PNR on United Airlines Ticket

There is a PNR record on all the United Airlines ticket. Typically, it is printed on the upper-right corner on every page of the ticket. I always wanted to find out the secret behind the 6-digit alpha-numeric code. PNR seems the abbr. of PartNeR to me, but it is obvious a wrong guess.

I still remember when Wendy was planning her trip to U.S via United Airlines, the agent from UAL (800-810-8282 or 21-62798009) asked about the reservation ID. It may referring to this special number. I know that they have a system that provided with this 6-digit number, they are able to pull out all the travel information about my trip from the computer system. BTW, if you are interested, the United Airlines Shanghai Office is located at Shanghai Level 2 South Podium Suite 204, Portman Ritz Carlton Hotel, 1376 Nanjing Road West – a very nice place. The airport bus #2 just stop before the building. Their telephone system is smart. When you dial their toll-free telephone number 800-810-8282 from Shanghai (this is a toll free number in Beijing which can be judged by the middle “-810-”), you are automatically routed to their Shanghai office.

PNR is Passenger Name Record

Today, I finally found out that PNR is not for partner. It is the abbr. for Passenger Name Record. It is a strange name – why call it Name Record? Here are two very good explanations about PNR

A PNR in itself, is just simply a 6-digit alpha-numeric reservation number, which is generated by the computer when you buy/book/reserve a ticket. It allows any UA employee to bring up your entire reservation by punching that 6-digit number into the computer.

Alternatively, they can find your entire record by also searching one of your flight numbers then looking up your name. Even though schedules change, flight numbers, times, etc., the PNR number never changes.

As for the info contained in it…Unless you specifically tick off a UA CSR when discussing that particular record, there’s not going to be anything bad about you in it. When your trip is completed, that PNR is purged from the UA system (or so they would like us to believe–for all of you conspiracy theorists).

I think I know what you’re getting at here…A PNR is non-recurring, not like your Mileage Plus number…The MP info carries from one reservation to another, but not your PNR. And there is a very limited amount of info carried from res to res on your MP account–your status, seating prefs, silver wings (senior), class of service, and (I think) special meal prefs…But no room for permanent individually-entered pokes at you.

Text Credit: MBS PremExec from

The Passenger Name Record (PNR) is the generic name given to the files created by the airlines for each journey any passenger books. They are stored in the airlines’ reservation and departure control databases. PNR allows all the different agents within the air industry (from the travel agent and the computer reservation systems (CRS) to the carrier and the handling agents at the airports) to recognize each passenger and have access to all relevant information related to his/her journey: departure and return flights, connecting flights (if any), special services required on board the flight, etc.

The number and nature of fields of information in a PNR system will vary from airline to airline. There are approximately 20-25 possible fields of PNR data, some of which include subsets of information, expanding the total to approximately 60 fields and sub-fields.

Text Credit: FAQ about PNR on EU website.

They are very good study materials.

CSR in airline industry

I am interested in how the ticket booking and seat arrangement work. I even observed the ticket booking transactions behind a ticket reservation agent. The system people use to book domestic flight in China is different than all the other part of the world. It is called the CAAC Reservation System.

Code English Name Scope





1J AXESS Japan


1T TOPAS Korea



Credit: Thanks for the Ruizhi BBS

I have discussed this in my previous blog at PVG: Book Domestic Flight in China.

There is PNR record on paper ticket in China. Instead, it is marked as Book Code. They are 5-digit alpha-numeric code. Sometimes, there is a tailing /1E marking the code is available for the CSR in China.

It seems not easy to access the system using web interface. :-(


As I described in this article: United Airlines is Good, the E-Ticket service by United is amazing. This is what the world should look like. There is no E-Ticket in China.

BTW, many people are asking about whether e-ticket can be used in China. The answer is yes and no. For flights like United, e-ticket can be used. I used my e-ticket to check-in at PVG for my flight from PVG to SFO. However, airlines based in China, including Air China, do not offer e-ticket.

