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Cheap Domestic Flights within China

Shanghai, China

Why book Domestic Flights in China?

China is such a large country with so much to explore that air travel is essential. China is fairly well-connected by its train system, however, if you're travelling from one province to another, riding the train can take anywhere from hours to days. For example, travelling from Kunming in southwest China to Harbin in northeast China can take up to 3 days on the train. Whereas a direct flight with Air China takes just five hours.

Catching a domestic flight is a much easier and more efficient way to travel across China. It is one of the countries with the highest number of airlines' in the world and most of them (over 50) are available at Alternative Airlines. This means that no matter what two destinations you want to travel between, there'll always be a flight option available.

Because there are so many different airlines in China, there's also a great deal of choice for the type of airline that you fly on. Whether you want to save money and fly low-cost, have a little extra comfort on a legacy carrier or enjoy something in-between on a hybrid airline, you'll be able to find an airline that suits whatever you need.

Major airlines that fly domestically within China

Air China

Air China is the national carrier of China and one of the most well-connected airlines' in China overall.

The airline is based at Beijing-Capital International Airport from which it flies to over 70 different domestic destinations. Air China also has a secondary base at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport from which it flies to over 60 domestic destinations. Air China covers most areas of China, flying to 28 of its 34 provinces/regions.

It's main focus cities are Chongqing, Hangzhou, Hohhot, Shenzhen, Tianjin and Wuhan. Along with its two hubs, these are the cities that it has most connections to.

China Eastern Airlines

Along with Air China and China Southern, China Eastern is one of the 'big three' chinese airlines, which is partly owned by the Chinese government. The airline has airport hubs at Shanghai-Pudong, Shanghai-Hongqiao, Kunming and Xi'an. Although China Eastern flies to many destinations across China, as its name states, the airline has a stronger focus on the eastern regions in China.

The airline has a strong focus on the cities of Chengdu, Dalian, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Harbin, Hefei, Hong Kong, Lanzhou Nanchang, Nanjing, Ningbo, Taiyuan, Wuhan and Yantai.

Overall, China Eastern flies internally to 30 different provinces/regions within the country.

China Southern Airlines

China Southern Airlines is another state-owned airline and one of the 'big three' airlines of China. Much like China Eastern, the airline has a stronger focus on the 'southern' part of its name, with its base at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport. However, the airline also has a hub at Beijing-Capital International Airport and offers internal flights across the whole of China.

China Southern's domestic focus cities include Changchun, Chengdu, Changsha, Chongqing, Dalian, Guiyang, Haikou, Hangzhou, Harbin, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Ürümqi.

China Southern flies to 28 of China's provinces/regions. Book flights to Xinjiang and fly with China Southern.

Hainan Airlines

Hainan Airlines is the biggest airline in China that is completely independent of the Chinese government. Hainan Airlines is based at Haikou Meilan International Airport from which it flies to over 40 domestic destinations. It also has bases at Beijing Capital International Airport and Xi'an Xianyang International Airport.

The airline flies domestically to 27 of the provinces/regions within China and competes on some of the major of the domestic destinations that the 'big three' flies to. Its focus cities include Changsha, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Lanzhou, Sanya, Shenzhen, Taiyuan and Ürümqi.

The airline has a number of part-owned and fully-owned subsidiaries, including Air Chang'anBeijing CapitalFuzhou AirlinesGrand China AirLucky AirTianjin Airlines and Urumqi Airlines. Along with its subsidiaries, Hainan Airlines covers all major locations in China.

Shangdong Airlines

Shandong Airlines is a Chinese airline that offers both domestic and international flights from its bases at Jinan International Airport and Qingdao International Airport and has a strong domestic flight network. The airline flies to over 40 domestic destinations from Jinan and to over 40 domestic destinations from Qingdao.

The airline is partly-owned by Air China and has a strategic partnership with the airline as to avoid conflicting routes. For example, from its two hub airports, Shandong Airlines doesn't operate to any destinations in west China, which is an area that Air China has covered.

Shanghai Airlines

Shanghai Airlines is a Chinese airline that is based in Shanghai, with hubs at both Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport. The airline offers over 40 domestic flights from Shanghai Hongqiao and more than 40 destinations from Shanghai Pudong.

The airline flies to 27 of the provinces/regions in China overall.

Shanghai Airlines is a fully-owned subsidiary of China Eastern Airlines. The airline was acquired by China Eastern in 2011, with the merger designed to combine the two Shanghai-based airlines routes and give greater competition to other big Chinese airlines in the domestic market.

Shenzhen Airlines

Shenzhen Airlines is a Chinese airline that is based at Shenzhen International Airport. The airline operates to over 50 domestic destinations from its hub, with more than 130 airport pairings across the whole of China.

