Life experience of 72 hour visa free policy at Beijing airport

The followed article is written by a young American couple “Ryan & Alysia”, thank them for sharing this with everyone here!

11Jan25,2013

While on board our flight into Beijing from Los Angeles, we were given a yellow arrival/departure card by the flight crew. This is the same card for passengers who already have visas and those interested in the 72 hour visa. We were interested in the second for our 12 hour layover tour the Great Wall. It required straightforward information such as name, gender, passport number and issuer, and flight number. There is a section for your arrival and departure. The departure section requires fewer details, but needs to list your departing flight number. Upon arriving at the airport and unloading from our flight, we entered a large terminal. We had to pass through a temperature sensor for security purposes. We were then inside a large open area with 30-40 customs gateways staffed by customs officers. The gateways were marked for international connections, airline staff, Chinese nationals, and foreigners. Next to the approximately 8 gateways for foreigners were two gateways titled 72- hour visa. These gateways were not staffed while we were there, but looked to be the planned method of processing 72 hour visitors either during the day or once the high season begins. In addition to the gateways, there are two desk areas with the yellow cards to fill out if you were not able to on the plane. Since the 72 hour visa line was not staffed, we got in line for a gateway titled foreigners. The customs officer in charge of that gateway sent us to a different line off to the end specified for disabled persons and APEC Business Members. When we reached the officer in that line, we let him know we wanted a 72 hour visa. He asked for our passports, yellow cards, and plane ticket showing our departing flight within 72 hours (ours was in 12). He then stamped our passports with a visa, tore off the arrival section of our yellow cards, returned the departure section to us, and waved us through the gateway. We then proceeded by baggage claim and customs claims security since all we had with us was our carry on luggage. This area contained restrooms, currency exchange, and drinking water. We were unable to find an ATM before passing through the claims security into the outer lobby. We met Michael in the outer lobby, where he was there ready to greet us with our name on a sign and easy to find. Upon returning to the airport, we went straight through to security check since we already had our boarding passes. We went through a visa check with customs officers just as all other foreigners did when departing the country. We had to show our passports, departure card, and plane ticket. There was no line marked for 72 hour visas specifically, only foreigners and Chinese nationals. We went through the foreigners customs checkpoint.
Thanks again for a wonderful trip! All the Best, Ryan & Alysia