My husband and I recently traveled to Phuket, Thailand using Hainan Airlines with an 8 hours layover in Beijing Airport.
What can I say about traveling with this airline and being in Beijing airport? I will start with telling you about Beijing airport.
All around, I would not recommend having a layover in Beijing to my worst enemy. Why, you may ask?
Beijing is the most disorganized airport with its process. We have traveled extensively for work and pleasure, and never have we experienced such disorganization.
Beijing Airport needs to put a better process in place for their immigration and transfer flights process.
We must have gone through a total of 3 different gates for immigration each time we connected in Beijing, scanning out passports then re-scanning then picking up our luggage and re-checking it in.
Our luggage were not transferred like they had told us, instead, we had to pick up our luggage in Beijing and take them through the entire process of check-in and ticketing, that means, exiting to leave and re-checking in and going through all the security scans as if we just got to the airport.
You will need at least 2 hours if you have a layover in Beijing to get through their ridiculously disorganized security process for scanning your luggage over and over and processing your passports. Additionally - flying with Hainan, you will not be able to get your boarding passes a head of time, so if you flown in like we did from the States to Beijing then Phuket to Beijing, we had to wait 3 hours outside of the terminal before we can get our tickets to go through the terminal that we would be able to fly out of. So for those frequent flyers or travelers, if your think that you would be able to spend your layover time in a one of those comfortable airline lounges to pass time, well sadly, you will not have that opportunity and be prepared to spend 3 hours just sitting around uncomfortable chairs and be rudely cut off by native folks.
My husband decided to tent in front of the ticketing line before anyone else was even there for an hour before Hainan airline attendants showed up and much to our surprise, the minute these Hainan attendants showed up, an entire Chinese family ran to the gate with all their luggage and put them on these scales (2 lines to be exact including one we were standing in front of) with no regard to the fact that we have been standing in line all this time. So we quickly learned that it’s like the survivor of the fittest at this airport, the people as well as the actual airport itself just have no regard or respect for a process or for other people. We quickly put our luggage on the scale next to the line we were in since these folks took ours. Ironically, one of the lines they put their luggage on, were for a single traveler, they looked over to ours with disappointment that we had already put ours on there as they would have tried to take advantage if we weren't so quick to learn from them, we would have had no opportunity of getting our luggage checked in as well. Furthermore, by the time our attendant started the checking process, this tall Chinese woman rudely went up to him to tell him that he needed to hurry it up after she had cut off 2 other families standing behind us. Again – it’s really survivor of the fittest at this ridiculous airport with their rude natives.
Also-if you are considering taking one of those tours that are posted online about having 8 hours - 10 hours layover to the Great Wall of China, don't do it because you will not have time to based on the process they have at this airport, you would be wasting your money and missing your flight. We were considering doing a tour until we realized what chaos it was to be at this airport.
Upon getting on the plane, the flight attendants are no joy either, rude and snippy people. Seats are tiny, bathrooms were not clean and smells incredibly horrible and the food. it was tasteless.
On our flight returning from Beijing to the States, there was one person sitting in business class, my husband proceeded to request the flight attendant how much to sit up there and she flat out, just signal her hands as in no, not up for discussion, so very rude, flat out dismisses his question all together.
The only pro on this airline is they did a decent job with their movie selection for in flight entertainment.