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[PEK] Air China, layover, transferring to another flight

[PEK] Air China, layover, transferring to another flight

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Old Mar 3, 14, 5:45 pm
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[PEK] Air China, layover, transferring to another flight

Hi everyone,

I am coming First on Air China from SFO -> PEK -> SIN.

Once I land in PEK, I have a 6 hour layover. I don't mind going to the lounge as I have work to finish. So how can I get to the lounge for Air China/Singapore?

I heard I need to go through immigration, customs, security clearance that can take up to 2 hours! Is there anything that could be expedite the process if I am traveling on First/Business? Thanks!
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Old Mar 3, 14, 6:41 pm
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Originally Posted by firsttimeflying View Post
Is there anything that could be expedite the process if I am traveling on First/Business? Thanks!
No?? Why would immigration care what class you are flying???

The process wont take 2 hours.
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Old Mar 3, 14, 6:42 pm
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You don't need to go through immigration or customs for a international transfer.

No intrusive body scanners or groping in security either. There is a lounge and there are signs pointing to it.

Even going through immigration and customs, it took me no more than 30 minutes last time I went through PEK, so I think you'll be fine.


You can probably call in advance to get an escort.
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Old Mar 3, 14, 6:42 pm
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I figured the total time. No I understand, you are correct!


Ok, thanks! Anything I should def do in PEK airport? Any great shops or anything?
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Old Mar 3, 14, 7:25 pm
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You don't clear customs at PEK during a transit, but there is a passport check (where they used to stamp passports with a special transit stamp, but I don't think they do that anymore) and then a security check. You won't have to collect bags.

The process can take anywhere from 5-35 minutes. I've found 6-9am being particularly busy times to clear the transit checkpoints.
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Old Mar 4, 14, 4:28 pm
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Originally Posted by SirJman View Post
You don't clear customs at PEK during a transit, but there is a passport check (where they used to stamp passports with a special transit stamp, but I don't think they do that anymore) and then a security check. You won't have to collect bags.

The process can take anywhere from 5-35 minutes. I've found 6-9am being particularly busy times to clear the transit checkpoints.
Originally Posted by alphaod View Post
You don't need to go through immigration or customs for a international transfer.

No intrusive body scanners or groping in security either. There is a lounge and there are signs pointing to it.

Even going through immigration and customs, it took me no more than 30 minutes last time I went through PEK, so I think you'll be fine.


You can probably call in advance to get an escort.
Actually China does have exit Customs, however most of the time it isn't used in practice at PEK. You'll see the Green and Red lanes just after you leave the security check, regardless of transit or not. You will encounter it more at smaller airports in China and quite often they do a 100% bag scan through an x-ray.

And yes, SirJman they do still give you the special transit stamp unfortunately during the transit immigration check. I wish this would stop as well as I'm running out of pages in my passport fast and putting off getting a new one as long as possible. Wish more countries would go to the Hong Kong style loose paper slip that you can throw away when you're done in HK.

For the OP, you have plenty of time, most likely it'll take less than 30 minutes for the whole process, however at peak times during Western holidays I've seen the line for transit immigration become very long. If you have a visa it's faster to go through normal immigration and around sometimes.
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Old Mar 4, 14, 8:41 pm
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If I remember correctly, we had to get our luggage and then rechecked them. The x-ray scanner was not being used though. The wait was more at the security check because of the long line.
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Old Mar 6, 14, 1:28 am
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One piece of advise: Connecting in PEK is a pain, because the big air traffic congestion problems.

If I remember correctly, we had to get our luggage and then rechecked them.
CA has implemented a number of through-checking options for international transfers in PEK.
I am not sure whether it applies to SFO-PEK-SIN.

So how can I get to the lounge for Air China/Singapore?
There is no SQ lounge at PEK. Its the Air China Business Class (Intl), which is the best CA lounge I know of. The usual domestic CA lounges are crap.
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Old Mar 6, 14, 6:08 am
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Originally Posted by warakorn View Post
There is no SQ lounge at PEK. Its the Air China Business Class (Intl), which is the best CA lounge I know of. The usual domestic CA lounges are crap.
I kind of like their lounge in Guangzhou (as far as lounges in PRC airports go, an admittedly low bar).
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Old Mar 6, 14, 8:13 am
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CA does have an Int'l F lounge in PEK, but it's nothing special.