Book Domestic Flight

To find out domestic flight information in China is not easy. I was surprised when I receive help request from people in U.S. for domestic flight information. Typical questions are:

Is there any flight from Shanghai to Chongqing….

In my opinion, There is no good information on the Internet for domestic flight in China, just like the limited resource on Shanghai Pudong International Airport. It is a shame for the air industry in China again.

Experimental Flight Information Page

As an experiment, I created a China Domestic Flight Information page. The page listed the flight information departing or arriving at Shanghai Airport.

For example, here is the flight information for flight from SHA – Shanghai Hongqiao to KWL – Guilin

SHA – Shanghai Hongqiao to KWL – Guilin

Click the table header to sort the column.         Returning flight: KWL – Guilin to SHA – Shanghai Hongqiao

Air Airl Code From To Dept Arrv Plane Day Price Book
Shanghai Airlines Shanghai Airlinesa FM335 SHA – Shanghai Hongqiao KWL – Guilin 08:30 10:50 B738 A1234567 1150 RMB or 139 USD

China Eastern Airlines China Eastern Airlinesa MU5343 SHA – Shanghai Hongqiao KWL – Guilin 10:15 12:45 B733 A1234567 1150 RMB or 139 USD

Shanghai Airlines Shanghai Airlinesa FM331 SHA – Shanghai Hongqiao KWL – Guilin 16:30 18:40 B752 A1234567 1150 RMB or 139 USD

China Eastern Airlines China Eastern Airlinesa MU5313 PVG – Shanghai Pudong KWL – Guilin 17:00 19:20 A340 A1234567 1150 RMB or 139 USD

The Experimental Flight Information Page Reached the Top Return Result in Google

Surprisingly, when you search a flight information between Shanghai and other cities in China in Google, for example, searching for flight from Shanghai to Haikou, flight from shanghai to xiamen, or flight from Shanghai to Dalian, the list pages are returned as No. 1 in the search result.

This is the result of two factors:

  1. High Goolge PageRank value of my site. The PR value for is PR5 now. It is relatively high for a personal website. The higher PR a site have, the better the position in Google search result it is. The PageRank value is contributed by the high quality of article on this site.

  2. The lack of domestic flight information in China. It also an evidence that no one are really taking the advantage of the Internet to do business.

You are encouraged to have a try with the system. It really works. Someone is monitoring the site and help booking flights ticket. :-)

Happy Flying!

I Got My Income Tax Rebate

It is still hot today with reported temperature of 37 degree C again. It is the 11th continous boiling day in Shanghai. Maybe it will break the high tempature record of 18 continous high-tempature days in 1930′s.

Just on this hot day, I completed all the registration process for the tax rebate. That is the rebate of all the personal income tax from the next month the house purchase contract was signed till the May of 2003. The personal income tax rate is 20% for more people – with monthly salary of 1400 RMB (do not remember the exact number though). That will be a large amount of money. :-)

This policy has stopped since May of this year. I feel lucky that I made the decision to buy a house two years ago. Now the price per sq. meter for the house increased by almost 50% and the income tax rebate also brought benifit. That is great.

The money is expected to be ready in 3 – 4 months.

Returned on Delayed Train K284

I return by train K284. The train was delayed for 10 hours. What a bad trip it was to have waited in the hot train station for 10 hours and journey itself took 19 hours.

Train in China

It is a pity that I have never took train in any other countries. I have ever took metro in Singapore. It is strange that people like to stand in the train while there are still a lot of empty seats there. I also had taken public buses in Seattle. What impressed me was the bicycle rack at the front of the buses. How convenient it is for bike riders like me. The reason I always curious about trains in other countries is that the experience of taking trains in China are always one of the worst experience one may have.

Delayed Train? Don’t worry. It happens everyday.

My train from Nanyang to Shanghai at K284 should arrive in Nanyang station at 12:44 to pick us up and leave the small station at around 12:48. I rushed to the station only to know that the train was delayed.


