Qantas upgrades Sydney-San Francisco to Boeing 787

Qantas upgrades Sydney-San Francisco to Boeing 787

Qantas will move its daily Sydney-San Francisco route to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from 4 December 2019 as the airline steadily puts its Boeing 747 jumbo jets out to pasture.

The Sydney-San Francisco Dreamliner service will complement Qantas’ existing Boeing 787 between Melbourne and San Francisco, which flies four times per week.

Review: Qantas Boeing 787 business class, Melbourne-San Francisco

It's difficult to understate the improvement this brings to business travellers bound for Fog City and Silicon Valley, from the Dreamliner's modern business class seat with direct aisle access and plenty of personal space to the Boeing 787's ability to help reduce inflight fatigue and jetlag.

For example, the Sydney-San Francisco business experience will be transformed from this...

... to this.

Also read: How to choose the best business class seats on the Qantas Boeing 787

The scene's not quite so shiny if you're in premium economy.

As we've previously detailed in our first look at Qantas' Boeing 787 premium economy seat, as well as reviews from Melbourne to Los Angeles and Perth to London, this is generally excellent seat but one cruelled by cramped conditions, mainly due to a lack of legroom (with the seats simply ranked too close together) and what can be an overly-complicated footrest system.

If your budget or travel policy restricts you to premium economy, consider a points-based upgrade to business class.

This is the first of a new raft of Dreamliner destinations as Qantas takes delivery of six more Boeing 787s on top of the current eight.

By the end of 2020 there'll be 14 red-tailed Dreamliners scooting into and out of Qantas hangars, which will also see the retirement of all Qantas Boeing 747s.

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.
 

61 comments

  • Pcoder

    Pcoder

    7 May, 2019 10:41 am

    I'm not sure the economy passengers would consider this an upgrade.
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    reeves35

  • reeves35

    reeves35

    7 May, 2019 12:59 pm

    Premium Economy passengers may be a bit ambivalent also.
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    MJS1962

  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    8 May, 2019 12:45 pm

    Economy passengers lose 0.3inches of width, but gain 1 inch in pitch, as well as get a newer seat, plus the Dreamliner's cabin humidity benefits and lower noise etc.

    It seems to me like a SLIGHT upgrade, except for those with short-and-portly builds.
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  • Pcoder

    Pcoder

    8 May, 2019 06:17 pm

    I think the issue is that passengers literally rub shoulders (it's not just about fat people). Another common complaint for the 787 seating (sans JAL) is that the aisles are also narrower, leading to constant bumps from fellow travellers.
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  • Scepticalflyer

    Scepticalflyer

    8 May, 2019 09:40 pm

    Article headline is a misnomer. The narrow footwells and claustrophobic cabin not necessarily an upgrade. The continually declining on board service will also be the same. Downgrade for the vast majority of pax. Reduced capacity will result in increased ticket prices. Probably good for shareholders but not for passengers.
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  • Smith

    RMITLad

    7 May, 2019 10:45 am

    Does the frequency change? Otherwise it’s a capacity reduction.
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  • David Flynn

    David

    7 May, 2019 02:05 pm

    Frequency doesn't change.
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  • Smithy

    Smithy

    7 May, 2019 11:06 am

    The next QF 789 delivery I assume helps with fleet numbers. Complements the MEL-SFO -9 :)
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  • paperysomething

    paperysomething

    7 May, 2019 11:13 am

    When will this be updated in the GDS? I have a booking to SFO in Jan which is still showing a 747.
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  • David Flynn

    David

    7 May, 2019 02:05 pm

    It's just been announced this morning, I'm sure the booking system will soon be updated to reflect this.
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    Travelwell

  • Dan Ho

    djtech

    7 May, 2019 11:20 am

    It will be a reduction of seats in all cabins. That would make finding awards even harder. Hoping an AA/QF JV would up the frequencies of these flights to provide more capacity.
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    Travelwell

  • David Henshall

    Red Cee

    7 May, 2019 11:26 am

    I always thought SFO would be next.
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  • Stefan Kane

    DrSK

    7 May, 2019 11:56 am

    The image of the Skybed II above is from an A380 - the 747's main deck 2-3-2 configuration is even less desirable. That said, I'm quite partial to the space and privacy offered by seat 5J on the QF 747 - it is the consistency of the business class experience on the 787 that is one of its greatest assets.
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  • David Flynn

    David

    7 May, 2019 12:01 pm

    Quite so, our focus was more on the seat than the cabin – we don't have any suitable images of the 747's updated business class cabin, but yes, that middle seat on the main deck, grrrr! 5B and 5J are definitely the seats to get! [https://www.ausbt.com.au/here-is-the-best-business-class-seat-on-a-qantas-boeing-747]

