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Delta and United ready to return to China as international routes slowly resume

May 18, 2020
3 min read
Delta and United ready to return to China as international routes slowly resume
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Delta Air Lines and United Airlines hope to resume flights to China in June, four months after they suspended service to the country during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

Atlanta-based Delta aims resume operate daily flights to Shanghai Pudong (PVG) from both its Detroit (DTW) and Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) hubs on June 1, the airline said Monday. It would fly an Airbus A350-900 on the Detroit route and an Airbus A330-900 on the Seattle route. The A350 will become Delta's largest jet with its recent decision to retire its Boeing 777s.

Chicago-based United plans to resume daily service to Shanghai from both Newark (EWR) and San Francisco (SFO) on June 4, Cirium schedules show and United confirmed. The airline would also resume flights between Beijing Capital (PEK) and San Francisco the same day.

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United would fly a 777-300ER on the Newark-Shanghai route, and a Boeing 787-9 — the new "workhorse" of its long-haul fleet — on both San Francisco routes.

Any resumption in passenger flights is subject to Chinese government approval, both carriers said.

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Resuming passenger flights to China is a positive sign. Both Delta and United cancelled all service to China in the early days of the pandemic when many believed the virus could be contained. However, after the initial outbreak in Wuhan, COVID-19 has spread globally and claimed more lives in the U.S. than anywhere else.

Related: A country-by-country guide to coronavirus recovery

China remains largely closed to international visitors after suspending entry for nearly all foreigners in March. However, it has recently allowed South Koreans to travel to some cities on business and is reportedly discussing reopening travel with some 14 countries.

Those restrictions, as well as ones in nearly every other country, have many forecasting a slow recovery in international travel. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects it to take three or four years for international passenger numbers to return to 2019 levels, though domestic numbers could return in as little as two years.

So even if Delta and United get the green light to resume flights in June, would-be travelers should not plan on immediately strolling down The Bund or taking in the Great Wall. Foreigners entering China are likely face some restrictions for some months to come.

American Airlines, for one, is not expecting a significant uptick in travel to China anytime soon. The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier has suspended flights to both Beijing and Shanghai until the end of October.

Related: These are the only long-haul routes American, Delta and United plan to fly in May

Featured image by AFP via Getty Images

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees