I have always relied on my frequent flyer knowledge and status to be able to get quickly and efficiently through most airports around the world. That usually works! However, it absolutely does not at the Beijing airport…
Earlier today (or rather 17 hours ago) I pulled in into the airport following a long ride from Shandi (in North West Beijing) with a very comfortable 3 hours buffer before my flight to Chicago.
The rude awakening started right after I got my boarding pass – which was very fast indeed. I kid you not – going through immigration control and security took such a long time that by the time I was in the departure halls of the airport I had about 35 minutes before boarding.
Next, I needed to send several emails before boarding the plane. Easy task in most cases – just find the first available United or partner club. I did – Air China Business Lounge. Here, another case of “wait…and wait…and wait some more….” – the situation was slightly better than the picture from the waiting masses at the intersection of JianGuo Ave and 3rd loop road access road…below
Eventually I was able to check-in into the lounge and ask for the WiFi access code. In case you do not know – in China WiFi access is strictly controlled by the government. You need to get access code either via your mobile phone or via your passport – so big brother knows who is accessing the Net.
So, I got a code – I rushed to find a spot with an electrical outlet to plug in and send my emails. The frustration came back again. Multiple outlets not working ….and the code for the WiFi access did not work either. I rushed back to the front desk. The original employee who gave me the 8888 code still insisted it is the correct one. Another lady stepped in – typed in 1111 and magic, the WiFi connected. The first dude calmly said – “Oh, the code has changed…!” No way professor – was my retort… Really, you think?!?!
At any rate, when in China – do not forget to push hard – or you wont get what you need!
Other than that – China is great!