Qantas will launch direct flights between Australia and Chicago on April 20, 2020, with the near-17 hour, 14,326km journey becoming the world’s fourth longest passenger flight.
Tickets are expected to go on sale around 10am today, with the inaugural service taking off from Brisbane at 3.30pm on Monday April 20.
The Brisbane-Chicago flights will feature Qantas’ long range Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and initially run four days a week, although Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says “we’ll want to get to daily flights as fast as we can.”
Qantas flight QF85 will depart Brisbane at 3.30pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, reaching Chicago's O'Hare International Airport at 4.40pm the same day.
The QF86 return leg will be wheels up from Chicago at 9.50pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, landing at Brisbane at 6.10am two days later.
Sweet home, Chicago
As the first and only non-stop flight between Australia and The Windy City, this will be a valuable ‘monopoly route' for Qantas.
Chicago-bound passengers will save more than six hours of travel time on a return trip compared to flying via Los Angeles, with Brisbane-Chicago being the first and only non-stop flight to Chicago from Australia.
In addition to being the USA's third-largest city and an attractive destination in its own right, Chicago also serves as a gateway to the mid-West and a hub for American Airlines, with over 500 daily departures including a high-frequency shuttle service to New York.
"These new services will connect both Australian business travellers and holidaymakers with key centres of commerce, industry and culture in the United States," Joyce says.
As with its Perth-London Boeing 787 flights, Qantas will encourage travellers from other Australian cities to make a domestic hop to Brisbane and then embark on the long trans-Pacific leg.
How will passengers spend those 17 hours above the clouds? Travellers at the pointy end of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner enjoying 42 well-appointed Business Suites – each with direct aisle access – which transform into a fully-flat bed.
Further back are 28 premium economy seats arranged 2-3-2 in a cosy four-row cabin – although as Australian Business Traveller has previously noted, these excellent seats are hampered by a lack of legroom
At the tail end are 166 economy seats.
The Brisbane-Chicago flight will launch alongside another new route, between Brisbane and San Francisco, as first fruit of a joint venture between Qantas and American Airlines.
Booking your Chicago trip with Qantas Points
Qantas’ new non-stop flights to Chicago can also be booked using frequent flyer points, and as with any newly-announced route there’s a better chance of snaring that points-based reward seat compared to a long-established route.
Expect to pay 224,000 Qantas Points for a return business class flight between Sydney or Brisbane and Chicago – Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth fall into the next zone of Qantas' rewards table, so you’ll be up for 256,000 Qantas Points.
Flying Qantas’ Boeing 787 premium economy from Sydney or Brisbane to Chicago and back requires 168,000 points (192,000 points from Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth), with economy return at 102,400 points (110,400 points from Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth).
Chicago can also be used as a stop-over in an around the world trip booked using Qantas Points, with flights spread across several other Oneworld airlines including American Airlines, British Airways, Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific.
Original story by Chris Chamberlin; updates by David Flynn