United Airlines Will Fly From Houston To Sydney In 2018 – Saver Awards Available!

a bridge over water with a building in the background

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United Airlines has just announced that it plans to commence service between Houston (IAH) and Sydney from early 2018 and, although the aircraft being used doesn’t exactly offer a premium product (in any cabin), there are Business Class saver awards available (at the time of writing).

The United Airlines announcement reads:

United Airlines (UAL) today reaffirmed its commitment to Houston with the announcement that it will begin daily, nonstop service between its Houston hub and Sydney on January 18, 2018.

The new flight will be the only nonstop service to Australia from Houston and offers customers from Houston as well as from hundreds of cities across the U.S. the opportunity to conveniently travel to Sydney. United currently serves Sydneynonstop from its West Coast hubs in Los Angeles and San Francisco. This flight is subject to government approval.

At 8,596 miles, this flight will be United’s second longest. Together with its service from Los Angeles and San Franciscoto Singapore, United will fly the three longest flights by a U.S. carrier, making United the leader in ultra-long haul flights.

The schedule for United’s Houston to Sydney route looks like this:

From 18 January 2018

UA101 IAH 20:00 – 06:30+2 days SYD (Daily)
UA100 SYD 11:50 – 10:30 IAH (Daily)

United Airlines will operate its 787-9 Dreamliner on the new route offering:

  • 48 United Polaris Business Class seats
  • 63 Economy Plus seats
  • 141 Economy Class seats

The seat map below (courtesy of SeatGuru.com) shows how United sets out its 787-9 Dreamliner….

United Airlines 787-8 seat map

…..and while the Business Class seats look….erm….ok….

United Airlines 787-9 DreamlinerUnited Airlines 787-9 Business Class – Image courtesy of United Airlines

United Airlines San Francisco to Xi'anUnited Airlines 787-9 Business Class – Image courtesy of United Airlines

…the lack of aisle access for all passengers in the cabin really highlights the inadequacy of United’s attention to their premium product.

As for Economy Plus and Economy Class….

United Airlines San Francisco to Xi'anUnited Airlines 787-9 Economy Plus & Economy Class Seating – Image courtesy of United Airlines

United Airlines 787-9 DreamlinerUnited Airlines 787-9 Economy Plus & Economy Class Seating – Image courtesy of United Airlines

….the pictures look fine and the numbers aren’t totally abhorrent:

United Airlines San Francisco to Xi'an

It’s quite sad that I now get to type that 32″ is actually a decent amount of seat pitch for a US airlines (31″ is definitely the norm)…so that’s a small bonus for those at the back of the aircraft on United’s second longest route.

Still, 17″ of seat width is not enough for today’s average person and they will definitely not be comfortable for anyone large at the waist or large at the shoulders.

United does attempt to play things up however:

The Boeing Dreamliner is revolutionizing the flying experience for United customers and crews while delivering unprecedented operating efficiency, comfort and lower emissions. Customers experience greater comfort with improved lighting, bigger windows, larger overhead bins, lower cabin altitude and enhanced ventilation systems, among other passenger-friendly features.

Hmm…d’you know what? I’ll take more legroom and more seat width instead of all of that any day!

Award Availability

At the time of writing there is Saver Award availability on this route….but not all that much:

a screenshot of a calendar

…and you’d have to wonder just what sort of person would choose to book Economy over Business Class in this particular instance?! 🙂

a screenshot of a screenshot of a flight ticket

It actually looks like not all the awards have been loaded yet so more may appear over the next few hours…but don’t wait too long if you want to book as they’ll probably disappear fast!

Bottom Line

As I always say…it’s great to have a new route on which we can earn and burn our miles but you won’t ever find me in the regular Economy Class seats on a flight of this length – it’s going to be tight and uncomfortable and that’s not going to be fun on a flight of this length.

If you’re looking to fly to Sydney then 70,000 United Miles for Business Class isn’t bad at all….just don’t expect anything special as this is definitely an older-style Business Class on this route.