Practical tips

  • If you are flying to Shanghai from abroad, you will most likely land at one of its biggest international airportsits main international airportShanghai Pudong Airport PVG or Shanghai Hongqiao Airport SHA.

    PVG is located in the Pudong New Area, about 30 km (18.6 miles) east of Shanghai's city center. It is the larger of the two airports, serving most of the international flights to and from Shanghai. SHA is in Hongqiao, about 13 km (8 miles) to the west. It's smaller than PVG, mainly focusing on domestic flights, regional flights to nearby Asian countries, and some international flights to a few destinations. The two airports are connected by various transportation options, including metro, bus, and taxi services. It's around 45 km (28 miles) by road from PVG to SHA.

    These are also the best (and cheapest) airports to fly into Shanghai. As they are used by many airlines serving the same routes, the competition for passengers is fierce, and airfare decreases as a result.
Best airports to fly into Shanghai: Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA)
Shanghai has two large international airports – Shanghai Pudong Airport PVG and Shanghai Hongqiao Airport SHA. PVG is located in Pudong New Area, about 30 km (18.6 miles) east of Shanghai's city center, while SHA is in Hongqiao, about 13 km (8 miles) to the west. It's around 45 km (28 miles) by road from PVG to SHA.
  • Once in Shanghai, take advantage of frequent intercity flights operated by domestic airlines such as China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Air China, Hainan Air, Beijing Capital Airlines, Grand China Air, Lucky Air, Shanghai Airlines, Spring Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, and Tianjin Airlines. Those in-country carriers typically offer lower fares, operate from smaller airports located closer to city centers (you save on ground transportation) and provide flexible schedules – with a wide range of departure times.
  • Planning to explore the region? Popular destinations near Shanghai can be easily reached with regional low-cost carriers (LCCs) by the likes of AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, Jeju Air, and Scoot. If you have a layover in Shanghai and plan to fly only a short distance to one of its neighboring countries, these budget airlines are an excellent way to save money.

Flights to Shanghai
from United States and Canada

  • There are no direct flights from the US or Canada to Shanghai. However, most major hubs in Asia have non-stop flights to Shanghai, as do some larger airports in the Middle East – your journey will have at least one stop. There are plenty of direct flights to Shanghai from major North American cities like Dallas, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle in the US or Toronto and Vancouver in Canada. All travelers from the US and Canada arrive at Shanghai Pudong Airport PVG – currently, there are no direct flights to Shanghai Hongqiao Airport SHA. Non-stop flights between the US/Canada and Shanghai are operated by Air China, China Eastern Airlines, Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines
  • Shanghai is well-served via one-stop flights from North America. Flights to Shanghai with one layover depart from most major North American airports, including Atlanta ATL, Dallas DFW, Denver DEN, Chicago ORD, Los Angeles LAX, Las Vegas DFW, Miami MIA, Seattle SEA, Houston IAH, New York JFK, and San Francisco SFO in the United States and Toronto YYZ, Vancouver YVR, Calgary LAS, and Montreal YUL in Canada.
  • The best airlines to fly to Shanghai from the US and Canada are: Air Canada, Air China, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern Airlines, EVA Air, and United Airlines. They are top full-service carriers, offering exceptional customer service, in-flight comfort, a generous checked baggage allowance, and reliable customer support channels – all included in the ticket price.

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Flights to Shanghai from Europe

  • There are no direct flights from Europe to Shanghai — you’ll need to get a connecting flight from elsewhere in the Middle East or in Asia. Direct flights from Europe to Shanghai are around 9-12 hours long, depending on your departure airport. Only the largest European hubs have direct connections to Shanghai: Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Helsinki, London, Milan, Paris, Rome, and Vienna. These non-stop long-haul flights are operated by large carriers such as Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa, and Xiamen Airlines
  • Airlines that frequently fly from the UK, Germany, France, and other European countries to Shanghai include Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Air France, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Hainan Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, SAS, and Virgin Atlantic.
  • Consider departure airports in neighboring countries to increase your chance of spotting the best deal. Especially look for large airports that serve as hubs for multiple airlines. For example, if you live in Western Europe, check air tickets to Shanghai from Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Paris, and Rome. Leverage frequent promotions from European budget carriers like RyanAir, EasyJet, and Eurowings to reach a major hub; from there, take a cheaper long-haul flight to your final destination, potentially saving hundreds of euros.

