United Airlines is adding another route to its sprawling transpacific network with Brisbane-San Francisco flights gearing up for launch. Strengthened by the carrier’s recent tie-up with Virgin Australia, services begin on 28 October 2022.

Running three times a week, United’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner brings with it the carrier’s latest Polaris Business Class. There’s also United Premium Plus (Premium Economy Class) as well as United Economy Plus. Of course, there’s standard United Economy as well.

Brisbane Airport is the gateway to Australia, offering 24/7 operations and direct connections to 53 domestic destinations, more than any other airport in the country.

As Brisbane Airport welcomes more than 75% of all international arrivals into Queensland, securing United is good news for tourism and hospitality businesses from Coolangatta to the Cape.

– Gert-Jan de Graaff, CEO Brisbane Airport Corporation, 8 June 2022

United Airlines’ Brisbane-San Francisco flight schedule

With non-stop service between Brisbane and San Francisco, here’s how United’s flight schedule shapes up:

RouteFlight numberDeparture daysDeparture timeArrival timeDuration
Brisbane to San FranciscoUA97Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays10:30 am6:40 am (same day)13hr 10min
San Francisco to BrisbaneUA96Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays11:20 pm6:30 am (+2 days)14hr 10min

United’s Brisbane-San Francisco route marks the first time that the carrier has offered scheduled passenger flights into Brisbane. The airline has previously flown to Queensland, but into Cairns instead. Those flights hopped up to Guam: a long way from Los Angeles.

Flights are timed at each end to facilitate onward connections. For instance, aboard United beyond Los Angeles, and on Virgin Australia following a Brisbane arrival.

With this new service, United will be the first U.S. airline to add a new transpacific destination to its global network since the start of the pandemic. From Brisbane, United customers will be able to easily connect to nearly 20 other cities within Australia thanks to the airline’s new partnership with 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, Senior Vice President International Network and Alliance at United, 8 June 2022
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Brisbane-USA gets a reboot

Prior to the pandemic, zipping from Brisbane to the United States was easy. Qantas ran direct flights to both Los Angeles and San Francisco, with Virgin Australia also serving Los Angeles. Added to that, Hawaiian Airlines connected Brisbane with Honolulu several times each week.

But fast-forward to 2022, and much has changed. Now neither Virgin Australia nor Hawaiian Airlines offer long-haul flights from Brisbane. And while Qantas does still fly Brisbane-LA, it does so on an Airbus A330 without a Premium Economy cabin, as was previously available.

Qantas’ Brisbane-San Francisco route also hasn’t returned, and the Brisbane-Chicago service announced by Qantas never took off.

It’s a storm of circumstances that makes right now an ideal time for United to finally touch down in Brisbane. Having an Australian partner where one wasn’t available previously certainly sweetens the deal too.

(United) has more than 100 million loyalty members and is the largest and longest-serving US carrier in the Australian market. This airline route is also of strategic importance for Queensland when it comes to growing our share of the international tourism market.

– Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland Premier, 8 June 2022

Inflight cabins on United’s Brisbane-San Francisco flights

United’s Boeing 787-9s sport a three-class layout with United Polaris, Premium Plus and Economy. There’s also an ‘Economy Plus’ section within the Economy cabin, offering extra legroom.

Economy Plus is gratis for United’s Premier Gold members (and above) from the time of booking. Selecting a seat here also comes free for United Premier Silver cardholders who do so at check-in. Unfortunately, the same privilege does not extend to Virgin Australia’s Velocity Gold and Platinum guests.

Velocity’s elite travellers must instead purchase Economy Plus seating at the usual price. On a one-way Brisbane-San Francisco flight, United’s website quoted us fees of AU$205-262 per person, depending on the specific seat.

But now, to the pointy end of the plane.

United Airlines' Polaris Business Class
United Polaris, as seen here on the Boeing 777, is mirrored on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. [Image courtesy United Airlines]

United’s cosy Premium Plus cabin occupies just three rows, with 21 seats in total. Arranged in a 2-3-2 layout, travellers are only ever one seat away from the aisle. Expect upgraded inflight drinks and dining, a larger entertainment screen and fast-track access to airport queues. Of course, you’ll settle into a larger and wider seat, with spacious legroom.

In Business Class – which the airline brands as United Polaris – stretch out with a fully flat bed. Providing direct aisle access at every seat, it’s United’s latest and best Business Class experience.

Summing up

Brisbane is reconnecting its pre-COVID ties to the United States, with non-stop service to San Francisco launching soon. The route is made possible under a direct partnership between the Queensland Government and Brisbane Airport. Through the Attracting Aviation Investment Fund, United will receive financial incentives to launch the route.

Virgin Australia’s Velocity members can also earn and spend Velocity Points on United’s latest route. On the redemption side, expect to pay 95,500 Velocity Points one-way in United Polaris, plus taxes and fees. In United Economy, it’s just 44,800 Velocity Points plus taxes and fees.

For the time being, Virgin Australia’s website isn’t offering reward flights in United Premium Plus.

Also read: United States lifts pre-departure COVID testing requirements

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United Airlines spreads its wings with Brisbane-San Francisco flights was last modified: August 24th, 2023 by Chris Chamberlin