© Jian Shuo Wang

The information display board shows:


K284 Delayed without expected arrival time.

Don’t leave. Pay attention to broadcast.

At that time, the temperature is about 38 degree C. People are too hot and some didn’t wear their shirt. It is extremely hard time but there is no any notice. Well. It is the routine that information is always held by the administration and the passengers are always not informed. To be honest, I feel very bad that the reason of the delay and the expected time for the train to arrive (within one hour? or within 10 hours?) were strictly held as top confidential. The staff in the station all know what happened but they just keep the right of know the message as privilege and will not share it with their customer – the passengers. That is a big problem of the society in current China – all the positions are trying to hold the information they get and don’t want to share – it is the case during the early stage of SARS epidemic. :-(

Below: You can see the poor people waiting for the train in the railway station.

© Jian Shuo Wang

Below: The life in the waiting room in a small station is miserable.


© Jian Shuo Wang

At 11:00 PM, about 10 hours later, the broadcast suddenly announced that the train had arrived. Within 1 second, people rushed to the door, tired, hot and in bad mood. 5 minutes later, the train started.

Something good

It is because of the bad experience last night that enforced the strong negative image of China Railway to me. Actually, the train did improve a lot in the last ten years.

Below: Look at the orange train. It has replaced the old style green train. The green train is not equipped with air circulation and to travel on it in hot summer is too hard. Luckily enough, more and more orange train (with air condition) had replaced the old one.


© Jian Shuo Wang

Below: The soft sleeper train on K284 – the number 10 cart. It is just beside the dinning cart in No. 11 and separates the hard seat carts and hard sleeper carts. Taking this K284 as an example, from the head to rear, there are a locomotive cart, a engine cart, the hard seat carts (No. 16, 15, 14, 13, 12), and cooking cart with dining cart (No 11). The soft sleeper cart follows dining carts. Then are the hard sleeper cart (No. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6). At the end is the cart for train working staff.


© Jian Shuo Wang

Layout of Hard Sleeper Cart

Upper [ 1 2][ 3 4][ 5 6][ 7 8][ 9 10][11 12][13 14][15 16][17 18][19 20][21 22]

Middle[ 1 2][ 3 4][ 5 6][ 7 8][ 9 10][11 12][13 14][15 16][17 18][19 20][21 22]

Lower [ 1 2][ 3 4][ 5 6][ 7 8][ 9 10][11 12][13 14][15 16][17 18][19 20][21 22]

This layout is typical hard sleeper cart. The No. 5 to No.18 lower sleeper are the best sleeper since 1) It is far way from the head and rear of the cart where toilet and cart interaction are located. So it is either smell bad or too noisy there. Lower sleeper are considered more convinient than upper or middle since it does require you to climb up and down…

Unfortunately, I took 22 middle and 19 middle in my round trip.

Below: Scene near Nanzhao.


© Jian Shuo Wang


© Jian Shuo Wang

Below: The middle sleeper.


© Jian Shuo Wang

Shanghai is Hot – Part II

Note: I will be OOB (Out of Blogging) from tomorrow till next Tuesday (namely SAT, SUN, MON). I am going out town this weekend so I will access Internet during the time. I will update you about the trip when I am back.

Shanghai Continue to be Hot – Exteremly Hot

The whether broadcast reported 39 degree C in Shanghai today. What? It is crazy. That is already 100+ degees F. I want out to transfer money between bank accounts this noon and feels like chicken on the frying pan. It is burning outside.

Shanghai Scenery

I think to post some Shanghai street scenery photos here will be more interesting than explain the daily life myself. I don’t have the current Shanghai photos. Here are some photo I took during the sunney winter weekend at the end of the year 2002 (in Novemember).

Below: The Hong Kong plaza. It is still under construction at that time and it should have opened already now. The greenish lower building at the right most is the famous Shui On Plaza. It is No. 333 Huai Hai Zhong Road, Shanghai, PRC. :-) Famous company like IBM and other consulting companies put their office there.


