Surviving the Beijing Airport

We have a treat for you today- our first guest writer on Tripandom- Jennifer Gregory

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If you’re heading to the summer Olympics this year, chances are you’ll arrive to the area via the Beijing Capital International Airport. Therefore, in order to make certain your trip is as pleasurable as possible, you will want to learn a bit about the airport before you arrive. After all, finding your way through a foreign and unfamiliar airport can be tricky, to say the least. In fact, it can be quite maddening because you don’t know where to go, how to ask for help or what pitfalls to avoid.

Of course, you’ll probably step into the airport with a bit of jet lag from the long trip. Then, the sounds of conversations passing you by will remind you that English is not the native language. But, don’t panic. By familiarizing yourself with the airport before your arrival, you will be able to embark upon your new journey with a great deal of confidence.


Exploring a New Airport Terminal

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You might notice the recently built Terminal 3 at the Beijing Capital International Airport, which was constructed especially for the summer games and the mass of people from across the globe that will be arriving in Beijing. With its current size, the terminal can accommodate 50 million passengers annually. In fact, the new terminal is the largest building in the world twice the size of the Unites States Pentagon and covers a whopping14 million square feet.

The glass and steel building was designed by Norman Foster, a British architect, and cost $3.8 billion to complete. Its construction of the terminal lasted for four years taking all the way through to this past February and the building sports the red and gold colors that are so common in Chinese palaces and in the Forbidden City.

Finding Your Luggage

Inside of the Beijing Capital International Airport, you will find a massive luggage handling system that was built by Siemens of Germany. The system can sort more than 19,000 pieces of baggage each hour. You’ll find your luggage, after getting off the plane, in the Luggage Claim Hall located on the first floor. There are also plenty of luggage carts in the airport as well as trolley services that can help make the process of collecting your baggage much simpler.

Customs and Forms

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When you arrive at the airport, you will have to first go through customs. In addition, all passengers have to turn in a Declaration Form to Customs officials upon arrival. You will also be asked to fill out a health form, which is mandatory under Chinese law and serves as an Entry Health Quarantine Declaration Card. The short form, which requires your signature, asks three questions about whether you�ve had close contact with poultry or a bird in the past week. It also will ask whether you�ve been near patients suffering from Avian Influenza in the past week and will ask you to notify them if you have a current illness, such as fever, vomiting, or difficulty breathing.

Of course, you�ll have to go through immigration as well. Have a passport and any entry information required. You will stop at an immigration check point for the documents to be reviewed.

The Greeting Hall

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After leaving the baggage area, you will enter the Greeting Hall. Here, you will find a service counter and a Hotel Reception area. You will also have the option of exchanging currency from a bank in the Greeting Hall. If you prefer, you might use an automated banking machine to get some Chinese money, which is called qian. The local currency is the yuan and about seven yuan are equal to an American dollar.

Then, relax by stopping in a Starbucks at the airport and enjoying a coffee. You’ll find Starbucks stores in the airport and throughout Beijing.

Getting to Your Hotel

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If you want to ride in a cab to your hotel in Beijing, get in line at the official airport cab stands. There are unofficial cab drivers, but officials recommend using the airport cab service. Try to remember to print out the name of your hotel in Mandarin before you leave so you can show the name to the cab driver, who likely will not speak or read English. Another option is to use an airport bus to reach your hotel or desire destination. They’re also available after exiting the Greeting Hall.

Before you leave for your trip, you might want to print out some helpful airport information from its website, including some handy passenger guides and a terminal map to help direct you from the arrivals area to baggage to the cab lines. You’ll re-use the information again, of course, when you depart Beijing for home.

If you want a thorough guide to the Beijing Olympics which includes detailed information on Beijing transport and attractions (including maps) as well as the schedules of events and much more, check out the Beijing Olympics Guidebook it free.

Jennifer Gregory is a writer with a passion for travel. After completing her degrees in Social Work and eBusiness, she traveled through Europe, across America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. She now writes for the OnTheGo Travel Blog by Last Minute Accommodation provider RatesToGo.

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