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Unusual: Air China's US East Coast Flights Are Operating Via Los Angeles


  • After a four-year hiatus, Air China will resume Beijing to Washington Dulles on November 21.
  • The service will be one of five US routes this winter.
  • The airline’s network remains down by two routes versus winter 2019.

While US-China seats for sale remain down by a considerable 63% versus before the pandemic, this market segment is slowly recovering. Star Alliance member Air China is the second-largest operator, after United, and has five US routes this winter. They include a return to Washington Dulles, served via Los Angeles enroute back to Asia.

Welcome back, Washington Dulles!

It’s been a few years since Air China operated this particular service. Having last been offered in February 2020, Beijing Capital to Washington Dulles will resume on November 21 and run on Tuesdays and Saturdays. But flights remain down by at least half versus November 2019.

It is, for now, the only carrier on the long, 6,921-mile (11,138 km) airport pair, based on the non-stop distance. However, at the time of writing, it is expected to be joined by a daily flight by United Airlines on March 30, 2024.

An Air China Boeing 777-300ER in Star Alliance Livery about to land.

Photo: Vinceno Pace I Simple Flying

Using the Boeing 777-300ER, Air China’s offering is scheduled as follows, with all times local:

  • Beijing to Dulles: CA817, 12:30-14:10 (14h 40m block; same-day arrival)
  • Dulles to Los Angeles: CA818, 16:35-19:05 (5h 30m)
  • Los Angeles to Beijing: CA818, 21:05-04:10+2 (15h 5m)

While it obviously does not have traffic rights on the domestic leg from Dulles to Los Angeles, it is nonetheless significant. The flight from Los Angeles to China is available to book.

Air China Washington Dulles

Image: Air China

At 22 hours and 35 minutes back to China, it is more or less the same duration as most other one-stop options. However, one considerably faster option is Korean Air via Seoul Incheon. The airline’s alternative takes a mere 19 hours and 30 minutes to Beijing with a very short 70-minute transit in South Korea.

That makes five US routes

While it may change, Air China’s US network from November 19 to the end of March is as follows. Notice that it is all operated by the Boeing 777-300ER. For now, the airline’s last 747-8 service will operate from Beijing to San Francisco on November 18, the day of writing.

  • Beijing to Los Angeles: three weekly terminator service (777-300ER); see below
  • Beijing to New York JFK: three weekly (777-300ER); via Los Angeles back home
  • Beijing to San Francisco: twice-weekly (777-300ER, replacing the 747-8)
  • Beijing to Washington Dulles: twice-weekly (777-300ER); via Los Angeles back home
  • Shenzhen to Los Angeles: weekly (777-300ER)

Notice that JFK is, like Dulles, also via Los Angeles en route to Beijing, with these flights again bookable from Los Angeles. If they are added to the terminator (i.e., Beijing-Los Angeles-Beijing), Air China has eight weekly passenger flights from the California airport.

Air China 777-300ER departing

But seven routes pre-pandemic…

There is much to be gleaned by comparing Air China’s network in winter 2023 to winter 2019, which was as follows:

  • Beijing to Los Angeles: double daily (777-300ER, 787-9)
  • Beijing to JFK: 10 weekly (747-8, 777-300ER)
  • Beijing to San Francisco: daily (777-300ER, 747-8)
  • Beijing to Dulles: four to five weekly (777-300ER; very occasionally by the 747-8)
  • Beijing to Newark: four weekly (787-9)
  • Beijing to Houston Intercontinental: three to five weekly (777-300ER)
  • Shenzhen to Los Angeles: twice-weekly (787-9)

As you can see, Beijing-Los Angeles had double daily flights, against the three weekly terminator services now. There is no indication if or when Newark and Houston will return.

What do you think of Air China’s gradual return to the US market? Let us know in the comments.

Sources: Cirium, Google Flights, Air China, ch-aviation, US DOT T-100

  • Air China Tile

    Air China

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Beijing Capital Airport, Beijing Daxing Airport, Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport

    Year Founded:

    Star Alliance

    Airline Group:
    Air China Group

    Cai Jianjiang




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