Pudong airport optimizes check-in process for students studying abroad

Yang Jian
Pudong International Airport has opened additional ticket counters and streamlined the check-in process to serve long lines of travelers, mainly Chinese students studying abroad.
Yang Jian
Pudong airport optimizes check-in process for students studying abroad
Shanghai Airport Authority / Ti Gong

Long queues of travelers, mainly students studying abroad, wait at Pudong airport to check in for international flights on Wednesday.

Pudong International Airport has opened additional ticket counters and streamlined the check-in process to serve long lines of travelers, mainly Chinese students studying abroad.

Flights between China and the United States have been almost completely full with soaring ticket prices, as the US government eased COVID-19 restrictions on international students this month.

Long queues of travelers can stretch for more than 1,000 meters at Pudong airport, and the check-in process for flights departing to the US can last for several hours.

The airport has doubled the number of check-in counters for some popular flights, such as those with Cathay Pacific, through which many students fly to the United States via Hong Kong, said Gong Xinyong, deputy general manager of the ground service operation department at Pudong airport.

During busy periods, 15 counters will be open for flight CX363 from Shanghai to Hong Kong and another 14 for the subsequent flights CX367 and CX369, said Gong.

Pudong airport optimizes check-in process for students studying abroad
Shanghai Airport Authority / Ti Gong

A staff member at Pudong airport guides travelers and prevents long queues at check-in counters.

The check-in counters are also opening about an hour earlier for popular flights, staggering travelers and prevent long queues.

A new waiting area has been set up at section C in the T2 terminal. Passengers are guided to check according to their boarding time.

The airport authority has also dispatched two staff members to guide travelers and pre-check required materials and certificates.

Students heading abroad have to provide multiple certificates for different countries, such as nucleic acid test results in Chinese and English, an address and contact person abroad, a health declaration and proof of the new semester date.

Gong said many students and their family members have arrived at the airport very early, as much as five hours before their flights, in the event of long lines.

He suggested students studying abroad arrive at the airport three hours before departure time since the check-in capacity has been expanded.

"The check-in process at the counter takes about five minutes amid the pandemic, compared with about one minute before," said Gong.

Each traveler is now allowed to be accompanied by only one family member or friend during check in to reduce queue lengths.

Huang Tingjun, a sophomore studying in Boston, finished the check-in process in about one hour on Tuesday.

Accompanied by his brother and parents, he arrived at the airport at 10am for a flight departing at 1:20pm. Surprisingly, he got a boarding pass at 11am after waiting for only 10 minutes.

"The check-in process is smooth for students, who are usually anxious and nervous about the long journey amid the pandemic," Huang said.

Pudong airport optimizes check-in process for students studying abroad
Shanghai Airport Authority / Ti Gong

The length of queues at Cathay Pacific ticket counters has been significantly reduced.

The US government announced students with valid visas from China and several other countries qualify for exemptions to entry bans in place over the past year due to COVID-19 concerns beginning August 1.

Students from China account for more than one-third of foreign students at US universities, far more than any other country.

The United Kingdom has also eased restrictions on travelers from China. Those who have received two shots of a COVID-19 vaccine can be exempt from quarantines after entering the country.

The travel rush for international flights is expected to run through September when the new semester in North America and Europe begins, according to the airport authority.

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