This year's Lunar New Year falls on January 28, and festivities are expected to be bigger than ever, with the head of Civil Aviation Administration of China predicting 10% more air traffic than at the same time last year. This is nothing, though, when compared to the crowded rail network. Recent years have seen rail websites taking 1,000 bookings per second in the lead up to the Chinese New Year.
With such a scramble on the trains, air travel is clearly the way to go. Here, we share eight simple tips to help you stay calm in the air as we welcome in the Year of the Rooster.
1. Allow plenty of time
With more than 40 million flights scheduled during Chinese New Year, it's understandable that traveling might take longer than usual. Allow yourself ample time to pass through security and catch your flight, and there'll be no cause to get flustered.
2. Find your oasis
Airports may be busy over Chinese New Year, but that doesn't mean you need to join the crowds. You can find an oasis in even the busiest airports. The Air China Premium Lounge at Beijing International Airport is an example of a calm retreat in the middle of one of the world's major transportation hubs.
3. Choose your airport wisely
Layovers are unavoidable on long trips. The good news is that today's airports are wonderful places to relax between flights. Singapore's Changi Airport is a fine example. Expect movie theaters, designer stores and even a butterfly garden. What's more, Singapore airport lounges are among the best in the world.
4. Keep an eye on updates
Travel times are subject to change during the Chinese New Year period. To avoid stress, it's wise to keep an eye on departure boards while you're at the airport. The Vancouver Plaza Premium Lounge offers a premium bar service, USB charging station, free internet, and updated flight information, making it easy to stay abreast of developments.
5. Consider your options
While the fastest flight times may seem attractive at the time of booking, it's likely that these will also be the busiest routes. If you're eager to beat the crowds, consider looking at alternative routes to your destination.
During Chinese New Year, Beijing and Shanghai are the places to avoid, where possible. These two cities account for some 40% of all traffic at Chinese New Year.
6. Avoid checked luggage
Traveling light is an excellent way to streamline your passage through the airport during busy times of year. Checking luggage means extra lines and a longer wait upon arrival. Consider using carry-on only to speed things up.
7. Pack wisely
Bringing your own entertainment is a smart way to stay calm while traveling. This is particularly true for families, who are expected to account for around 51% of travelers this Chinese New Year. If you do forget to bring your own, you'll find that most airport lounges offer entertainment, for both adults and kids. The Bangkok Airways Luang Prabang lounge in Laos, for example, has plenty of televisions and computers for customer use.
8. Stay fresh
If you have a long layover, you'll want to stay fresh. All airport lounges offer ample refreshments, but some even offer showers and quiet areas to sit back as you wait for your next flight. Make the most of these amenities to ensure that you feel fresh, both mentally and physically.
There's no doubt that Chinese New Year is set to be a busy time in airports across the world. That doesn’t have to be a problem, though. With a little preparation, traveling during Chinese New Year can be as tranquil and enjoyable as at any other time of year.