China Eastern Airlines has added four more cities to a service that allows its customers to book free train tickets at the same time as their flights to or from Shanghai, the Oriental Morning Post reported Wednesday.
The addition expands a program that aims to make trip planning more convenient for people traveling to and from smaller cities in the Yangtze River Delta, many of which suffer from a dearth of connecting flights from Shanghai.
"It is definitely convenient for travelers, especially those who live in second- and third-tier cities," said Xu Ruihua, a professor from the School of Transportation Engineering at Tongji University.
The four new cities that China Eastern added to the service Tuesday are Kunshan and Zhenjiang in Jiangsu Province and Jiaxing and Tongxiang in Zhejiang Province. Each city had a stop on a high-speed rail line, but none has an airport.
Under the service, which began in May, China Eastern customers can reserve high-speed train tickets to and from 11 cities near Shanghai when they book a flight, according to an airline press release. However, the service is limited to passengers flying in or out of Shanghai. "Our goal is to help make domestic or international travel more convenient for our customers in the Yangtze River Delta," said Zhang Chi, the manager in charge of the service.
Travelers who book their tickets separately can lose time and money if a flight is delayed, Zhang said. With this service, airline staff can help customers re-book tickets in advance in case of delays.
To promote the service, the airline is providing the train tickets to customers at no additional cost for the rest of the year, Zhang said. The airline will begin charging customers at some point after that, but price will always be lower than
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