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United to launch nonstop Dreamliners Sydney-Houston

September 11, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

United Airlines will begin direct flights between Sydney and Houston from 20 January 2018, using B787-9s, the longer version of the Boeing Dreamliner.

The new route will go head-to-head against Qantas’ daily Sydney-Dallas flights. It will also compete, to some degree, with Air New Zealand’s service from Auckland to Houston, which uses the same aircraft type (Air NZ was the launch customer for the B787-9) and attracts Australian travellers. This is despite United Airlines and Air New Zealand, both Star Alliance members, operating a joint-venture revenue-sharing agreement between New Zealand and the US.

It has been speculated that Air NZ may launch Auckland-New York City non-stops in the not-too-distant future.

United’s new route will become the second-longest flown by any US airline, as well as the only non-stop service between Australia and Houston.

Flight time Houston-Sydney is scheduled for 17 hours and 30 minutes, while the Sydney-Houston return will take 15 hours, 45 minutes. Prevailing winds make a lot of difference.

The good news for United broke at an unfortunate time, with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) announcing on the same day that it wouldn’t punish United over the forced removal of a passenger from a US domestic flight in April. Footage of doctor David Dao being dragged down the plane’s aisle for refusing to give up his seat went viral and caused much bad publicity. DOT’s decision has pushed the incident back into the spotlight. The 69-year-old doctor lost two teeth and suffered a broken nose and concussion.

That aside, United currently flies to Sydney from San Francisco and to both Sydney and Melbourne from Los Angeles and the new Sydney-Houston service will boost its Australian links.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph said the B787-9 United will use on its new Houston-Sydney route will have 252 seats, 48 of which are flat-bed in the airline’s Polaris business class cabins, while 63 are premium economy seats and 141 are economy.

Australian Business Traveller, however, says United’s flights will apparently not feature its latest Polaris premium cabin product when the new service begins.

Written by Peter Needham

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