In PEK, there is a special counter for int'l transit pax to use when connecting between flights, but it is sometimes closed, in which case you have to get in the regular lines.
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Old Mar 6, 14, 11:24 am
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Originally Posted by firsttimeflying View Post
Hi everyone,

I am coming First on Air China from SFO -> PEK -> SIN.

Once I land in PEK, I have a 6 hour layover. I don't mind going to the lounge as I have work to finish. So how can I get to the lounge for Air China/Singapore?

I heard I need to go through immigration, customs, security clearance that can take up to 2 hours! Is there anything that could be expedite the process if I am traveling on First/Business? Thanks!
The joint sum total of the above responses = confusion. The following will hopefully make things clearer. The most important thing you can do to expedite your process is to have your PEK-SIN boarding pass issued to you in SFO and have your luggage tagged through to SIN (shouldn't be a problem). When you deplane at PEK and approach Immigration area you will have the following choices which you should exercise in the following order of preference:

1) International Transit/Transfer desk. Normally fast process. Your passport and boarding pass will be looked at but not stamped, then you will be sent down the hall to a security checkpoint then back airside. You may then go to Air China's First or Business Class lounge, per the class of service you will be traveling to SIN. Note that once you are airside, you cannot get out again and there's not that much airside besides overpriced shops so make sure you want all that lounge time. In the event this desk is closed (normally open except at odd hours), go to next choice.
2) TWOV (Transit Without Visa desk). Normally fast process. Passport and boarding pass (or printout of onward itinerary if you don't yet have BP) will be looked at and passport stamped for TWOV. Past this queue, you'll head on the people mover to the front terminal via Baggage Claim (walk through/no pickup if your bags are already tagged through to SIN), Customs Exit (just a quick walk through) and to front/nonsecure side of terminal. There is a better selection of restaurants in this part of terminal 3. Then just follow the signs back to Intl Departures, back on people mover and through Exit Immigration and Security--usually not more than about 15-20 minutes to get through the Exit process, then back airside and to the lounges.
3) If TWOV queue is closed, go to the Special/VIP/APEC queue where they will do the same as choice 2. Normally fast process.
4) Regular queues for Foreigners. Normally for those entering China on visas. Can be slow if there are many flights arriving at same time. Do not use this unless all other options are closed (a situation I've never seen at PEK).
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Old Mar 6, 14, 1:39 pm
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Originally Posted by jiejie View Post
The joint sum total of the above responses = confusion. The following will hopefully make things clearer. The most important thing you can do to expedite your process is to have your PEK-SIN boarding pass issued to you in SFO and have your luggage tagged through to SIN (shouldn't be a problem). When you deplane at PEK and approach Immigration area you will have the following choices which you should exercise in the following order of preference:

1) International Transit/Transfer desk. Normally fast process. Your passport and boarding pass will be looked at but not stamped, then you will be sent down the hall to a security checkpoint then back airside. You may then go to Air China's First or Business Class lounge, per the class of service you will be traveling to SIN. Note that once you are airside, you cannot get out again and there's not that much airside besides overpriced shops so make sure you want all that lounge time. In the event this desk is closed (normally open except at odd hours), go to next choice.
2) TWOV (Transit Without Visa desk). Normally fast process. Passport and boarding pass (or printout of onward itinerary if you don't yet have BP) will be looked at and passport stamped for TWOV. Past this queue, you'll head on the people mover to the front terminal via Baggage Claim (walk through/no pickup if your bags are already tagged through to SIN), Customs Exit (just a quick walk through) and to front/nonsecure side of terminal. There is a better selection of restaurants in this part of terminal 3. Then just follow the signs back to Intl Departures, back on people mover and through Exit Immigration and Security--usually not more than about 15-20 minutes to get through the Exit process, then back airside and to the lounges.
3) If TWOV queue is closed, go to the Special/VIP/APEC queue where they will do the same as choice 2. Normally fast process.
4) Regular queues for Foreigners. Normally for those entering China on visas. Can be slow if there are many flights arriving at same time. Do not use this unless all other options are closed (a situation I've never seen at PEK).
Thanks jiejie for your detailed comment.

