- Airlines & Destinations
- Accommodation & Hotels
- Coffee & Restaurants
- Internet, Comunication
- Things to know
Beijing Capital International Airport is the main international airport serving Beijing. It is located 32 km (20 mi) northeast of Beijing's city center.The airport's IATA Airport code, PEK, is based on the city's former romanized name, Peking.
Beijing Capital International Airport is the main hub for Air China, the flag carrier of the People's Republic of China, which flies to around 120 destinations from Beijing. China Eastern Airlines, Hainan Airlines and China Southern Airlines also use the airport as their hub.
Beijing Capital International Airport is the world's second busiest airport by passenger numbers. The impressively huge, gleaming roof arching over Terminal 3, designed by noted British architect Sir Norman Foster, illustrates the expansion efforts made as part of preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This terminal is considered to be one of the best designed airport terminal buildings in the world from an architectural point of view, and the sixth largest building (and second-largest airport terminal) in the world by area size.
Airlines & Destinations
The airport now has three terminals, with flights and airlines roughly divided as follows:
- Terminal 1: Hainan Airlines (Domestic).
- Terminal 2: China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines (International), Hong Kong Airlines, Korean Air. Skyteam alliance is based here.
- Terminal 3: All other airlines. Air China and its subsidiaries, most foreign airlines, etc. Oneworld and Star Alliance are based here.
Terminal 3 is huge: it alone is bigger than all five of London Heathrow's terminals. Additional time should be allocated when flying from here. Terminal 3 check-in closes 45 minutes before flights depart.
Many people use taxicabs to reach town from the airport. The taxi driver will almost certainly not read or speak English, so do try to get the name in Chinese characters of your hotel so that you can let your taxi driver read where you want to go. Many drivers are recent arrivals from the countryside and do not know the city well.
A taxi from the airport to the city should cost between ¥70 and ¥120 and takes between 30 minutes to an hour depending on traffic (traffic jams are common). You will have to pay the fee shown on the meter (make sure the driver uses it) plus the ¥10 toll for the airport expressway.
Taxis are your sole option at night since the earliest arrival time by subway at the airport is 06:30 (taking the first subway at about 05:30, depending on station, and the first airport express at 06:00 to T3 or T2).
The Airport Express train to the airport opened in July 2008. The train runs in a one-way loop from T3 to T2/T1 then Sanyuanqiao (transfer to subway line 10) and Dongzhimen (lines 2, 13). A one-way fare is ¥25, and the trip takes about 20 minutes from Dongzhimen to T3, 30 min to T2. Do not take the train just to get from T3 to T2/T1, as this will cost you the full ¥25; use the free shuttle bus instead.
The last train leaves around 10:45PM. After that you can take a shuttle bus until about midnight, and taxis all night long.
By shuttle bus
A slightly cheaper way to get to the city centre is to take the airport shuttle (机场巴士 Jīchǎng Bāshì), , . Buses for each route leave every 10-30 minutes. There are several lines running to different locations throughout Beijing. The shuttle bus website also has a map available. ¥24 for a one-way trip.
- Line 1 (to Fangzhuang): 1. Liangma Bridge (亮马桥 Liàngmǎqiáo); 2. Baijiazhuang (白家庄 Báijiāzhuāng); 3. World Trade Centre (国贸 Guómào) & Dabeiyao (大北窑 Dàběiyáo); 4. Panjiayuan (潘家园 Pānjiāyuán); 5. KingWing Hot Spring International Hotel (京瑞大厦 Jīngruì Dàshà) & Shilihe (十里河 Shílǐhé); 6. Guiyou Shopping Mall (贵友大厦 Guìyǒu Dàshà) & Fangzhuang (方庄 Fāngzhuāng). Runs 07:30–22:30. Return stops are 6, 3, and the airport. Convenient for getting to the south east of the city.
- Line 2 (to Xidan): 1. Sanyuan Bridge (三元桥 Sānyuán Qiáo) 2. Dongzhimen (东直门 Dōngzhímén); 3. Dongsishitiao Bridge (东四十条桥 Dōngsìshítiáo Qiáo); 4. Civil Aviation Building (民航营业大厦 Mínháng Yíngyè Dàshà) & Xidan (西单 Xīdān). Return stops are 4, 2, and the airport. Runs 07:00 till the last flight. Return runs ??-21:00. Heads south-west.
