Advice on Shanghai / Beijing Flights

Nov 30th, 2005, 12:48 PM
  #1  
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Advice on Shanghai / Beijing Flights

I'm in a bit of a quandary. I didn't think very carefully about my trip, and I bought a ticket for Shanghai. Now I'm thinking I should spend some time in Beijing. I don't have very much time, so it's not the most ideal, but I'm thinking about it anyway.

Now, I've taken a look at real-time flight arrival and departure info via the Shanghai airport website:

http://www.shanghaiairport.com/en/Fl...rrived_All.jsp

It seems like delays are very much a fact of life.

Question 1:

Is one airline more reliable than another? I'm guessing China Eastern is better than Air China. But is this fact or just my imagination?

Question 2:

I've the additional problem as I'm flying into Pudong and most domestic flights seem to leave from Hongqiao. Any suggestions? It seems like there's a bus between the two. How long does it take?

There's the new train for Pudong. Is the train convenient enough for downtown Shanghai (say the Bund district)? I'm tempted to try to use Pudong throughout because of the train if I do fly to Beijing. Is Hongqiao better?

Thanks.
111op is offline  
Nov 30th, 2005, 01:27 PM
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1. Doesn't really matter. It's like asking whether UA is better than AA for Chicago-New York. Delays can happen to either. I think Shanghai Airlines also fly this route.

2. The Maglev train goes from the PVG airport very quickly to the middle of nowhere. You'll still have to connect to anywhere - by taxi or subway.

If you're already staying in Puxi of Shanghai (west of the Wangpu), and is flying to Beijing, you should use Hongqiao instead.
rkkwan is offline  
Nov 30th, 2005, 01:49 PM
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Re #1 -- you're right Shanghai Air flies this route. (The Shanghai airports page lists three airlines.)

I've not booked my hotels yet. I'm thinking of staying at the Bund. Is this not the best? Is that the Puxi district?

I'm starting to realize that I've no concept at all of China.

I'm also starting to realize that I need a Chinese guidebook (i.e. with characters). I've no idea what the pinyin stands for.

Can anyone speak from personal experience/anecdotes regarding delays? (For example: 80% of flights are delayed for an hour or more.) That would be helpful.

I don't know. I only have four days. I don't mind rushing, but I don't wnat to be stuck in delays either.
111op is offline  
Nov 30th, 2005, 01:59 PM
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Yes, Puxi is the older Shanghai center, including the Bund. It is simply anywhere west of the Huangpu (sorry for my earlier spelling).

Hey, Shanghai can have flight delays just as Chicago, NY or Dallas can. Can't worry about everything.

[Okay, well last New Year's Eve, 12/31/2004, a rare snowstorm hit Shanghai. The airports were so chaotic that airline employees had to run away from angry passengers at the airports. Huge huge mess...]
rkkwan is offline  
Nov 30th, 2005, 02:11 PM
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I don't know. It just seems like there're all these horror stories about Chinese flights (probably biased and exaggerated).

I was pretty comfortable with flying to Beijing even with so little time, but after taking a look at the Shanghai airports webpage and seeing "delay" next to quite a number of flights, I'm not so confident anymore.

Of course there could be delays anywhere, but if that's routine in Shanghai, I'd rather find out about this now and make an informed decision than be all pissed when I get there.



111op is offline  
Nov 30th, 2005, 07:10 PM
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There are also non-stop night trains between the two cities. Very modern and comfortable cars. But if you're going by yourself, you'll be sharing a cabin with others.
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Nov 30th, 2005, 08:02 PM
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We were booked Sydney-Beijing via Pudong on China Eastern, so didn't have to worry about Hongqiao. I guess there's no chance you can change your ticket? I did get the impression that quite a few domestic flights use Pudong - e.g. we landed there when we flew Dalian-Shanghai. If you check www.travelocity.com and use the IATA airport code "PVG" instead of "Shanghai", that should give you an idea of what choices are available.

I can't see why China Eastern would be more reliable in a schedule-keeping (or probably any other) sense than Air China - from memory they have the same owner. Delays are often beyond the airline's control anyway. Getting onto and out of planes may be slower than what you're used to, though, as you're more likely to find yourself using tarmac buses than aerobridges, for which there's much competition - don't cut your timing too fine, just in case the flight is on time.

Of our three domestic flights, only one was seriously delayed (about 1 hr) - the other two suffered only minor delays.

Agree with rkkwan re the Maglev - it's fun, but drops you at a suburban station, still in the depths of Pudong, which means you either change onto the city subway or take a cab. Our taxi from the city centre to Pudong airport took 45 minutes and cost 140 yuan (about US$17). Hongqiao is even further.

