United begins first-ever direct service between Los Angeles and Shanghai

United begins first-ever direct service between Los Angeles and Shanghai

United Airlines launched the inaugural flight on its new route between Los Angeles and Shanghai, China, late last week, marking the first time the carrier has offered service between the California city and the major Asian financial hub, according to a press release.

Since it first began operating flights to China in 1986, United has expanded so that it offers a significant number of flights to the People's Republic. Currently, the carrier has 11 daily flights from Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. to Chinese destinations like Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

The new Los Angeles-Shanghai route will reportedly be served by a Boeing 777 jet. The outbound flight departs the U.S. at 1:23 p.m., arriving in China the next day at 5:45 p.m. For the return flight, the plane leaves at 8:10 p.m. and arrives at 5:07 p.m. the same day (due to crossing the international date line). According to the source, this service was timed to allow travelers to take advantage of connecting flights from Los Angeles to other cities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

"United operates more routes from the U.S. to China than any other airline, and this new service is another step in the expansion of our U.S.-China network," said Jim Compton, United's executive vice president and chief revenue officer. "The new flights will offer customers additional convenient options for travel between the two countries."

The Boeing 777 aircraft used on the Los Angeles-Shanghai route will be equipped with both first and business class cabins. Initially, both premium sections will be equipped with seats that recline to a nearly-flat position. Once United completes an array of scheduled upgrades, however, first and business class passengers will be able to enjoy seats that convert into fully flat beds.

To better serve passengers whose trips originate in Shanghai, United is also offering several in-flight features that cater to Chinese travelers. The in-flight entertainment system has both English and Mandarin TV and movie options, while the meal service features dishes inspired by Chinese and Western cuisine. In addition, flight attendants and gate agents who are fluent in Chinese will be on hand to better assist passengers not capable of communicating in English.

By Jason Faulkner

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