After my 5 days in Beijing under a cloud of smog and no sun, I was off with high expectations for Shanghai. The plan was to take the metro to the airport, but torrential rain in the morning made it impossible, so the taxi was it.
When I planned my trip to Shanghai, I either had the choice of an 11hour train ride or the plane which takes less than 2 hours. Getting an airline ticket for a sunday flight proved to be very difficult as for the Chinese sunday seems to be a travelling day. So I tried the airlines and I was told that it was the last week of the World Expo in Shanghai and everybody wanted to go there. I either had a choice of waiting another day in Beijing or buying a business class ticket – I opted for the second option as it would give me a chance to compare Chinese C-Class (or First as they call it for domestic flights) to European standards.
I chose an Air China flight and arrived at the airport almost 2 hours before departure expecting long lines for check-in. But nothing of this – lots of check-in counters were open, self service machines are there as well and staff worked pretty efficiently. So after 5 minutes I had checked in and after another 5 minutes I was through security.
As I got lounge access with my ticket, I tried it out: Very spacious, everything you wanted to drink, some snacks to eat and even international newspapers – in the domestic terminal building!
And then I saw the magical signs – Free internet for everybody! Helsinki is no longer alone!
You have to go to a special counter to get an access code and then you have 3 times 5h of free use per day.
Strolling then to my gate, I noticed how spacious the airport was built – enough room and seats for everybody in front of the gates and in between.
The plane was already waiting – an Airbus 330.
Boarding took some time as the plane was completely full and the boarding agents checked each boarding pass together with passport very thoroughly.
But finally I made it – the plane was equipped with Business Class seats like on Finnair long haul flight – you know, the ones I complained about in my blog about the flight from Helsinki to Beijing. But for a 100 minute flight, they are gorgeous.
I got the whole equipment – blanket, cushion, slippers, a nice hot three course meal with fresh salad and fruit and two main courses to choose from.
Entertainment system was full blown – choice of 35 movies and all the other known gadgets.
Quite a service for a domestic flight. I think the fierce competition on this route makes it necessary.
We arrived in Shanghai on time at Hongqiao Airport which is on the opposite side of town compared to the new international Pudong airport and is mostly used for domestic flights.
My luggage arrived exactly 20 minutes after we docked at the gate – quite a performance considering that there were close to 300 people on board of the plane.
The airport is well connected to downtown by all modes of transportation – I chose the subway which took 40 minutes, cost 6 yuan and dropped me right in front of my hotel – The Purple Mountain.