Major US Airlines Pause Nonstop Flights To Shanghai

American Airlines and United are putting their nonstop Shanghai plans on hold, the carriers confirmed Tuesday. Reports on long waits to enter the country and restricted accommodations have given rise to concerns regarding crew rest requirements. Services, including cargo-only, will continue to operate via Seoul Incheon. Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines is reportedly going ahead with nonstop flights to China.

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American and United Airlines are pausing their plans for nonstop Shanghai flights due to concerns over crew rest requirements and accommodations. Photo: Getty Images

Both American Airlines and United have halted their plans to fly nonstop to Shanghai in China. Concerns have been raised from unions about reports on lengthy waits for tests upon arrival.

There is also apprehension regarding the government-mandated hotel for crew at Pudong airport, where movement is reported to be severely restricted. These cumbersome procedures take a large chunk out of the federally regulated rest requirements for airline crew.

Crew continues to change in Seoul

American had planned to initiate non-stop cargo-only flights from Los Angeles to Shanghai in December. However, it will now continue to operate the service with a stop in Seoul, South Korea, for a crew change, CNBC reported Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the return journey will go straight from Shanghai to LA. Sources told the publication that American would continue to include stops in Seoul for its flights from Dallas-Fort Worth to Shanghai and from LAX to Beijing.

“We started operating passenger service from DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth) to PVG (Shanghai Pudong) on Nov. 11 through Seoul (ICN) due to testing requirements for crews,” a spokesperson for American Airlines told Reuters. They also added that cargo flights are continuing to operate through Seoul for the same reason.

United Airlines Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner N12006
United previously eliminated its Seoul stopover on its way to Shanghai but has now added it back to the itinerary. Photo: Vincenzo Pace |

United adding the stop back in

United Airlines previously flew to Shanghai via Seoul on the way there. However, on October 21st, the airline removed the stop on its San Fransisco to Shanghai Pudong route. Now, due to the same concerns over crew rest time and limited local accommodations, the carrier is adding Seoul back to the itinerary.

“Due to changes in operating conditions, we adjusted service between San Francisco and Shanghai to now include a stop in Seoul, South Korea for a crew change as we did earlier this year,” a United spokesperson said to CNBC.

Delta, meanwhile, the first US carrier to resume air traffic ties with China, is reportedly going ahead with nonstop services from Seattle and Detroit. Photo: Getty Images

Union making sure Delta’s decision is airtight

Delta Air Lines, however, is, thus far, still going ahead with the reintroduction of direct flights to China’s largest city. The carrier is set to offer nonstop services from both Seattle and Detroit starting this week. As the first US airline to reconnect the US and China since the flight suspension in February, Delta resumed a twice-weekly service to Shanghai in June. Since then, flights have also operated with a stop at Seoul Incheon.

“Delta has shared with us their plan and the logistics surrounding the initiation of nonstop service to Shanghai. Right now, we are studying it to make sure that it is airtight,” the ALPA told CNBC in a statement.

Simple Flying has reached out to the above-mentioned airlines with a request for further comments but was yet to receive a reply at the time of publication.


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