United has announced today in its news site new year-round daily, nonstop service between its Houston hub and Sydney on January 18, 2018. This announcement coming just days after Houston was pummeled by Hurricane Harvey. As Dreamliners will be used for this service, this is also an indication that Boeing 787’s are in Houston to stay, even though an announcement was made back in April that some of the 787 fleet would fly out of Dulles moving forward.
The article mentions:
United Airlines (UAL) today reaffirmed its commitment to Houston with the announcement that it will begin daily, nonstop service between its Houston hub and Sydney on January 18, 2018.
The new flight will be the only nonstop service to Australia from Houston and offers customers from Houston as well as from hundreds of cities across the U.S. the opportunity to conveniently travel to Sydney. United currently serves Sydney nonstop from its West Coast hubs in Los Angeles and San Francisco. This flight is subject to government approval.
At 8,596 miles, this flight will be United’s second longest. Together with its service from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Singapore, United will fly the three longest flights by a U.S. carrier, making United the leader in ultra-long haul flights.
I personally love ultra long-haul flights. I’ve flown them on both economy and business cabins. I still remember back in 2012 flying one of the last Thai Airways LAX>BKK flights on an A340-400 in economy, before the route was axed. It was a great flight! It’s true, business is better. But the convenience of less, shorter, or no connections at all does make a huge difference for most. United’s President Scott Kirby said:
“Our Houston hub is stronger than ever and it continues to be an absolutely vital part of our industry-leading network. We are honored to have served this vibrant city for nearly half a century, and this exciting intercontinental flight is one more way we are demonstrating United’s commitment to our customers who call Houston home as well as the millions of customers who connect through Houston each year. This new route will serve more than 70 cities across North America making one-stop service to Sydney faster and more convenient than ever before.”
For example, customers originating in Charlotte, North Carolina have to fly to Chicago to connect to San Francisco to get to Sydney on United today. With United’s new schedule at Houston, customers would now have just one stop at Houston to get to Sydney – saving hours off the journey by reducing the number of connections.
Be aware that although the premium cabin’s name on this flight is ‘United Polaris business’, United’s 787 fleet hasn’t been retrofitted and there’s no timeline at this point of when it will be, if it will. Would you fly 15+ hours on this seat?
Flight details were highlighted:
Houston – Sydney Flight Schedule
6:30 a.m. +2 days later
10:35 a.m. same day
United’s flight between Houston and Sydney will be operated with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft with a total of 252 seats – 48 flat-bed seats in United Polaris business class, 63 Economy Plus seats and 141 seats in United Economy.
United Polaris business class features a reimagined, sleep-enhancing experience for intercontinental travelers, including elevated inflight food and beverages, tranquil custom bedding from Saks Fifth Avenue, comfortable pajamas and exclusive amenity kits with products from Soho House & Co’s Cowshed Spa.
United Economy Plus offers additional legroom and increased personal space. Located near the front of the economy cabin, the seats give the added benefit of allowing a swifter exit from the plane on arrival.
United Economy offers complimentary food, soft drinks, juices, beer and wine, tea, coffee and inflight entertainment. Additionally, the seats feature an adjustable headrest and a personal on-demand entertainment system.
In conclusion, more options is always better, but it’s a heck of a long flight indeed.