United Airlines to resume China flights on July 8

Jun 29, 2020

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United Airlines will resume its service to Shanghai on July 8, making it the second US carrier to return to China.

The Chicago-based carrier will operate twice a week between its San Francisco hub and Shanghai Pudong (PVG) with a crew stop at Seoul Incheon (ICN). The flights will depart on Wednesdays and Saturdays and will return from Shanghai on Thursdays and Sundays.

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  • UA857: outbound departs San Francisco at 11 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays (all times local) and arrives Shanghai at 5:45 p.m. the next day. The itinerary includes a stop in Seoul.
  • UA858: inbound departs Shanghai at 9:40 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays (all times local) and arrives San Francisco at 8:55 p.m. on the same day. The itinerary includes a stop in Seoul.

The flights will be operated on a Boeing 777-300ER (77W), which has 60 lie-flat Polaris business-class seats in a modified 1-2-1 configuration. However, passengers may not get the full Polaris experience that they had hoped for just yet — many airlines have still shuttered their lounges, including the Polaris Lounge in SFO. At the moment, only the United Club is open in Terminal 3 near Gate F11.

“Resuming service to Shanghai from the United States is a significant step in rebuilding our international network,” Patrick Quayle, United’s VP of International Network and Alliances, said in a press release.

Review: A review of United 777-300ER in Polaris business class

The carrier’s Shanghai service comes after Delta had resumed its own service last Thursday from its Seattle hub. Unlike United, Delta plans to split its Shanghai routes to Seattle and Detroit. Delta’s flights also include a stop in Seoul.

United is also resuming some of its other Asia-Pacific routes during July from San Francisco, such as Seoul, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Prior to the pandemic, United offered the most services to China of all U.S. carriers and the carrier seemed eager to reclaim that throne. Specifically, United was hoping to re-launch its service to Shanghai from both Newark (EWR) and San Francisco — as well as service between Beijing Capital (PEK) and San Francisco.

The airline had to swallow its ambitions, however, as the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) is only allowing two round-trip flights per week for U.S. carriers. The U.S. Department of Transportation is matching that policy at this time for Chinese carriers to “maintain the parity in scheduled passenger services,” the latest update in a back-and-forth aviation spat between the countries.

United’s focus on the SFO to PVG route suggests the airline’s desire to recapture the lucrative Silicon Valley market, as reports have shown that Apple alone used to buy 50 business class seats on that very route every day.

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.

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

Featured photo courtesy of Denver International Airport

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