‘Shoes off, please’: China tightens airport security

‘Shoes off, please’: China tightens airport security

Unexpected security upgrades in Shanghai and Beijing lead to complaints as passengers face the risk of missing flights
china airport security
Backpack checked, belt unbuckled and shoes removed. But has his flight already left the gate?

Tips for travelers set to depart from Shanghai and Beijing airports: head to the airport as early as possible, wear boat shoes or slippers and don’t even bother to pack your carry-on nicely.

Beginning at midnight, August 29, the China Civil Aviation authority surprised many travelers by raising its security standard to level 2 at Shanghai and Beijing airports.

This means passengers face higher chances of being asked to remove shoes and belts. At least 50 percent of passengers will be asked to open their carry-on bags for thorough searches.

Similar security measures were carried out during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

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The China Civil Aviation did not publicly announce the security upgrade. The stiffer checks created immense queues of unprepared passengers outside checkpoints at Beijing Capital International Airport. 

More than 100 flights had to delay takeoff times to wait for passengers to pass through security.

The CAA has not given any reason for the sudden change.

According to Shanghai Daily, however, the security upgrade could be related to the recent discovery of knives and other banned items at an airport in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regions.

"The longest journey in the world is from the security checkpoint to the boarding gate, and the most painful thing in the world is that you finish the journey but the plane door has closed," complained a Chinese passenger on Weibo, who said he had missed his flight due to lengthy security scrutiny.

Other passengers told the press that it took more than an hour to clear all of the checks.

Shanghai passengers are advised by airlines to arrive two to three hours ahead of their departure times, rather than the previously recommended one to two hours.

An anonymous source has been quoted in Chinese media saying that the more thorough security checks are expected to continue through September 7.