Cabotage? Flying PEK-HKG-PVG

Old Jun 16, 19, 5:45 pm
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Cabotage? Flying PEK-HKG-PVG

I would appreciate any comments from the experts here on whether this itinerary is considered "cabotage"...

This itinerary was issued by British Airways as an award ticket - I am unsure if this is a legal ticket:

PEK-HKG on KA
-1 hr transit, no immigration into Hong Kong-
HKG-PVG on CA

Does anyone have any experience with this kind of itinerary - essentially flying between 2 mainland Chinese cities via HKG?
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Old Jun 16, 19, 7:17 pm
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As HK is part of China, it isn't cabotage.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 7:39 pm
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Originally Posted by SFOTraveler1984 View Post
I would appreciate any comments from the experts here on whether this itinerary is considered "cabotage"...
Does anyone have any experience with this kind of itinerary - essentially flying between 2 mainland Chinese cities via HKG?
Curious - why do you want to know if this itinerary is considered "cabotage"?

Originally Posted by peasant View Post
As HK is part of China, it isn't cabotage.
Opening a can of worms here, huh... yes, HK is part of China but HK operates in a totally different system ("one country, two systems", remember?) so yes, there is a chance that this may be considered cabotage. You do not need to clear immigration between two cities in mainland China (i.e. between Xiamen and Shanghai) but you certainly need to if you travel between Shanghai and Hong Kong.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 8:00 pm
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Originally Posted by flubber View Post
Curious - why do you want to know if this itinerary is considered "cabotage"?
This will be my first trip to mainland China. Even though the ticket was issued by BA, I don't want to be denied boarding by CX in PEK...

I find it also strange, that CX doesn't sell this itinerary on their website. If you put in origin = PEK, you cannot select any mainland China city as destination. At least not when trying to book a simple "one-way", only works with a "multi-city" booking...
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Old Jun 16, 19, 8:29 pm
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Originally Posted by SFOTraveler1984 View Post
I find it also strange, that CX doesn't sell this itinerary on their website. If you put in origin = PEK, you cannot select any mainland China city as destination. At least not when trying to book a simple "one-way", only works with a "multi-city" booking...
It's not strange at all, neither CX nor KA have the right to sell self-operated domestic Chinese flight tickets! If CX made a business of this it would blatantly be a violation of various CAAC regulations. Now, for one off folks like yourselves booking strange FT-style itineraries , I'm not sure if you'll get stopped or not. But it's not something CX/KA are allowed to make a business of, absolutely not.

Your question about cabotage is a valid one and I'm curious what people with experience say. It's definitely not as simple as peasant's reply makes it out to be, unless he/she is speaking from intimate experience. I'm definitely in flubber's camp here.

Just saying "Hong Kong is part of China" absolutely doesn't solve the problem. It's an entirely different immigration jurisdiction, HK negotiates separate agreements with countries for flights from China, etc. Strictly speaking from a commercial aviation perspective, Hong Kong operates like its own country. In your case, that Hong Kong is part of sovereign China at the level of nationality / territoriality is irrelevant...what matters is how is it treated for commercial aviation purposes. It's much more a separate country in that case. Although I'm still not sure if anything will happen to you.

If CX lets you on, I suspect you'd be fine. Chinese immigration systems would see you as gone from Beijing for what, 8-9 hours before re-entering in Shanghai? I don't think that's a problem at all. After all, what if you were indeed flying somewhere else, and decided to change your mind and fly to PVG at the last minute from Hong Kong? And if you're really paranoid about it and had an extra 30 minutes, couldn't you enter/exit Hong Kong, if you have a passport or HKID allowing easy immigration? Then I presume the complaint would be nullified completely.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 8:47 pm
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I think in all case you will need to hold multi-entry visa for mainland China as you will be essentially re-entering mainland for a second time? If you use the xx-hour visa-free then I'm not sure how it works out,
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Old Jun 16, 19, 8:48 pm
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Originally Posted by watery View Post
I think in all case you will need to hold multi-entry visa for mainland China as you will be essentially re-entering mainland for a second time? If you use the xx-hour visa-free then I'm not sure how it works out,
Correct, I am planning to get a tourist visa which is valid for two entries.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 8:58 pm
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If you can cancel the award, you would be so much better off taking the high speed train from Beijing to Shanghai. I am all for these kind of flights, but not when flying within Chinese airspace. You would arrive in Shanghai in four hours of time vs. spending the whole day at airports and in the air assuming no delays.

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Old Jun 16, 19, 9:00 pm
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Logistics is probably a bigger issue with your ticket. Flights along the HKG/PVG/PEK route are often delayed due to air traffic controls. The one hour connection time gives you little cushion for delays/IRROPS.

