The Beijing International Airport(北京首都国际机场, IATA code PEK) consists of three terminals built around three runways in Beijing’s north eastern Shunyi(顺义) District. It is about 25 kilometers from the city center (i.e. the Forbidden City) and can be reached comfortably by car, taxi, bus and airport express. The terminals are connected by a free shuttle service which is especially important for those travelers transferring from an international to a domestic flight in Beijing.
Your gateway to China
Terminals 1 and 2(T1 and T2) are the older buildings and definitely have a bit of a stalinistic feel to them. They mainly service domestic routes, and some international routes of a couple of select carriers. Please note: if you fly international do not automatically assume that your flight will be out of T3. Check your ticket or itinerary, it will state everything on there. If you check in at T2 for an international flight, your friends and family cannot accompany you to the check in counters but you will have to say your goodbyes in the general airport area. This is remarkable as modern T3 features an open check in area. Generally speaking, it is more prestigious to fly to or from modern T3 and the assumption is that airlines are charged a premium to do so. Therefore, if you compare prices and fly to T2 make sure that the ticket is at least a couple of Euros or USD cheaper than the next one flying to T3.
When arriving or leaving, you will be required to fill in and submit an arrival/departure form along with a quarantine card. Best have them ready before it is your turn at the migration desk. As elsewhere, the last step is to pick up your luggage before you are home free.
T3 was opened around the time of the Beijing 2008 Olympics but already is about to reach maximum capacity. For this reason the Beijing government is planning to build a new airport in the south east of the city. This is a yet another testament to the explosive growth of China.