A Delta Air Lines flight from Seattle to Shanghai turned back midair due to new cleaning procedure mandates required by the Chinese government.

Flight DL 287 departed Seattle using an Airbus 330-900 on December 21, 2021 at 23:09 local time. Based on flight tracker site FlightAware, DL 287 was ‘diverted’ on December 22, 2021. 

A Delta spokesperson confirmed with AeroTime that Flight 287 from Seattle to Shanghai indeed returned to Seattle while it was en route to Shanghai. 

Delta told Aerotime: 

“To be compliant with cleaning mandates required at Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) that were issued by the Chinese Government on December 21, Flight 287 from Seattle to Shanghai returned to SEA while it was en route to PVG. The new cleaning procedures require significantly extended ground time and are not operationally viable for Delta.”

While it is not clear what exactly the new cleaning mandates are, the incident came just as China put the northeastern city of Xian, with a population of 13 million people, in a major lockdown. China is doubling down on its “zero tolerance” policy in preparation for the Winter Olympics, which starts February 4, 2022.

According to local news site Central News Agency, Taiwan-based carrier EVA Air will suspend flights from Taipei to Shanghai until February 3, 2022, also due to the new stringent cleaning procedures mandated by the Chinese government.