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











Shanghai Airlines

Shanghai Airlinesa


SHA – Shanghai Hongqiao

KWL – Guilin





1150 RMB or 139 USD

China Eastern Airlines

China Eastern Airlinesa


SHA – Shanghai Hongqiao

KWL – Guilin





1150 RMB or 139 USD

Shanghai Airlines

Shanghai Airlinesa


SHA – Shanghai Hongqiao

KWL – Guilin





1150 RMB or 139 USD

China Eastern Airlines

China Eastern Airlinesa


PVG – Shanghai Pudong

KWL – Guilin





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

Living Cost in Shanghai – Part II

After I posting Living Cost in Shanghai last November, many people asked for more information related to house, tuitions, salary, even the cost of deliver a baby. :-)

I can understand that all such kinds of information are very critical to people who are going to relocate to Shanghai. I am trying my best to provide more….


The latest news (Chinese site), the average house price for Jan to March this year reached 5315 RMB / sq. meter, a 12.18% increase than the last year. The new apartment reaches 6555 RMB /sq. meter in May.

Typical houses in Shanghai are from 100 m2 to 130 m2. These are for normal Chinese people with relatively high income – above 4000 RMB, maybe.

Of cause there are always fantastic large house that is at least 300 sq meters. There are lot of very nice single house near Sheshan. The price is about 9000 RMB per sq meter.

Besides single house in nearby areas outside downtown Shanghai, very high priced houses are also available. The latest “Sheng Da Jin Qing” listed 2000-3000 USD per sq.m with 130 -300 sqm per apartment. It is exactly located in the CBD area in Lujiazui.

BTW, Beijing’s house price is much higher than Shanghai and is still the city with highest house price.


I am monitoring the car cost in Shanghai closely recently, since I am learning to drive.

People will get astonished to learn the car price in Shanghai. It is even higher than that in U.S. and Japan although the income standard of local people is much lower.

The typical cheap cars cost about 100,000 RMB (12,000 USD). They are the entry level cars in Shanghai, like Santana (from joint-venture of Volkswagen in German). It is cheap but too old-fashioned and I don’t think I would consider it.

The new popular car model named Polo (also comes from VW) may be a good choice. It is priced from 127,500 to 148,000 RMB (1USD = 8.3RMB)


Image credit:

BTW, Wendy like the silver car very much. There is one parking downstairs everyday. It is also silver – looks very nice, especially the two big lovely “eyes” in front of the car. The only concern is, the car is very nice for girls and women. Men typically don’t consider it.

Other cars like BORA (160,000RMB+) and Sail are also very cars.


Image credit:

Growing Old Together Gracefully

This is the forth month memorial day after Wendy and I got married. It is always sweet to look back to the long road we have come along.

I happen to see the picture in Dan Washburn‘s article – Build Me Up, Tear Me Down on That’s Shanghai Magazine – Growing Old Together gracefully.

I feel warm when I read it. Seems to God has intentionally show the sentence to me on my special day. :-)

Recently, my friend and my favorite blogger Christina in Nanjing got married. I’d like to congratulate her and David for their wedding and best wishes to them. Christina was nervous at the time – I can understand that but I am sure the decision is the one that mark the beginning of happen times, like mine. :-)

Disaster – Mud-rock in Danba

This is the unpeaceful season again – bad news comes after bad news on TV. I am feeling very sorrow for all the victims.

Mud-rock in Danba, Sichuan, China

Last weekend, the mud-rock in Danba killed more than 50 people (latest news said 62), according to China Daily. In the victom list, four comes from Shanghai.

I have been to the mud-hit area of Danba. It is on the route of my Daocheng trip. After seeing the pictures of Daocheng, most people will say: “I will go there, definitely”. I heard this again and again, but be warned, that area is dangerous.

Altitude Sickness – unvisilable murderer

In the Tibet area of Sichuan, the mountains are high – with altitude of 4000+ meters. If you are not aware of the danger of altitude sickness, don’t go. Read this Altitude Sickness Prevention Guide first.

My best wishes to all the people going their, may they be safe and happy. I am so shocked during my last trip my dear group mate passed away for ignorance of altitude sickness symptoms. Sign….


The roads leading to the Tibet area are tough. Unless you are 100% sure, don’t drive there. The July and Augest are the rainy season and don’t go. Oct may be good, but it is very cold there.

For disasters like mudslide, no one would predict and maybe the only factor is your luck. I feel very sorrow for the people who lost their lives in the disaster and may God bless them and their family.

