United to launch Auckland-San Francisco flights with Boeing 787

United to launch Auckland-San Francisco flights with Boeing 787

United Airlines will kick off flights to New Zealand next year with a new non-stop service between Auckland and San Francisco.

Beginning at three-times-weekly from July 3 2016 with a Boeing 787-8, that ramps up to daily service and the larger Boeing 787-9 from October 30 2016: complementing Star Alliance member Air New Zealand’s existing flights between the two cities.

“United Airlines' return to the New Zealand market will be great for travellers in both directions, and will provide a welcome boost to tourism in New Zealand,” said Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon.

“We look forward to building an even stronger partnership with United, and to working together with United to further build this market.”

United’s Auckland flights also provide a new one-stop option for Aussies heading to San Francisco and then beyond, who can fly with Air New Zealand between Auckland and the likes of Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, before flying onwards to SFO with United.

UA916 departs Auckland at 1:20pm to reach San Francisco at 6:40am the same day, while on the return UA917 is wheels-up at 10:45pm for a 6:55am landing in Auckland two calendar days later.

You’ll find ‘BusinessFirst’ at the pointy end of United’s Dreamliners: its flagship business class product with fully-flat beds stretching to 198cm long in a 2-2-2 configuration…

'BusinessFirst' on United's Boeing 787-9s, which comes in a 2-2-2 configuration

… while inflight Internet connectivity is already available on every United Boeing 787-9 and is scheduled to be fitted to all of United’s Boeing 787-8 fleet by May 2016.

Review: United B787 BusinessFirst review: Melbourne-Los Angeles

United currently uses the Boeing 787-9 aircraft on its daily flights between Melbourne and Los Angeles, and will switch its flights from Sydney to both Los Angeles and San Francisco to the Dreamliner from March next year.

Meanwhile, Oneworld alliance competitor American Airlines is too eyeing up flights between Auckland and the USA, while Qantas is resuming its own Sydney-San Francisco flights from December 2015.

Read: Qantas Sydney-San Francisco flights now on sale

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Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!


  • Broderick Boyd


    9 Oct, 2015 10:10 am

    This is great new however UA are not reknowned for sticking to future plans especially 9 months out.

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  • Chris_PER


    9 Oct, 2015 10:16 am

    Air New Zealand and United....like comparing chalk and cheese when it comes down to their product.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again....United, you deserve to lose customers when you insult a brand new aircraft with a product from the 90s.

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  • Tom Goddard


    9 Oct, 2015 10:38 am

    A competitor finally on ANZ's monopoly, but won't make too much of a difference besides some true Americans hopping on their national carrier.


    As Chris_PER said like chalk and cheese..

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  • Hugo


    9 Oct, 2015 10:41 am

    Shrug, if they can undercut NZ's prices then that's good news for everybody.

    Besides, in economy, is a nine-abreast 787 better or worse than a ten-abreast 777? I guess NZ at least makes up for it by feeding you. 

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  • Broderick Boyd


    9 Oct, 2015 10:46 am

    I think the advantages UA have over ANZ is they have "Economy Plus" and are generally cheaper then ANZ in most cases. If I was on a budget I'd much prefer an Economy Plus Seat on a Dreamliner then being crammed in a 10 Abreast 77W. Also the retun flight to SFO arrives at 6.30am which means easier connections.

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  • StudiodeKadent


    9 Oct, 2015 11:57 am

    I am tempted to agree with you, but United's "Economy Plus" is still 9-abreast on the 787 and thus the seat width is only 0.1" wider than a 10-abreast 777. You get extra legroom, but that's it. Taller passengers may elect for it over ANZ economy though.

    If their Economy Plus were 8-abreast (thus allowing 19" seats), I could absolutely see it as filling a market niche. But in its current state, it is basically "pay extra for only three inches more legroom." Taller passengers who are willing to tolerate crappy service may buy it but that seems a rather small market segment.

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  • Tom Goddard


    9 Oct, 2015 11:24 am

    UA are also deploying the 787 out to Tel Aviv

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  • Koru17


    9 Oct, 2015 11:27 am

    Well this has shaken up NZ's monopoly on thier North American operations. As Chris_PER said, the onbaord products are miles apart; however I'd assume UA will have lower fares?

    I still avoid UA when connecting in USA and prefer to use NZ's partner Virgin America anyway.

    Is this a "Stay Away American Airlines" ploy? Both *A carriers versus AA? Have to wait and see... contentious?

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  • aklrunway


    11 Oct, 2015 08:56 am

    I doubt this will stop AA/QF alliance commencing NZ-USA. They have their own agenda and don't think they give a toss what NZ/UA do.

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  • motef


    9 Oct, 2015 02:59 pm

    Its great when you have this story straight after the Finnair story and have a look at the photos to compare the business class product.

    Wow United, that photo of the seats looks like its from the archives

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20 Jul, 2019 07:28 am


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