After frequently arriving as well as transiting at Beijing’s Capital Airport in the past few weeks it became clear that for whatever reason the situation (especially for transit passengers) is out of control.
International transit passengers in Beijing have to undergo a passport check (including stamping) as well as security procedures before they can enter the departure area.
Both of these facilities are not sufficiently staffed in the past two months or so. Transiting in Beijing has never been a comfortable experience but after these recent developments people are in real danger of missing their flights.
It’s not uncommon that only one of the two transit counters is open and at the same time only one officer is on duty stamping and checking the passports of the transit passengers. Mind you, this takes only a little bit less time than an entire immigration procedure.
Three days ago I was arriving from Bangkok in the early morning hours (~ 7am) and the lineup of transit passengers for that one counter stretched through the entire length of the arrivals area. I’d estimate the number of people to be between 400-500. And one officer on duty to handle all these passengers.
I myself was in Line for a 72h Visa Free Transit Stamp (also only one officer) and this took roughly 50 minutes wait, mainly due to the fact that 80% of the people in front of me didn’t have their arrival documents filled out. Instead of sending them to the back end of the line the officer allowed them to fill them out at his counter. Good job comrade! Anyway the point is that in this 50 minutes of waiting the lineup for the transit passengers barely moved.
Instead of helping their colleagues to handle the transit passengers, the officers of the regular immigration line disappeared into the break room as soon as their lines were empty.
Air China tries to gain market share and increase their business by offering attractive fares and in cooperation with the Chinese government extending their Visa Free Transit Program.
In my opinion they should start organizing their Customs and Border Protection procedure dramatically if they want to succeed with getting passengers to voluntarily transit through Beijing or spend a few days there. The current situation is unacceptable and I can’t see passengers book a connection through Beijing again if this is the new normality now.
Should your future travel involve a transit there I recommend to plan sufficient and generous connection time in order to avoid issues such as outlined above.