Future plans at United Airlines include deploying some of the A350-1000 aircraft on order from Airbus on the Los Angeles / San Francisco to Sydney / Melbourne routes according to an article in Australian Business Traveller.
The state of the art Airbus planes will replace the tired, older Boeing 747-400 aircraft currently in use on United’s flights from the US to Australia. That’s the good news for loyal United customers heading Downunder.
The not-so-good news is that delivery of the A350-1000s is not expected to begin until 2018 – 5 years from now, give or take a few months.
Anyone flying in economy or premium economy class who has experienced this route with Qantas, Air New Zealand or Virgin Australia, with their relatively new planes, knows that opting instead to fly on United means a significant reduction in comfort and quality for the long-haul flight.
For example, – and I’ll spare you a discussion of the difference in meal and seating differences – instead of personal seat-back entertainment screens, United offers aged TVs that drop down from the ceiling.
While United CEO Jeff Smisek revealed in the article that the Australia-bound Boeing 747s are scheduled to be updated with power outlets and satellite-based WiFi, plan to use your own tablets and devices – and probably pay extra, too.
For the next five years, unless you’re looking to accrue a lot of mileage points or use your United MileagePlus points for your flights, the international airlines with their newer, more comfortable planes will provide a better experience for your flights Downunder.