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United Airlines Adding Service From San Francisco to Brisbane

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James Larounis

James Larounis

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Countries Visited: 30U.S. States Visited: 35

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...

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United Airlines will be starting a new route to Australia this October, this time from its hub in San Francisco to Brisbane.

Let’s learn more about the upcoming service and United’s presence in Australia.

New Thrice-weekly San Francisco to Brisbane Service

The route will operate 3 times per week beginning October 28, 2022, operated by a Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

While the route’s timings haven’t been announced, it’s very likely to depart San Francisco (SFO) in the late evening, arriving in Brisbane (BNE) in the early morning hours 2 days later (thanks to the extreme time difference). The return flight will likely leave mid-morning, arriving back in San Francisco late morning to early afternoon on the same day.

We do know the route will operate on the following days:

  • San Francisco to Brisbane on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday
  • Brisbane to San Francisco on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday

The flight will have the following configuration onboard:

  • 48 business class lie-flat seats (in United’s new Polaris configuration)
  • 21 premium economy recliner seats, configured as Premium Plus
  • 188 economy class seats with 39 of those being in Economy Plus (5 extra inches of legroom) and 149 traditional seats

United will operate its new Polaris-equipped planes to Brisbane. Image Credit: United Airlines

United recently partnered with Australian carrier Virgin Australia, so presumably, this new route is meant to build upon that partnership, allowing customers coming off the United flight to connect on to Virgin’s domestic flights and for Virgin’s customers to fly to the U.S. via Brisbane.

While the partnership with Virgin will certainly be beneficial, United is receiving a huge financial incentive from the Queensland Government’s Attracting Aviation Investment Fund to start the route, with the potential for over $73 million to come into the region.

United in Australia

United actually has more capacity to Australia than both Qantas and American Airlines combined — the 2 carriers you’d think would have the most seats to the land Down Under, especially considering that Qantas is Australia’s flag carrier.

United currently operates:

  • Houston (IAH) to Sydney (SYD)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD) and Melbourne (MEL)
  • San Francisco (SFO) to Melbourne (MEL) and Sydney (SYD) (with Brisbane (BNE) starting in October)

Like almost all carriers that fly into Australia, award availability in the premium cabin will likely be slim to none, with perhaps the occasional seat being dropped in. Economy class awards are usually more plentiful and can be a great way to travel considering the cost of cash fares. Based on United’s other routes to Australia, business class fares will likely surpass $8,000 round-trip, with economy class going north of $1,000.

Hot Tip: United Airlines operates more routes to Australia from the U.S. than any other American airline. Learn more about the best ways to fly to Australia with points and miles in our step-by-step guide.

Final Thoughts

While this route isn’t exactly surprising considering the partnership with Virgin Australia, having another option to visit the land Down Under is great no matter how you slice it. With there only being so many flights and demand picking up significantly, United’s new route will be another way to head to Australia and visit the charming city of Brisbane.

About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.


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