Isaac and I moved to China in July 2016 in hopes of discovering Asia and traveling as much as possible. During our first 5 months here we visited Shanghai many times, took a train up to Beijing, explored an ancient water village and hiked in a rain forest during a typhoon just to mention a few of our many adventures! Until recently, however, we hadn’t experienced Chinese airports…
We booked our flights with Southern China airline from Shanghai to Phuket and then from Bangkok back to Shanghai way back in August. Using Skyscanner we got a great deal and only spent about $250 on two round-trip flights with one layover each way. It was a bargain!
Leading up to the flight, the agency that we booked with, Vayama, kept changing our flight times every two or three weeks. We didn’t think much of it, until the week before our flight we received an email saying that our flight there was a day before our expected departure! Since Isaac had to work, we had to call and change the flight – unfortunately, the only other option they could offer us was two layovers on our way there.
Reluctantly, we agreed and headed to the airport on the day of our flight. As soon as we checked our luggage, the panic arose – our luggage could only go as far as Wuhan Airport! This meant that during our one hour layover we had to get off the plane, pick up our bags, check them in again within 45 minutes of our flight… this left us 15 minutes from landing to the closing of the gate.
We called Vayama and Southern China but neither was willing to accept responsibility. Their solutions were to take a flight that arrived in Phuket a day later, or we had to risk missing the flight and having to pay for a new one ourselves. Worried and angry, we boarded our plane and hoped for a miracle.
Murphy’s law was taunting us at full blast. The plane was already moving a whopping 20 minutes before expected departure! But then we had to wait in on-ground plane traffic and ended up taking off late. We began descending right on time despite the late take-off, but surprise surprise, we landed late again.
The plane drove right up to those roll-up stairs, near an entrance to the airport but, of course, we were told not to get up yet. That’s when the plane started driving… away from the airport! Frustrated, we watched the airport shrink the distance, jumping up frantically the moment it finally stopped, in the middle of nowhere. The gate was closing in 5 minutes!
Pushing past people while yelling apologies, we ran out of the plane. That’s when we saw a man in a neon vest, holding our checked-in suitcase. No way. He somehow recognized us and shooed us onto a private mini-van. Turns out the plane drove out of the way just for us!
The van took us to a “staff-only” door at the back of the airport. The friendly neon-vested guy ran us through all the check-points, helped us skip the lines to check our bag and sent us off to the security check with half an hour to spare!
Thanks to Southern China, it took less than 30 minutes plane-to-plane! Not only is that outright impressive but they saved us hundreds of dollars in booking a new flight and changing all our reservations.
Some things are only possible in China!!!