This is the next leg of my journey back from Japan where I spent two weeks for vacation.
I am only doing a short stop in Beijing - actually not that short, I have to spend five hours in an airport which is not the most fun in the world - you'll see why! - before spending another 3 hours in the sky to reach Hong Kong. 3 hours flying over the same country - but the point of destination is very different…
I left you on the corridor going to immigration. I first wanted to apply for a 72-hours transit visa which would have allowed me to walk around in the city for a few hours. There are five different kinds of immigration counters. Those for Diplomatic passport holders as well as air crews, those for chinese nationals, foreign citizens (allowed to enter with or without a visa depending on which nationality you have), 72 hours visa-free transit, and last - but not least, as this is where of most of passengers are going - transit desk.
As there was no one at the 72-hours free transit counter I waited for ten minutes to talk to an officer at the regular foreign citizens counter, to tell him that I wanted to apply for a free transit visa.
Surprisingly enough, (it was my first time in China but I would never have believed this reaction) he went in his office to call someone to the counters delivering free visas.
I walked back to the visa-free counter as the officer arrived and he asked me my reservation for the flight with which I'll exit China. As I didn't have my boarding pass, I handed her my mobile phone and the immigration form filled in while I was in the previous flight. After taking a look at it, she tells me to go ask for my boarding pass, at the transfer counter behind me. If they can issue it, I will have to go through the transit immigration counter. If not,, I have to come back to her.
The employee there will give me my boarding pass for the Air China flight, and write something in Chinese on it.
So that's officially the first time I'm denied entry in a country! With my Japanese passport I wouldn't have had any problems as we are allowed to stay 14 days in China without any visa, but unfortunately I didn't travel with it.
Anyhow the transit immigration counter also gives you a stamp, which is very odd…
I will have to go through a meticulous safety inspection with another security officials who will stamp by boarding pass.
I like this logo
The terminal is gigantic, there is no doubt that we are in China.
There is a FIDS just after the security check, which allows me to notice that there are some serious delays for flights going to HK. Also do you see another oddity in this picture? Yes, the flight to Pyongyang which you will never find in Europe or North America! This picture is especially intended for Florent ;)
Ok, lounge spotting time! Here in Beijing, China, it's a good opportunity to try CA's flagship lounge. It will be the Business Lounge for me.
It seems like there's not enough space in this giant airport for all flights to get a jetbridge!
It seems that most of the airlines flying to Beijing use CA's lounge, even Malaysia which is part of One World and thus entitled to enjoy CX's lounge.
The employees at the front desk do not even say hello, but anyway, we're in China. There were many vacant seats, so I just picked one of them, took my computer out of my bag to kill time reading FRs. PEK does have a free wifi service, but it requires a password which can be obtained at the entrance of the lounge - otherwise at information desks all over the airport. I went to the entrance of the lounge where someone is helping foreigners who are used to internet freedom. Indeed, you have to scan your passport in order to get a password.
You really do get what kind of category China belongs to, even if it's just a 4 hours layover…
Let's get in touch with my friends, I tried opening Facebook… but Safari could not open it. Oh dear, I forgot that China was blocking not only Facebook, but also google, youtube, parts of Wikipedia… Fortunately, Flight-Report is accessible, however bear in mind that PEK does not offer high speed internet. Flight Reports are therefore not readable.
Browsing on the unforbidden internet I found a proxy which allowed me a 10 minutes free trial. It was enough to immortalize that on Twitter:
The lounge feels spacious and is bright enough, with these huge windows.
I'm still hungry, so I'm going to the back of the lounge where a nice buffet area is. There is a staff watching it. She saw me with my camera. I tried to take a pic of the buffet hiding myself behind flowers but it was too late : I look too suspicious for her and she ran to tell me that photos are forbidden.
There is a range of hot mains (industrial taste) with different kind of soups and dimsum (alright !) I also tasted sushis, and I think they were the worst ones I ever ate. The dessert was fine.