Gel Candy, Operation and Metro Line 4

How can imagine a Gel Candy can choke a child and kill him? It did. Meanwhile, the operation atempting to seperate the two Iran women failed. The disater of Shanghai Metro Line #4 also caused heavy economic loss. The good news out of the bad is, no one get hurt.


PVG: Book Domestic Flight in China

Wendy sent me email asking about how to book China domestic flight.

Thanks for your great website. I am taking a trip to Fuzhou via Shanghai. I think I probably need to spend a night in Shanghai as I will be arriving at Pudong at 8:35pm on that day. Would you be kind enough to let me know the flight schedule from Pudong to Fuzhou for airlines such as Air China, Xiamen Air, or China Eastern Airlines? Also, do you have any other hotel recommendations other than Jin Jiang Inn that are close to the airport.

Here was my answer (modified)

Thanks for your comment. Regarding the flight from Shanghai to Fuzhou, the routine information is not available on U.S. travel website like Here is the list I got from China domestic travel agencies:

….. detailed flight information in Chinese cut ……

I also have friends in travel agency and I you need, I can ask him to book flight for you if you want.

Regarding Hotel, it is hard to say – it depends on your budget. I don’t suggest you to stay in the Jin Jiang Inn – it is not convinient at all. You can try hotels near the central Shanghai – let me know your budget so I can recommend. You can get very good hotel at about 80RMB and low-end price is about 15USD.

Book flight in China

China uses seperate air ticket booking system different from that used in U.S and Europe. Here is a list of major airline ticket distribution system.

Code English Name Scope





1J AXESS Japan


1T TOPAS Korea



Credit: Thanks for the Ruizhi BBS

When I try to search flight from SHA (Shanghai Pudong Int’l) to FOC (Fuzhou), Expedia reported:

No Matching Flights Found


No flights were found between Shanghai, China (SHA-All Airports) and Fuzhou, China (FOC) that matched your request.

You may want to change dates, departure times, destinations, or search options. Click the Change Search button below to go back and change options to perform a new search on, or click the Cancel button below to go back to home page.

It may because Expedia does not connect to the Ticket Reseller System in China so they don’t know the existance of the ticket.

Book flight online

I am not sure how difficult people to book China domestic flights outside China. Is it impossible or just not easy? Please help me to understand that.

Updated: Book Ticket Online Made Easy July 31, 2003

Domestic Flight Information and Reservation on Pudong Airport website is ready.

Major cities

Beijing 北京
Chengdu 成都
Chongqing 重庆

Other cities

Changsha 长沙
Fuzhou 福州
Guilin 桂林
Guiyang 贵阳
Hangzhou 杭州 – No flight. Use buses or train.
Hefei 合肥
Huangshan 黄山
Jinan 济南
Jinjiang 晋江
Kunming 昆明
Lhasa 拉萨
Lianyungang 连云港
Lijiang 丽江
Liuzhou 柳州
Luoyang 洛阳
Nanchang 南昌Nanjing 南京 – No flight. use buses or train.
Nanning 南宁
Ningbo 宁波
Qingdao 青岛
Shantou 汕头
Shenyang 沈阳
Shenzhen 深圳
Shijiazhuang 石家庄
Taiyuan 太原
Tianjin 天津
Urumqi 乌鲁木齐
Weihai 威海
Wenzhou 温州
Wuhan 武汉
Wuhan 武汉
Wuyishan 武夷山
Xiamen 厦门
Xian 西安
Xishuangbanna 西双版纳
Xuzhou 徐州
Yantai 烟台
Yichang 宜昌
Zhengzhou 郑州

World Airport Website Report – Terminal Map

As the third part of Word Airport Website Report, it will cover the terminal map and airport information section. As always, I will choose some typical websites and analysis how well they deliver the information to airport travellers.

SFO – San Francisco Airport

This is the oview terminal map for SFO.

It will be better if they have the introduction for this map. My questions are like:

1) What is the relationship between Terminal 1 and Terminal 3? I am flying with UA and which terminal should I likely to arrive?

2) Why only three terminals were named. Why the outlet of Gate 40-48 is not called a terminal?

3) What is the area marked with A/B, B, C, D, E, F, F/G? (They are boarding areas)

Services, Shops, Arlines…

The services, shop and airline information on SFO is more like an application instead of a website. By choosing the category, you are offered a list of items so you can get more inforamtion about the item. It is amazing that it covers almost all the facilities on the airport.

