There's Sydney and Melbourne, but United Airlines is preparing to connect the U.S. with yet another major Australian destination: Brisbane.
After days of drumming up anticipation, the Chicago-based airline on Wednesday officially announced it will begin nonstop service between San Francisco (SFO) and Brisbane (BNE) in October. While Australian flag carrier Qantas currently flies nonstop from Los Angeles (LAX) and Brisbane, United is the first U.S. airline to offer nonstop flights into Australia's third-largest city.
United's plans call for three weekly flights between its California hub and Brisbane starting Oct. 28. Westbound flights to Australia will operate on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays while eastbound flights back to San Francisco depart on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. Flights are already available for sale directly with United.
The airline will run the route on one of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners equipped with 48 lie-flat Polaris business class seats, 21 United Premium Plus seats, 39 Economy Plus seats, and 149 economy seats.
Executives from United painted the new route as just the latest in a run of long-haul international expansions throughout the pandemic. And while some travelers may head straight into Brisbane, they could also connect onward to 20 other destinations throughout Australia thanks to partner carrier Virgin Australia.
“With United’s strong history in Australia – and now with a great partner in Virgin Australia – it’s the ideal time for United to expand service to Brisbane as demand for travel continues to grow,” Patrick Quayle, United's senior vice president of international network and alliances, said in a statement. “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve looked for strategic ways to grow our international network, and we’re proud to be the first U.S. airline to put a new dot on our route map across the Pacific.”
After locking down throughout much of the pandemic, Australia reopened its borders to foreign travelers this spring. More recently, the country even dropped pre-travel testing requirements for fully vaccinated visitors. For Americans, the most difficult part of a trip to Australia might just be getting a negative COVID-19 test in order to fly back home.
United already flies several nonstop routes to Australia, including service to Sydney (SYD) from both San Francisco (SFO) and Los Angeles (LAX) as well as a route to Melbourne. The route between San Francisco and Melbourne just resumed this month.
While still a decade away, it's worth noting that the 2032 Olympics will be hosted in Brisbane, giving American travelers yet another reason to put the Queensland destination on their lists.
United's new service between San Francisco (SFO) and Brisbane (BNE) starting this October marks the first time a U.S. carrier will fly straight into the eastern Australian city – and the first new transpacific destination added by any U.S. airline since the start of the pandemic.
Lead photo courtesy of Ronan Fefer via Flickr