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Travel to China - Airlines

Almost every major airline flies to China, some only to the major hubs of Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, but an increasing number to other cities around the country. It is usually possible to book a flight online, either through the airline directly, or through a third party travel agency. The process is perfectly safe and largely hassle-free and the issuance of an e-ticket means that there is no need to be concerned about losing your ticket. What’s more, booking online can offer a significant discount over going thorough a high-street travel agent.

The most expensive times to fly to China are during the summer months, with shoulder seasons being found in the build-up to summer and just after. Lowest fares will be found in the winter months, although flights may increase slightly around Christmas and important holidays such as Chinese New Year. Approximate fares from Europe, North America, and Australia will be around the equivalent of around US$ 800 in low season, rising to nearer US$ 1,600 at peak times, although discrepancies will exist depending on the individual airline and whether any promotions are offered. It may also be possible to include China as a part of a round the world, with a five or six stopover ticket costing around US$ 2,000. As is usually the case, the cheapest flights will be those booked well in advance of the departure date.

When selecting an airline price should not be the only consideration. Look also at things such as the baggage allowance, from which airport they depart, and whether they offer non-stop or connecting flights. Also make note of the terms and conditions of the ticket including the option of a refund or changing dates. Often the very cheapest deals will be completely inflexible and non-refundable, with a hefty sum levied if any amendments are made.

Travel to China from the UK

London Heathrow is the main hub for British Airways who fly to Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, with Virgin Atlantic flying to Shanghai and Hong Kong. Chinese airlines such as Air China and China Eastern also fly from Heathrow to Beijing and Shanghai.

Flights are also available with other European airlines from London via the respective airlines’ hub, including Aeroflot, Air France, Lufthansa, and also with Asian airlines including Thai Air and Singapore Airlines. Connections to London from regional airports are also possible.

Travel to China from Australia and New Zealand

Flights to Hong Kong and Guangzhou are the closest to Australia and New Zealand, and are likely to be the cheapest, with flights also available to Beijing and Shanghai. Perth is likely to be cheaper than either Sydney or Melbourne, given its proximity to China. From Australia, Qantas, China Eastern, and Cathay Pacific are the only carriers with direct services; all others will go via a hub city. From New Zealand, flights are limited and as such are likely to be more expensive; Air New Zealand will be the best bet with flights from Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington to Hong Kong and Shanghai. Journey times range from around 9 hours to around 12 hours, depending on the departure point.

Travel to China from the US and Canada

All major North American carriers fly to Hong Kong, with the vast majority of these flying also to Beijing and Shanghai. Departures are from most large cities, with connecting flights available from smaller cities. Flights from East coast areas will be slightly longer and therefore more expensive, than those on the West coast. Journey times will be around 13 hours from the West coast with another few hours added on to this for flights originating in the East, including stopovers.

Travel to China from Mainland Europe

Most European airlines will offer flights to major Chinese cities. There are too many to list them all but needless to say the big players such as Air France, Lufthansa and Aeroflot having a wide range of destinations, with smaller carriers such as Iberia and Alitalia being more limited. Flight times from Europe are broadly similar taking around 10 hours to Beijing, with slightly longer times for Shanghai and Hong Kong. Note that a lot of airlines will offer code shares with Chinese domestic airlines to provide onward connections to other cities.

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