For some reason the staff supposed to watch over the dining area is gone, allowing me to take a picture of the buffet
This is a good idea, but unfortunately it is plastic cutlery which is distributed
The business corner is separated by a wall and is very quiet. A good place to focus on your business
There are some nice sleeping rooms, I'll request one of these and nap for a few moments!
You can also watch the traffic simply by pulling the curtain
An MS A330, A CA B77W and my NH 787 going back to Tokyo
Chinese press at the entrance of the lounge
my gate is far away from the lounge so I walk watching the traffic CA 330
LOOK WHO'S THERE! HIS MAJESTY THE FIRE BREATHING 787!
I wonder why does CX establish a codeshare with CA on this route? This is surprising.
A bus will drive us to our plane. The good thing is that there is a bus for business class passengers! Wow! It's a good way to do comfortable spotting ;)
UA 77E in Star Alliance livery
Here is our 321 flying to Hong Kong this evening.
The cabin are equipped with old Mao-Zedong style seats but anyway they are alright for a 3 hour flight.
There are slippers in the seat in front
Orange juice and oshibori are offered immediately after boarding
As my neighbor is a nasty Russian who didn't let me use the armrest and leaves his pillow on it I will simply ask the FA if it's possible to seat somewhere else for both of us to have more space, I say. I'll get the 4K with no neighbor. Yipee!
Some more plane spotting before leaving PEK. CZ 380
AF 77W, not very clean, huh?
Good bye, cloudy China
God, it's better here in the skies
There are four rows of J in this A321
Menus are distributed, and WOW, it is like a real restaurant with FOUR mains and two menus on this three-hour flight !
I will order the Chinese course. As there are Japanese stickers on my computer, the FA will speak to me automatically in Japanese. A very good point. Let's start with some nuts
Business class is probably my favorite restaurant in the world! The sun is already off for today
A pic of my tray. Everything is on it (appetizer and entrée) but they are brought separately for those who ordered the western course.
Chinese salad : Spicy Mountain Jelly Veggies
Hot and spicy beef
The Guizhou Chicken
Dessert time ; some fresh fruits (alright) and an Opera Cake (I didn't recognize the taste of chocolate!)
See you tomorrow, sun
CA offers an extensive menu with seven different kind of teas
Immigration forms are distributed, but sadly enough no stamps anymore in Hong Kong :(
A pic of my seat
the control panel : the recline is enough for a three-hour daytime flight.
Special products are offered to J class passengers.
There was this magazine in the seat pocket. But seriously what's the point of talking about something happening on Facebook (I guess) if Facebook is prohibited in China?
Bad quality headphones
We landed 20 mins late. My camera is fed up with the moon, so it doesn't take nice photos at night. Sorry about that. We'll park next to this Cebu Pacific with sharklets for KL651
Bye bye Air China, it was a pleasure to try out your Business class!
We arrived in another terminal which I didn't notice. Immigration isn't right there, a bus will drive us to the main terminal.
Cebu Pacific FAs are also taking the same path
The ride will be fast and I'll be handing my passport to the officer less than 40 minutes after deplane. No stamps anymore. I hope the new Hong Kong immigration system won't inspire other countries. Macau also caught stampophobia. This is sad, really sad. As my English teacher would say, a staple is not poetic enough!
My hotel is not far away. I will have to call the free shuttle going there for a short ride. Happy to be in Hong Kong, even without stamps!
Thanks for reading!
Air China First And Business Class Lounge - 2
Beijing - PEK
Hong Kong - HKG
This was a good experience with Air China. Flight was a bit delayed but the private bus for Elites is an excellent idea - although it would have been great to park at the main terminal at HKG to avoid losing 20 minutes. These recliner seats are alright for a 3 hours daytime flight. FAs were doing their job right and the fact that they spoke to me in Japanese deserves some extra points. Food offering was great, but its quality can be improved. See you!
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