The air ticket from mid-west USA to China is getting more expensive after the cut of American Airlines (AA) and United Airlines (UA) ORD to PVG or PEK flights since pandemic in 2020. There are some alternatives nowadays. Besides the cross Atlantic routes below, there are direct flights from Delta Detroit (DTW) to Shanghai (PVG), and from AA Dallas (DFW) to Shanghai (PVG). In fact I took the Delta DTW to PVG (note it’s not daily) last March: I wrote 2 blog posts for that trip – China Trip Spring 2023 – Logistics, and China Trip Spring 2023 – Observations And Thoughts.
Note air tickets and their pricing are always dynamic, and if you are interested in the direct flights from Chicago (ORD) to mainland China (ORD or PEK), please check with the United Airlines’s website, as well as 3rd party websites such as flychina.com (look for “中美直飞航班“) or simpleflying, or aggregator website such as expedia.com. For American Airlines I don’t see they will add back the direct flight from ORD to China in the near future, because they already have the direct flights (daily) from Dallas to Shanghai now.
Cross Atlantic routes
There are some new routes pops up in recent years: mainly fly via Chicago (ORD) and London (LHR), or Frankfurt. If we want to reduce the number of stops, Frankfurt is a viable option (I looked at the dates in June/July, it’s about $2,765 for STL/PVG round trip). Note this is 3 times a week flight (LH449):
Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) to Frankfurt, Germany. The airline uses Airbus A330-300 aircraft for their three-time a week service (with arrivals and departures every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday).
Some new ideas
Also there are hotel costs: my wife thinks those hotel points are free. They are not. I found out the most expensive hotels are in Vancouver (we want to stay near YVR).
Amtrak to Chicago.
Some odds and ends
Credit card declines
My CSP card approved the Air Canada ticket purchase at Expedia.com. But it won’t let me purchase a smaller amount one way air ticket from HKG to NBG. Tried couple times. It triggered fraud alert. Later I got it cleared. It seems I could not use the CSP card for Vancouver hotel booking at Expedia as well. Tried Amex Gold to buy the mentioned air ticket: same results. No alerts but not going through either. Eventually I went to trip.com and used another credit card (Amazon Chase) to get it working. The reason I used Amazon Chase is it doesn’t have foreign transaction fee, and it seems to me trip.com is based in Singapore. I think I tried the CSP there at the 1st step too.
For the Vancouver hotel booking at expedia.com, I used another no foreign transaction fee credit card (Hyatt Chase). I know Expedia is based in the US, but the hotel is in Canada.
Last but not least, I used the CSP as a backup card for the hotel in NGB. I also checked with my friend in NGB to make sure that they have taxi there when we arrive there late at night.
Adding kids to the hotel room
This will cost more in some cases: e.g., the expedia.com booking at Vancouver, I noticed some hotels raised price as soon as I added my kids. In the extreme case: DoubleTree Beilun, it offers me the Presidential Suite as soon as I input in my 2 kids. I get by this issue by only inputting 2 adults (my wife and I). Obviously during check-in we will show kids’ ID etc.
This also reminds me one more thing: as my kids get older, they will likely need a separate room from me 🙂
Some after thoughts
I calculated the total cost, it’s about $1,700 per person, which is cheaper than alternative ways such as via London. The downside is the length of the travel including those stopovers. To alleviate the travel fatigue, I tried to book nicer hotels as much as possible.
Last but not least: I realized although I chose the “option of choosing seats” at expedia.com, in reality though, I need to pay up at Air Canada website in order to choose the seat for the ORD to YVR flights (from and to). They do allow me to choose my seats (and my wife and kiddos’ seats) for the YVR to HKG flights (again from and to). Below explained why. This also vaguely made me to recall shortly after the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, airlines usually asked passengers to pay a small amount of money for luggage, probably ranges from $10 to $50 for those short haul regional slights. In bitter cold winter days, people tried to avoid this fee, by drop offing the luggages at the gate, then wait in the cold temperature for the luggage at the bridge upon arrival. I was thinking: is this the America that I came in summer 1997 🙁
(NerdWallet) Air Canada Seat Selection: What You Need to Know