I will be flying LAX-PEK-HKG with my scheduled arrival in PEK at 5:30 am with a 4 hour layover. Is it worth getting the TWOV and check out the landside of T3? Are the shops and restaurants open at those hours?
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Old Mar 6, 14, 1:48 pm
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Originally Posted by jiejie View Post
The joint sum total of the above responses = confusion. The following will hopefully make things clearer. The most important thing you can do to expedite your process is to have your PEK-SIN boarding pass issued to you in SFO and have your luggage tagged through to SIN (shouldn't be a problem). When you deplane at PEK and approach Immigration area you will have the following choices which you should exercise in the following order of preference:

1) International Transit/Transfer desk. Normally fast process. Your passport and boarding pass will be looked at but not stamped, then you will be sent down the hall to a security checkpoint then back airside. You may then go to Air China's First or Business Class lounge, per the class of service you will be traveling to SIN. Note that once you are airside, you cannot get out again and there's not that much airside besides overpriced shops so make sure you want all that lounge time. In the event this desk is closed (normally open except at odd hours), go to next choice.
2) TWOV (Transit Without Visa desk). Normally fast process. Passport and boarding pass (or printout of onward itinerary if you don't yet have BP) will be looked at and passport stamped for TWOV. Past this queue, you'll head on the people mover to the front terminal via Baggage Claim (walk through/no pickup if your bags are already tagged through to SIN), Customs Exit (just a quick walk through) and to front/nonsecure side of terminal. There is a better selection of restaurants in this part of terminal 3. Then just follow the signs back to Intl Departures, back on people mover and through Exit Immigration and Security--usually not more than about 15-20 minutes to get through the Exit process, then back airside and to the lounges.
3) If TWOV queue is closed, go to the Special/VIP/APEC queue where they will do the same as choice 2. Normally fast process.
4) Regular queues for Foreigners. Normally for those entering China on visas. Can be slow if there are many flights arriving at same time. Do not use this unless all other options are closed (a situation I've never seen at PEK).
Sounds good. Thank you so much for the detailed information. Since I have work to finish - a business class lounge would be ideal. Do you have any idea how the Air China Business lounge or Beijing Aviation Ground Services (BGS) Lounge is? Thanks!
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Old Mar 6, 14, 4:26 pm
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Originally Posted by jiejie View Post
1) International Transit/Transfer desk. Normally fast process. Your passport and boarding pass will be looked at but not stamped, then you will be sent down the hall to a security checkpoint then back airside.
This is a new one for me, when did they stop stamping for transit pax? I was just through at the end of Dec in PEK and I thought we got stamped still. Certainly still got stamped (special stamp, not the regular oval one for entry) in June last year.

Good news though, I find a stamp for transit to be silly and a waste of space in your passport. Usually was successful in getting them to stamp in a small leftover space overlapping other stuff, but other countries (ie. South Africa) refuse to do that.
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Old Mar 6, 14, 8:32 pm
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The joint sum total of the above responses = confusion.
I cannot agree with you.
The point that may cause confusion is that no one - at this point - can make a 100% correct statement, whether the routing SFO-PEK-SIN is eligible for real thru-checking.
If the OP needs to retrieve and recheck his bags in PEK, that would make things more complicated.

The most important thing you can do to expedite your process is to have your PEK-SIN boarding pass issued to you in SFO and have your luggage tagged through to SIN (shouldn't be a problem).
Having the luggage tagged through would mean nothing.
My bags for FRA-JFK-MCO are also tagged through to MCO in FRA. Nonetheless, I need to retrieve and recheck the bags in JFK. This is USA and not China. I understand.
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