This morning Qi and I took a plane to Beijing. Because of all the horror stories in the local press about overcrowded stations and airports and long delays, we were prepared for the worst. Our taxi picked us up at 10:20 AM, and the ride to the airport was very smooth. We arrived withing 15 minutes, no traffic jam whatsoever, such a ride normally occurs only late at night. At check-in all counters were open, and there were just 3 people in front of us. Within 5 minutes after arrival we were checked in, so that was a good start.
Because I heard that Hongqiao airport changed its taxi system, I went to check that out (I did not fly from here anymore after they implemented the changes last month). I remembered reading in the Shanghai Daily that they now have 10 places to find a taxi (instead of previously 2), but I only found one place, and the second one had disappeared. Strange. But at least now there are three lanes for taxi’s, so theoretically boarding should go faster (this always was the bottleneck). I’ll find out in a few days when we get back.
We arrived at the gate 20 minutes before departure, and it turned out that all passengers were already on board. So we went in as well, and found that the B-747 was almost completely empty (less than 20% of the seats were occupied). Not long after we entered the doors closed and for the first time ever on Air China we were on our way before the scheduled departure time. The flight went perfect: I fell asleep during take-off and woke up not long minutes before landing. At 13:20 we were in Beijing, exactly 3 hours after leaving home in Shanghai. This is an absolute record for me.
Were we just lucky? Both Shanghai and Beijing airport were relatively quiet, even though I would expect this would be the busiest day for air travel. Well, I don’t mind, I hope the trip back later this week will be just as easy.