United Launches Additional Seasonal Service to China! What Does Award Space Look Like?

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United Airlines Shanghai

United Announces Additional Summer Flights to China

United has announced an seasonal increase in service to China. From May 6, 2014 to October 24, 2015 they will add a second daily flight from San Francisco to Shanghai. Additionally they will upgrade Chengdu from a three times weekly service to a daily service from June 4, 2014 to September 1, 2015.

Since Air China is one of the most generous airlines with award space (See my trip reports here & here), it generally has been easy to get to China with United miles. Still, this represents more opportunities to reach China and both of these cities participate in the 72 hour Visa waiver, meaning you could stay there a short time before connecting on to another country.

Flight Times

The SFO-CTU flight is as follows:

  • Depart SFO 1:20pm Arrive CTU 6:40pm the next day.

The SFO-PVG flights will be as follows:

  • Depart SFO 1:50pm Arrive PVG 5:25pm the next day.
  • Depart SFO 3:05pm Arrive PVG 7:00pm the next day.

Award Availability – San Francisco to Chengdu

United Airlines Shanghai
SFO-CTU June/July 2014. Yellow indicates economy and white indicates no availability.

On the San Francisco to Chengdu route, I found no business class award space, although economy seats are available for most days during the summer.

Award Availability – San Francisco to Shanghai

United Airlines Shanghai
SFO-PVG Summer 2015.

Unfortunately the Shanghai route is even worse than Chengdu. There is absolutely no Business Class availability and even coach availability is sparse during the summer.

Conclusion

United just announced these additional flights today, so hopefully they will loosen up the award availability at some point. Right now, there are still some options for Business Class to these cities on other Star Alliance carriers, but you have to pay the higher partner award price.


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