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  • Stefan Kane

    DrSK

    7 May, 2019 12:09 pm

    The AusBT 'best seats' pieces have improved my flying experience enormously (likely how I 'discovered' 5J in the first place) - I'm very grateful for the insights they provide.
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  • Robertybob

    Robertybob

    7 May, 2019 12:02 pm

    So what happened to the talk that BNE-PER-CDG was on the cards for late this year with the next 787 deliveries? The QF dispute with PER airport must be really bad?
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  • QFcrew

    QFcrew

    7 May, 2019 12:09 pm

    The second delivery group were always promoted as direct 747 replacements. So I’m sure the next one to go will be SCL.
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  • RK

    Ryan K

    7 May, 2019 03:03 pm

    I've always found it strange that Qantas calls the 787 a 747 replacement when a one-for-one swap sees such a huge reduction in capacity.
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  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    8 May, 2019 12:06 am

    There won't be any new routes ex-PER until the terminal usage dispute is settled.
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  • josephjohn8484

    josephjohn8484

    7 May, 2019 12:23 pm

    I am confused at the inference that the new business suite is leaps and bounds better than SkyBed II. SkyBed II has far more space per passenger and I'd much rather it than the new business suite or the Zodiac suites that AA/Virgin/Cathay are using. Cant undertstand this sentiment at all.
    Dont get lost on the fact that with the refit of the A380's they are fitting in many more business suites in the same area than the SkyBed's they are replacing.
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  • David Flynn

    David

    7 May, 2019 02:04 pm

    The SkyBed II has more space per passenger in terms of legroom and the room around your 'pod' but that is it's only positive attribute. No direct aisle access, so anybody in the pair of window seats has to step past their seatmate (or hop over them, if they're sleeping) or be the person who is stepped past/hopped over; no space at or around the seat for keeping laptop, tablet, smartphone, reading material, documents, amenity kit etc close at hand; a middle seat in business class on the 747's main deck; a video screen that's small and has poor contrast & visibility; seats which often sag in flatbed mode... in other words, plenty of reasons why the Business Suite is superior. I love the SkyBed II's space around my legs and feet and in front of the seat, don't get me wrong, but in my mind (and I'd suggest, in the mind of most business travellers) this is far outweighed by all those other drawbacks.
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  • josephjohn8484

    josephjohn8484

    7 May, 2019 03:16 pm

    Agree to a point. The quality of the TV screen shouldnt refelct on the seat itself.
    I travel as a family of 4 with 2 young kids, so Skybed is absolutely perfect. On the AA 787 LAX-SYD it was horrible for a family.
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  • aggie57

    aggie57

    8 May, 2019 12:37 am

    In some ways you’re right David, there are issues with the Skybed but as a larger person the new business suite really is cramped. It’s not alone in that, many business class cabins are now but the Qantas one seems more so than most and oddly to me it feels more so when seated on the aisle because there isn’t the luxury of space between you and foot traffic.

    Personally if they fixed the sagging bed and updated the entertainment system I’d prefer they keep the Skybed, but of course that’s not going to happen. Oh well.
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  • Angus  Coventry

    Covo95

    7 May, 2019 12:46 pm

    This is gonna mean that they will be a overall reduction in capacity on qantas between Australia and San Fransisco unless the melbourne San Fransisco flight frequency is increased to daily
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  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    8 May, 2019 12:45 pm

    In that respecf it's not dissimilar to Ozm - LHR where QF used to fly 2 x A380s daily each way, but now with QF1/2/9/10 there's one A380 and one B789 each way daily, representing about a 25 per cent reduction in capacity for this supposed fantastic airline. It's probably chasing yield not seat capacity, but this still points to its inability to fill two A380s each way at what it considers sufficiently high fares.
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  • MLangley

    MLangley

    7 May, 2019 12:56 pm

    As a regular business traveller on QF63/64 to JNB, serviced with a 747, I am really keen to know when and what with, Qantas will be replacing the 747s. As nice as they are their age is very telling. I get the feeling that this might be the last regular route to be changed to a newer plane. BTW the seat image might be from the A380 but it is the exact same seat used in the 747.
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  • vitorsyd

    vitorsyd

    7 May, 2019 01:55 pm

    I agree with MLangley that JNB might be the last route to be upgraded. Speaking of which, any news on whether SCL will be upgraded by the end of the year and to which aircraft?
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  • David Flynn

    David

    7 May, 2019 01:57 pm

    If we had any news on Qantas' plans for Santiago we'd have published it.
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  • vitorsyd

    vitorsyd

    7 May, 2019 08:10 pm

    I appreciate it, David, and look forward to hearing more as concrete news become available! My comment was based on overhearing a conversation between a Qantas steward and a QF Gold sitting in front of me when flying SCL-SYD in January. The steward was adamant that the 747 would be replaced by year-end if not before.

