If you are Chinese and want to book a flight in China, you are probably using either Ctrip or QuNar. These are two of the more popular booking apps for flights, train tickets, and hotels.
One of the best things about being an expat in China is the number of travel destinations in close proximity. The biggest cost of booking a trip is usually the flight ticket. There are two HUGE benefits I found from using local apps in China, like QuNar.
One is that flight tickets, especially when traveling domestically, are often cheaper than those found on sites like agoda, kayak, and expedia. I don't know if it comes from tax savings or just cheaper rates, but I'll take it!
The second one has to do with payment methods. Living in China means you are probably getting your salary in renminbi. Using Western booking sites don't usually accept payment from WeChat or Alipay, making it inconvenient for expats looking to use their money in China to make purchases.
Using local Chinese booking apps is not as hard as you think. There is a learning curve, but once you do it the first time, it gets easier. Follow the screenshots and tutorial below for step-by-step instructions to guide you!
First you will need to download the app from any of the major app stores in China:
Type in the pinyin “QuNar”. Download the app shown in the picture, (去哪儿旅行).
This tutorial’s screenshots will be based on the UI from the IOS app, the method should be the exact same for Android or other operating systems. Some UI changes might occur due to app updates over time.
On the home Page, tap on Flight Tickets (飞机票).
Before you select your cities, select whether you want a one-way ticket (单程) or roundtrip ticket (往返). We want to come back to Beijing, so we will tap on roundtrip ticket (往返).
You will need to enter your departure and arrival destinations. The departure is automatically set based on your GPS and the default arrival city is just a recommended destination. For the arrival destination we want to change it, so tap on the city to the right, which is Shanghai in this example.
A new window will appear to choose a location. This tutorial will use Hong Kong as an example. At the top of the screen shows Domestic (国内) and International (国际). Choose the correct tab.
At the top are some markers labeled History (历史) and Hot Locations (热门). Alternatively, you can use the search bar to search for it. You can use English to search for the city, but some cities have multiple airports so it is good to double check the Chinese characters or use the 3-letter airport codes as reference.
The same process is done for the departure city if you need to change it.
Tap on the dates to open the calendar. Select your departure and arrival date on the calendar. Each day on the calendar will show the lowest airfare for that day, which is really helpful if you are looking the cheapest flights. After selecting your dates, it will take you back to the flight details page. When you are ready to search for flights, tap Search (搜索).
This is your flight results page. The bars at the top show your selected flight information. The results for each flight available are below. It’s a bit easier to find flights by filtering first, so let’s do that next.
Most people prefer direct flights and not long layovers so we will show only direct flight results. At the bottom of the screen are some icons. Tap the one that says Direct Flight (直飞).
Now let’s make it even easier by ranking results by price. Tap icon at the bottom of the screen that says Recommended Ranking (推荐排行).
We want to rank by price from lowest to highest (价格, 低-高). If you want to rank by departure time, you can also rank from earliest to latest times (起飞, 早-晚).
Select your ticket from Beijing to Hong Kong from the flight cards. We will choose the cheapest. Notice the time in the middle that says 3 hours (小时) and 25 minutes (分钟). This is how long it is take to get there.
Select the ticket you want for the trip from Hong Kong back to Beijing. We will stick will the cheapest again so the total price doesn’t change.
The next page will have your flight information at top. At the bottom shows all the different platforms whom are providing tickets. You can choose any of the options as the process will still take place within the QuNar app. For the cheapest tickets, look for the one that says Special Price (特价特惠). Then tap on Reserve (预订).
This is the checkout page. We will need to enter our personal information here. My information is already saved, but most likely you will need to add your info. Find the section labeled Passengers (乘机人). Underneath should be a button to Add Passenger (新增). Tap to add. I’ve blocked out my personal information for privacy.
You will need to add your detailed information here. Here’s some information they will require.
姓 = Last Name
名 = First Name
性别 = Gender (男 – boy, 女 - girl)
出生日期 = Birth Date
国籍 = Nationality
证件类型 = Type of ID (Make sure to select 护照 – Passport)
正件号码 = ID Number
证件有效期 = ID Expiration Date
When you are finished, tap Submit (确定) in the upper right corner. Repeats this for as many passengers as needed.
The next part of the checkout form is to enter contact information. Here’s the breakdown:
联系人 = Contact Name (May be automatically filled in from the passenger list)
手机号 = Phone Number
邮箱 = Email
Enter the info and continue to scroll down the page.
The rest of the checkout will just require deselecting all the insurances that are often automatically selected as default but not required to buy. This is optional and you may purchase if you wish. Let’s take a look at the first block of services. These should show the following three services, Travel Insurance (旅行险), Accident Insurance (航意险), and Flight Insurance (延误险) which covers missed flights. When deselecting these services, sometimes a pop-up will appear asking you if you are sure, just tap Confirm (确定).
Depending on your O/S and app version, you can either directly uncheck the services or you will need to tap on the service to go to a different screen and uncheck the boxes there.
The next block of add-on services include Pre-select your seating (有偿值机), coupon for International pickup/drop-off car (境外送机卷), and coupon for International pickup/drop-off car service (境内接送机卷).
Again, depending on your O/S and app version, you can either directly uncheck the services or you will need to tap on the service to go to a different screen and uncheck the boxes there.
To double check your total before you pay, tap the carrot sign ^ with the word Details (明细) next to the amount at the bottom of the screen. This will show a popup will the receipt breakdown. There should be only two lines. One for Ticket Price (票价) and one for Tax (税费). If there are other lines, it means you did not properly deselect all the insurances and add-on services. Go back to step 17 and try again.
The total should match the original amount you saw when you were selecting flight times prior. Once you are ready, tap the Go Pay (去支付).
Be careful as sometimes, these apps will take you to another screen offering even more add-on services. Always remember to uncheck these services or tap Don’t Buy (不购买).
This screen will ask for Payment Method (付款方式). Here it shows WeChat (微信), but I will change it to Alipay (支付宝). Then tap Pay Now (立即支付).
Confirm payment on Alipay. You will probably also receive a text from QuNar confirming a successful payment (支付成功).
You will be taken back to QuNar and see a screen that says Payment Successful (支付成功) and Awaiting Confirmation of Tickets (等待出票). Tap on the Order Details (订单详情).
Here you you can see that the tickets are still pending (待出票). You still need to wait for confirmation that you have successful reserved the tickets. You will be refunded if the tickets don’t get reserved for some reason, but I’ve never had that experience. You will be notified that the tickets were processed in 2 different ways.
Once confirmed, you will receive a text message with the flight details telling you that tickets have successfully been reserved (出票成功).
You will also receive an email once the tickets have been confirmed. It will be sent to the email address you specified during the checkout page in Step 16. You will receive one email per passenger containing the person’s ticket as a PDF.
Go back to the QuNar app to view your flight itinerary. On the home page, look at the bottom and find the icon on the menu bar that says Orders (订单).
You will see your flight here. You can then tap the flight card to get all the information about your flight.
Congrats! You now have successfully purchased a flight ticket on QuNar. You are all set to go. Just head to the counter with your passport and the employee can pull up your information on the system.
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new window. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.