Delta Flight En Route from U.S. to China Turns Around Due to COVID

Delta Air Lines announced Monday it had to turn back a flight from Seattle to Shanghai as a result of the Chinese airport’s new extensive COVID cleaning restrictions.

  • Delta released an emailed statement that said the new mandates at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport “require significantly extended ground time and are not operationally viable for Delta.”
  • The Delta flight that turned back to Seattle left passengers with expired COVID test results and U.S. visas, The New York Times reported, citing Chinese media reports.
  • The Chinese consulate in San Francisco said in a statement that a significant amount of flights from the U.S. to China had been delayed or canceled in recent days including a flight that turned around more than halfway to its destination, but did not specifically name Delta.


  • It wasn’t clear what the new COVID-19 cleaning rules are or what caused the sudden change for Shanghai Pudong International Airport, but the decision follows the new mandates in Chinese cities across the country.
  • One new outbreak of COVID in the Chinese city of Xi’an, which reported 63 cases on Thursday, has now spread to at least five other cities and resulted in some of the strictest lockdown measures since the initial wave in Wuhan nearly two years ago.
  • China is rigidly enforcing its “zero-Covid” strategy in an attempt to completely contain transmission of the virus.
  • The city of Xi’an is about 600 miles southwest of Bejing, the host city of the 2022 Winter Olympics which will take place in just six weeks.