© Jian Shuo Wang

Below three: these ugly buildings are residential buildings. The were build just along the north-south elvelated highway. The road you see is elevated about 15 meters higher. The traffic is not heavy in Sunday. It may be a mess (as I would call it, the elevated car park) in rush hours.


© Jian Shuo Wang


© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang


© Jian Shuo Wang

Below: The Lupu Bridge was under construction. I has opened to traffic last month.

© Jian Shuo Wang

Shanghai is changing everyday and I believe when I take photos exactly at the same location, the scene will be different. Enjoy.

Typical Rush Hours in Shanghai – Part II

I described the rush hours of Shanghai in the morning yesterday, not surprisingly, the rush hours in the afternoon are also interesting. Here we go.

Definition of Rush Hours in the Afternoon

The rush hours in the afternoon are not as “rush” as those in the morning. Some services and government organizations closes as early as 4:00 PM so lots of people will take buses home at that period of time. Most businesses closes at 6:00 PM.

Unlike in the morning, people tend to stay in office late. When I step out of the office today, it is 6:30 PM. It is the earliest time I left office these months. I used to leave office as late as 10:00 PM or 12:00 PM, but situation get better recently.

Buying grocery

My job today is to get some grocery in the supermarket and bring it back. The supermarket is part of my life. It is interesting that the Hiu Jin Supermarket opens in the basement floor of Hiu Jin Shopping Mall in the Xujiahui Area. The rental fee for shops in this “golden” commercial area is extremely, but the supermarket selling grocery and fruit can still make a living. :-) It is very convenient to buy some and take the bus No. 43 in front of the shopping mall back home.

I felt a little bit embarrassed when I found I didn’t bring a penny with me when I have put all I needed into the shopping cart. I do have a credit card. The good thing is, this supermarket accepts credit card, while most others just accept RMB in cash.

I was still not at ease when I present my Bank of China Great Wall credit card to the lady when I checked out. Seldom did she see anyone to pay the 31 RMB groceries. People who buy a house at hundreds of thousands are still using cash these year. I missed the time when I was on business trip to Seattle where I can always use my credit card. Of cause there is still exception. It was when I took taxi from Redmond Microsoft campus to nearby Fairfield Inn. The Indian driver told me in his strange English when I attempted to use my ICBC international credit card: “It is small money. It is not big money….” So I know the 5% credit card charge still means a lot for him. In China, the credit card service charge is 1%. However, only large shopping malls accept credit card. That is a very big problem now. I am happy that this situation, like other problems in Shanghai, is becoming better and better. You see, even this supermarket accept my credit card.

I was happy the lady didn’t say a word about my card. Typically, they will always ask: “Do you have cash?” before trying to swap my card. The card reader works very fine after I inputted my 6-digit password. The printer gave out the shopping list and the confirmation page happily. After I signed my name on the confirmation page, my check-out process succeeded. BTW, there is a hot debate about whether the credit card without a password is safe or not in Shanghai, since people feel unsafe if they are not asked for the password. They think the signature itself is not strong enough to protect their bank account. It is true since seldom did I see too many salesperson check the signature against that on the back of the credit card. :-)

Bus No. 43

Soon, I was seated on the upper deck of the double-deck bus No. 43, heading to my home. At around 7:00 PM, the upper desk is not crowded. Only about 10 people were there while there are about 40 seats there. It may because the bus is not equipped with air conditioning. If I wait two minutes later, I can get on board an air conditioned No. 43. I just don’t want to wait and to have A/C or not is not a big deal for me. This one without A/C is cheap – only 1 RMB for the whole trip while the A/C bus costs 2 RMB. I actually don’t care about the difference – there seems no big difference for me. That is, if I choose to take bus instead of taxi, I have saved at least 12 RMB already, so why bother care about the 1 RMB?

