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Flying Air China- JFK to Tokyo- $549 round trip

Flying Air China in March.

Traveling from JFK to Tokyo, Japan.
Layover in Beijing China.

Round-trip tickets were only $549, so I figured it was worth a shot, despite some 'iffy' reviews.

I have paid over twice that much on previous flights.

No real problem for me in terms of the 11 pound carry on restriction for the economy seats.

My question has to do with bringing on a personal bag, such as a purse, in addition to the 11 pound carry-on bag.

The website does not mention being allowed a personal bag.

Is it safe to assume I could take a purse?

Every airline that I have checked always mentions allowing a personal bag.

Not Air China, though

I would think it is ok, but I can't find any verification.

Posted by
2469 posts

from their website

Each First Class and Business Class passenger can take up to 2 pieces of carry-on baggage. Each Economy Class passenger can take up to 1 piece of carry-on baggage.

It's clear to me that if you're in the cheap seats you are allowed ONE piece of baggage. Put your purse in the carry on bag then it becomes one item.

Posted by
20 posts

That will make packing a bit more difficult, but still doable.


Thanks for the quick reply!

Posted by
2600 posts

I flew Air China twice in September. They were internal routes and I was on a tour so that I HAD to check my little bag and then I just carried my backpack on. I can tell you, though, that it is a strict strict strict airline. They had all sorts of rules I've not encountered before. All electronics must be separated - even camera chargers and cell phone chargers. There are none of those extra battery-powered chargers allowed at all - checked luggage or carry on.

Have you flown through China before? The airports are large and there's a lot of steps to navigate. I am not sure how it will play out for you just transiting through Beijing but boy did both the Beijing and Shanghai airports take us awhile to get through. For our flight home out of Shanghai, we were subjected to a bag search/security type thing at the entrance to the airport, again at the ticket counter, again at security, again at immigration, again at our gate and then, AGAIN - on the jetway to our flight. I actually had to hoist my bag onto a table on the jetway and they looked through it one more time.

So make sure you have a bit of time for a connection and follow their rules:)

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks, Valerie!

No, I have not flown Air China before.

A Japanese family member, who I am traveling with made the arrangements.

He has been to China many times, but I don't know if he has flown Air China before.

So, I should be able to keep my 11 pound carry-on with me, right?

I definitely have to research this more.

Thanks again! I had almost forgotten what a nice community we have here! 😊

Posted by
2600 posts

I just always follow the rules for bags or I get stressed out worrying about it. So your one single bag should be fine. As to a purse too? I don't know. One thing I did notice, as we had a 5 hour delay in Beijing for a flight to Xi'an, was that the communication with passengers is brusque and confusing. Various members of our group of 18 (our guide was not with us during the 5 hour delay) ventured up to the desk many times to ask why there was delay...from 8pm to 1am....and we were just never given any information...aircraft maintenance? weather? control tower issue?

Try to get a sense of your landing gate for the JFK flight and the departure gate for the Tokyo flight so you have an idea of where you need to go. Beijing is a big airport - but there's lots of big airports - what made it harder in China was the somewhat nonsensical and stressful random security check layers. I had a pair of eyebrow trimmers confiscated in Shanghai from a grooming kit I purchased. And they didn't just do the confiscation, throw it in a bin and you're off. They pulled me aside, took my passport and entered my document information in some sort of log book before they let me continue on;)

Posted by
20 posts

I should've added, that I don't plan on checking any luggage.

Just taking the 11 pound carry-on.

Have either of you tried going ultra light?

Although I always travel light, I do find this to be an interesting travel idea.

First time I'll have tried it. We'll see how it goes!

Posted by
2600 posts

We always travel ultra-light. We never check luggage - we only checked on the internal China flights because our tour guide made us:)

I can go 3 weeks in a tiny bag but 11 pounds is pretty light indeed. I'm happier when I'm allowed to have 17 pounds. I use an embarrassingly cheap little bag I got at Kmart. It's really light and it's one of the few bags that's actually 7 inches deep - most bags are 8 or more and that violates a lot of airline size limits for carry on.

Posted by
20 posts

I have to admit, 17 pounds, at this point, seems quite luxurious! :)

I just don't want to check luggage. It's the Rick Steves fanatic in me.

That, and I'm skeptical that my luggage will make it from JFK to Beijing to Tokyo without being lost.

11 pounds total...

I'm game to give it a go .

Posted by
20 posts

Well, I've been happily ensconced in Tokyo for a few days.
The flight was uneventful and the airline was more than adequate.
Contrary to the Air China webpage, many people carried on multiple bags.

Yes, Valerie, you are right about them being strict about the electronics.
Camera and battery chargers must be pulled out for careful inspection.
Security was a bit intimidating.

Also note worthy, is that we were NOT allowed to use portable chargers on our flight. A bit inconvenient as our plane did not have any charging stations. So that is something to keep in mind on such an extremely long flight.

Although I prefer to fly nonstop, I would definitely consider flying Air China if I could get that price again.

Posted by
220 posts

I would just say Air China is hellish. I flew with them in a few years back from LAX to Beijing. I'm 5' tall. It was CRAMPED even for me I could barely cross my legs in the seat and you are practically on top the guy next to you. Flight entertainment was non-existent- basically the same songs on repeat (see 5 songs), or you had the option of listening to a comedy show (entirely in Chinese). They had ONE screen that showed an older Chinese movie being played....personal tvs were not there. Food made me ill later.


As for flight restrictions on bags-Air China can be a stickler. Don't assume you can take things. They weigh, they measure, they stare then take your treasure..