Good news for travelers between the US and Australia – especially those trying to use or earn United Mileage Plus awards. United recently announced direct Dreamliner flights between its hub at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Melbourne, Australia, beginning October 26 of this year.
Subject to regulatory approval, this will be a new route for United. Currently United’s passengers must fly first from LAX to Sydney, then – after passengers heading to Sydney deplane – continue to Melbourne. Total travel time with United for flights from LAX to Melbourne is almost 19 hours compared to about 16 hours on competing airlines’ non-stop routes.
United currently operates daily flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Sydney and Melbourne (LAX-Sydney-Melbourne & Melbourne-Sydney-LAX) using very tired Boeing 747 aircraft. The old planes will be replaced by new 777-200s in April 2014.
The plans to use Boeing’s 777-200 planes for flights to Australia follow its initial announcement late last year.
Dreamliner Flights To Melbourne
United’s new route for LAX to Melbourne direct flights will operate six times a week and use Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. United is the North American launch customer for the new 787-9 which is the longer sibling of the currently operational 787-8 Dreamliner. Flights from LAX to Melbourne will be the first long-haul international route for this aircraft type.
Air New Zealand, the first launch customer for the 787-9 Dreamliner, plans to operate its craft on flights between Auckland, NZ and Western Australia’s capital city, Perth.
Boeing has designed the Dreamliners to be 60% more quiet than planes of a similar size. While there may not be an appreciable increase in personal seating space in economy class, there will be more overhead storage space and larger windows – with advanced push button controls. For passenger comfort, the aircraft also features higher humidity levels, LED mood lighting and a sophisticated cabin pressure system, all of which may help alleviate some symptoms of jet-lag.
Environmentally, the Dreamliner uses 20% less fuel than comparable aircraft and emits less nitrogen dioxide.
United BusinessFirst features on the Dreamliner include a fully flat-bed convertible seat, an on-demand entertainment system with touch-screen displays, in-seat power outlets, USB ports as well as multi-course meals with complimentary premium wines and spirits.
Economy Plus seats on the United 787s offer up to five inches more legroom than standard economy, adjustable headrests, power outlets and personal seat-back monitors with on-demand multi-channel in-flight entertainment systems.
The Dreamliners United plans to use on this route will offer a total of 252 seats with 48 seats in United BusinessFirst and 204 in United Economy including 63 Economy Plus extra-legroom and extra personal space seats.
Australian airline Qantas currently operates Airbus A380 aircraft, carrying a maximum of 484 passengers, for daily flights on its Melbourne to Los Angeles route. Virgin Australia operates three flights each week on this route using Boeing 777-300ER planes with a maximum of 361 passengers.
Tip: The fewer passengers on a plane typically means shorter and faster moving lines while going through immigration and customs!
The new United flights (Flight 98) will depart Los Angeles at 10:30 pm daily except on Tuesday and Thursday and arrive in Melbourne at 9:15 am local time two days later. On Thursday, it will depart Los Angeles at 9:30 pm local time and arrive in Melbourne at 8:15 am two days later.
The flights to Melbourne will not operate on Tuesdays.
On the return, Flight 99 will depart Melbourne at 11:15 am daily except Thursday and Saturday and arrive at Los Angeles International Airport at 6:50 am the same day. On Saturday, the flight will depart Melbourne at 3:15 pm and arrive in Los Angeles at 10:50 am the same day.
The flights to Los Angeles from Melbourne will not operate on Thursdays.
Flying times will be about 15 hours, 45 minutes while flying from Los Angeles to Melbourne and about 14 hours, 35 minutes for the return flight.
Better Connections From More Than 37 Cities
The new LAX to Melbourne flights have been scheduled to conveniently connect at LAX with United’s extensive network of flights throughout the United States, Canada and Latin America. Through this new flight, United will be able offer one-stop flights to Melbourne from more than 37 US cities – including many on the East Coast.
With the launch of the new Los Angeles to Melbourne flight, United will end its existing flight between Sydney and Melbourne.
United plans to reschedule its daily flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Sydney to enable easier connections through its hubs and more convenient arrival times for customers on connecting flights from Sydney to New York and other East Coast destinations.
United has ordered a total of 56 Dreamliners with 9 of the aircraft currently in use.
Once United begins its flights with new, state-of-the-art aircraft, both Qantas and Virgin Australia will face competition much more serious than at present. The current quality of United’s planes are such that they would not be the first choice for flights to Australia with anyone other than a die-hard United fan or person seeking a mileage award flight.
Hopefully increased competition will bring lower pricing – at least initially. By offering low-priced consolidator fares on United, Qantas, Virgin Australia and Delta, AirBankDownunder can provide the best value flights for your trip.
Let us know your plans by completing our fare quote form and then, start packing!