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Things to know before flying to Shanghai
Airlines flying to Shanghai9 Air Co, Aeroflot, Air Canada, Air Changan, Air China, Air France, Air Macau, Air New Zealand, AirAsia X, ANA, American Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines, Cambodia Angkor Air, Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, Chengdu Airlines, China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, China United Airlines, Colorful Guizhou Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Donghai Airlines, El Al Israel Airlines, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airlines, EVA Air, Finnair, Fuzhou Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Hainan Airlines, Hebei Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Japan Airlines, Jiangxi Airlines, Juneyao Air, Kalitta Air, KLM, Korean Air, Kunming Airlines, LATAM, Loong Air, Lucky Air, Lufthansa, Mahan Air, Malaysia Airlines, National Airlines, Okay Airways, Philippine Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Qingdao Airlines, Royal Brunei Airlines, SAS, Shandong Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Spring Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, Suparna Airlines, SWISS, Thai Airways, Thai Lion Air, Tianjin Airlines, Tibet Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Uni Air, United Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, West Air, Xiamen Airlines
Airlines of China (full-service)China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Air China, Hong Kong Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, XiamenAir, Shandong Airlines, Juneyao Airlines

Airlines of China (low-cost)China United Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines, Spring Airlines, 9 Air, Chengdu Airlines, China Express Airlines, Grand China Air, Colorful Guizhou Airlines, Fuzhou Airlines, Jiangxi Air, Loong Air, Lucky Air, Okay Airways, Qingdao Airlines, Suparna Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, Tibet Airlines, West Air
Airports in ShanghaiShanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG)
Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA)
Regular price (roundtrip)✈ €800 – €1200 (from Europe)
✈ $1100 – $1600 (from USA)

Low-cost flights from Shanghai

Stay ahead of the game. Fly to popular destinations at a fraction of the regular fare.

The cheapest time to fly to Shanghai

The cheapest time to fly to Shanghai is between November and March (while avoiding public holidays like Chinese New Year). These are the winter months, with cold and dry weather and temperatures dropping as low as -15°C (5°F). As there are not many tourists visiting Shanghai, this is the best time to look for deals on flights and hotels.

If you are looking for warmer weather, you will find affordable flights to Shanghai in early Spring (March – April) or late fall (September – October).

Top gateway cities in China

China has four large international airports. Your first contact with the country will most likely be at one of these gateway cities: Beijing (a top tourist city with the biggest airport in China), Hong Kong (with many English speakers, and familiar standards of life, it’s a good city to “acclimatize” to China), Shanghai (144-hour visa-free stay policy makes it a great option for a stopover), and Guangzhou (one of China’s oldest cities, with a convenient ferry transport to Hong Kong and Macau).

These are also the largest hubs of China’s air travel, offering plenty of choices for domestic flights to all major cities within the country.

Know your time zone

When checking flights and airport transfer times, ensure you know the local time zones. The departure/arrival times on your plane ticket and boarding pass are based on the time zone of the departure/arrival airport – this also applies to the connecting (layover) airports.

Being almost as wide as the continental United States, China geographically covers five time zones. However, China has only one official time zone across the country – CST (China Standard Time) – the decision made by the Communist Party to enhance “national unity”.

CST is 8 hours ahead of UTC. It means that Shanghai is 13 hours ahead of New York and 2 hours behind Melbourne). Unlike western countries, China does not follow daylight saving time.

Download a VPN app

When it comes to media censorship, China is one of the world leaders – it seems to have a problem with freedom of speech and certain online content. In the last years, thousands of websites have been banned temporarily or permanently, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, Telegram, and Wikipedia. Google and most of its free tools (Google Search, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive, etc) will not be available when traveling to Shanghai – this will also affect any app or website that uses Google login.

Solution? If you want to keep access to your favorite websites while staying in Shanghai, you should download a VPN app for your smartphone and laptop. By hiding your location, it will allow you to bypass government censorship and freely access all blocked content. Make sure to install it before you arrive – VPN websites and Google Play are blocked, so you can’t download any Android apps when you are already in Shanghai.

Next tips

There is no Uber nor Grab in Shanghai

Uber launched in China in early 2014, but due to difficulties in gaining a meaningful market share, it decided to take a passive role by selling its local operations to DiDi. The popular Asian super-app Grab never entered the China market.

