Sydney travellers will be able put the Boeing 787's jetlag-smashing capabilities to the ultimate test from this weekend when United Airlines upgrades its Los Angeles and San Francisco flights to the advanced jet.
United's Dreamliner will go up against Qantas' older Boeing 747 on the Sydney-San Fran route, while the Star Alliance member also believes the Dreamliner will help cut a clearer path through the competitive trans-Pacific market to Los Angeles.
Alison Espley, United Airlines’ Managing Director of Sales for Asia, sees plenty of upside for trans-Pacific travellers.
“Passengers will appreciate the feeling of space in the cabin, the fact that wherever you’re sitting you can see out of the window, and the pressurisation that reduces and in some instance, people say, completely removes that feeling of jetlag.”
Of her own flights on the Boeing 787-9 Espley says “from the point of view of the higher humidity and pressurisation I feel much better, and I also appreciate the larger bathrooms, which are significantly larger than on the Boeing 777s.”
The Dreamliners also offer inflight Internet with a flat-rate US$17 charge for the entire flight.
"WiFi is no longer something that’s just ‘nice to have’ but an expectation, because people want to be connected if they choose" Espley tells Australian Business Traveller.
“The take-up differs depending on the direction you’re flying and also the day of the week, if it’s a working day or weekend” Espley notes.
United’s Boeing 787s also sport forward-facing business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration (below), compared to the Boeing 777’s higher-density 2-4-2 layout with alternate backward-facing rows, which Espley describes as "a significant move forward.”
First class dropped
“We believe the mixture of our network, our schedule, the on-board product, connectivity through our west coast gateway and the superiority of the Boeing 787 will continue to win over our customers” Espley says.
United also faces renewed competition from Qantas between Sydney and San Francisco, but Espley won’t entertain thoughts of any impact on UA’s bookings for the route.
“Bookings are still very strong and we have have strong relationships with a number of corporations based in the San Francisco area,” she says.
“San Francisco is our largest west coast hub with over 150 onwards destinations, and we see that as a considerable strength.”
The airline last year rescheduled its Sydney-San Francisco flights to dovetail into earlier east coast services “so that customers could arrive into New York in time for dinner.”
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.