NEWS: Alaska’s New Route To Hawaii Is Now Operating, Star Alliance Improves Beijing Transfers, Qatar Airways Ups Service To Oz & More

a silhouette of a building with a cross on top may receive commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. does not include all card companies or all available card offers.

Some links to products and travel providers on this website will earn Traveling For Miles a commission which helps contribute to the running of the site – I’m very grateful to anyone who uses these links but their use is entirely optional. The compensation does not impact how and where products appear on this site and does not impact reviews that are published.

A roundup of some of the news I’ve noticed over the past few days which didn’t really merit a whole post of their own but that may well be of interest. Includes news that Alaska’s latest route to Hawaii is up and running, details of United’s latest give-away, news that Star Alliance carriers may soon offer a smoother experience for travelers in Beijing and news that Qatar Airways is increasing service to Australia.

Alaska’s New Route To Hawaii Is Now Operating

As of 14 December Alaska Airlines now offers a non-stop service between San Francisco and Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii.

The published schedule looks like this:

EY75 SFO 11:30 – 15:15 KOA (Daily)
EY76 KOA 16:15 – 23:17 SFO (Daily)

a beach with palm trees and water

The flights are being operated by Virgin America’s 3-cabin A320 aircraft which offer power outlets throughout the aircraft (some legacies could learn from this!).

The three cabins in the Virgin America A320’s look like this:

  • 8 First Class seats with 55″ seat pitch and 21″ seat width
  • 12 Main Cabin Select seats with 38″ seat pitch and 17.7″ seat width
  • 32 regular Economy Class seats with 32″ seat pitch and 17.7″ seat width

Those dimensions compare very favorably with all the other carriers flying to Hawaii so this will be a nice option for Bat Area flyers.

United Starts A Search For People Called Sydney

United will commence service between Houston and Sydney from 18 January next year and to celebrate that fact the airline has launched a sweepstakes which is running in the US.

The airline is looking for 5 people in the US (excluding New York and Florida) with the first or last name “Sydney” to whom it will give away seats on the inaugural flight out of Houston.

The five lucky winners (and a companion each) will get roundtrip Economy Class tickets between Houston and Sydney, some sightseeing, 5 nights at the Westin Sydney and a $500 prepaid card.

The airline will accept 20 variations to the spelling of “Sydney” and you can find out what they are together with the full Terms and conditions via this link.

a bridge over water with a building in the background

Here are the headline entry details:

  • Entrants must access, complete, and submit the Entry Form at between 12/13/17 and 12/27/17.
  • 5 prizes available:
    • voucher for winner and a guest from Houston to Sydney, AUS departing 1/18/18 returning 1/25/18
    • 5 nights double occupancy hotel accommodations and $500 prepaid card
    • Transportation to and from an airport near the winner’s legal residence
    • Access to the following attractions in Sydney: the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Sightseeing Cruise, and a day tour to the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains


I’m sure United believes it’s being generous with this sweepstakes but I’m not sure I’d want to win the prize on offer.

United will operate its 787-9 Dreamliner between Houston and Sydney and, in Economy Class, this aircraft offers 32″ of seat pitch (leg room) and 17″ of seat with.

While 32″ of seat pitch is actually better than I expected of United’s 787-9 these are still not spacious dimensions. Let’s not forget that passengers will be stuck in these seats for at least 17 hours and at some point things will get uncomfortable….and stay that way for the rest of the flight.

Qatar Airways To Fly Its A380 To Perth

Qatar Airways’ latest schedule changes show that the airline will be swapping out the Boeing 777-300ER that currently flys between Doha and Perth with an Airbus A380.

The move, which comes into effect from 1 May 2018, is being called “a sign of commitment to the Australian market” by the airline but I’m not so sure.

Qatar Airways is in the process of refitting its 777 aircraft with new “QSuite” Business Class cabins so it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that this was only a temporary measure while the 777s are flown off for a makeover.

Still, whatever the reasoning this is good news for flyers.

The Qatar Airways 777-300ER offers an outdated if perfectly ok Business Class cabin while the Airbus A380 offers a First Class option as well as a much more modern Business Class cabin.

a seat in a plane

I can’t say that I was overly impressed with the Qatar Airways A380 First Class offering when I tried it out earlier this year but I am a huge fan of the newer Business Class seats (combined with Qatar Airways food, drinks and service they make for a great flight).

On top of this the A380 offers more Business Class seating than the 777 (good for award availability) and the Economy Class product is more comfortable -its a win all round.

Star Alliance Carriers Moving Home In Beijing

Business Traveller has reported that Air China has just signed a memorandum of understanding with the owners of Beijing Airport which will see all Star Alliance members moving into the same terminal.

The memorandum also allows for Star Alliance to introduces a number of changes that are designed to improve the passenger experience in Beijing including “off-airport check-in” and self-service bag tagging and drop-off.

a group of airplanes parked on a runway

Considering there are currently 17 Star Alliance airline serving Beijing this should be a very big improvement for travelers. Air China currently advises passengers that the following minimum transfer times apply:

  • International to Domestic – 90 minutes when transferring within Terminal 3
  • International to Domestic – 160 minutes when transferring from Terminal 3 to Terminals 1 or 2

Based on those figures passengers should be able to expect transfer times to drop by almost 44% once all partner airlines are under the same roof.