However, getting around Shanghai is quite convenient thanks to the DiDi Rider app, which works similarly to Uber and Grab. DiDi Rider is the main ride-hailing app in China, letting you hail a private car or a taxi and automatically pay the fare when your ride ends. Only registered drivers with a special license can offer rides in accordance with the law introduced by The Ministry of Transport.

You can download the DiDi Rider app for Android or iOS before arriving in Shanghai.

Plan for airline delays

Unfortunately, flight delays in China are not uncommon, so be prepared. If you are booking a domestic flight from Shanghai that connects to an international flight, make sure you’ve got plenty of time before your international flight takes off. This can save you a lot of stress on the day of travel.

Always keep at least one change of clothes and a toothbrush in your carry-on – just in case your flight gets seriously delayed and you will have to spend the night in the hotel.

Next tips

Domestic flights from Shanghai

Most domestic routes in China are operated by local carriers. When traveling to popular tourist destinations such as Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Wuhan, and Xi'an from Pudong Airport and Hongqiao Airport, you’ll likely fly with one of these domestic airlines: China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Air China, Hainan Air, Beijing Capital Airlines, Grand China Air, Lucky Air, Shanghai Airlines, Spring Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, and Tianjin Airlines.

This is often the best transportation method, providing speed, convenience, and cost-effectiveness. Local airlines often offer multiple daily flights to key destinations, providing flexibility in scheduling and competitive pricing. They also serve smaller regional airports, enabling access to a wider range of Chinese destinations.

Flights to Shanghai
from Australia and New Zealand

  • Australia and New Zealand are well-connected with popular Asian destinations, including Shanghai. In addition to domestic airlines – Qantas, Jetstar Airways, Virgin Australia, and Air New Zealand – routes from Australasia to Asia are operated by large international carriers such as ANA, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Garuda Indonesia, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways.

    Currently, there are no direct flights from Australia or New Zealand to Shanghai. You’ll need a layover in one of the major hubs in Asia.
  • Airfare costs can vary widely depending on the route and the airline’s pricing strategy. To find the cheapest flight to Shanghai, compare ticket prices from various international airports in Australia – Sydney SYD, Brisbane BNE, Melbourne MEL, Perth PER, Adelaide ADL, Cairns CNS, Gold Coast OOL, Canberra CBR, and in New Zealand – Auckland AKL, Wellington WLG, Christchurch CHC, Queenstown ZQN, and Dunedin DUD.
  • For optimal savings, consider flying from Australia or New Zealand to a key Asian hub, then connect to Shanghai via a regional low-cost carrier. Among budget airlines that fly to Shanghai are AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, Jeju Air, and Scoot.

    For the first leg, use the budget carriers that fly out of Australian airports, leveraging sales and promotions they run frequently: AirAsia (connects with Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore), Cebu Pacific (Manila), Jetstar (Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo), Scoot (Singapore), VietJet Air (Ho Chi Minh City), Bamboo Airways (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing), and Batik Air (Jakarta, Singapore).

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Flights to Shanghai
from major hubs in Asia

  • Asia is probably the best continent for short-haul and mid-haul flying. The sheer scale of this most populous region on Earth is reflected in the type of aircraft operating many shorter routes: intra-Asia flyers benefit from comfortable, wide-bodied aircraft by the likes of Boeing 777, 787 or Airbus A350, A330, and A380. When booking your flight to Shanghai look for these bigger planes as they will almost always give you the best experience in every cabin, including better seat pitches, higher ceilings, and larger overhead bin space.
  • Asia is also home to most of the world’s best airlines. There are only ten airlines that received the prestigious 5-star mark of quality from Skytrax, and all of them are from Asia: ANA, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines. Choosing one of these airlines for your trip to Shanghai will guarantee a pleasant journey – delicious meals served during the flight, great in-flight entertainment, and above-average airline customer service.
  • Asia is extremely well served by low-cost regional airlines. If you are visiting China and want to see several other countries on a tight budget, they often have great sales with rock-bottom prices, while still offering a relatively comfortable flight experience. Among the best Asian budget airlines you can book without hesitation are AirAsiaCebu Pacific, Citilink, FlyDubai, Indigo, Jetstar Airways, Scoot, SpiceJet, and VietJet Air. The cons? Being no-frills airlines they may not provide free baggage allowance, inflight meals, or onboard entertainment. The departure times may also be quite inconvenient as they try to save money by flying at off-peak hours.

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Flights to Shanghai dataset