On December 1, 2020, the airlines confirmed the halting of direct flights to Shanghai and adding Seoul, South Korea on the route. The airlines took the decision due to long waits for COVID-19 testing while entering China and restricted accommodation for the staff. The difficulty of finding hotels and restrictions on movement could interfere with the mandatory crew rest requirements, they also noted.
In December 2020, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) planned to begin nonstop cargo flights from Los Angeles to Shanghai but will continue to operate the flight with a stop in Seoul. On the way back to Los Angeles it will fly nonstop, reported CNBC.
“We started operating passenger service from DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth) to PVG (Shanghai Pudong) on November 11 through Seoul (ICN) due to testing requirements for crews,” said the spokesperson from American Airlines (A1G) (AAL), adding that the company’s cargo flights will also be operating through Seoul for the same reason.
United Airlines said it has added a stop in Seoul on its San Francisco-Shanghai route. However, passengers traveling to Shanghai would stay on the plane during the stop.
“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,” United Airlines spokesman Jonathan Guerin said.
On the other hand, Delta Air Lines plans to offer nonstop flights to Shanghai from Seattle and Detroit in the first week of December 2020.
“Delta currently operates two flights a week from Shanghai to Seattle and Detroit, providing passengers with convenient transportation covering any city on the East and west coast of the United States,” said Huang Kang, President of Delta China.
United Airlines, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) and Delta Air Lines grounded their regular passenger flights between China and the US due to the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020. In June 2020, the United States Department of Transportation (DoT) announced the banning of Chinese passenger airlines flying into the US. Later on, the US and China agreed to allow four weekly flights between the two nations and raised that number to eight in August 2020. In November 2020, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) restarted the flights to China, lifting the number of weekly flights to ten.