The airline is one of the better domestically connected airlines in China, with flights to 29 of the provinces/regions in China.

Shenzhen Airlines has secondary bases in Guangzhou, Nanjing, Shenyang, Wuxi, Xi'an, Zhengzhou and Chengdu.

Sichuan Airlines

Sichuan Airlines is a Chinese airline that's hub airport is located at Chengdu. The airline is the main airline in western China and is a good choice if looking for a well-known airline that travels to or around western China, as it flies to at least one destination in each of the Xinjiang, Tibet, Gansu and Qinghai provinces.

However, the majority of its routes fly outside of western China, with over 60 domestic connections from its hub airport in the Sichuan province.

Overall, Sichuan Airlines flies internally to 29 of China's provinces/regions.


XiamenAir is a Chinese airline with both a domestic and international route network. The airline is based out of Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport, from where it flies to over 50 domestic destinations.

The airline is partially owned by China Southern Airlines and holds a stake in Hebei Airlines and Jiangxi Airlines, where it works with all three airlines as to avoid conflicts in their schedules.

Overall, XiamenAir flies to over 29 of the provinces/regions in the country.

All airlines that fly domestically within China

Below is a table of all Chinese airlines that are available at Alternative Airlines and which province they're based in.

All airlines that fly domestically in China

9 AirGuangdong20+
Air ChinaHebei200+
Air TravelYunnan5+
Air GuilinGuangxi20+
Beijing CapitalHebei65+
Changan AirlinesShaanxi30+
Chengdu AirlinesSichuan25+
China EasternJiangsu and Zhejiang245+
China ExpressSichuan70+
China SouthernGuangdong215+
China UnitedFengtai30+
China Yunnan AirlinesYunnan85+
Chongqing AirlinesSichuan30+
Dalian AirlinesDalian5+
Donghai AirlinesGuangdong40+
Fuzhou AirlinesFujian5+
Grand China AirlinesHainan110+
Guilin AirlinesGuangxi20+
Hainan AirlinesHainan110+
Hebei AirlinesHebei25+
Hong Kong AirlinesHong Kong Airlines35+
Jiangxi AirlinesJiangxi10+
Joy AirShaanxi15+
Juneyao AirlinesJiangsu & Zhejiang (Shanghai)70+
Kunming AirlinesYunnan20+
Longjiang AirlinesHeilongjiang5+
Loong AirZhejiang25+
Lucky AirYunnan60+
Okay AirwaysHebei50+
OTT AirlinesShanghai5+
Qingdao AirlinesShandong5+
Ruili AirlinesYunnan30+
Shangdong AirlinesShangdong60+
Shanghai AirlinesJiangsu & Zhejiang (Shanghai)140+
Shenzhen AirlinesGuangdong70+
Sichuan AirlinesSichuan90+
Spring AirlinesJiangsu & Zhejiang (Shanghai)100+
Suparana AirlinesJiangsu & Zhejiang (Shanghai)5+
Tianjin AirlinesHebei105+
Urumqi AirlinesXinjiang30+
West AirSichuan40+

Internal Flights Check-In Times

Air China

- Online: Online check-in generally opens one or two days before the flight departure date and closes one-hour before flight departure time on domestic flights. However, it depends on the route flown.

- Airport: Air China ask that passengers arrive at the airport no later than 60 minutes before their flight if checking in at the airport.

China Eastern

- Online: Online check-in generally opens either 48 or 24 hours before scheduled flight departure time and closes one hour before on domestic flights.

- Airport: Airport check-in closes 45 minutes before scheduled flight departure time on domestic flights.

China Southern

- Online: Online check-in is open from 3 pm two days prior to the scheduled flight departure time.

- Airport: Check-in counters generally close around 40 minutes before scheduled flight departure time on domestic flights.

Hainan Airlines

- Online: Online check-in is open from 42 hours up until one hour before flight departure time.

- Airport: Hainan Airlines ask that you arrive at the airport at least 60 minutes before the scheduled flight departure time for domestic flights.

Shangdong Airlines

- Online: Online check-in closes two hours before scheduled flight departure time on domestic flights and opens one day prior.

- Airport: Generally, Shangdong Airlines ask that you check-in for your domestic flight at least one hour before scheduled flight departure time.

Shanghai Airlines

- Online: Shanghai Airlines domestic check-in time opens 24 hours before flight departure time and closes 90 minutes before.

- Airport: It's recommended to arrive at least one hour before flight departure time for check-in on domestic flights.

About Domestic Flights

A Chinese domestic flight is any flight that departs and arrives in China. Alternative Airlines offers flights from more than 50 different Chinese airlines that fly domestically, as well as other international airlines that offer domestic flights within the country.

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