Skip to content

China-US aviation spat ratchets down as Washington OKs more flights

June 16, 2020
4 min read
China-US aviation spat ratchets down as Washington OKs more flights
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.

The back-and-forth aviation battle between the United States and China appears to be letting up.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced a new transpacific aviation policy late Monday that will peg the maximum number of flights to the U.S. by Chinese airlines to the number of flights Beijing is allowing U.S. carriers to operate to China.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more aviation news.

"As the Chinese government allows more flights by U.S. carriers, we will reciprocate," the DOT said in announcing the policy.

It's the latest development in an ongoing war of words over air service between the two countries that only now seems to be easing.

The most dramatic episode came earlier this month when Washington said it would bar Chinese carriers from serving the U.S. entirely, a move that came after the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) used a technicality in its COVID-19 flight policy to effectively bar U.S. airlines from restoring service to China.

Review: Air China’s 747-8 in first class from Beijing to New York.

The CAAC announced an easing of its rules the very next day, saying U.S. airlines would be able to resume limited service between the two countries with a schedule of one round-trip flight per week for approved carriers. At the time, only Delta and United had announced plans to resume China service — meaning that the Chinese policy would have allowed a total of two U.S.-China round-trips a week on U.S. carriers.

The DOT, however, said that China's new policy was still too restrictive and again updated its permissions for Chinese carriers, effectively reducing their transpacific schedules to a cumulative total of two weekly flights, matching what China was allowing U.S. carriers in its latest update.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

That policy was set to take effect Tuesday. But the DOT's Monday announcement confirmed the CAAC's revised its policy that now will allow U.S. airlines to operate two round-trip flights per week, instead of one.

So far, with only Delta and United having announced plans to restore service to China, that means there could be four round-trip flights by U.S. airlines to China. Likely not coincidentally, that matches what's currently being flown by China-based carriers, with four airlines each providing one weekly round-trip flight to the U.S.

Related: United and American may ban passengers who don't wear masks.

While the DOT said it applauds the relaxing of restrictions, its position is that service should be completely restored to pre-coronavirus levels. "The Department will continue to press for the full restoration of passenger air travel between the United States and China," it said in a statement.

Delta, which had hoped to resume its China service earlier this month, now said it hoped to do so next week. The carrier told Reuters that it would fly two flights from Seattle to Shanghai next week, with each stopping in Seoul en route. In July, Delta said it would continue its schedule of two weekly flights, though one would originate in Seattle and the other in Detroit. Both of those flights also are scheduled to operate with a stop in Seoul. It was unclear when United might restart service following the latest DOT-CAAC updates.

For now, however, there is a limited pool of people who would even be allowed to take the U.S.-China nonstops. Foreign nationals remain prohibited from entering China, so the new flights will only be open to Chinese citizens.

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

Featured image by GC Images

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
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

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
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.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
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

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • 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.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023