There’s nothing worse than getting off a grueling 13-hour flight from New York to Beijing, and then having to stand in customs for another hour!
Luckily, I found a way to cheat the system.
Disclaimer though, this works best if you can speak Mandarin, and look Asian. I don’t know if any white or black people have tried this, but I imagine it would be pretty funny.
I stand in the Chinese citizen line every time I take an international flight back to Beijing (I am a US citizen).
I started doing this because one time I was waiting in customs in the foreigner line. For those of you that have traveled to Beijing, you know that they take a freaking long time to get through each person. I watched as all the Chinese nationals go through the Chinese line (really quickly I might add, like 15 seconds per person).
At one point, there is literally no one waiting in line on the Chinese side.
An airport employee then directs some of the foreigners to the Chinese side, to try to expedite getting us through customs. OK great, I managed to save some time. But more importantly, I learned that the computers on the Chinese side have the capability to process foreigners.
So the next time I flew into Beijing, I thought I would stand in the Chinese line and see if they would let me through.
As I’m moving through the line, I start getting more and more nervous. What if the customs officer yells at me and makes me go back to the foreigner line?
The Chinese line is moving exponentially quicker than the foreigner line, and I’m almost at the front. What if they decide to detain me? As silly as this sounds, you never know with the Chinese government…
I’m already sweating by the time I get to the customs window.
I hand the young woman my US passport (I strategically picked a window with a female, in hopes of charming her and sweet talking my way out of any potential trouble).
She does a double take and gives me a look like, “what the hell are you doing?”
Before she has time to say anything, I try to, in my most polite and charming way possible, explain that I was late to a meeting and was very sorry for going through the wrong line (in Mandarin), and then smiled to her.
She rolled her eyes, but without saying anything, let me through!
Since that trip, every time I fly to Beijing now I go through the Chinese customs line. Most times I don’t even need to say anything except Hi in Mandarin. I would wager it saves me at least 30 minutes every trip, easily more when customs is crowded, and since I usually don’t check luggage, I’m able to head home that much faster.
Only once did I run into a male customs officer that straight up questioned why I was in the wrong line, and he looked like he was about to send me back into the foreigner line. But luckily, my wife was with me and confirmed that I was her husband so he reluctantly let me through.
Aside from that one close encounter, I’ve done this probably close to 15 times and haven’t run into any issues.
Feel free to give this a try. I know I’m going to keep doing this until I get arrested.