Last week when we were flying to Xi’an, I was pleased when we arrived at Pudong airport and saw that China Eastern had self check-in stations (as usual in China, the lines to the check-in counters were pretty long). Although the stations were only in Chinese it was pretty straightforward and we quickly managed to put our information, pick our seats and print our boarding cards (but not bag tags, those you weren’t able to print).
Mom and dad had a bag they needed to check in, so we located a counter that said “bag drop” and lined up. There was a huge line to this counter, and first I thought it was some kind of misunderstanding. Were all of these people really lining up just to drop off their bags?
They sure were. All of us in the looooong line were holding on to our boarding cards, impatiently glancing at our watches and staring at the actual bag drop counter where action seemed to be very sloooooow.
Actually, I don't understand how it could take so long for people to “drop” their bag. We ended up standing in the line for 45 minutes! I even realized that the people that were lining up at the normal “check in” line –got served much faster than us! When it was finally our turn we were a bit stressed (we had planned to grab a quick dinner at the airport before take-off) and I even asked the girl at the counter what was taking so long. She didn’t answer (I wasn’t expecting her to either) but the security scan of that one suitcase of ours took ages. We ended up at our gate 15 minutes before boarding (which is pretty weird, we had arrived at the airport well in time for everything –just flying domestic) and had to speed-eat some noodles at a small snack corner.
When we were flying back from Xi’an the situation were even more obscure. They had plenty of self check-in stations, but not a single bag drop counter. I went around and asked several pretty “China Eastern” female staff but they all looked at me as if I was talking about aliens when I asked where we could drop our bags. So we had to line up at the normal check-in counter even though we had already checked in. Turns out it went much faster than lining up for a bag drop counter anyway.
I guess self check-in counters in China mainly targets those that travel with only a hand luggage (and man, is that a popular thing to do in China?! There seem to be no restrictions in terms of how big your hand luggage can actually be, because people drag suit like sized bags on the plane and then complain when they cannot fit it into the overhead locker) and not those who actually have a bag to check in. Good to know until next time.