Melbourne to Los Angeles: Qantas, United or Virgin Australia?

By David Flynn , February 21 2014
Melbourne to Los Angeles: Qantas, United or Virgin Australia?

Talking Point | United Airlines fired not one but two shots at Qantas yesterday, moving to upgrade its Melbourne-Los Angeles flights into a direct route and assigning the route to its new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner for good measure.

It's another thorn in the Flying Kangaroo's hide, and this time Qantas can't blame an airline funded by foreign governments – this is competition, pure and simple.

It also makes for an intriguing choice for Melbourne travellers.

One the one hand is the potential lure of a Boeing 787-9 showpony, which not only offers a superb inflight experience for passengers but reduces jetlag – a welcome trait when your flight arrives into Los Angeles at 7am.

But for a variety of reasons, United Airlines is not the first choice of most Australian flyers.

That falls to Qantas, which offers its flagship Airbus A380 superjumbo daily between Melbourne and Los Angeles.

Nor should we overlook Virgin Australia, although the thrice-weekly schedule of its Boeing 777 lacks the scheduling flexibility which many business travellers value.

So today we're asking our readers in Melbourne: will United's direct flights to Los Angeles and debut of a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner sway your travel plans?

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David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 346

No

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

+1

QF daily on A380, VA three times weekly. With UA killing the Sydney dogleg plus adding the new aircraft to do Melb - LAX direct 6 times a week, they will be fine. VA can't grow out of Melbourne against all that, so they should upgrade Bris - LAX to daily and kill Melbourne. Unless the 3 x weekly VA Sydney - Abu Dhabi service goes away, as speculated, which gives them 20% more 777 capacity every week. In which case, what will they do with it?

Loving the DC-10 in the title image.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 323

MD-11 (wing tips) :-)

Of course, so it was photoshopped from this century, not the last one then :P

20 Oct 2011

Total posts 77

MD-11.

KG
KG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 736

Biman Bangladesh just retired their DC10 - it was the last DC10 passenger plane flying around (and I am pretty sure it was doing a KUL-DAC stretch, rather than LAX-DAC ;)). KLM is the only carrier flying the MD11 in passenger config, but not for long. I think you can cathc it on the YVR, YYZ and sometimes SFO routes to/from AMS. Sorry, this post is off topic!

At least United are one of the few airlines to do 9 abreast seating in economy class on the 787.  If it was 10 abreast, like Jetstar, then no chance.  I also like the older cabin crew on United who do their monthly trip to Australia.  I've never had the grumpy ones that people seem to talk about.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 323

I think you'll find 9 abreast is as many as they can do. The Boeing mock-ups had the 787 at 8 abreast, however a lot of airlines, including Jetstar, have opted for the more bone-crunching 9 abreast.

oops!  I made a mistake!  9 abreast is the AWFUL configuration. 8 abreast is what the jet was designed for.  Sorry United, Qantas A380 keeps my business :(

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 323

As much as I'd like to travel in a 787-900, the lure of QF or VA points and status credits is more important to me. I've always enjoyed the trans Pacific flights on Qantas and will continue to fly them or Virgin Australia. There's no substitute for flying back to Australia with an Aussie airline either.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Jan 2013

Total posts 132

QF every day of the week!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2223

I see what you did there!

05 Dec 2013

Total posts 36

Definitely not. Everyone loves to criticise Qantas, particularly lately, but it still runs rings around United and Virgin between Melbourne and LA.

17 Feb 2012

Total posts 121

Its very brave of you to offer up United in the same category as Qantas or Virgin - even with a shiny new plane.  One look at the airline reviews would suggest otherwise https://www.airlinequality.com/main/forum.htm .  Combine the one-board service with one of the most appauling lounges in Melbourne and you would have to give it to QF, with Virgin not that far behind.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Dec 2013

Total posts 16

For economy travellers, Qantas is the best. The seats of QF A380 are wider than other 2. Wider seats are better for long flights. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Apr 2013

Total posts 47

QF better planes, seats, food and crew. The choice is simple.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 994

Fly on UA? No. I refuse to be on one of their planes for longer then 2 hours.

