Flight China Southern CZ6202, January 10 2005
to HRB (Yuan 670 = $85 one way)
On my first full day in China, I took a cab to Beijing airport, terminal 1 domestic. The cab ride cost Yuan 100 from "downtown" Beijing, about $13. I arrived almost two hours early.
Terminal 1 at PEK
is extremely clean, with shiny polished floors.
The China Southern check-in area is huge. It is of the kind which we don't see much in the US, with windows assigned to one definite flight.
All the check-in agents were very pretty, young, tall and very thin. But they were also unsmiling (not rude at all) and acted as if they had been given difficult puzzles to solve.
After check-in there was a quick identity check, and then security, which was basically the same as here. The young girl with the metal-sensing wand had a very good attitude, and a spark in her eye.
Afterwards, I asked if there was an internet station somewhere, but there wasn't (I believe I did see one in the International terminal). It was quite a stroll to the gate, but on a sunny day, and with huge windows, who would complain?
I saw many 737s and many MD
-80s. I was looking forward to flying on a China Southern aircraft, because I always enjoyed their livery, especially the nose. But rats, the MD
-83 which parked at the gate was in stodgy China Northern colors. Remember, Southern absorbed Northern last December, right?
The waiting area was comfortable (the whole airport appears to be non-smoking), and the departures clearly announced in diamond-clear Queen's English (CZ is pronounced see zedd, not see zee).
We boarded all at once, in an orderly manner, half an hour before the 10:50 scheduled departure. The plane was full, especially the overheads, since everyone going to Harbin wears a heavy coat. My seat was 7B
, and the leg space was average. There was no "entertainment" besides newspapers.
The safety announcements were playacted to a sound recording, but the attendants were perfectly synchronized, like in the old days at TWA. There was a short English safety briefing too. The flight attendants were efficient but formal and, to American eyes, unsmiling again.
Takeoff was on time. It was my first time in a MD
-80, and actually my first time in a DC-9 in more than 15 years (I'm a United sort of guy). It is so smooth and so quiet up front!
Soon, we were served lunch: beef and rice, peanuts, spicy sausage salad, a roll, and a pouch of spicy-sweet semi-dry fruit (Pensheng Fruit and Greenstuff. I kid you not.)
After a while, the brown hills North of Beijing made way to the vast snow-covered expanses of Heilongjiang, like a huge white quilt with little square villages evenly spaced.
Descent and landing were unremarkable and ten minutes behind schedule (12:30). Soon we were in the smaller but modern and clean Harbin terminal. Outside, it was 10F, with a jolly little breeze too.
I went back to Beijing on a "Soft Sleeper" train, another lovely experience, but which doesn't belong here.
Happy Year of the Rooster to all members of Airliners.net!
This big rooster comes to you from the 2005 Harbin Snow and Ice Festival.
I've flown thousands of miles and I can tell you it's a lot safer than crossing the street!