You can now book American Airlines’ third long-haul flight from Seattle to Shanghai

Aug 27, 2020

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The pandemic is causing airlines to rethink their route networks. What worked in 2019 likely won’t be a successful strategy in the coming years.

In early July, American Airlines announced a major “reset” of the international network. The news included plans to drop 19 long-haul routes with deep cuts in Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX) and Philadelphia (PHL).

LAX was the hub hit the hardest. American shared plans to wind down much of its long-haul flying from Los Angeles, cutting three routes to Asia and two to South America.

Of the five routes getting axed, American announced an immediate replacement for one of them. Specifically, American’s service from LAX to Shanghai (PVG) would be moved to Seattle (SEA). At the time, it wasn’t immediately clear when AA would start the new service.

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Well, we now have the details. The daily flight launches on March 27, 2021 with the following schedule:

  • AA 183 Seattle (SEA) to Shanghai (PVG) departing 12:50 p.m arriving 4:25 p.m. (the following day)
  • AA 182 Shanghai (PVG) to Seattle (SEA) departing 6:25 p.m. arriving 3:10 p.m.

American plans to operate the flight with a Boeing 777-200, featuring 37 business-class pods, 24 premium economy recliners and 212 economy seats. AA operates two configurations of the Boeing 777 — one with a far superior business-class product. Unfortunately, there’s no way to determine which of the two products will be assigned on any given day.

Related: Best American Airlines seats ranked from best to worst

Roundtrip fares begin at around $1,100 in coach, $1,400 in premium economy and $5,500 in biz. There’s not much award or upgrade space right now, but that’ll likely change as the route launch grows closer.

Coach on the AA 777-200 (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

The Seattle to Shanghai route is just the latest in American’s expanding presence in the Pacific Northwest. In Feb., AA stunned aviation observers when it announced nonstop service from Seattle to both Bangalore, India, and London Heathrow. The former is scheduled to begin in winter 2021 and the latter slated to start on March, 27, 2021.

Seattle is not a hub for American, nor did the carrier have an unusually large presence there. But the two high-profile international routes were announced in conjunction with news that American would deepen its ties with Alaska, which also said it would join the Oneworld frequent-flyer alliance that includes American.

As part of the partnership, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines will help feed connecting passengers to American’s new overseas routes from Seattle, where Alaska is the biggest carrier.

Brian Znotins, AA’s vice president of network planning, told TPG that “as we’re moving away from L.A. as an Asian gateway, we have our new partnership with Alaska and Seattle, which has even better geography than L.A. does.” He added that American believes business demand to Shanghai “will snap back fairly quickly” once coronavirus concerns ease.

American and Alaska are teaming up (Photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy)

As for attempting to shift the route to Seattle, he pointed not only the feed from Alaska Airlines, but also to a less-crowded marketplace than what American encountered in Los Angeles.

Related: American Airlines, JetBlue plan ‘slot moves’ at New York JFK

American’s tie-up with Alaska is similar to its recently announced Northeast-focused alliance with JetBlue. As part of this new pact, AA announced new transatlantic routes from New York to Athens and Tel Aviv. AA will use JetBlue’s domestic routes to feed its JFK-based long-haul flights. The new JFK routes are expected to launch “upon implementation of the alliance agreement.”

Regulators still must approve AA’s Seattle to Shanghai service. But putting the flights on sale is one step in the right direction for American’s third long-haul route from Seattle.

Featured photo by FG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Additional reporting by Ben Mutzabaugh

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