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Delta to resume China flights as US-China aviation spat cools

June 22, 2020
4 min read
Delta to resume China flights as US-China aviation spat cools
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Delta Air Lines will restart service to China on Thursday, adding flights between Seattle and Shanghai Pudong (PVG) with a crew stop at Seoul Incheon (ICN).

The Atlanta-based airline will become the first U.S. carrier to return to China since flights were halted at the early onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in February. The Seattle-Shanghai flights will operate twice a week in June. Starting in July, Delta plans to operate one flight a week from Seattle and Detroit on Thursdays and Fridays respectively — also via Seoul.

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  • DL287/288: outbound departs Seattle at 11:30 p.m. Thursday (all times local) and arrives Shanghai at 4:45 a.m., return departs Shanghai at 9:15 a.m. Saturday and arrives Seattle at 7:15 a.m. The itinerary includes a stop in Seoul.
  • DL283/284: outbound departs Detroit at 7 p.m. Friday (all times local) and arrives Shanghai at 12:15 a.m., return departs Shanghai at 4:45 a.m. Sunday and arrives Detroit at 8:20 a.m. The itinerary includes a stop in Seoul.

Both flights will be flown on an Airbus A350-900 fitted with 306 seats, including 32 Delta One business class suites. The Seattle route will revert back to an Airbus A330-900neo beginning August, which only has 29 Delta One suites but has a Comfort+ cabin — which the A350-900 doesn't.

Wong Hong, Delta's President for Greater China and Singapore, said in a statement that the carrier is "excited to resume our services between the U.S. and China, as economic and social activities start to recover."

Review: 8 reasons why Delta One is the go-to way for Asia

Delta's resumption of China service comes after a series of tit-for-tat exchanges between U.S. and Chinese aviation authorities seemed to have died down last week. The spat hit its crescendo when Washington said it would bar Chinese carriers from flying to the U.S. earlier this month. Since then, the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) had been gradually revising its policy to allow for more flights by U.S. carriers.

Chinese carriers had also applied for increased services to the U.S., but the Department of Transportation announced last Friday that it was rejecting those requests to "maintain the parity in scheduled passenger services between U.S. and Chinese carriers." DOT noted, however, that it was willing to review this decision if the CAAC adjusted its policies affecting U.S. carriers. Delta's schedule reflects the current route policy between the two countries, which allows for U.S. airlines to offer two round-trip flights per week.

While Delta gets set to resume its China service, it will likely soon be joined by United.

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Read: A $14k rescue mission from China for a special corgi named Watson

The Chicago-based carrier also plans to serve destinations in Mainland China, specifically Beijing Capital (PEK) and Shanghai from San Francisco (SFO) — plus a flight from Newark (EWR) to Shanghai. While the carrier had put its plans for China on hold because of the uncertainties surrounding schedule policy, it is still planing to resume flights to China.

But United does not yet have a firm date for the re-start, with a spokesperson telling TPG that "we aim to re-launch our service to China in the weeks ahead."

Whenever that restart comes, however, United will have to cut one of its planned routes if no additional changes are the current flight limits imposed by U.S. and Chinese regulators.

Despite the resumptions, passenger traffic on the routes is still expected to be limited. Foreign nationals remain prohibited from entering China, and the U.S. government is forbidding entry for anyone who has visited China within the 14 days prior to departure — though U.S. citizens and green card holders are exempt.

Guide: When will international travel return? A country-by-country guide to coronavirus travel restrictions

Featured Photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy

Featured image by Photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy

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Why We Chose It

Build your loyalty to Delta by applying for the carrier's mid-tier card option, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card. The annual fee is quickly recouped by the card's travel perks, such as an application credit to Global Entry or TSA Precheck, annual companion certificate and so much more. Plus you can fast-track to elite status simply through card spend.

Pros

  • Earn bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and an Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) waiver when you hit specific spending thresholds with your card within a calendar year
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year
  • Statement credit for TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee (up to $100)
  • First checked bag free

Cons

  • Doesn't make sense if you don't fly Delta
  • SkyMiles aren't the most valuable airline currency
  • Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights. Plus enjoy Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding and settle into your seat sooner.
  • New: Card Members get 15% off when using miles to book Award Travel on Delta flights through delta.com and the Fly Delta app. Discount not applicable to partner-operated flights or to taxes and fees.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • Enjoy a per-visit rate of $50 per person for Card Members and up to two guests to enter the Delta Sky Club when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees