The big day had finally arrived! I had been preparing for this day for months. I’ll be finally heading back to China.

Before we start, if you haven’t read my article on the application process for the PU letter and work visa, you can read it here.

Arrived at the airport

I arrived 3 hours ahead of my flight at Heathrow Airport. I set aside an extra hour just in case something went wrong so I had enough time to fix it without rushing.

Check-in at the airport

Prior to traveling to the airport, make sure you print out a copy of your Health Declaration Form, photo page from your passport and Visa for China. You’ll need these documents to show when you check in at the airport. There was some confusion with my Health Declaration Form as the person who was checking me in thought I needed a QR code which is required by Chinese travellers. The rules change every day and they vary based on the country so please stay up-to-date prior to traveling so that you can ensure that you have the proper documents required. Also, make sure that you take your COVID test within the required time frame that is needed for traveling to China. When I was traveling it was within 5 days but they were preparing to change it to 3 days.

Transiting via Greece

My flight departed on September 1st at 10:15 pm and arrived in Athens, Greece on September 2nd at 3:50 am. The bad news was I had 18 hours and 25 minutes in Athens International Airport. I slept, ate delicious Greek food, read a book and talked to friends and family on the phone.

Boarding the flight to China

9pm arrived and it was almost time to board my flight to China. I didn’t know what to expect so I was feeling many different types of emotions but trying to remain calm. I decided to go to the front desk to ensure that I had the required documents to board the flight. I was met by a man in a hazmat suit and given a form to read and sign. The form stated that there may be a possibility that I may not be allowed on the flight if my temperature is high. I was then reissued a boarding pass due to the flight not traveling directly to Beijing but rerouting to Chengdu, China.

Soon we began to line up to board. It was unlike what I was used to. The stewardess and other workers were dressed in hazmat suits, face masks, face shields, googles and gloves. This was now the new normal. I noticed the majority of travelers were Chinese with maybe less than 10 foreigners. While boarding, I was given sanitizer wipes. Once we all boarded, there was an announcement that said that you must stay in your seat that is assigned to make it easier to identify if you come into contact with someone who is sick.x

The flight

I realized that the aisle seat next to me was empty so I was happy to practice some social distancing for the long flight ahead. I used the wipes to sanitize the area where I’d be seated just to be safe. Throughout the flight there were:

– regular temperature checks
– Chinese snacks in a box provided with a bottle of water or milk.
– entertainment

I think 95% of the flight was occupied so overall it was a great flight.

Arrival in Chengdu, China:

We arrived at 1 pm. People began to exit the plane in groups, starting at the front of the plane. Finally, it was my groups turn. We walked down the steps and were directed to a bus that was waiting for us.  The bus transported us to the airport terminal. We then sat down in chairs and were instructed to download a health app that was only valid for 24 hours.  This app required you to write down your personal details, previous history of travel, have you been exposed to COVID-19 in the past and the address of where you will stay. Once I completed the form, the app provided me with a QR code that I would need to use while in the airport. The COVID-19 testing consisted of:

  1. Body temperature screening
  2. Nasal and saliva swab testing

When lining up for the tests, you must show your QR code. The nasal and saliva swab test weren’t painful but very uncomfortable. I was more freaked out seeing something go up my nose.


After surviving the testing, I filled out the arrival form and then waited in line for customs. This was the normal procedure that entailed the four fingers on the machine for right then left, followed by both thumbs and look into the camera. Next, the Customs officer stamped my passport and I was free to go.

Collect bags and board bus

I collected my suitcases and put them through the X-ray machine and then collected them. I walked to the waiting area where I was provided with a sticker with a number on it to show that I was with the same group of people from the flight and we would await a bus that would take us to the hotel. The bus ride took about 40 to 45 minutes.

Arrive at the hotel

After we arrived at our hotel, we were greeted by people wearing hazmat suits. I was so amazed at how nice the hotel looked as I was not expecting it be fancy and modern.  We collected our bags from the bus and then were informed that we had to scan a QR code. I scanned the QR code which provided me with a form. I had to fill out the form with my personal details such as name, birth date, my final destination / address. Next, we had to line up to go into the hotel where we were provided with additional forms to fill out, such as agreeing to abide by the quarantine rules. Once I had signed the forms, I was given my room key, had my temperature checked again and was then on my way to my room for the 14 day quarantine.

Next up – read about my experience during the 14 day quarantine.

About the Author:

Stevonna Smith
你好! My name is Stevonna. I was born and raised on the island of Bermuda. I have over 4 years of teaching experience and I have been living and teaching in China for over 2 years and it has been filled with lots of fun and amazing experiences. This includes working with great students, travelling around Asia, meeting new people and enjoying my favourite hobbies like trying new cuisines and doing aerial yoga.
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