China - International transfer involving domestic segment
I booked my girlfriend on one of the craziest itinerary involving transfer via China. That said, it's IST-URC(stop)-PEK-SZX-TPE and the airline is CZ - China Southern.
There are several questions:
1. URC airport, the ticket states technical stop in URC, and the flight carries same flight number all the way to PEK - CZ680
URC - PEK is domestic segment, but since this is a technical stop I'm not sure if the flight arrives in the international area or in the domestic at PEK and what is the procedure in URC (stay onboard or take of and clear immigrations and customs). There is 1hr30 stop in URC.
2. CZ operates at T2 in PEK. There is 1:50 connection time. I've read PEK airport website and they provide transfer procedure information but it's incomplete. Anyone familiar with PEK T2, can you describe the steps for transferring International - Domestic
Thanks in advance,
Dec 12, 11, 4:00 am
Is your girlfriend a PRC national or a foreign passport holder with a valid Chinese visa? Taiwan compatriot papers? Because I'm uncomfortable that if she's a foreigner, this routing really pushes the Transit Without Visa to the limit. With a Chinese visa in hand, all she has to do is deal with procedures and those connection times will be OK. Assuming she's a foreign passport holder and will not have a Chinese visa, then some additional info needed before completely pouring cold water on this plan:
What is the time of scheduled arrival in URC, then time of scheduled departure from SZX (to TPE)?
As to the gist of your other questions:
Normally all passengers must disembark the aircraft and for international arrivals and departures, clear immigration and Customs. However, I have no data points for CZ680 specifically, and it is possible that since URC is a technical stop, they will have the intl PEK-bound passengers corralled in a holding pen and not send you through immigration until PEK. I'm not sure you'll get lucky enough on this forum to find somebody to jump in who's flown this first-hand. Try asking China Southern...not that you'll necessarily get a definitive answer.
The PEK T2 procedure depends a bit on what happens with immigration (or not) at URC. Assuming Entry Immy is handled at PEK, she'll get stamped in then go to baggage claim to get checked bags then head through Customs. All this is fairly painless. Then go back up to check in for the flight to SZX, and probably at the same time the onward to TPE. The connection times are enough provided the flight arrivals are on time (particularly with PEK, not a safe bet these days).
If this is all on China Southern though, they may be able to check her in all the way through in IST if the flights have opened up in the computer. Depends on willingness of IST staff (not sure if they are CZ's own there, or contracted).
Finally, I have no idea why you would do this to somebody you care about. If you had to fly her on China Southern, why not route IST-URC-CAN-TPE?
She is a EU passport holder but due to the complicated routing she got Chinese VISA so one issue less. The only critical point is the transfer at PEK, after that she has plenty of time at CZX.
IST-URC-PEK is quite new for China Southern (started end of Nov and she is flying mid Dec) so I don't expect to find first hand experience with this particular routing.
Why did I get her this routing - it was considerably cheaper and it's on one ticket all by CZ. So it was less risky compared to the other options. The route via CAN was expensive for some reason.
As you guessed I contacted CZ as well as PEK and didn't get any definitive answer to my questions and this is why I'm asking here.
Is quite possible that she misses the flight in PEK since it tends to be late. There they can reroute her via CAN, although over the phone they told me if she misses the flight she has to wait for the next day flight and same routing. I hope that's not the case and if it is they will put her in hotel.
You mentioned that in IST they might check her baggage straight to TPE. I was quite unsure about this, have you heard that they do it when there is domestic segment involved? Also, it might be a bit more complicated as Taiwan is involved and I doubt they have own staff at IST with 4 flights weekly.
What do you think will be the procedure at SZX?
Dec 12, 11, 5:01 am
So noted on the cost factors. And she's got a Chinese visa so that issue is resolved. What might happen:
Scenario 1: China Southern handles in IST as one complete itinerary, and sends her bags all the way through to TPE and gives her boarding passes. Though she personally will have to go through Chinese entry and exit immigration, probably at PEK and SZX respectively. Minimum hassles, which means I doubt that this scenario is likely. :p
Scenario 2: CZ treats this journey as two chunks, one the IST-URC-PEK segments, then the PEK-SZX-TPE segments. Under this scenario, the IST passengers heading for PEK (likely a lot of people besides your gf) will be isolated during the technical stop probably at a part of the URC terminal without going through Immigration. Then upon arrival at PEK, they will go through Immigration, pick-up bags at Baggage Claim and go through Customs, then onward passengers would go up to departures to recheck in and get bags tagged onward. Which in PEK, they'd likely do all the way to TPE so you wouldn't have to handle bags in SZX.
Scenario 3: CZ has all passengers go through entry immigration at URC, then bag claim and Customs, then baggage recheck onward to PEK via domestic service or possibly as far as SZX. Less likely all the way to TPE but worth asking if she's facing this situation. She'd pick up in PEK (or SZX) domestic so no repeat of Customs, then take up and recheck for onward. There is a possibility that if you have to do recheck again in URC, that they will tag the bags all the way through to TPE so you don't have to fool with them again. Then the only mission is for gf to get herself to correct domestic gates in URC, PEK, and go through exit immigration for intl departures in SZX. In some ways, this is the most advantageous for the gf since not having to do the immigration and Customs steps in PEK would save time in case her flight is late into there. Then there's a bit of spare time in that 1:50 to absorb a little bit of delay.
While there are other possible permutations, I think #2 or #3 are the most likely Scenarios. I would be very surprised if she has to recheck for every domestic segment along the way. As for PEK, fortunately, Terminal 2 is smaller and less of a zoo than Terminal 3, so you usually can get processed through any hoops that need to be jumped pretty quickly. I don't think she can worry too much about whether she'll have a late arrival in PEK or not, but if it happens, she'll be rebooked on another flight. And if an overnight is required, she may have to push for CZ to put her up in a hotel. China doesn't follow the EU on passengers' rights.
Welcome to Flyertalk, by the way! And please post back on what actually happened, once it's all over. This is an interesting routing for which we could sure use some first-hand information on process.
Thanks for the detailed answer.
Just found something quite interesting on CZ website which makes your suggestion #3 more likely:
4. Process of International Arrival
Airplane parks by T2 international bridge--->Passengers enter into International Arrival floor through bridge --->Quarantine & Inspection --->Entry Frontier Inspection --->Come downstairs to Baggage Claim Area via escalator or elevator at 1st floor --->International Baggage Claim Hall ---> Animal & Plant Quarantine (random inspection) --->Customs Entry Inspection ---> Arrival Hall--->leave Airport by taxi or airport bus or other means.
Note: International passengers whose international trip contains domestic flights such as CZ324, CZ378, CZ372, CZ6026 and CZ614, can take the shuttle bus directly to the Baggage Claim Hall on the 1st floor.
Above flights are very similar with the flight in question with technical stopover somewhere around the country.
PS: A bit more spicy details. Her trip was 4 times cancelled by different airlines. Then this ticket was available for purchase only POS Turkey (originally she is leaving from a neighbouring country so cannot purchase in person). Turkish travel agency tried to rip me off but I give them a good lesson and finally the ticket was purchased via Orbitz for considerably less money that the CZ introductory fare between IST-PEK.
Dec 12, 11, 1:48 pm
While in general seems tight, both MU and CZ do a great job with international transfers, having employees escort folks to pick up bags, check-in, and check bags again. It's kind of a fun experience. ^