For example, here is the list of the services:




Airport Information Booths

Customs Information

Travelers Aid



Banking Services

Cellular Phone Rentals

Currency Exchange

Hair Salon and Public Showers

Lockers & Storage Facilities

Lodging, Transportation & Attractions Board

Lost & Found

Luggage Carts

Medical Clinic


Postal Services

Shoe Shines

TDD Telephone

Telephones Equipped with Dataports

Travel Agency


Take the ATM as an example, it provide detailed information about each ATM on the airport.


Bank of America ATMs are located in

Terminal 1: Boarding Area B

Terminal 3: Boarding Area F

Union Bank ATMs are located in

Terminal 1: Rotunda A, Boarding Areas B and C.

Terminal 3: Boarding Areas E and F

Wells Fargo ATMs are located in

Terminal 1: Boarding Areas B and C

Terminal 3: Boarding Area F.

Travelex ATMs are located throughout the International Terminal

The only see I can see to improve is to put the map along with all the introductions so it is easier to locate then on the map.


In SFO, certain airlines are serving predefined gates. That makes it easier locate a gate or an airline. Here is an example. It looks nice:

Gates G91-G102

Boarding Area G

Gates G91 ?G102 are located in International Terminal Boarding Area G. The following airlines service these gates:


Air China

ANA – All Nippon Airways


EVA Airways



Singapore Airlines

United Airlines (international)

Overal Rating

The Airport Guide section of SFO provide enough information for customers. The only shortcoming from my perspective is, the application nature (or the Framed nature) of the guide are not search engine friend and the fragment of information may not be as effecient as putting everything together on the same page.

Atlanta Hartsfield Airport

The concourse layout map at Hartsfield Airport seems to cost a lot of effort to built.

Till now, I still think the SFO’s version is better – a frame work to provide clear gate information and the lane inside the concourse, then provide the location marks on the seperate map – putting everything together on the same map is not easy to read.


Based on my obversation, to be a successful terminal map,

1) The map should use clear fonts and icons – too small icons make it useless.

2) The map should be careful to use icons – sometimes it will be better to mark only neccessary icons.

3) The map should avoid interactive content – Denver’s interactive concourse map does not show the content at once.

DFW – Dallas Airport

Dallas Airport provides a very good idea to put a terminal map on the top and a table of facilities at the bottom.

The facility can be easily found if the gate number is given. I believe the future PVG.CN will take this approach – easier to create, update and read with less effort, compared to a large map with all the legend and icons on it.

JFK – New York Airport

The JFK Terminal Map is the typical all in one map with all different kinds of icons fillup in the same map. I don’t like this kind of map.

World Airport Website Report – To & From Airport

This is the second part of my World Airport Website Report. The topic of this article is To & From Airport.

SFO – San Francisco Airport

Driving Direction

The driving directions is not directly located in the SFO airport website homepage. The only link to the page is the SFO Terminal Map under Airport Information section. It confuses with Airport Guide link on the top navigation – as I stated before, the vertical navigation structure is often ignored by users. Do you also agree?


OK. For the driving direction page, what I expect is a location map. For SFO page, it is not that good, but it provide a description of the location:

San Francisco International Airport is located approximately 13 miles south of San Francisco, near the junction of Highways 101 and 380.

That is also good.


The driving direction under From 380, From the North, From the South are concise and clear. I especially love the direction map:

Above: The scale and detail level is just enough to illustrate the direction.


Besides driving directions, train is also the must-have information for an airport. The AirTrain information provided by SFO is very nice and detailed. The only problem is in the daul navigation system. I mean when I navigate to AirTrain page from the left navigation bar, the vertical navigation bar on the top also appeared. This kind of arrange is confusing. I need to avoid it in my design for PVG.CN


The map, I have to say, is too small and does not illustrate the stations clearly. If it can be 50% larger, and provide more information about for the stations, it will be perfect.

The FAQ section is very good. It provide answers to questions like “Can I take my bicycle on AirTrain?” – very well done.

Phone numbers

The phone numbers of SFO page must be useful. For Shanghai Pudong Airport, maybe I need to provide a phone number of my volunteers at schools instead of the airport phones – they don’t speak English. Mostover, the phone numbers published are either busy all the time or no answer.


There is a ground transportation section on the top navigation bar. Taxi, vans, buses and other ground transportation are listed at the left navigation bar. It is a pitty that there is no route for all the services.

