My first visit to China – in 1994 – definitely exposed some serious defects in travel chosen by our travel agent for the trip from Toronto to Shanghai and back. On the way out, we flew Toronto to Narita (Tokyo) non-stop (13 hours), sat around waiting for a connecting flight six+ hours later, then flew Narita to Shanghai (3 hours). Adding in home to airport, airport to hotel, and being at airport two hours (minimum before departure) rounded out an exhausting 27 hours travel time door-to-door courtesy of Canadian and United Airlines with a round of applause to the travel agent for the Narita stopover. The return journey wasn’t much better as we flew Shanghai-Narita and a 3-hour stopover, and the final leg of the trip was Narita to Toronto with a 45-minute stopover in Calgary because – who knows. For bonus points, Canadian didn’t pick up any fresh in-flight movies in Calgary so we had the choice of watching the same Daniel Day-Lewis movie – The Unbearable Lightness of Being – again or shooting ourselves.
Lesson learned: all subsequent travel to/from China was Air Canada and booked personally.