likely to have trouble making the connection. (It may still be possible of course.)

 

That being said, there are usually officials that you can implore to help you speed through the various lines. They have the ability to move you to the front. Cannot always count on being able to find one in a timely manner and cannot always count on their willingness to help, but it's worth seeking them out and trying. I've done this and it has saved my bacon.

 

This is likely to be stressful day.

 

---------------------

 

Edit: Re-read your post and it seems you are arriving Beijing on a domestic flight and leaving it on an international flight. That's better than the other way around.

 

Where is your Beijing flight coming from? Where does it originate? If it's far away inside China, the pilots have a better chance of being able to make up time after a late take-off.

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gato

If you still have time, it might be better to change to an earlier flight to Beijing. A majority of domestic flights from and to Beijing are delayed (80% of China's airspace is reserved exclusively for the military), so it would be safer to allow more time in between.

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Ben2015

Thanks for your replies, it certainly will be very stressful! Interesting to hear about this fellow who may be able to fast track me through.

 

In response:

 

1) Both flights are international.

 

2) Yes 1 checked bag

 

 

I was specifically wondering if anyone has made the transition between terminal 2 going to terminal 3 in Beijing? I am worried the transfer airport bus will be too slow? 

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abcdefg
I was specifically wondering if anyone has made the transition between terminal 2 going to terminal 3 in Beijing? I am worried the transfer airport bus will be too slow?

 

I haven't done that so don't know first hand.

 

This is the kind of specific question that sometimes gets a good, straight, quick answer on Tripadvisor. (You will also get some nonsense answers and some preaching about how you should have planned your trip different. There's a wide range of quality in the replies there.)

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