Overall rating

4.5 out of 5. The 0.5 point is for the navigation structure.

SIN – Singapore Changi Airport


Transport section on Changi Airport is not easy to found. It is listed under the Arrival part which is not reasonable. To & From Airport is still a very good title for this kind of information.

Ground transportation

The information provided by Changi Airport is concise and to the point. They are broken into the following sections:


Travel Fare/Destination (From Airport to City)

Frequency/Contact Information

I believe they are the most interested information for any type of the transportation. The pictures of the taxi/bus should be very useful and the map of the route should also be provided. I didn’t this this on their website.

Over Rate

4 out of 5.

NRT – Tokyo Narita Airport

Here is what NRT call the same “To & From Airport” information:

Ground Transportation – getting to and from Narita Airport

Under this title, taxi, bus, rail options are given.

Location of Airport

For the Location of Airport page, it is among the best to provide visitor some sense about where the airport is. Most of the airport, including SIN and HKG, didn’t provide the information.

If it can be improved, they should mark where the island is at the whole Japan country. I believe many people, including me, don’t know exactly where Tokyo is within Japan. Some may even don’t know about where Japan is exactly located in Asia.


Train information at NRT is compresensive. But the problem is, it is not concise and I didn’t get the point after first read about the page – what do you feel?

The problem maybe, there is no short overview like that found in SIN airport website. Moreover, there are too many lines – in thick blue and red lines and didn’t give people an idea about which line they should take.


Like train page, the buses page is the traditional Japanese style – intensive use of tables, names but may not be use friendly if people don’t know about the name of the cities.

To & From Haneda Airport

This section is unique in NRT airport since Tokyo has two airport. I didn’t know that before I read the page.

There should be a brief introduction explaining the facts of two airport, their relationship and why people need to go between the two airport.

Connecting between Terminals

Well. As tradition, this section should be placed into the Terminal map section. Besides the good map, they need to provide more information (just overview) about the difference and the relationship between the two terminals. Otherwise, I don’t see any reason I need to transit from one terminal to another.

DFW – Dallas Airport


The DFW’s web designer put the airport transportation into the wrong location – at least from my perspective – they put it under Airport Guide, along with Terminal and Parking information. See screen shot below:


Look at the first level navigation bar:


Flight Information

Airport Guides

Shops & Restaurants

Travel Planner

About DFW


Business Opportunities

Ambassador Volunteers

Capital Development


I believe it is not focus on the most frequently visited section. How many people coming to DFW are interested in the Business Opportunities and Volunteers information? Why it is put at more obvious place than Flight Information and Transportation?

I don’t have much interest in this airport now.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport


In the previous report, I forgot to put the U.S’ Busiest Airport – O’Hare Airport.


The location of O’Hare page is not as useful as that on SFO’s page. The SFO page provided useful driving direction from nearby express ways to the airport, although it does not provide a directly driving direction for New York to SFO. Chicago’s airport try to use MapQuest to give direction to the airport from any location of U.S, it is good but the airport website should provide some handy information without using the search box.

Ground Transportation

The taxi information page at Chicago airport is very well designed. The good thing is, along with the detailed explaination, it also provide terminal map and some taxicabs contact information. That is useful.

The other good thing is the homepage of the Ground Transporation page. It provide pictures so people can click on the big buttons to visit ATS, taxi, shuttle and rental car pages. For an airport, the big buttons in the content area are more visiable than the vetical navigation bars.


In this report, I reviewed the To & From Airport section for some airport. In the next report, It will cover the terminal map section.

World Airport Website Report – Flight Info

Before I work seriously on the informational website PVG.CN (the next version for my Pudong Airport page), I want to conduct a simple survey on the existing airport website. The report will include the following chapters:

Chapter I: Research scope.

Chapter II: Function break down.

Chapter III: Survey Questionair.


When I think of important airport in the world, the first few coming into my mind were:

San Fransisco Airport,, others

Seattle Airport, others

Singapore Airport,, others

Tokoyo Airport,, others

Dallas Airport,, others

Chicago Airport,, others

Kuala Lumpur Airport,, others

Hong Kong Airport,, others

Los Angelas Airport,, others,

New York Airport,, others

Seoul Airport – Official website not (easily) found in Google

Nepal Airport – Official website not (easily) found in Google

I will research on their websites to get a clear understanding of what a good airport website looks like.


