Kno
Topic Author
Posts: 407
Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:08 pm

Long layover in Beijing

Wed Jan 08, 2020 2:39 pm

Hi all,

I'm considering booking a trip from JFK-NRT with a 21hr stop in PEK. The price is excellent and it would allow me to fly the 748 with Air China. Is it possible to leave PEK airport and explore Beijing on a transit visa? I've also heard nightmares about connecting at PEK, if the flight arrives at 9:30 and the following flight the day after leaves at 3:30pm is this a reasonable amount of time to clear customs, enjoy a little night life, see a few sights for a few hours in the morning and head back to the airport?

Thanks!
 
zakuivcustom
Posts: 3005
Joined: Sat Jun 10, 2017 3:32 am

Re: Long layover in Beijing

Wed Jan 08, 2020 3:51 pm

For the visa part - you actually don't even need a visa to transit especially under 24 hours (If you're from US or Europe it's 144 hours at PEK). And yes, you can leave airside and head into the city. There's a special lane (from what I read online) at immigration for those looking for 144-hr visa-free transit at PEK.

As for how much time you have - for a 1530 flight you probably have to depart for the airport around 1200-1230 just to be safe. So yes, you can probably see a few sights especially in central area of Beijing, but that's about it.
 
L410Turbolet
Posts: 6129
Joined: Wed May 05, 2004 9:12 am

Re: Long layover in Beijing

Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:00 am

You better read up on the visa policies, since you are coming from the US. Chinese transit visas are a giant mess with gazillion exeptions, visas are granted/denied without any consistency depending quite often on the mood of immigrantion officers. There have been reported cases where visas have been denied for those with layover shorter than 24 hours.
I would not risk being stuck at PEK for 20 hours and I would NOT transit via country where you do not have a visa-free status if there are other options available.

PS: Air China's customer service is a nightmare.
 
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N14AZ
Posts: 3999
Joined: Sat Feb 24, 2007 10:19 pm

Re: Long layover in Beijing

Thu Jan 09, 2020 7:32 am

zakuivcustom wrote:
There's a special lane (from what I read online) at immigration for those looking for 144-hr visa-free transit at PEK.

Yes, I can confirm that. I have taken that special lane some years ago when flying back from Vietnam to Germany via PEK without having a valid visa at that time (... now I have a 2-years multiple entry visa..).

At that time they were even promoting the chance to visit Beijing during a longer layover by using this special visa on arrival (72 hours at that time).
 
debonair
Posts: 3600
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

Re: Long layover in Beijing

Thu Jan 09, 2020 12:28 pm

You might be entitiled for a free stopover: http://www.airchina.com.cn/vaservice/lo ... anguage=en

Passengers who meet transit accommodation conditions may have the opportunity to enjoy the transit accommodation services provided by Air China, which include one-night accommodation and breakfast in the hotel located in the transit city, as well as hotel-airport transportation.
 
tommy1808
Posts: 11688
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2013 3:24 pm

Re: Long layover in Beijing

Thu Jan 09, 2020 12:43 pm

Kno wrote:
I've also heard nightmares about connecting at PEK,


The air outside when boarding by bus is about the worst about PEK Airport and a transit a breeze if you are used to US Airports International -> Domestic or International -> International transfers as a non-US Citizen (although US Airports have much improved in the last years, Transfer in ATL is now almost a delight).
The weirdest thing that may happen is someone disappearing with your passport for 15 minutes without promoting.

best regards
Thomas
This Singature is a safe space......
 
Kno
Topic Author
Posts: 407
Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:08 pm

Re: Long layover in Beijing

Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:38 pm

debonair wrote:
You might be entitiled for a free stopover: http://www.airchina.com.cn/vaservice/lo ... anguage=en

Passengers who meet transit accommodation conditions may have the opportunity to enjoy the transit accommodation services provided by Air China, which include one-night accommodation and breakfast in the hotel located in the transit city, as well as hotel-airport transportation.


I appreciate the heads up!

It looks like I am indeed entitled to the free stopover. I'm going to read up a little more on what that actually entails - I may opt to spend a little extra and stay in an exciting part of Beijing if the transit hotel is far from any interesting sights or fast public transportation. There appears to be a reasonably priced train that runs from the airport to the city taking about 20 minutes.
 
OlafW
Posts: 323
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 6:15 pm

Re: Long layover in Beijing

Thu Jan 09, 2020 3:01 pm

Kno wrote:
There appears to be a reasonably priced train that runs from the airport to the city taking about 20 minutes.

Yes, that's an easy and cheap way to get to the city. At Dongzhimen station you can connect to the blue line circling the inner part of Beijing. I found it not too hard to use and it gets you quite near to some interesting places.
 
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N14AZ
Posts: 3999
Joined: Sat Feb 24, 2007 10:19 pm

Re: Long layover in Beijing

Thu Jan 09, 2020 3:03 pm

tommy1808 wrote:
Kno wrote:
I've also heard nightmares about connecting at PEK,

The air outside when boarding by bus is about the worst about PEK Airport

I love boarding by bus in PEK, last time I passed this beauty on the way from T3 to the usual CA B737: :cloudnine:

Image

tommy1808 wrote:
The weirdest thing that may happen is someone disappearing with your passport for 15 minutes without promoting.

Naaa, that's normal.They need this time to check your latest posts in the non-aviation-forum… ;-)

Seriously, that never happened to me. :-/
 
zakuivcustom
Posts: 3005
Joined: Sat Jun 10, 2017 3:32 am

Re: Long layover in Beijing

Thu Jan 09, 2020 3:09 pm

Kno wrote:
It looks like I am indeed entitled to the free stopover. I'm going to read up a little more on what that actually entails - I may opt to spend a little extra and stay in an exciting part of Beijing if the transit hotel is far from any interesting sights or fast public transportation. There appears to be a reasonably priced train that runs from the airport to the city taking about 20 minutes.


From what I can find via Google (which is the only thing I can do since I never have a long layover at PEK), the transit hotels are usually close to the airport and are well, not all that great.

Going into the city from PEK is easy - the airport express train takes you to Dongzhimen Station (where you can transfer to subway) in about 25-30 mins. Find a hotel in that area would make your life easier if you really want to at least partially explore Beijing. Tons of food near Dongzhimen and nearby Sanlitun (Which is usually consider the "international" district of Beijing with nightlife somewhat similar to what you can find in "western" world...think Roppongi of Tokyo). Of course, there's always Wangfujing Street which is something like 15-20mins away (Traffic dependent...it's Beijing).

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