pass-by asked about the Shanghai Airport City Terminal. Your guess about what the terminal is “supposed” to use is right, but it does not works that way.
Besides Hongqiao and Pudong airport, the Shanghai Airport Authority built an Airport City Terminal near Jing An Temple. The tall building was designed to allow passengers to check-in baggage in the downtown, and go to airport without large luggage.
It was not Fully Used
The terminal started operation on Sept 9, 2002. Three years past, only one airline moved into the terminal – Shanghai Airlines. All the other airlines have started move yet. The recent news said the China Eastern Airlines have plan to move into the terminal building within 5 years. What 5 Years? They said they are consider to move in before 2010. Other airlines still don’t issued any announcement of any plans yet. Now only 2 out of the 18 counters of the terminal were used, by Shanghai Airlines.
If you look at what you need to do with the only airline – Shanghai Airlines, and you will know the reason why this terminal is not popular.
1. Passengers need to check-in 2 and half hours before departure time. That is 2 hours more than required in Pudong Airport. 2 Hours are long enough to get to Pudong airport using the slowest transportation – bus.
2. Passengers have to double check-in their package at gate 44 in Pudong Airport, 40 minutes before departure.
This is ridiculous. It seems the only service the City Terminal provides is to help you to move your luggage from the terminal to the airport, and you still need to get the baggage at the airport again.
3. Only flight after 11:30 AM can be checked-in in the Terminal Building.
4. Only flight at Pudong Airport is served. Most of flight of Shanghai Airlines is domestic and depart at Hongqiao. No wonder there is only 4 passenger per day used the terminal, according to a local newspaper.
5. Transportation to the Pudong Airport by your own. Since there is no train directly connect the City Terminal and the Pudong Airport, passengers need to use the Metro Line #2 and transit to the Maglev at Long Yang Road Station. About one hour is needed. Passengers can also take Pudong Airport Shuttle Bus #2 (there is a stop right at the City Terminal).
Do Not Recommend to Use it
So my conclusion is, don’t use the terminal (even if you take Shanghai Airlines flight), and directly go to Pudong Airport – unless your luggage is big enough that you can not even take with a taxi (chances are, they cannot be taken by aircraft).
Hope the City Keeps Learning
This is an example of huge investment (300 million RMB) and little (or zero) return. Since many things are the first in the country, including this terminal building, there are a lot to learn. I hope with more and more 1st mover project going on, Shanghai doesn’t make too much mistakes like this.
P.S. Of cause, it needs time for the City Terminal to be fully unitlized, and for the city to learn… Just be patient.