Most airports provide the following functions:

  1. Flight Information
  2. To & From Airport
  3. Airport Layout & map
  4. Airport as a company

I will provide review and comparasion section by section in the listed order.

SFO – San Francisco Airport


Flight Info (SFOnroute)

– Organized by Airlines (very good idea since the airlines connecting at an airport is limited – not all airlines will fly to each airport. For example, in Pudong Airport, the major airline from U.S. are United (UA858…) and Northwest Airlines (NW58…). That make is easy to locate a flight.

– Orgnized by Arrival and Departure – Well, it may be neccessary for SFO. For PVG, it is easier since there is no big difference in route for arrival and departure.

– Example: UA Arrival

Techincal details

where parameters are like this:


Comment: SFO is doing perfect on the flight information section.

SEA – Seattle Airport

Flight Info

The flight information section of Seattle Airport’s website is terriable. It does not provide a tracker at the first page of the site. Instead, it listed the headlines for the majority portion of the homepage real estate. It is stupid. How many people visiting a airport website to find out that the govenment just approved $159 million for it, or the golf tournament?


The page under Flight Information does not provide flight information too. Instead, it is a index page again. When I click “Track a Flight“, I was so disappointed to see another website is loaded in a new window.

Comment: An airport website without good flight information is useless and less attractive. P.S. the tab design of the page is bad. Nothing on the tab seems useful for me.

Singapore Changi Airport

Flight tracking

It is good that it offers a flight tracking button at the homepage, but the problem is, the destination page does not provide the flight information right there. The visitor need to choose from lots of options – Airlines, Freight, Passenger, SMS, Voice, WAP, PDA. I guess 90% of people will choose Airlines or Passengers (confused too between these two terms), why not list them directly there.

It is a very nice idea to provide SMS and PDA functions there – it is not expensive to develop.

WAP Flight Infomation

The highlight in Changi Airport Webiste is the WAP flight information. It works very well. Using my Alcatel OT715 GPRS mobile, I can easily get a list of flight from Shanghai to Changi – even more easier than on the website. (WAP URL: – note: this URL cannot be read from a browser)

Again, the navigation bar seems to be easily ignored this time.

Overall rating: Average. WAP Flight Information is the highlight.

NRT – Tokyo Narita Airport

Flight Information

Good. It has the flight information lookup box at the top-left corner. Unlike SFO airport, it provide more function of lookup flight by departure city or arrival city. This is useful but confusing – the relationship between the two search box is confusing.

As a useful website, it may not be neccessary to cover all the flights. For example, the majority of destination from Shanghai are either SFO or Vancouver, CA. It may not be neccessary to list all the possible airport, if resource does not permit to do so.

The result of the flight information of NRT airport website is among the best I have ever seen – more clear and seems reliable. I love the idea to mark the shared code flights in the table.

All Flights

NRT provide the function of Today’s All Flight. Accually, this is more useful than the search.

NRT is a busy airport so the display of the result used segmented table, which is a good way to increase display performance – the big table does not need to completely loaded. From this small tip, I know the designer of the website much be very experienced.

Overall rating: Wonderful job!

HKG – Hong Kong Airport

Hong Kong Airport does not provide a short cut for checking Flight Information on its homepage, however, finding your way to the right page is not difficult. The Flight Information section is listed at the left top corner of the main content. After clicking “Passenger Arrival”, to my surprise, all the 250 flights of the day were listed in a large good-looking table. The search criteria serves as filter for the large data.

I love this design very much. When the information itself is simple, do NOT create complicated search engine for it. In this example, when the whole database contains only 250 recoreds for that day, why bother to hidden the result and only provide search interface? People’s brain and eyes are very well trained to seek for the right information on this page than the search tool.

Overall rating 4 out of 5 – very nice and handy, expect I don’t like the frame.

Other airports

In the Flight Information Section of this report, I covered three main flight – SFO, SEA, NRT and Singapore. For other airport, I may either add them later or just pause here.

To be continued….

In the next article of this World Airport Website Report, I will provide an indepth review of the airports on other functions, like To & From airport, Airport Layout, Terminals and Map….

The World is a Book – Back from Beijing

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. – Saint Augustine

This sentence is written on the first page of the welcome book of Renaissance Hotel Beijinng. I love it so much!

I just returned from my short trip to Beijing. It is a very nice business trip on the business side, but for the travel side, it is boring – the exact same flight – MU (China Eastern Airlines) to and back, the same good hotel – Renaissance Hotel. I have to say I read the same page twice in a month.