Noisy journey

If you want me to list the top ten bad things about the city of Shanghai, traffic and noise should be on the list. The bus No. 43 runs under the elevated highway. The noise generated by the engines of cars reflected between the road and the roof (elevated highway) and become worse. So does the dust. Thank God that there is only about 1000 meters of such painful road. Soon we turned into the Caobao Rd. – a major road connecting Caohejing and Qibao town. My home is just beside the road.

15 minutes

The short trip lasted for 15 minutes and when I got off the bus at Xiqin Rd. Station, it almost dark and I can see the lamp in my house. It is nice and sweet. It paid off all the 15-minute hot, noisy and dusty journey. //sign. This is the real life in the big metropolitan of Shanghai.

Typical Rush Hours in Shanghai

As always, I waked up at about 7:50 AM. The sun had already climbed high into the sky. I have the thick three layer curtain (that kind with plastic opaque in the middle of the two layer of cotton) to block out light, so it feels as dark as mid-night even in the morning.

Well, I still had plenty of time, since my office hours starts from 9:00 AM – the typical foriengn-owned company schedule. Based on the traffic condition from my home to the place I work at, 30 minutes should be enough. As long as I step out of the door of my home no later than 8:30 AM, I will not be late. It is nice that I don’t have to get up earlier as many people in the state-owned companies whose work begin as early as 8:00 AM or even earlier.

This is a typical working-day morning – getting up, wash and brush my teeth, have an egg pie as breakfast. As I expected, I stepped out of the door at 8:30 AM sharp.

Crowded and Busy in the Morning

There is at least one disadvantages of getting up late, the only one I can think of – it is already very hot outside. It is the routine again – to choose from bus, taxi, and metro. Bus and taxi are the same – they need to slowly move in the traffic on the Caoxi Rd. North. It costs time and no one can predict how bad the traffic is. The metro station is within 6 minute’s work, but it is definitely not a pleasant journey in the hot and busy morning.

Metro Journey

My choice today is to take the metro. Metro is always realiable and quick – as soon as you get on board. Well. Wait a minute. The Metro accident of last week changed my mindset about the Metro line. If you don’t know the event yet, let me tell you. The Metro line #1 experienced power failure in the rush hour in the morning. The worst thing is, there is no working backup power supply. So 450,000 people were left on the metro stations. Of cause, bus and taxi are impossible to find. Most of them was late that day, including me. It is considered as one of the worst accident in the history of Shanghai Metro Line. For the first time, the GM of Shanghai Metro Corp. appologized for the pause of operation to the citizens.

I used 2 RMB for the single trip train ticket. Don’t get me wrong. Round trip tickets are not available and there are other prices for the ticket (there are 4 RMB and 3 RMB tickets). The automatic ticket machine works very well – I seldom see it went wrong, while the multimedia guide kiosk seldom work as they are designed. It prooves that software is still not as realiable as stones.

The Metro is at the end of the business hours in the morning when I got on board. People getting onto the train are more than people getting off from the first station at Xinzhuang all the way to Cao Bao Rd. Station. So at the time I entered the train, it is almost about 90% of the maxium possible load.

Xujiahui Station

The Xujiahui Station is the first station where many people will get off the traini. My estimation is that about 1/5 of the passengers will get off. If you are interested, the People’s Square Station is the largest dropping-off and get-onboard station in Shanghai.

I happen to find out an old picture about the Xujiahui Square at night. It was taken when I just bought my digital camera.


© Jian Shuo Wang

The Xujiahui Metro Station entrance and exit is just located on the left part of the picture under the large glass ball, near the PizzaHut pole.

Reversationless Conference Call

Conference Calls

Today, I see a new idea about Conference Call – the Reservationlesss Conference Call from MCI. Counting the four years at work, I may have attended 100 conference calls. All of them are in either of the two routines:

1. Use the Conference Function of the PBX in the company.

The Meridian system from Nortel seems good enough for me. The conference call function on the phone set is handy.

