You Can Now Fly from Houston to Panama on a Chinese Airline
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.
Star Alliance partner Air China is launching its new flight between Houston and Panama today, April 5, allowing US passengers to fly to the Central American nation and back on a Chinese airline. The route is a continuation of the airline’s existing Beijing – Houston route, which currently flies five times weekly from Beijing’s Capital airport (PEK) to Houston Bush Intercontinental (IAH). The new route is an added segment to and from Panama City (PTY) twice a week, on Thursdays and Sundays.
Flying between two nations on an airline of a third country is a rare occurrence, known as a fifth-freedom route — in other words, a flight operated by a foreign carrier between two foreign countries as part of service connecting those points to the airline’s home country.
Air China says in a statement that the new link to Panama is “a natural extension of the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road,” a reference to a modern-day version of the trade route that once connected China to Europe across Asia. The opening of the new route also follows recent free-trade negotiations between China and Panama, after the Central American country broke long-time diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 2017.
Air China also just opened a new direct flight between Los Angeles (LAX) and Shenzhen (SZX) in December 2017. Overall, Air China currently operates more than 200 weekly flights to 12 destinations within the Americas, including New York (Newark and JFK), Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Hawaii, Vancouver, Montreal, Havana and São Paulo.
The route is operated by a three-class Boeing 777-300ER with 8 first class, 42 business and 261 economy seats. Look for a review of the inaugural flight here on TPG later this week.
The flight schedule is as follows:
CA885 – Between Beijing and Houston on Thursdays and Sundays. All times are local.
- Departure from Beijing at 07:40am and arrival in Houston at 08:20am
- Departure from Houston at 10:50am and arrival in Panama City at 2:30pm
CA 886 – Between Houston and Panama City on Thursdays and Sundays. All times are local.
- Departing from Panama City at 4:30pm arriving in Houston at 8:15pm
- Departing from Houston at 01:00am the following day, and arriving in Beijing at 04:50am on the third day
Featured image of Air China Boeing 777-300ER y Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.