United Alters China Routing Eliminating Seoul Stopover

Chicago-based United Airlines is resuming nonstop flights into Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport. Right now, United Airlines flies into Shanghai but the flights stopover in Seoul. However, from October 21, Shanghai bound United flights will skip the South Korean capital and fly nonstop to Shanghai.

United Airlines will start flying nonstop to Shanghai from San Francisco on October 21. Photo: Getty Images

It’s a small step towards normalizing United’s China flights. At the start of the year, United Airlines operated daily flights to Shanghai from five United States airports. Now, United has scaled back services to just four times weekly from San Francisco.

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United’s Shanghai services to skip Seoul from October 21

United Airlines flight 857 will depart San Francisco at 11:50 on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from October 21. That flight will land at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport at 16:30 the following day. The return flight is be tagged as United Airlines 858. That flight will leave Pudong at 13:30 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The flight will touch down in San Francisco at 09:30 on the same day.

In a statement, United Airlines Vice President of International Networks and Alliances, Patrick Quayle said;

“We look forward to resuming nonstop service and offering our customers greater convenience and shorter flight times between San Francisco and Shanghai.”

United Airlines will operate Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on its nonstop Shanghai services. Photo: United Airlines

Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will operate United’s nonstop services to Shanghai. The aircraft seats 350 passengers in three cabin classes. That includes 60 business class Polaris seats in a 1-2-1 layout. That’s a sizeable number of business class seats, but they are split across two distinct cabin zones.

There are also 24 recliner style seats in United’s Premium Plus cabin. In this small cabin, there are just three rows in a 2-4-2 layout. The main cabin seats 266 passengers in a 3-4-3 layout. Sixty-two seats at the front of the main cabin are designated Economy Plus seats. These seats include six inches of extra legroom.

With the resumption of nonstop flights to Shanghai, United Airlines continues a relatively aggressive rollout and resumption of international services. Throughout 2020, United Airlines has distinguished itself by keeping key international routes open, despite other airlines suspending their services.

United stays committed to long-haul flying

In recent months, United Airlines has attempted to kickstart demand by resuming flights on routes it had suspended.

“Now is the right time to take a bold step in evolving our global network to help our customers reconnect with friends, family, and colleagues around the world,” said Patrick Quayle last month.

“United continues playing a critical role in keeping people and global supply chains connected to Shanghai and to cities around the world.”

Mr Quayle said that when announcing the resumption of nonstop flights to nonstop service to Africa, India, and Hawaii.

United’s Shanghai services will operate four times a week. Photo: Thomas Nugent via Geograph

That announcement included a raft of interesting routes, including Chicago and New Delhi, and San Francisco and Bangalore. Heading off in the opposite direction are new and resuming services between Chicago and Tel Aviv, Newark and Johannesburg, and a triangle service between Washington D.C., Accra, and Lagos.

While spruiking the convenience factor, Mr Quayle also noted United’s continued innovative and forward-looking approach to rebuilding their network.

The nonstop services to Shanghai are just that. Four services a week to China out of San Francisco might be a shadow of United’s former China offering, but dropping the Seoul stopover is a step in the right direction towards rebuilding services.