Apple buys 50 business-class seats every day on flights to Shanghai, according to a leaked 'confidential' United sign

Tim Cook UnitedBusiness Insider/Getty/GettyBusiness Insider/Getty/Getty

  • Apple buys 50 business class flights every day from San Francisco to Shanghai, China, spending over $150 million per year on United Airlines. 
  • That's according to a photo of a "confidential" United sign posted to Twitter. 
  • Apple needs to fly its employees to Asia in order to keep an eye on its electronics supply chain. 

There are some frequent flyer miles stacking up in Cupertino.

The iPhone giant spends $150 million on a single airline per year, according to a photo of a United promotional sign posted to Twitter by LAflyer.

Apple spends so much money flying its employees to China, where most of its products are manufactured, that it buys 50 business class seats daily from San Francisco to Shanghai, according to the sign.

Shanghai is a logical connection to Zhengzhou and Shenzen, which have been called "iPhone Cities" for the amount of electronics hardware manufacturing that takes place there.  

Apple also flies a lot of people to Hong Kong, and Taiwan Yaouyuan International Airport, presumably to stay close to its supply chain. Former Apple engineers have said that frequent travel to China is one of the defining features of some hardware roles at Apple. 

The top non-manufacturing destination for Apple is London.

The sign also revealed other top United clients, although they don't spend as much as Apple. Facebook, Roche, and Google all spend over $34 million on United flights per year, according to the sign. 

One Apple employee who is not flying United is CEO Tim Cook, who flies private at the request of Apple's board. Cook spent $294,082 on private air travel in 2018, according to a recent SEC filing

Neither United nor LAflyer immediately returned a requests for comment, but that shouldn't be surprising given the sensitivity of this information. At the bottom of the poster, small text says that it is "confidential information" and shouldn't be shared outside United. 
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