BTW I assume you meant HKG-PVG on KA and not CA? CA does not fly that route IIRC.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 9:05 pm
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I don’t think this itinerary has any problem -after all it is just an open jaw destination, and people may have a legitimate need to do such itinerary (meeting in HK return to PVG etc)

However, for a “getting to your destination” perspective, I agree with the poster above that you are much better off taking a train or a direct flight (it’s a 2-hr flight and almost all big carriers offer it)
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Old Jun 16, 19, 9:12 pm
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PEK average delay is 40+ minutes

you'll likely not make your connection, get more eyes on your itinerary and have more issues

rebook/take train, as the other people above me suggests


https://www.google.com/flights#flt=P...sp:2.USD.85950
PEK-(HKG)-PVG is quotable, but not bookable on CX/KA (OTAs still goes to payment screen)

matrix shows that they are separate fares/tickets. EF shows CX/KA doesnt have valid fare between PEK-PVG
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Old Jun 16, 19, 9:21 pm
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Curious, what inspired the itinerary to begin with?

I do PEK-SHA at least once a month, often more. Without a doubt transiting Hong Kong (or anywhere else) is the worst way to do this itinerary, from a strictly time and convenience perspective. I couldn't recommend that itinerary to anyone.

As for best way, I may ruffle some feathers here but I don't say it's as clearcut to take the train vs fly. Flying is still better on most days. The problem is the bad days, of course. But the high speed train departs from Beijing South, which is a longer drive to reach than the airport from many parts of Beijing (especially central, north, northeast and east). That's because PEK is situated northeast of the city, while Beijing South is...south. I got to enjoy an hour 30 minute drive from Haidian to Beijing South two weeks ago and cursed not taking the plane, which naturally was running without delay given my luck.

Then, most flights still operate from PEK to Hongqiao (SHA), which is next to Shanghai Hongqiao HSR station and hence the same distance from wherever you're going in Shanghai. Much better than Pudong. The fastest trains are still 4:20, and because of Beijing South's "not so great" location, you don't end up saving a huge amount of time on the front end. Even if the flight is an hour delayed or more, you still come out ahead flying. It starts to become a wash around the 1:30 / 2 hour delay mark.

What HSR lacks in speed it definitely makes up for in lack of insane delays. Flying is superior 3 or 4 out of 5 times. But when it's delayed, it can be awful and then you curse yourself for not having taken the train. Case in point, my flight in March, which was 8 hours delayed SHA-PEK...

But another problem with the trains are frequencies of the fastest train sets were cut back, when the speed was increased for the "Rejuvenation" (FuXing) train, which cut off about 30 minutes from the old time. But because of this upgrade, the fastest trains aren't even going every hour anymore, and 1st / biz seats sell out fast, sometimes weeks in advance for the popular times. (2nd class is usually open). Meanwhile, there are tons of trains running PEK to Shanghai but they're 5hr30mins - 6hr30mins, which makes the train a really unattractive option in my opinion. For me, the GX or GXX trains are the only realistic options (which are between 4:20 and 4:40), and I'd probably only do it alone in biz class or with a colleague in biz or first. (in Chinese high speed train world, Business Class > First Class > Second Class). Business Class is a nice flat bed.

I'd still look at nonstop flights and cross my fingers. That's my two cents. I take that train probably once every 6 weeks, and fly maybe once every 3. The train becomes more of a no-brainer at under the 3:45 mark. Or, if there were more of the fast frequencies, which there presently aren't enough of. Not quite there yet.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 10:01 pm
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Thanks to everyone for all the helpful comments and suggestions - really appreciated.
For me, the joy of flying is part of the vacation so I do not mind flying the detour via HKG. Especially because the flight from PEK to HKG will be in First Class on KA.

But I do see the point about extensive delays in Chinese airspace... I'll probably look a bit more into the train option and then decide if I keep my ticket or cancel and take the train.

Again, thank you all for your suggestions!
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Old Jun 16, 19, 10:03 pm
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Originally Posted by Chromie25 View Post
BTW I assume you meant HKG-PVG on KA and not CA? CA does not fly that route IIRC.
My mistake, I meant CX.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 10:07 pm
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Originally Posted by SFOTraveler1984 View Post
Thanks to everyone for all the helpful comments and suggestions - really appreciated.
For me, the joy of flying is part of the vacation so I do not mind flying the detour via HKG. Especially because the flight from PEK to HKG will be in First Class on KA.

But I do see the point about extensive delays in Chinese airspace... I'll probably look a bit more into the train option and then decide if I keep my ticket or cancel and take the train.

Again, thank you all for your suggestions!
Good luck. To each their own but fwiw, I normally fly in F PEK-HKG. Although CX is a superior choice (6 seats vs 8 on KA), CX is only once daily in F and KA has far better frequencies. KA F is fine and service is great but there is a 0.0% chance I would book this itinerary!! KA F is still, after all ultimately CX's long-haul J seat. It's really convenient and pleasant if you must fly that route. But I cannot say I would do it ever if I didn't have to. Flying to/from China is such a pain. Even with APEC I wouldn't willingly visit Chinese immigration / customs and visit PVG on the intl side unless I had to.
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