Travelling in China can sometimes test your patience, but getting pissed off doesn't get you far in my limited experience. Even if Chinese people around you are leaping up and down in frustration, you'll just come across as a bad-mannered 'laowai'.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Nov 30th, 2005, 10:47 PM
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I'm also planning to visit Shanghai and then going to Beijing to spend 3-4 days there. I'm thinking of taking the night train to there, what would it cost for 2 ways? how long does it takes? and do I need to book train the ticket ahead? If yes, where to book?

Thanks...
loypeng is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 01:16 AM
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I can't change my ticket now, but I'm considering buying HKG -> Beijing, Beijing -> Shanghai.

It's a little more expensive than Shanghai <-> Beijing, but it will save me a connection in Shanghai airport.

Right now my ticket is JFK -> HKG -> Shanghai -> HKG -> Taipei -> JFK.

I'll have to ask my travel agent today whether I can throw out the HKG -> Shanghai portion without consequences (as I'll buy another ticket from takes me directly from HKG to Beijing).

Thanks!
111op is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 01:42 AM
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Take the overnight train.
Alwaysgone is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 03:12 AM
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I got this in Wikipedia:

http://wikitravel.org/en/Shanghai

"Beijing - there are a number of brand new night sleep trains running daily from Shanghai to Beijing, starting at 7pm in 10 minute intervals to 8pm and arriving at 7-8am in Beijing. Fare is around 500,- Yuan for a softsleeper, but they are very clean and the four-person cabins very comfortable. In the same new train, normal hardseaters area available for around 250,- Yuan."

I think that I'm going to check the flights first though. I'm going with my mom, so I want her to be comfortable. I've never taken an overnight train myself either.

I assume that the two of us cannot share a cabin? (Wiki says 4 to a cabin?) And I assume I can buy train tickets when we get there if we decide to take the train?

Obviously the train is much cheaper, as we don't have to pay for the hotel either.
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Dec 1st, 2005, 03:16 AM
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By the way, in a 4-5 day period, I'm not sure if I want to do the overnight train twice anyway. It seems like a lot of train travel.
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Dec 1st, 2005, 05:56 AM
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The information you get about the overnight trains are mostly correct. There are 5 such "Z" trains each way, starting at 7pm, but at 7-minute intervals. [This is like the old NYC-Chicago express trains with different "sections"]

The prices are also correct, expect the seat type (250 yuan) is the soft one, not hardseater.

I am not aware of any "deluxe softsleeper" that sleeps only 2 in a cabin on this route. [Only Hong Kong-Beijing and Hong Kong Shanghai have them.]

The return also leave at the exact same time, starting at 7pm, at 7-minute intervals.
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Dec 1st, 2005, 06:18 AM
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Thanks.
111op is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 10:28 AM
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If it's any help, we ( 2 adults, 3 kids) recently took four flights on Shanghai Airlines, Air China and Shandong Airlines and they were all very much on time except for one which had a weather delay. The airports were easy to get around in--convenient luggage carts, information desks, English signage and English speaking staff. We flew into Pudong airport from Japan and flew from Hongqiao airport to Xian--Hongqiao was great because it was closer to our hotel in "old" Shanghai (the West side of the river where the Bund disrict is).
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Dec 1st, 2005, 11:32 AM
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Thanks. It's all been helpful. I've more or less decided to go to Beijing for 1.5 days or so.

I'll buy another ticket HKG -> Beijing -> Shanghai and forfeit the HKG -> Shanghai ticket on my original ticket.

This way I don't have to worry about the Pudong/Hongqiao transfer and worry about connecting for a flight in Shanghai.

I'm leaving a lot of money on the table and not happy about it.

Research definitely does pay! I just didn't think through the trip very carefully at all, and it's pure stupidity on my part.

111op is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 11:37 AM
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111op - Like you said earlier, make sure you check to see if you can forfeit one leg of your flights and not have your remaining itinerary cancelled. Very important.
rkkwan is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 12:00 PM
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Thanks, rk. I called China Airlines and also the travel agent this morning. The travel agent said that she can do this for me.

When I looked at China Airlines's website, I noticed that I probably could have gotten a cheaper airfare to Taipei alone compared to what she quoted me.

So moral: Do not assume that the travel agent has the best price.

I just don't travel to Asia that often so I'm making lots of rookie mistakes.
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Dec 1st, 2005, 12:07 PM
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By the way, off-topic -- but is the Great Wall ever shut down due to inclement weather?

Worst would be to spend all this $ to get to Beijing and then can't go to GW at all.

Thanks!
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Dec 1st, 2005, 12:13 PM
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I don't think it'd be closed. I've seen wintery pictures of it. However, it'd be difficult to walk and climb the steps on the wall if there's snow/ice on the ground.
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