Just a quick post to let everyone know what is going on. The Chinese government has done everyone a favor and blocked it’s people from being on Facebook. I think there is some wisdom in that!
Travel days are always long pretty much where ever you go. The second question we were asked about our trip was how long is the flight? (#1 was why in the world would you want to go to China?) The flight itself was 11 1/2 hrs and while it was the majority of the travel it certainly was not all of it. Travel days always include the time it takes you to get from home to the airport, getting through security and waiting to take off, getting your luggage after landing and making it to your hotel. Here is a quick break down of our 19+ hour travel day!
We have discovered for us the best way to get to the airport is catching a shuttle that leaves fro a local casino to Seatac airport. It is inexpensive and it does not force a family member to drop us off at the airport. We just have one of our kids pick up our car from the casino and drop it off again for us when we return. We all live about 10 minutes from this casino so it is super convenient.
We arrived at the airport in plenty of time and there was absolutely no one at the ticket counter when we checked in to Hainan Airlines. The staff was friendly and efficient and we were off to security. We recently got our Global Entry passes from Homeland Security and they come with TSA Pre Check. We found out when we tried to go through Pre Check that since the airline is international, they do not put our frequent traveler number on our ticket. We got to the security station and our ticket was scanned and denied Pre Check. Even though we have our Global Entry Passes, for some reason we could not get through because of our tickets. This does not make ANY sense to me and I hope to get some answers. We went through background checks and interviews to get these passes that let the TSA know that we are safe frequent travelers. I have no idea why the specific flight we take has anything to do with who we are. Pre Check should be a condition of the traveler not the airline or destination. Luckily the agent took pity on us and let us go through the premium line. That allowed us to get through quicker but we had to unpack our laptop and take off our shoes and a few other things that Pre Check travelers do not have to do.
We had some time to kill so we found a friend that works in the airport and got a bite at the Africa Lounge. Finishing some chicken nachos we joked that this may be the last time we can be sure we are eating chicken for a little while!
Our plane was an Airbus wide body and the flight was very smooth. Leg room was okay, but the worst part of the flight was that the temperature was like 75 degrees on the plane. That made it impossible to sleep on the 11 1/2 hour flight. Plenty of in flight entertainment and attending flight attendants. They were super nice to us, probably because when we boarded we gave our attendant a box of chocolate. Talk about getting great service! I highly recommend that little gesture on international flights.
Landing in Beijing was uneventful and we made it through Immigration and customs quickly. We hooked up with our tour group and hit wonderful traffic. Now I am sure you think your traffic is bad. We are from the Greater Seattle area and our traffic is ranked the 4th worst in the United States. That is nothing compared to here! 22 million people with 6 million cars in 24 square miles is a recipe for long commutes. It reminds me of a Dr Who episode where people are born, live and die on some futuristic super highway that moves meters in years.
We made it to the hotel in a bout 1 1/2 hours, had a bourbon and hit the sheets. Ready to conquer the forbidden city, The Hutong and the Dragon Queen’s summer palace.
We will post some pictures tomorrow!