Now, more than 40,000 people are expected to travel from the Californian city to Queensland’s capital.
As United’s third Australian destination, Brisbane has bolstered the airline’s status to be the biggest transporter between the two countries.
“We would not be flying to this city if it wasn’t for our relationship with Virgin Australia, the fantastic support from the Queensland government and Brisbane Airport,” Quayle told a cheering throng of airline corporates and eager travelers waiting to board the inaugural flight. .
Virgin chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka declared it was exciting for her airline to connect Queensland to the US directly.
United is the first US airline to add a new trans-Pacific destination to its network since the start of the pandemic.
On board the first flight out on the 787-9 Dreamliner in the airline’s Business Polaris service, the American staff are warm and friendly and willing to chat about just about anything.
There are 48 lie-flat seats in the business class section in secluded and personal pods, and 21 premium plus seats and 149 economy seats.
Passengers will be kept entertained with new movies and shows to watch onboard, and arguably a better selection than other airlines. For this author, the audio-visual system had occasional glitches.
There’s free internet for messaging, and where United excels technologically is the Travel Ready Center in their app, which allows passengers to check flights, seat layout, menus and book flights.
One choosing to fly in the Polaris section might be better off securing a seat further back, ensuring there is less noise.
Passengers have access to the Air New Zealand lounge in Brisbane, and the United lounge in San Francisco, which features a bar, a restaurant and shower suites.
And for those traveling for the first time in years, Smart Gate closures at the Brisbane Airport mean somewhat lengthy delays – probably until the end of the year.
On the other end, transit through American immigration is relatively smooth, and vaccination status is required if asked.
Overall, the flight is enjoyable, particularly for those who haven’t traveled since the pandemic.
The 11,371-kilometer flight takes off at 10.30am, landing a day behind at just after 6am local time in San Francisco, and after being well rested, gaining another day is welcome. The return flight is also scheduled well, taking off late evening, arriving a day later about 7am.
For flights taking off in early December, a one-way business class ticket will cost just under $6000 (or $9000 for fully refundable), while economy costs about $1800.
With the flight operating three times a week, the route is touted to be the next leg of Queensland’s international tourism recovery ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The planes look set to be packed with travelers for some time – especially given Queenslanders now no longer have to travel south through Sydney or Melbourne first.
The author flew as a guest of United Airlines.