Shanghai airports: A must-read ahead of your next flight

Shanghai is the biggest city in China and is a leading financial hub in the world. The latest census data indicates 24.87 million people live in the city, making it the most populous urban center in the country.

If you are planning to travel to Shanghai, you might want to know about the two major Shanghai airports and their key features.

Shanghai is served by two main airports, each bearing unique features as follows:

Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG)

This sprawling Shanghai airport is located about 19 miles east of Shanghai, and it began operations in 1999. PVG covers an expansive area of 40 kilometers squared, allowing it to host major airlines like Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and Shanghai Airlines.

Over 80 million passengers transit through Pudong airport each year to other parts of China and beyond. That is over half a million flights per year and transporting almost three million tons of cargo per annum. The government commissioned the construction of PVG in phases, with the most recent terminal being officially launched in 2019.

Terminal 1 (T1)

This terminal has a capacity of 20 million passengers per year who go through its 28 gates. It is equipped with 204 check-in counters with highly-trained professionals who speak Chinese, English, and other languages. Terminal 1 also has 13 conveying belts for shuffling luggage.

Architecture is a significant consideration in these modern construction projects. T1 is designed to resemble waves, perhaps to signify its location on the east coast of China.

Terminal 2 (T2)

After relishing the astronomical success of T1, the government went ahead to expand Pudong by commissioning a second terminal. T2 was launched in 2008, serving an estimated 40 million visitors and 4.2 million tons of cargo per year.

This terminal is much larger than T1, and it serves Star Alliance members. If you are visiting for the first time, you will be taken aback by the seagull design that makes it stand out from other airport terminals. Business is booming so much that the InterContinental Hotels Group plans to open two hotels here by 2024.

Satellite Terminal

Pudong airport is a hub of activity as visitors worldwide use it as an entry point to China and other parts of Asia. At the close of 2015, the government started an expansion project to create the most extensive satellite terminal concourse.

The satellite terminal has two sections: S1 and S2.

The concourse will serve over 80 million passengers and 4.26 million tons of cargo per year upon completion. The satellite terminal is equipped with ninety boarding bridges and 120 new aprons, ideal for handling a burgeoning air traffic industry.

Tarmacking the taxiway that connects T1 and T2 is underway, and so is the creation of 16 parking spots for jetliners and ten taxiway bridges. This massive project will make Pudong international airport the best in the region, which says a lot for Shanghai airports.

Facilities at the Satellite Terminal

This extension of terminal 1 and terminal 2 will operate as a cohesive transit center with various services targeting local and international visitors. There are also a departure and arrival lounges equipped with world-class restaurants, coffee shops, and other amenities to make your stay comfortable.

The satellite terminal has two underground tunnels, near-gate parking for up to 61 cars, and an energy center. Passengers who choose to use public transport will enjoy a seamless metro system or commute using the subway train. The maglev train and taxis are other options for commuting to and from PVG airport.

The design of this terminal factors in green energy features such as harvesting rainwater, recessed lighting, and natural ventilation instead of relying on HVAC systems. You’ll also find many gift retailers, duty-free shops, luxury designer stores along with opportunities to buy souvenirs.

Other features in terminals 1 and 2 include customer service desks, ticket offices, and general flight schedules. There are free wheelchairs for differently-abled persons, pregnant women, and senior citizens above 60.

Latest developments at Pudong airport

Travelers using Shanghai airports must stay abreast of the latest communication from the Chinese government and airline operators. 

All flights for Delta Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, China Airlines, Air France, and SriLankan Airlines will shift operations from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2. Nonetheless, China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines will for all destinations remain at Terminal 1.

Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA)

Hongqiao airport is another excellent option for entering Shanghai. Located to the west of the city, this airport is roughly eight miles from the central business district. SHA is mainly for domestic travelers with a few international destinations.

Construction of Hongqiao originally started for the Chinese Air Force in the 1920s. It allowed civilian use starting in 1923. The economic boom in the 1970s and 1990s increased traffic to Hongqiao, attracting business from iconic local and international airlines like Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, and Canadian Pacific Airlines, and so forth.

Facilities at Hongqiao Airport

Hongqiao Airport is a significant transit hub equipped with 15 regular and 18 VIP waiting halls and 15 luggage conveyor belts. The airport welcomes about eight million passengers annually, which is a measly figure compared to what guests expect from Shanghai airports.

Hongqiao Airport is the fourth busiest airport, with 22 airlines and more than 80 destinations. In 2010, the government commissioned an expansion project to introduce a second runway stretching 3.3 kilometers and Terminal 2. With this boost, SHA can now serve upwards of 40 million passengers every year.

Connecting to Hongqiao Airport

The airport is conveniently located just behind Pudong airport, making it easy for international travelers to connect their flights. Visitors can commute to SHA using public transport using the Shanghai metro or bus lines such as 806, 807, and 938. Hongqiao Hub Lines and Special Lines like the Gumei-Huaxing are ideal options too.

You can also hop on a taxi from the People’s Square for 40 Yuan. Self-driving travelers can cruise on the drive along Yan’an Skyway, which leads directly to the airport. The government plans a new train route commencing Longyang Road through Shanghai South railway station to Hongqiao. If you are fond of trains, you will have to wait until the project is complete.

If you plan a trip to Shanghai, you can expect a perfect blend of comfort and luxury when navigating Pudong international airport. Hongqiao airport has its unique appeal, and it is only a stone’s throw from PVG. Research the latest Covid-19 protocols before leaving, so you are well informed and prepared accordingly.

If you’ve got a comment on this Shanghai airports guide, find us on Twitter under the handle @asia_markets, or email,

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