Chengdu-based Sichuan Airlines is set to launch service to Los Angeles starting October 17, according to RoutesOnline. The airline has announced plans to start the service back in late August, but apparently didn’t file operational schedule until today. The flights are also not even bookable yet as of this writing…for a launch that’s happening in less than a week!
Sichuan Airlines was founded back in 1986, but only launched its first long-haul flight in 2012, to Vancouver. Los Angeles will be the airline’s first US destination. The flight will be operated by an Airbus A330, and will fly from Chengdu (CTU) to Los Angeles (LAX), with a stop in Hangzhou (HGH). The schedule is as follows:
- 3U 8631: Chengdu to Hangzhou, 0810/1055 – Hangzhou to Los Angeles, 1255/1200
- 3U 8632: Los Angeles to Hangzhou, 1400/1930+1 – Hangzhou to Chengdu, 2130+1/0020+2
I am absolutely fascinated with Chinese airlines’ expansion into the United States, particularly because of China’s “one route, one airline” policy. China Eastern Airlines already flies non-stop between Chengdu and Los Angeles, so I suspect this is partly why Sichuan is operating the route with a stop.
Sichuan Airlines’ A330 doesn’t have the most groundbreaking hard product out there; their Business Class cabin features what looks to be angled flat seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, while their Economy cabin has the standard 2-4-2 configuration.
The airline’s website has pretty limited options, and pages that describe in-flight services look like a few blog posts. They don’t currently have a dedicated USA site, and their China site is well…only available in Chinese. Their Canadian site does offer English, but is much more limited in content compared to the Chinese site.
What is interesting, however, is that it looks like Sichuan Airlines actually offers chauffeur drive services! The information is available through the Chinese website, but I will summarize the details below:
- Available within 2.5 Ring Roads around Chengdu city
- Eligible for pssengers traveling in fare classes F, P, I, A, C, J, Y, T, W,H, M, G, S, L, Q, E
- Not available for passegers traveling on group or bulk fare
- Not available for passengers traveling on a codeshare ticket
- For passengers traveling on flighs at or before 1:00 pm, reservations must be made at least one day in advance. For passengers traveling on flights after 1:00 pm, reservations must be made at least 4 hours in advance
I dug a little deeper into their chauffeur drive service, and it looks like Sichuan Airlines actually bought a whole fleet of car themselves just for this purpose. Specifically, they bought 150 minivans at a steep discount, and in exchange, the car manufacturer will show ads to passengers. This is a pretty creative concept, I suppose, but I don’t think anyone particularly enjoys ads, especially if they just got got off a long flight. Still, it looks like Sichuan Airlines offers this service to some Economy passengers, so this might be a worthy tradeoff.
For those looking for an alternative, United Airlines currently offers non-stop service between Chengdu and San Francisco.
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