  1. Just call party 1

  2. Press Conference botton on the phone set
  3. Call party 2.
  4. When connected, press Conference key again to put Party 2 into the conference.

Easy? However, most new comers to the company don’t know how to conference. Seems the function needs to be simplified. (I am using Meridian 2616)

Image courtesy: Nortel

I see a lot of large companies are using Nortel’s PBX system, like Microsoft (China), Dell (China) and 114 (Yellow Page service) in Shanghai. I am very interested in the expensive big boxes in the data center.

2. Using Meeting Place.

I also used meeting place.

  1. I was given a U.S. meeting place telephone number.

  2. Then enter the meeting ID.
  3. At last, speak my name and get enrolled in the conference.

The problem is, I have set up the reservation and send out the invitation before the conference call. I attend many such conference, but never hosted one.

Reservationless Conference Call

The idea behind the reservationless conference call is simple – they give the subscriber a participation ID and a passcode, something like username and password.

Whenever, yes, at any time, a conference call is needed, the lead of the conference call just call their toll free number and enter the username and password, or in their terms, participation ID and passcode, then the conference call is setup.

The other participatants just need to call the same number and enter the participation ID. They are enrolled into the conference.

The benefit is obvious:

  1. I can arrange last minute conference call – just send out the participation ID and the phone number to my friends via MSN Messenger, Email or just phone call.

  2. There is no time limit – I don’t have to worry about the 1 hour or 2 hour prefined time block.
  3. The ID is simple. The participation ID don’t change once I get it. Others can remember my participation ID just like remembering my extension. Then they can call me. The meeting place meeting ID always changes.

Read more about Reservationless Conference Call from MCI (or as they would call it: Instant Meeting) at their website.

BTW, they even have a web based tool to control the participants. I didn’t try it yet, but I will find some time to give it a try and share my real experience.

Shanghai is still hot

Shanghai is still hot. I attempted to go to the near by Xujiahui Park after work but it was too hot outside even around 8:00 PM. So I returned to the Metro Tower to find some film. To my surprise, there is only one film in all the four world class theater – Matrix Reloaded. The price for a ticket is 60 RMB (about 7USD). Still expensive for me and for most of people in Shanghai.

In good theaters like the Kodak Theater in Metro Tower, the original film in English (with Chinese subtitle) has more audience than the interrupted one. People in Shanghai has got used to the English film. I believe, most of them, including me, still have problem to understand the English without the help of the Chinese subtitle, but the sound effects of the original film is still attractive.

Shanghai is Hot

Oh. My God. The weather these two weeks is crazy. Very hot – It is reported 35 degree C recenlty. The actual Feel-like temperature should be even higher. There is no way to walk outdoors. In my memory, Shanghai hasn’t been so hot in the recent years – expect the year of 1995, when it was still exteremely hot in Sept.

My personal suggestion is, if anyone want to come to Shanghai recently, reconsider your plan. It is really too hot. I cannot survive without A/C now. :-)

Websites About Shanghai

I always feel lucky to live in the city of Shanghai. It is a charming city. It is attractive not because it is perfect. On the contrary, it is definitely not perfect. But the energy and the miracles inside the city have attracted so many people. Many people maintain their website/blog around the life of this city. (was was among the oldest website about Shanghai. It is run by a very nice guy named P. Michael Connolly. He is also my good friend. I met with him in Starbucks, and had phone conversation frequently before he moves to Shenzhen. The website is absolutely the No. 1 website for expats in Shanghai now. Whenever any expat asks about anything in Shanghai that I cannot tell immediately, my answer will be “Why not go to Many people like you are wandering on the forum everyday and maybe than can help”.

Shanghai Soup

Gray is a Shanghai fun. He no longer lives in Shanghai, but he has created very good personal website about the city – He focuses especially on the old styles of Shanghai, like the Zhou Xuan’s page. The background music of this page is the famous song “Shanghai Night” by Zhouxuan.

Other sites,,

Personal sites