Beijing Capital Airport

Since opening in 1958, the Beijing Capital Airport has grown tremendously, especially with the recent addition of the sprawling Terminal 3. As one might expect, the 2008 Beijing Olympics have much to do with the most recent expansions at the Beijing Capital Airport, but they will continue to benefit the city and its visitors long after the games have come and gone.

The Beijing Capital Airport (PEK) is the largest airport building in the world, and it is also the most technologically advanced. Not only is the passenger experience hard to top, but the improved efficiency is dually worth noting. A new metro line from Terminal 3 leads straight into the city, which is a wonderful addition in and of itself. Most of the international and domestic flights at Beijing Capital Airport now leave from Terminal 3, which has greatly expanded the airport's capabilities. However, the older and smaller terminals 1 and 2 still offer some international and domestic flights. Should you need to travel between the terminals, the Beijing international airport offers shuttle services that should prove more than adequate. Basically, the new terminal 3 was added to keep up with Beijing's increasing air traffic. Since terminals 1 and 2 were, and are, working at capacity, there was surely a need to expand. Terminal 3 is a splendid creation, costing more than $4 billion to build. It's red columns and gold-colored roof are intended to honor the Chinese colors, and looking down on it, the terminal looks like a flying dragon of sorts. It's really quite a unique design. Terminal 3 took some 3.5 years to build, and interestingly enough, it's 6 times the size of the new terminal at London's Heathrow airport.

Bright and spacious are two words that come to mind when describing the Beijing Capital Airport, and visitors will likely enjoy the resulting sense of openness that is associated with the airport's size. You'll hardly feel crowded when moving about the Beijing airport, and there are plenty of helpful information signs in both English and Chinese, which should prove extremely helpful when figuring out where to check in and such. Thanks to the modern immigration process at the Beijing international airport, visitors can move more efficiently through the lines, which is a nice bonus after a long flight. After you make your way through customs, you might peruse the long list of Duty free shops, or perhaps drop in on a caf´ or restaurant to burn some time. An array of familiar, and perhaps not so familiar, restaurants can be found close to the immigration processing area, so you can surely grab a bite to eat, even if you're a bit tight on time. There's even a Pizza Hut here, and the overall cuisine options are pretty international, to say the least. It's worth noting that terminal 3 features a main passenger terminal, which is known as Terminal 3C, as well as two satellite concourses, which are dubbed Terminal 3D and Terminal 3E respectively. Terminal 3 offers 5 floors in addition to its different concourses, and should you need to get around the terminal, it has it own shuttle system. Outside of Terminal 3, there are several different lanes for specific vehicles, be they airport buses, taxis, or private vehicles. This helps to keep a smooth passenger flow going, and the metro-line into the airport is just a 20-minute ride from downtown, so you might save money by hopping on it.

When it comes to the various China airports, of which there are many, the Beijing International airport is certainly the busiest, so there is a pretty good chance that you will have trouble avoiding it when booking flights to China. Most international flights to China seem to arrive in Beijing first, and there are multiple connections available for those who wish to then fly to other destinations, such as Hong Kong and Shanghai, for example. You can also choose flights to China that don't land first in Beijing, so it's certainly worth looking into. It really comes down to what the focus of your trip is and where you need to ultimately end up. It's almost worth it to fly into Beijing international airport, though, even if its just for a layover, as this mega-structure offers a pretty nice airport experience.

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