By plane in China
China is a huge country, so unless you enjoy spending a couple of days on the train or on the road getting from one area to another, you should definitely consider domestic flights. China has many domestic flights connecting all the major cities and tourist destinations. Airlines include the three international carriers: Air China, China Southern, and China Eastern, as well as regional ones including Hainan Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and Shanghai Airlines. In recent years, it has been popular for large cities and provinces to open their own (dubiously funded) airline. These include Chongqing Airlines, Chengdu Airline and Hebei Airlines, amongst others. The parent company behind Hainan Airlines has spawned some 13 airlines in the region, including Grand China Air, Yangtse Express, Hong Kong Airlines and Deer Jet.
Flights between Hong Kong or Macau and mainland cities are considered to be international flights and so can be quite expensive. Hence if arriving in, or departing from, Hong Kong or Macau, it is usually much cheaper to fly to or from Shenzhen or Zhuhai, just across the border, or Guangzhou, which is a little further afield but offers flights to more destinations. As an example, the distance from Fuzhou to Hong Kong, Shenzhen or Guangzhou is about the same, but as of mid-2005 flying to Hong Kong cost ￥1400 while list price for the other cities was ￥880 and for Shenzhen discounts to ￥550 were available. Overnight bus to any of these destinations was about ￥250.
Prices for domestic flights are set at standard rates, but discounts are common, especially on the busier routes. Most good hotels, and many hostels, will have a travel ticket service and may be able to save you 15%-70% off the price of tickets. Travel agencies and booking offices are plentiful in all Chinese cities and offer similar discounts. Even before considering discounts, traveling by plane in China is not expensive.
For travel within China, it is usually best to buy tickets in China via a high street travel agent, or on Chinese websites. Most domestic flights when bought abroad (e.g. on Expedia or even via an Air China office) will be much more expensive, as only full fare tickets are sold. Discounted tickets are only sold within China, or as a tag on fare on an international ticket. Schedules for domestic flights are generally not finalised or released until around 2-3 months before a flight. Unlike most air markets,
early buyers will pay higher rates, as discounts tend to increase with time. For most flights, the optimum purchase period is between 2-4 weeks before a flight. On emptier flights, it can be easy to get a very discounted rate in the days before the flight. Once you know your intended route, it’s advisable to monitor the fares to see when they rise and fall (which they will almost definitely do). However, when travelling during a busy period (e.g. Chinese New Year), it’s wise to buy earlier to guarantee yourself a seat. Some more expensive tickets are flexible, allowing you to cancel for a nominal amount (between 5%-20%), then rebook at a lower fare. Recently, discounts have been made available in premium cabins on domestic flights. On some routes, the buy-up from economy is very minimal, and is worth it for the extra space. Beware, however, than often perks of the ground (e.g. lounge, extra luggage, points) are not included on the discount rates.
Be prepared for unexplained flight delays as these are common despite pressure from both the government and consumers. For short distances, consider other, seemingly slower options. Flight cancellations are also not uncommon. If you buy your ticket from a Chinese vendor they will likely try to contact you (if you left contact information) to let you know about the change in flight plan. If you purchased your ticket overseas, be certain to check on the flight status a day or two before you plan to fly. Chinese airlines are generally quick to offer meals when a particular flight has been delayed, although the meals/snacks might not be suited to Western tastes. It’s always advisable to travel with emergency rations in China. water cannot be brought through security, but all Chinese airports have hot water machines, so bring a plastic mug and some tea bags.
As everywhere in the world, prices for food and drink at Chinese airports are vastly inflated. Coffee that is ￥25 in a downtown shop is ￥78 at the same chain's airport branches. KFC seems to be the one exception; their many airport shops charge the same prices as other branches. Paying ￥20 or more for a KFC meal may or may not be worthwhile when there are ￥5 noodles across the street, but at the airports it is usually the best deal around.
Hainan Airlines Co., Ltd.
China Eastern Airlines
China Southern Airlines
China Southwest Airlines
Xiamen Airlines Co., Ltd.
China City Airport Code
北京 PEK 沈阳 SHE 福州 FOC 广州 CAN 深圳 SZX
上海 SHA 海口 HAK 襄樊 XFN 长沙 CSX 常德 CGD
浦东 PVG 丹东 DDG 锦州 JUZ 杭州 HGH 宁波 NGB
天津 TSN 南昌 KHN 郑州 CGO 重庆 CKG 长春 CGQ
昆明 KMG 青岛 TAO 烟台 YNT 常州 CZX 成都 CTU
贵阳 KWE 温州 WNZ 厦门 XMN 太原 TYN 南京 NKG
大连 DLX 宜昌 YIH 北海 BHY 晋江 JJN 三亚 SYX
合肥 HFE 西安 SIA 武汉 WUH 徐州 XUZ 湛江 ZHA
济南 TNA 广汉 GHN 大同 DAT 黄山 TXN 桂林 KWL
兰州 LHW 延吉 YNJ 延安 ENY 九江 JIU 安康 AKA
南宁 NNG 伯力 KHV 汉中 HZG 长治 CIU 榆林 UYN
黄岩 HYN 安庆 AQG 汕头 SWA 赣州 KOW 朝阳 CHG
万县 WXN 包头 BAV 南阳 NNY 沙市 SHS 吉林 JIL
西昌 XIC 银川 INC 珠海 ZUH 黑河 HEK 衡阳 HNY
庐山 LUZ 铜仁 TEN 拉萨 LXA 洛阳 LYA 汉城 SEL
西宁 XNN 衢州 JUZ 香港 HKG 临沂 LYI 南充 NAO
南通 NTG 达县 DAX 恩施 ENH 澳门 MFM 台北 TPE
柳州 LZH 丹山 HSN 宜宾 YBP 梁平 LIA 丽江 LJG
赤峰 CIF 绵阳 MIG 广元 GYS 无锡 WUX 吉安 KNC
高雄 KHH 义乌 YIW
哈尔滨 HRB 石家庄 SJW 张家界 DYG
秦皇岛 SHP 阿勒泰 AAT 海拉尔 HLD
牡丹江 MDG 佳木斯 JMU 阿克苏 AKU
景德镇 JDZ 库尔勒 KRL 连云港 LYG
武夷山 WUS 乌鲁木齐 URC 齐齐哈尔 NDG
呼和浩特 HET 乌兰浩特 HLH 锡林浩特 XIL
克拉马依 KRY 西双版纳 JHG