Culture Shock! China - A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette, 2nd Edition

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182 CultureShock! China

seating. Discounted tickets cannot usually be changed, so be
careful purchasing them if you want any flexibility. Standard
tickets can be changed, both in advance and on the day
itself if you miss your flight. They are also refundable with
a small penalty fee.
Tickets are easily purchased through the hotel concierge
or a travel office that is usually housed in or near most major
hotels. There is an online service called Ctrip that allows you
to book flights online. China’s main airlines have also just
begun issuing e-tickets.
It is critical that you allow adequate time to check in at
the airport. Chinese airlines stop check-in service 30 minutes
before departure time for domestic flights and 45 minutes
before departure time at international airports. Be sure and
check with the reception desk at the hotel to confirm the
exact time that counters close at the airport in their city. In
some more remote parts of China, it may be 45 minutes
rather than 30 minutes as everything is done by hand. At
exactly the cut-off time designated, regardless of how long the
line was that you were waiting in, they will no longer issue
boarding passes. It isn’t the end of the world—if you have
a ticket that can be changed, you can usually have a ticket
issued on the next available flight, which if you are flying a
common domestic route, is within the next three hours. If
you don’t, you will have to purchase a new ticket.
If you have a seat preference, be sure to mention it
when you hand your ticket over to the agent. They will not
automatically ask your preference and have a tendency to
pack people into small sections of the plane. It is possible
to change seats when you are on the plane, but it requires
some finesse as you need to wait to move until the doors
are closed and many will have the same aim, which creates
a quick rush for the better available seats. They fill most
flights front to back, and so if
it looks as if the flight is not
full, you are fairly safe moving
to one of the seats in the very
back of the plane before the
doors are shut.

Some major airports like
Shanghai and Beijing now have
express check-in lines for people
travelling with only carry-on
luggage. The counters are well
marked and easily identifiable.

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