    I understand there’s technical reasons (ETOPS) that are more complicated than passenger preference, but in my ignorance I can’t help but think that if Latam can fly a 787 daily between Melbourne and Santiago non-stop, soon to also fly non-stop a few times a week (3 or 4) between Santiago and Sydney, CASA would have approved that. Perhaps Latam uses a 787-ER equivalent that is not part of the Qantas fleet at the moment.
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  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    8 May, 2019 12:10 am

    CASA does not have to approve LATAM's aircraft, as they are not Australian registered. CASA does have to approve QF's aircraft on the route - and CASA has not as yet given ETOPS approval for SCL.
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  • kimshep

    kimshep

    8 May, 2019 09:42 am

    I think you'll find that under the current EDTO process, that CASA is required to provide approval to such operations from foreign operators. It is an ICAO 'courtesy' requirement and acknowledgement of ICAO compliance..

    Note however, that this did not require previous CASA approval for LATAM's SCL-AKL-SYD v.v. flights for the reason that ETOPs / EDTO was granted by New Zealand. SCL-MEL and SCL-SYD non-stop (and v.v.) was, and is, a different matter.

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  • Dave

    Grannular

    8 May, 2019 08:46 am

    I have never heard of a 787-ER. Nor is there any information on Wikipedia. Can you provide any further information?
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  • born2fish

    born2fish

    7 May, 2019 06:38 pm

    Before the QF 787 can operate SYD - SCL/JNB, doesn't CASA still need to approve ETOPS 330 operations?

    Whilst the B787 has type certification for ETOPS 330, the local regulator also then needs to agree per airline / route - not sure that CASA have done that yet have they? If not, then can't see JNB or SCL getting the 787 if they have to fly more northerly (uneconomical) tracks on those routes.

    USA west cost is only ETOPS 180, and even less for PER-Europe so no issues there.
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  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    10 May, 2019 09:16 am

    ETOPS has become EDTO.
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  • patrickk

    patrickk

    7 May, 2019 06:07 pm

    I suspect they will go Melb sfo daily to maintain capacity. Easier than 10 times weekly from Sydney.
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  • brad2k

    brad2k

    9 May, 2019 03:50 am

    United is also starting flights between MEL and SFO, so time will tell.
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  • mviy

    mviy

    7 May, 2019 06:22 pm

    Going to miss the 747. I enjoyed flying it to SFO
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    AT

  • Steve987

    Steve987

    7 May, 2019 07:26 pm

    Maybe heading should read “Qantas upgrades Business Class for...”

    Pretty clear everything else is downgraded.
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  • MLangley

    MLangley

    7 May, 2019 08:29 pm

    I too have heard the current ETOPS is a problem with SYD/JNB especialy in the winter months where the polar circle is often crossed, fantastic sight by the way. Maybe, hopefully, they hold out as long as posable on this route and put a new A350 with ETOPS 420.
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  • Dan Ho

    djtech

    7 May, 2019 10:07 pm

    Qantas doesn't have a350s on order and don't plan to do so. At most, an a380 to JNB but doubt they'd put so much capacity there.
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  • patrickk

    patrickk

    8 May, 2019 04:22 pm

    Not sure QF doesn’t plan to have A350s on order. They are currently mulling over such an option for their New York and London Sydney direct flights. They could also use them A350-1000 on JNB as well.
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  • AJW

    AJW

    8 May, 2019 04:42 am

    The problem isn’t the ETOPS rating of the aircraft rather that CASA doesn’t recognise the higher limits. Though I believe they now recognise ETOPS 240 which would have helped Virgin Aus when they were operating the 777 to JNB.
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  • Trogdor

    Trogdor

    8 May, 2019 09:00 am

    I suspect CASA hasn't endorsed higher because Qantas hasn't requested it.

    With twin-engine jets becoming the norm,they will be forced to approve, since the alternative is to allow foreign airlines running an identical route a clear advantage, which won't go down well with the government or the public.
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  • MLangley

    MLangley

    7 May, 2019 08:38 pm

    Added to this, is the capacity of this route, it is very seldom I see the QF63/64 flight less than 80 or 90% full. would have to put on another flight to accomadate current passanger number if a 787 is used.
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  • antkleve

    antkleve

    7 May, 2019 11:16 pm

    As a regular on the 63/64 it will be sad to see the 747 go. In fact the nice roomy 747 business class cabin was one of the only things stopping me from switching my loyalty to United.
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  • Vik Jay

    MarkivJ

    8 May, 2019 12:23 am

    I just posted a similar comment before reading Yours!
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  • TZB88

