While news of another airport protest did not worry me at all given how peaceful my previous experience turned out a few weeks ago, I did have concerns over Typhoon Lekima making landfall in eastern China and how that would affect my flight. If I didn't leave today, I would probably be stuck for the entire weekend until the weather passes.
The international departures section of Dalian's small airport is cordoned off with a security check and X-ray luggage screening before you can reach the check-in counter. Air China's counter was at the end of the row nearest to the immigration checkpoint, although they were hard to locate since the screens above them alternated with Xiamen Airlines for some reason.
Despite long lines for immigration and the security screening afterwards, arriving 90 minutes before your flight is more than sufficient.
At lunch time, there were several Japanese flights leaving, so spotting was more interesting than the usual.
There still aren't too many international departures out of this airport. Perhaps it is because Beijing is only an hour away.
The 2nd page would bring you to the dinner hour.
Otherwise, this part of the terminal is quiet with plenty of chairs to rest in tranquility before your flight.
Dining options are still very limited though.
My plane was already parked at the gate, which reassured me of a likely on-time departure today. While punctuality is highly variable and unpredictable out of the larger airports such as Beijing and Shanghai, Dalian seems to do quite well in this metric.
Just off the end of the terminal are a number of domestic airlines that would require staircase boarding today.
As expected, boarding was timely and I soon settled into my window seat in front of the wing. The plane was old, like the inbound, and the window was dirty. Nevertheless, I was excited with my choice as I hoped the departure flight path would yield some decent aerials. Being in front of the wing, the engine discharge won't get in the way to blur my photos as well.
While it was a quick taxi to the take-off position, we had to wait a bit as the runway is also shared with arrivals.
My wish came true. We took off towards the east, which would be perfect for a view of the city centre. The weather had turned cloudy though with the heavy rains from the typhoon expected later in the day.
Dalian's airport is actually quite close to the city centre, so the port and skyline came up in no time.
We then made a 180-degree turn to head west towards Beijing.
I studied the previous day's route and noticed it no longer went hugged the coast but west into the interior and down the Beijing corridor. It seemed today's flight path would be similar to avoid the worst of the storm. Nevertheless, it was a bumpy ascent as we consistently flew within the clouds. The seat belt sound rang every now and then for the first hour or so. With no route map on the screens above, I wasn't sure where exactly we were when the clouds finally dispersed.
Turning my attention to the in-flight reading materials, the magazine is not airline specific, but a general document for all Chinese carriers. This edition's feature is on the various airlines' specialty drinks.
There is also an ad for China Southern's A350.
More fluffy clouds emerged as we descended into Hong Kong.
Perhaps due to the typhoon as well, the skies were unusually hazy for a summer's day. We looped around the city and came in on the scenic final approach, but I could barely see anything all the way to touchdown.
Sai Kung marks the entry into the city.
Tolo Harbour. Shenzhen was not even visible in the distance.
Despite the seemingly longer flight path, we ended up arriving on-time, and back at the dreaded North Satellite Terminal.
It was then a dash for the buses back to the main terminal.
Another large crowd loomed in the arrivals exit against the anti-extradition bill and police brutality over the past few weeks of protests. Having experienced the earlier airport rally recently upon returning from Taiwan, I wasn't worried being able to hop onto the train. This time around seemed much more crowded, although an orderly path was still made to allow arriving passengers to exit after snaking around the sea of black T-shirts. They were enthusiastic, distributing leaflets and carrying signs in many languages.
With only a hand carry on tow, I walked around and headed back up to the departures level to get a sense of the whole thing.
For more photos of the protest, visit my Extradition Protest Photo Gallery.
Getting to the Airport Express was not a problem at all, and it was a smooth ride into the city. Despite being over 20 years old now, the trains still look quite sleek for their age. I noticed some new amenities, such as charging ports for your devices that probably have emptied out after a long-haul flight.
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