The country's transportation sectors geared up on Wednesday to full capacity to handle the annual surge of travelers at the start of the 40-day Spring Festival holiday rush.
More than 1 million trips were made via 12,500 airline flights on the first day of the holiday period, known as chunyun, which will run until March 16, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
China Railway Corp, operator of the country's trains, said it handled 6 million trips on Wednesday.
Chinese tradition holds that people should return home and spend Spring Festival with their families. The observance creates an annual travel rush that may be the largest recurrent human migration in the world. The Spring Festival feast day falls on Feb 19 this year.
During the travel peak last year, Chinese passengers made more than 3.6 billion trips. Among them, about 3.3 billion were made by road, 266 million by rail, 44 million by air and 42 million by ship.
China Railway Corp expects that about 289 million trips will be made during the 40-day chunyun this year, 26 million more than last year. An average 7 million trips will be made by train every day during the period.
The company said it plans to run 3,063 pairs of trains during the coming travel peak, an increase of 335 pairs from last year.
Air China, the country's flagship airline, has planned for nearly 44,900 flights during this year's chunyun, a 10 percent increase year-on-year, Xu Yanchun, the company's head of publicity, said on Wednesday.
The carrier is expected to help passengers complete about 8.6 million trips during this year's chunyun, he said.
Air China expects to provide around 3,200 additional domestic flights and more than 400 international flights to serve the transport rush.
China Southern Airlines, another major carrier, said it will provide more than 8,000 additional flights during the holiday period, raising the total number to nearly 90,000, a 27 percent increase from last year, the company said in a statement.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China forecast that more than 47 million trips will be made by air during this year's chunyun, and it has arranged for Chinese airlines to add 8,740 domestic flights and 3,052 international flights to deal with the passenger surge, according to Wang Zhiqing, deputy director of the administration.
Wang Hanlin, deputy manager of Beijing Capital International Airport's operations and management center, said the airport will handle nearly 10 million trips during the chunyun, averaging 245,900 each day.
The two civil airports in Shanghai are expecting a total passenger load of up to 10 million, while the Guangzhou airport will deal with 6.9 million trips, company forecasts say.
Guan Hongjun, deputy chief of the patrol team at the airport police's West Terminal station, said passengers should be prepared for possible congestion at the airport and for flight delays.
"During the chunyun, passengers are likely to encounter delays caused by bad weather at the airport, along the flight route or at their destination because it often snows during the period," he said.
He reminded passengers to maintain civil behavior through the stresses and strains they are likely to encounter.
"Passengers should assert their rights through lawful means rather than irrational actions," he said.
Several incidents involving angry airline passengers occurred over the past two years, triggered by delays.