United Airlines Will Double San Francisco To Shanghai Flights

United Airlines has announced that it will be doubling the number of services it offers between San Francisco and Shanghai. The route will be served with four weekly flights starting on September 4th. This comes after both the US and China have agreed to open additional international air services between the two countries.

United 777-300ER
United Airlines will double its flights between Shanghai and San Francisco. Photo: United Airlines

United’s increased frequencies

United Airlines currently flies twice weekly between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) via a stop in Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN). Starting on September 4th, United will operate four weekly flights.

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United is going to use a Boeing 777-300ER on the route. The aircraft will operate from SFO to PVG via ICN on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The return flight will run on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

UA857 will depart San Francisco at 11:00 local time on the above listed days. The aircraft will reach Shanghai at 17:45 local time the next day. The return flights will leave Shanghai at 21:40 and arrive the same day in San Francisco at 20:55 local.

United Airlines Aircraft
United was one of the first airlines eager to return to China. Photo: Getty Images

In a press release viewed by Simple Flying, Patrick Quayle, United’s vice president of International Network and Alliances, stated the following:

“United has served mainland China for more than three decades and we look forward to continuing to connect customers traveling between the U.S. and Shanghai with two additional flights beginning in September.”

San Francisco is United’s transpacific gateway. Photo: Getty Images

Allowing more flights between China and the United States

On Tuesday, August 18th, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it would allow Chinese carriers to operate a total of eight weekly roundtrip scheduled flights in the aggregate. This came as Chinese aviation authorities also increased the number of flights permitted on US airlines. In total, US and Chinese airlines will be operating 16 roundtrip weekly flights between the two countries.

United Airlines and Delta Air Lines were two carriers trying to resume services to China back in June. However, there were some impediments to getting governmental permission in China for these US airlines to restart flights. So, at first, the DOT denied permission for Chinese airlines to operate to the US, citing the inability of US carriers to fly to China.

Delta and United Getty
United and Delta were the only two US airlines that resumed flights to China this summer. Photo: Getty Images

A few days later, the DOT amended the order allowing a total of two flights per week between the US and China on Chinese carriers after Delta and United both received one weekly roundtrip. And then, after Delta and United received another weekly flight, Chinese airlines, in the aggregate, received four weekly flights.

Now, United and Delta have received four weekly flights apiece. So, the DOT is granting Chinese airlines eight weekly flights in the aggregate. Delta Air Lines will likely also increase the number of flights it offers between the US and China– also via a stop in Seoul.

The stop in Seoul by US airlines operating to China is likely to allow crews to avoid laying over in China, which has a very restrictive entry policy for foreigners.

United’s presence in China

United Airlines was the largest US carrier flying to China before the current crisis hit. From Shanghai alone, United operated five daily flights from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Newark to PVG.

United’s SFO to PVG flight is driven in a large part by Apple, the tech company. Apple bought about 50 business class seats per day on the route, spending about $35 million. However, that has likely been significantly reduced in the wake of the current crisis.

There are 60 Polaris seats onboard the 777-300ER. Photo: United Airlines

China is still allowing some international visitors for urgent or essential business with permission from a Chinese embassy or consulate. Delta Air Lines has noted there is relatively significant demand for business travel to China, leading it to end its capacity restrictions n Delta One onboard Airbus A350s flying to China.

United is also likely seeing some kind of origin and destination (O&D) or connecting passenger demand, or perhaps even some repatriation demand, for people who are stuck in the US.

And, of course, there is likely plenty of cargo demand between the US and Shanghai.

Are you going to fly United between San Francisco and Shanghai? What do you make of this service increase? Let us know in the comments!