    TZB88

    8 May, 2019 03:44 pm

    I fly the UA 787 and prefer it immensely to the QF747. No comparison in terms of noise, comfort and wellbeing. Pumped for the new Polaris seat too, hopefully 2020. Polaris Lounge in SFO also amazing.
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  • brad2k

    brad2k

    9 May, 2019 03:53 am

    As an economy passenger, the QF 747 is far superior despite its age. United's food is appalling, their blankets are little more than a paper towel, and I always feel like walking on board a United flight is like walking into the midwest. Undoubtedly the Polaris experience is quite a different story.
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  • Matt Stevenson

    Madhatter49

    8 May, 2019 12:05 am

    Interesting. The last number of 747s being retired have had their final flight to SFO before going onto Mojave.
    I wouldn't think that QF would send an empty 747 across the pacific if they could get some final cash out of it to pay for the flight. Now without SFO or LAX, I guess the final 6 x 747s might make the final flight to Santiago before Mojave for the crusher.
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  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    8 May, 2019 12:14 am

    …...or to HNL. I think it's a very safe bet that the final QF 747 flight will be SYD-HNL-SFO - a reversal of the very first flight 50 years earlier.
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  • Dave

    Grannular

    8 May, 2019 08:54 am

    Or they can just swap that days flight from a 787 to 747.
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  • Vik Jay

    MarkivJ

    8 May, 2019 12:22 am

    Say what you want about the 747, but nothing comes close to the nice spacious feel of the Queen Of skies. On j class, I’ll definitely miss the bubble - the one reason I opt to fly SEA-LHR on BA during the summer season.
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  • QFP1

    QFP1

    8 May, 2019 08:24 am

    Sitting in the 747's 'hump or the nose where first class once was is definitely the place to be, but I'd rather have a Boeing 787. Better business class seat, better bed and for those you haven't flown in, there's a real difference between how you feel at the end of the flight walking off a Boeing 787 vs a 747.

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  • TZB88

    TZB88

    8 May, 2019 03:46 pm

    Couldn't agree more. If I had choice between 787 vs 747 on any route I'd take the 787 every time. There is a genuine wellbeing benefit on the long haul.
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  • P1

    P1

    8 May, 2019 03:11 pm

    Well, almost anything is better than a B747, but does it have WIFI yet?
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  • Himeno

    Himeno

    8 May, 2019 03:17 pm

    787s onto SFO was the next expected route.
    I'd expect HND to go to 787 next, along with a return of QF25/26 to NRT (and an alternate timetable with a day flight SYD-HND and NRT-SYD and night flight SYD-NRT and HND-SYD and no aircraft sitting in Tokyo all day)

    I see JNB and SCL being the last 747 routes to change type.
    The seat loss on SYD-SFO could be balanced out by moving the 2 weekly MEL-LAX 787s to SFO and, assuming the JV is approved, handing off the evening MEL departure to AA.
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  • MitchSydney11

    MitchSydney11

    8 May, 2019 03:55 pm

    I've just returned from SFO having taken a return business class trip with my wife on the 747. I have also flown the A380 in Qantas business and I was pleasantly surprised with the 747. Yes it is a bit noisier but we had also booked early enough to be in row 3 in the nose and found that it private, comfortable, no issues really.
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  • LEGS11

    LEGS11

    8 May, 2019 04:10 pm

    Flown the 787 business class product, very much improved over the Skybed in 747. Big improvement.Just wondering what will happen to SYD-JNB when all the 747 are gone, as the 4 engine plane can fly down near the ice in very lonely skies, but the twin engine planes do not have sufficient ETOPS to take that route. Maybe the A380's have a new lease on life?
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  • Graeme Willox

    WeeGee

    8 May, 2019 04:43 pm

    I haven’t flown QF long haul. The longest I’ve flown is Brisbane to Narita on an A330. So I can’t commend on their J product. But I’ve flown with BA on the 777-300ER in J an I’ve flown on the 787-9 in J.

    I have to say that I’m not really a fan of the 787 long haul. I know it’s a twin aisle jet, but it felt like a small aircraft to me, and I felt quite claustrophobic in it. It really felt like a downgrade to be flying in the 787.
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  • John Goss

    Travelwell

    10 May, 2019 12:11 am

    More and more people are flying and airlines are providing less and less seats with 747's being retired and A380's ending production.
    Supply/demand laws of Economics can only mean one thing higher prices and less award seats especially into airports with very few spare landing slots .... Who Knows, perhaps by then, the 787 will be squeezed with the same number of passengers as an A380 today....... BTW, That new W class seat pitch is a bigger disgrace than the J class pigeon hole foot-wells and the words cabin upgrade today only translate to share price upgrades not passenger comfort.!!
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  • Chris

    flychrisfly

    10 May, 2019 10:45 pm

    I'm amused by the people concerned by the reduction in capacity with this down-gauge as it wasn't that long ago when there was no MEL-SFO flight. Perhaps the Oz-SFO capacity is being right-sized
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18 Jul, 2019 03:00 am

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