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

May 18, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

Get Coronavirus travel updates. Stay on top of industry impacts, flight cancellations, and more.

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.

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 GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • 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 $75 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.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.