- Line 3 (to Beijing Railway Station): 1. Yuyang Hotel (渔阳饭店 Yúyáng fàndiàn); 2. Dongdaqiao (东大桥 Dōngdàqiáo, bypassed after 22:30); 3. Chaoyangmen (朝阳门 Cháoyángmén); 4. Yabaolu (雅宝路 Yǎbǎolù); 5. Beijing Railway Station (北京站 Běijīng zhàn). Runs 07:30 till the last flight. The Beijing Railway Station stop is actually at the west gate of the International Hotel (国际饭店 Guójì Fàndiàn), across Chang'an Avenue. Return stops are 5, Dongzhimen, the Jingxin Building West Gate (京信大厦西门 Jīngxìn Dàshà Xīmén), and the airport. Convenient for the city center, the southeast of the city, and Chaoyang, Chongwen, and Dongcheng districts. Bus drivers and ticket collectors don't speak English, so that might be a problem if you want to get off at earlier stops.
- Line 4 (to Gongzhufen): 1. China International Exhibition Centre (国际展览中心 Guójì Zhǎnlǎn Zhōngxīn); 2. Xibahe (西坝河 Xībàhé); 3. Anzhen Bridge (安贞桥 Ānzhēn Qiáo); 4. Madian Bridge (马甸桥 Mǎdiàn Qiáo); 5. Beitaipingzhuang (北太平庄 Běitàipíngzhuāng); 6. Jimen Bridge (蓟门桥 Jìmén Qiáo); 7. Friendship Hotel (友谊宾馆 Yǒuyì Bīnguǎn); 8. Beijing TV Station (北京电视台 Běijīng Diànshìtái); 9. Zizhu Bridge (紫竹桥 ǐzhú Qiáo); 10. Hangtian Bridge (航天桥 Hángtiān Qiáo); 11. Gongzhufen (公主坟 Gōngzhǔfén) & Xinxing Hotel (新兴宾馆 Xīnxīng Bīnguǎn). Return stops are 11, 7, 5, 3, and the airport. Runs from 07:00-23:00. Convenient for the north and north-west of the city, and Haidian district.
- Line 5 (to Zhongguancun): 1. Wangjing (望京 Wàngjīng) & Huajiadi (花家地 Huājiādì); 2. Xiaoying (小营 Xiǎoyíng); 3. Asian Games Village (亚运村 Yàyùncūn) & Anhui Bridge (安慧桥 Ānhuì Qiáo); 4.Xueyuan Bridge (学院桥 Xuéyuàn qiáo); 5. Just west of Bǎofúsì Qiáo (保福寺桥). Return stops are 5, Beijing Aeronautics University North Gate (北航北门 Běiháng Běimén), Huixin West Street (惠新西街 Huìxīn XīJiē)/Anhui Building (安徽大厦 Ānhuī Dàshà), Huixin Dongjie (惠新东街 Huìxīn Dōngjiē) & SINOPEC (中国石化集团 Zhōngguó Shíhuà Jítuán), and the airport. From 08:30-21:30. Convenient for the north of the city, particularly the university district within Haidian.
- Line 6 (to the Olympic Village): 1. North Guangshun Ave (广顺北大街); 2. Middle Huguang St. (湖光中街); 3. Yuhuili (育慧里）; 4.Beiyuan Rd. & Datun (北苑路大屯); 5. Olympic Village (奥运村); 6. Best Western Olympic Statium Hotel (亚奥国际酒店） 8:00-21:00. Return stops are 6, Best Western OL Statium Hotel, IGSNRR of CAS, besides Nangounihe bus stop (中科院地理所), Datun, Gate A of Zone IV of Wangjing Xiyuan (望京西园四区A门), West Zone of Wangjing Garden (望京花园西区) and the airport. From 6:00 to 19:10. Convenient for the north of the city, particularly the Olympic venues within Chaoyang District.
A number of youth hostels and luxury hotels run their own complimentary shuttle buses services - ask the place where you are staying if they have one.
The cheapest way to get to the city would be to take public bus #359 or bus #640. The former runs from the airport to Dongzhimen, where you can catch subway line 2 or line 13. If you go to the airport by taking either of the buses, you need to transfer to Konggang #1 (空港1路) at Jichangdaokou (机场道口), which then takes you to Terminal 2. After that, if you go to Terminal 3, you need to take the free shuttle. Taking buses is not very fast or convenient.
Travel between Terminals 1 and 2 is via a long corridor with travelators. A fit person can make the route in about 10 minutes. A free shuttle bus runs between Terminal 2 and the new Terminal 3. It departs every ten minutes or so (every 30 minutes from 23:00 till 06:00), and the journey time is about 10 minutes.
The airport has three terminals. Terminal 1 serves the domestic routes of Hainan Airlines and its subsidiaries (while its international routes and Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau flights operate from Terminal 2). Terminal 2 serves China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, SkyTeam members and other domestic and international flights. Terminal 3, the newest terminal, serves Air China, Star Alliance and Oneworld members, and some other domestic and international flights which do not operate from either Terminals 1 or 2.
Terminal 1, with 60,000 m2 (650,000 sq ft) of space, opened on 1 January 1980, and replaced the smaller existing terminal which had been in operation since 1958. Terminal 1 was closed for renovation from 1 November 1999 to 20 September 2004, during which all airlines operated from Terminal 2. Featuring 16 gates, it was the operational base for the domestic routes of China Southern Airlines and a few other airlines such as Xiamen Airlines and Chongqing Airlines, and was originally planned to handle domestic traffic excluding those to Hong Kong and Macau.
With the opening of Terminal 3, the terminal was closed for light refurbishment, and its airlines were moved to Terminal 2 on 20 May 2008. Terminal 1 reopened for a second time on 27 June 2008, and became the operational base for all domestic flights operated by the HNA Group including those of Hainan Airlines, Grand China Air, Beijing Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines, while all HNA Group's international flights as well as those to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan remain in Terminal 2.
Terminal 2 opened on 1 November 1999, with a floor area of 336,000 m2 (3,620,000 sq ft). This terminal was used to replace Terminal 1 while the latter was undergoing renovation, cramping all airlines despite being far bigger than Terminal 1. It can handle twenty aircraft at docks connecting directly to the terminal building. Prior to the opening of Terminal 3, all international flights (and the majority of the domestic flights) operated from this terminal. This terminal now houses China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines (all International flights including flights to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau), SkyTeam, Air Koryo, and other domestic and international flights other than those operated by Air China, Shanghai Airlines, Star Alliance members and Oneworld members. A gate capable of handling the A380 (gate 21) was also built at the terminal.
Terminals 1 and 2 are linked by a public walkway that takes about 10–15 minutes to traverse. Shuttle buses connect all three terminals.
Construction of Terminal 3 started on 28 March 2004, and the terminal opened in two stages. Trial operations commenced on 29 February 2008, when seven airlines including British Airways, El Al Israel Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Shandong Airlinesand Sichuan Airlines moved into the terminal. Twenty other airlines followed when the terminal became fully operational on 26 March 2008. Currently, it mainly houses Air China, Oneworld, Star Alliance, and other domestic and international flights which are not operated from Terminal 2. Star Alliance members LOT Polish Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, United Airlines, Air Canada, Turkish Airlines, Thai Airways International, Singapore Airlines, and Air China use Terminal 3-E as part of the Move Under One Roof program to co-locate alliance members.
Terminal 3 was designed by a consortium of Netherlands Airport Consultants (NACO), UK Architect Foster and Partners and ARUP. Lighting was designed by UK lighting architects Speirs and Major Associates. The budget of the expansion is US$3.5 billion. Much larger in size and scale than the other two terminals, Terminal 3 was the largest airport terminal-building complex in the world to be built in a single phase, with 986,000 m2(10,610,000 sq ft) in total floor area at its opening. It features a main passenger terminal (Terminal 3C) and two satellite concourses (Terminal 3D and Terminal 3E), all of them five floors above ground and two underground, with the letters "A and B" omitted to avoid confusion with the existing Terminals 1 and 2. Only two concourses were initially opened, namely Terminal 3C dedicated for domestic flights and Terminal 3E for international flights. Terminal 3D officially opened on 18 April 2013. The newly opened concourse is temporarily used solely by Air China for some of its domestic flights.
Terminal 3 of the BCIA is currently the second-largest airport passenger terminal building in the world. Its title as the world's largest was surrendered on 14 October 2008 to Dubai International Airport's Terminal 3, which has 1,713,000 m2(18,440,000 sq ft) of floor space.
On 20 July 2013, a man in a wheelchair detonated small homemade explosives in Terminal 3 of the Beijing International Airport. The bomber, reported to be Ji Zhongxing, was injured and taken to a hospital for his injuries. No other people were hurt.
System, security and luggage
Terminal 3 has a 300,000 m2 (3,200,000 sq ft) transportation centre with a 7,000-car garage. The transportation centre has designated traffic lanes for airport buses, taxis and private vehicles. Travelers bound for T3 can exit their vehicles and enter T3 within five minutes. There is also a station for the Airport Express Line of the Beijing Subway.
Terminal 3 has 243 elevators, escalators or moving walkways. Each row of seats in the waiting area has electrical outlets. Every restroom has a diaper changing station. There is also a room for travelers with disabilities.
One of Terminal 3's highlights is the US$240 million luggage-transfer system. The luggage system is equipped with yellow carts, each of which has a code that matches the bar code on every piece of luggage loaded and allows easy and accurate tracking. More than 200 cameras are used to monitor activities in the luggage area.
The luggage system can handle 19,200 pieces of luggage per hour. After a luggage is checked in at any of the 292 counters in Terminal 3C, it can be transferred at a speed of ten metres per second. Hence, a luggage can travel from T3C to T3E in five minutes. Arriving passengers should be able to begin retrieving their luggage within 4.5 minutes after airplanes are unloaded.
Besides X-ray scanners, additional equipment are used to conduct baggage screening. Passengers will be able to check in their luggage at the airport from several hours to even a day before their flights. The airport will store the luggage in its luggage system and then load it on the correct aircraft.
The highest building at the airport, A 98.3 m (323 ft) monitoring tower, stands at the southern end of T3. The roof of T3 is red, the Chinese color for good luck. The terminal's ceilings use white strips for decoration and to indicate directions. Under the white strips, the basic color of the ceiling is orange with light to dark tones indicating where a passenger is inside the building. The roof is light orange in the center. The color deepens as the roof extends to the sides in T3E and goes the other way round in T3C.
The roof of T3 has dozens of triangular windows to let in daylight. Light angles can be adjusted to ensure adequate interior lighting. Many traditional Chinese elements will be employed in the terminal's interior decoration, including a "Menhai", a big copper vat used to store water for fighting fires in the Forbidden City, and the carvings imitating the famous Nine-Dragon Wall.
An indoor garden is constructed in the T3E waiting area, in the style of imperial gardens such as the Summer Palace. In T3C, a tunnel landscape of an underground garden has been finished with plants on each side so that passengers can appreciate them inside the mini-train.
The T3 food-service area is called a "global kitchen," where 72 stores provide food ranging from formal dishes to fast food, from Chinese to western, and from bakery goods to ice cream. Airport officials have promised that people who buy products at the airport will find the same prices in central Beijing.
In addition to food and beverage areas, there is a 16,200 m2 (174,000 sq ft) domestic retail area, a 12,600 m2 (136,000 sq ft) duty-free-store area and a nearly 7,200 m2 (78,000 sq ft) convenience-service area, which includes banks, business centres, Internet services and more. At 45,200 m2 (487,000 sq ft), the commercial area is twice the size of Beijing's Lufthansa Shopping Center.
The terminal provides 72 aerobridges or jetways and is further complemented with remote parking bays which bring the total number of gates to 150. Terminal 3 comes with an additional runway. It increases BCIA's total capacity by 72 million passengers per year to approximately 90 million.
The terminal has gates and a nearby runway that can handle the Airbus A380. This capability was proven when Singapore Airlines briefly offered A380 flights to Beijing in August 2008 during the Summer Olympics. Emirates Airline has started its scheduled daily operation to Dubai as of 1 August 2010. Lufthansa has been using these facilities since October 2010 to handle up to five A380 connections per week. Several other airlines in the near future will operate the A380 out of this terminal, including Malaysia Airlines and British Airways.
Accommodation & Hotels
There are nearby accommodations in Beijing's Chaoyang District and Shunyi District. Note that the taxi drivers may not be very familiar with these areas so print out the name of the hotel in Chinese and a map if possible.
Coffee & Restaurants
Most eating options are higher priced than in Beijing itself.
Land-side there is a KFC.
Land-side there are two KFC chicken outlets, and the restaurants in the basement have relatively low prices compared to what's above. A meal at any of these places should cost around ¥20.
Air-side there are really very few options, and no great ones. There is a Starbucks, a generic cafe and a couple of Chinese noodle restaurants.
Land-side there are lots of options, with leading Western chains available.
Air-side there are also a few Western chains, however a much more limited selection than Land-side.
There is free Wi-Fi available, although to comply with local laws you will need to either:
- Find an automated registration machine that will scan your passport and print out an access code. These machines are rather hard to find so you should ask the help desk.
- Log onto the free Wi-Fi, type in the phone number of your Chinese mobile phone and wait for the SMS with an access code. (Somewhat curious, since a pay-as-you-go SIM can be purchased many places with no registration at all.)
- Go to a help desk and show them your ID (such as your passport), and they will give you an access code.
Things to know
Facilities on arrival include ATMs and money changers. Be aware that upon departure, porters may want ¥10 to wheel your bags 50m to check-in.
Signs throughout Terminal 3 are in both Chinese and English. Signs are also often shown in Korean as well.
Scams at the airport
Arrival: Take your taxis from the stand outside, not the touts or desks inside, and insist on the meter. If you are in a group of three or more or have a lot of luggage, touts will claim you need a minibus, and then lead you towards a people carrier in a car park, but then it will turn out they are actually leading you to a shabby taxi parked behind it, which will charge far more than the regulated fare.
Be aware of another scam where impostors who pretend to work for the taxi company pose at the official-looking stands outside offering rides to the city (especially in the non-regular hours where there are not many people about). You will be led into a "taxi" with a fake meter (which could be hidden) which runs very quickly (¥200-300 to the city, and even up to ¥400 to the Birds' Nest Stadium).
Departure: Ignore any people walking around offering to sell you an exit fee ticket/receipt. There used to be an airport construction (or exit) fee of ¥90, but now it is included in the plane ticket.