Traveling abroad can make you feel a little out of your element. It’s stressful, different and exhausting. We learned that some places to fly to are easier than others. This can be due to a number of factors. The location, the airport, the security, the weather, the airline… so many things can affect how smoothly your travel is. One place that will stretch your stress meter to the max is the Beijing Airport. Prepare for the pat-down of your life!
Here I’ve tried to include our story and some helpful hints to make it run as smoothly as possible.
Secure Security to Make You Feel Insecure
You have not seen airport security until you have been to Beijing. Well, it might be rivaled by North Korea. But I don’t know for sure, I’ve never been there. I am not entirely sure what they are expecting to find, but they seem to have one of the tightest securities there is.
Our Experience with the Beijing Airport
We were flying from Beijing to Shanghai. We had been staying for a quick visit to see the Great Wall and other such historic landmarks. I have SO many stories from Beijing, but for now we’ll just focus on the Beijing Airport.
So, because it was a site seeing trip, we had brought our nice camera. We’re photographers, so naturally we have some equipment, but we brought our cheapest DSLR, (Canon EOS Rebel T5i which is amazing and takes terrific traveling pictures by the way.)
Well, the camera was a bit of a problem for the Beijing Airport security officers. They made my husband take every, single item out of the camera bag and show them. Yep. Camera, lenses, batteries, cords, straps, lens hoods, EVERYTHING. Each item was inspected as if the cords were harboring a thumb drive that would expose government secrets.
After putting each item meticulously back in place, he finally crossed the threshold to me and encountered the problem I was facing.
While he was taking his time putting the cords, batteries, straps, lenses, camera and memory cards back into their proper places, I was asked multiple times to hand my three month old daughter to the security guard there. I said no.
They persisted in asking and I kept telling them no. I might have been a little paranoid, but in hindsight I am so glad I didn’t. Even if the security guard wouldn’t have intentionally harmed my child or taken her where I couldn’t see her, she could have dropped her.
One of the security guards looked extremely frustrated that I would not comply. He tried slowing down what little English he knew. I told him no again and pointed at my husband, indicating that I would wait for him.
I handed Siena to Austin after he had finished putting the camera equipment away. Then after I had been properly frisked, Austin handed Siena back and I held her while Austin was frisked.
- Arrive early to the Beijing Airport so that you aren’t worried about missing your flight.
- Be firm in your boundaries and what you are comfortable with.
- Expect to be treated as the most threatening person to pass under the metal detector. That way if you are not treated that way, it is a pleasant surprise.
- If you get tripped up, just breathe, say a prayer. It’ll be okay.
- Make sure you have your passport easily accessible and all other documentation. This could include where you stayed, what you did, or any other information. The more information you have, the better.
- On that note: Keep track of your passport. As most people know, an American passport is extremely valuable.
- Some places in the Beijing airport it is best to not even have your phone out. There are ‘no picture areas’. Make sure you respect those rules.
- But when you’re allowed to take pictures, make sure to capture all of the great signs that have been “translated” to English for your benefit.