Hong Kong - Shanghai Pudong
I set a new last-minute record with this flight, booking in the morning and flying out that same evening. Unfortunately, Asia Miles tends to lock up its free redemption flights on holiday long-weekends like this one, and only releases them at the very last minute. I didn't expect so many flights to Shanghai every day to fill up, and had successfully bet spaces would open up. I had checked-in online and with no hold luggage, I thought it would be a comfortable trip to the airport. However, my last-minute tardiness almost resulted in missing the flight. Thankfully it got delayed an hour - I rarely like delays!
The flight was being operated by a smaller jet today, so departure was at the new satellite terminal. It was my first time using this facility for departures, so I took the opportunity to snap a lot of photos. I first boarded a bus from the main terminal, which took a bit of time to leave the loading bay. The ride was fairly short, and they designed it so that passengers enter and exit from the side doors - a big time savings over using the back doors.
It wasn't a busy day at the satellite terminal, and with a short escalator ride, we were right at the gates.
The design was nothing fancy but it was comfortable to stroll around, away from the crowds. The roof design simulated a wave, and follows the main terminal's business-like setting. It also offered a good viewing location for north runway users. Even though the floor was shared by both departures and arrivals and some window areas were blocked off from departing passengers, there were edges of the terminal that were open for spotter use.
There weren't that many departing flights from this terminal today. I guess most planes from Hong Kong are widebodies.
Today's flight will be operated by an A320. Boarding started about an hour late. We were then further delayed due to busy air traffic in Shanghai. The captain explained the late departure was due to the aircraft's late arrival from Chengdu. I had originally thought Shanghai air traffic was the main cause, as I've heard plenty of stories about delays from that city.
For a 2-hour flight, the food was quite satisfying and there were even menu cards. It was a full meal service and it tasted decent. The ride was quite bumpy all the way to landing though. So I opted to stay in my seat rather than to venture about taking photos of this single-aisled plane. I noticed there were still some empty seats as well, confirming my suspicion that Asia Miles redemption does not necessarily correlate with what seats are available, but rather what quota has been seat for free seats.
Although I didn't arrive in Shanghai particularly late, their train and maglev services stop fairly early. The last maglev train leaves the airport at only 9:42pm and the last subway train on the new Line 2 extension leaves the airport at 9pm. It was a bit frustrating coping with these unreasonable schedules, and the bus station was rather deserted as well. So I opted for a taxi into the city. The 40 km trip was surprisingly cheap at RMB 150 only.
The reason why I wanted to get to Shanghai was for the Expo. I didn't want to rush with the rest of China in the last month before it closes, and the Mid-Autumn holiday was the best option to get at least 3 full days before the mad dash to closing.