During the third quarter of 2018, Delta Air Lines filed a request to the United States Department of Transportation to begin a Minneapolis/Saint Paul to Shanghai-Pudong flight. While there hasn’t been an announcement yet, many are hoping for the route to materialize. If the DOT approves, Delta could begin flying this route as early as June 2020. They plan on using their flagship aircraft, the Airbus A350-900, which consists of 32 Delta One Suites, 48 Delta Premium Select seats, and 226 main cabin seats.
Delta’s proposed route from Minneapolis to Shanghai will be a game changer for both Delta. The flight will make it easier for Minnesotans to fly to China directly, but people from cities in South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, and to a lesser extent, Wisconsin. They will be able to save money by driving to Minneapolis rather than flying to Detroit or Chicago if they want to fly to China. Even if they choose to fly, they can easily connect through Minneapolis without multiple stops, especially since Delta is the only airline that flies to some of the smaller cities in the upper Midwest. Overall, this new flight will allow people more opportunities in deciding which city to connect to when they want to fly to China.
The flight will also make it much easier for tourists in China to get to Minneapolis and flock over to the Mall of America, undoubtedly Minnesota’s biggest and most well known attraction. Already, there are 100,000 tourists from China who fly to Minneapolis to visit the Mall of America. Unfortunately for these tourists, most aren’t lucky enough to live in a city that has a direct flight to the United States, requiring a two-stop connection to get to Minneapolis. If this direct route becomes a reality, people will only have to connect once from their home city, which saves a lot of hassle, time, and money. The hope is that it will lead to an increase surge in tourists from China to Minnesota and it will generate significant return for the city of Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota.
The hope of this new service is that Minnesota will lead to greater recognition internationally. Unfortunately, Minnesota-in my opinion- tends to be a very underrated tourist destination, despite having the biggest indoor Mall and Waterpark in the United States as well as many historical sights, art museums, natural parks, and more. When I talk to Chinese citizens about where they want to visit in the United States, they will usually name cities like Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, and Seattle. When I ask them if they’ve heard about Minneapolis, most will say “no.” However, I ask them if they’ve heard of Atlanta, they usually say “yes.” This is because all of these cities either have extremely big recognition as tourist destinations or a direct flight to China. If the direct flight from China to Minnesota becomes a reality, then Minnesota will most likely gain the international recognition it deserves.
Ultimately, if the Minneapolis/Saint Paul to Shanghai-Pudong flight comes to fruition, there will be a much deeper impact for travel between the United States and China rather than merely seeing it as another route that just helps Minnesotans and Chinese tourists wanting to travel to Minnesota.