I hope I will change the travel plan next time.


One of the alternative is to go to Beijing via train. It is still a very attractive option since it not only save hotel expense for one night, it also provide good thinking time. It also give you some sense of the distance to cover – you know the small stations along the railway.

Although I love the Renaissance Hotel in Beijing very much – better than Hilton, I may still need to try new hotels the next time.

Updated Train from Shanghai to BeijingAug 10, 2004

Continuing with my discussion on train from Shanghai to Beijing, I have updated information. Check this entry: Train from Beijing to Shanghai. It is a very comfortable and well arranged service.

Domain Name PVG.CN Registered

With the continous increase in hit rate for my Pudong Airport website, and more and more compliments I got for the work done, I feel it is neccessary to give the site a better and shorter URL than the current one:

The site has been successful

Based on the good information provided on the site, the site has become the first return result for search terms such as Pudong Airport, pu dong airport. It is the must see website for visitors for Pudong Airport. I am very happy to see the result. Currently, all the information are publicly available and free of charge. It is there simply to help confused visitors for the city.

Shorter and Better Domain Name: PVG.CN

Today, I registered PVG.CN for the Pudong Airport website. PVG is the international airport code for Pudong Airport, which will appear on your ticket. In case you are curious, SHA stands for Shanghai Hongqiao Airport, which does not serve international flights now.

Best unofficial airport website

The vision for this site is the best unofficial airport website. As the previous Pudong Airport site on my personal web site, this website needs to be more professional, more helpful and provide more functions. The work will still base on my volunteering time and effort. I believe it may become a highlight for the unusable airport.


Please follow the simple three steps to help me to build the website and to help more visitors.

1. REVIEW the current content of Pudong Airport website

2. THINK about what are the information and functions you need most but is missing.

3. COMMENT on this page and let your voice be heard.

I appreciate your help. Meanwhile, for a professional website, I need native English speakers to be volunteer to proof read the new site. Please send me email at

P.S. Shanghai Lightening

My friend Tang Zhen sent me a phone about the lightening in Shanghai.


Recently, it rains heavily in Shanghai at night. The left lightening hit the Jin Mao Tower and the right one hit Oriental Tower.

Bugs in the Great Firewall

To surf on the Internet at home is becoming painful recently. I have to say, I has been driven mad for all the strange behaviors in the great censorship plan. When I click on some of the result website in Google, it is not uncommon that I get the “The Page Cannot be Displayed” error.


Bugs in the Great Firewall

I believe there must be some bugs in the Great Firewall. If you think I am talking about the holes on the firewall that allow users within the firewall to access banned site, you will be disappointed. It seems the bugs in the software of the firewall have put a lot of “good site” into the blocklist. Disclaimer: I have no proof to say so, just guess from the behavior of my browser.


The behavior of the Great Firewall was still predictable at the time when Google was banned. At that time, whenever I see a site unaccessible, I can think of a reason for it. For example:

Google was banned, since it returned “unhealthy content” – according to the media.

Blog*Spot was banned, since it provide much noise from individuals. and was banned, since it provide “negative” report to the government was banned, because ………


(Google ban was unlifted, and Blog*Spot was reported not be banned by the firewall. Instead, there is some technical difficulties)

After some time, people just take it for granted that these sites do not exists in the world at all.

Current buggy firewall

The current version of the firewall seems mad. Many website were unaccessible and I cannot find a reason for it. Why is the homepage of an airport considered “unsuitable” for readers in the country? I cannot understand.

Possible reasons

Friends of mine also complain that many website cannot be accessed. “The Page cannot be displayed” page in IE is frequently visited page. There are two possible reasons:

1) The China Telecom is experiencing technical difficulties. I am using ADSL provided by China Telecom. I hope it is the reason, but it seems unlikely. Sometimes, the home page of a website can be accessed, and most of the pages are OK, just certain pages cannot be accessed. It seems there is a great agrithms behind big Internet and determine certain pages of a site are different than others on the site and should be treated differently.

So the second reason may be

2) There are bugs in the Great Firewall. Since the software has been widely implemented to all the ISPs, they must have a method to judge which site should be blocked and which will not. It must not be on a block list basis since the increasing number of “unhealthy” content will grow faster than the grow of block list. So it may be content based or keyword based.

If there is anything wrong with a single point in the software, it will affects a lot of website, just like a little change in the crawler will result in the great changes to millions of website on ts result page.

This may be the current sitation.