If UA is getting rid of the SYD-MEL tag flights, I guess they'll start complaing about the QF LAX-JFK tags again.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 387

what as much as 2hrs on an American carrier, you jest I hope. 15 minutes is long enough in any class with them.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 387

what as much as 2hrs on an American carrier, you jest I hope. 15 minutes is long enough in any class with them.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

16 May 2011

Total posts 116

Well it comes down to who you prefer to fly with and which FFP you are aligned to. Star Alliance FF's would now consider UA as a serious option now.

- Qantas: Excellent hard product, Excellent Crew, Excellent Lounge, Oneworld member, x1 Daily Frequency

- United: Fairly good hard product, OK Crew, OK Lounge, Star Alliance member, x6 Weekly Frequency however will be moving to Daily ops soon after

- Virgin Australia: Very good hard product, Excellent Crew, NZ Lounge which is pretty good, x3 Weekly freqeuncy 

But for an average one time a year traveller, QF is the best option followed by VA with UA not too far behind.

VA won't pull out of MEL-LAX and simply bump up BNE for the sake of it, VA & DL needs the vital MEL market as part of they're trans pacific strategy, no MEL service and ultimately VA will be at a disadvantage.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Apr 2013

Total posts 147

For travellers transiting on J or Y+ products UA's offering is, to be honest, quite lacklusture. QF and VA have set the bar quite high for both J and Y+ (as have NZ) and I really don't believe the UA product even comes close to matching, particularly with the Y+ product.

I'll be sticking close to VA & QF, personally.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 May 2012

Total posts 371

QF A380 would my choice.

02 Nov 2011

Total posts 4

380 vs 787 is a toss-up.  i dislike the 500 passenger frenzy loading and baggage claim with the 380's, and believe the humidity and air pressure on the 787's are a winning feature.  

For me however the biggest point of difference are the frequent flyer programs.  I can't abide the QF extortion of exhorbitant "fees" on what should be free, earned travel.  $1100 in "fuel surcharges" and other ripoff fees compared with UA's $106 on the same SYD/ORD award ticket make the QF points less than useless.  

gw
gw

21 Oct 2011

Total posts 7

Totally agree with the A380 frenzy. In LAX, it is "OK" since Immigration is the bottleneck there. It is really a pain through once back to Melbourne

gw
gw

21 Oct 2011

Total posts 7

My QF activity just reset and I am considering switching to United/Star Alliance for few reasons. Bear in mind I travel to the US 4 to 5 times a year, to NE Asia 1 to 2 times a year, and to Europe 1 to to times a year.  

- Same terminal departure in LAX (terminal 7). Those who have been transiting by foot at 7AM between terminals with a connection to QF107 or other know what I am referring to.

- Cheaper fares. I tend to book fares late, and QF93 being a popular product, I can hardly get relatively cheap tickets. QF7 has proven to be better, but I am not sure it is worth the difference with UA for instance. I realise UA has (for now) an inferior product (tag flight, plane...) but I can live with that and it will only get better :) 

- Star Alliance. It now gives me access to more choice when going to China for instance. Hi SQ! Hi TG! Same goes when I need to fly to Europe which will be mostly from the US! Apperently miles redemption is also better. 

- Better access to FF tiers. I have always been short of credit points with QF to achieve Plat. Should not be an issue with UA. I will see with UA allows me to status match. 

Lounges are nice, but I try to spend less time in them. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 209

Daily service + top notch F, J and Y+ hard product + great service + best in class lounges + easy connections from LAX to rest of Nth America = easy win for QF

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 304

I haven't done this trip on a US Carrier not since my first time to America with my family back in 1989 and that was with Continental on a 747.Last time I went was with Air New Zealand out of Sydney in 2001.No Membership or Points Programme when I went as a kid,But was with Ansett Global Rewards at the time of the second visit.Having said that as good as Qantas or Virgin Are If I was to go again The Lure of topping up my Thai Royal Orchid Plus Membership with UA points is very hard to say no to as is the new plane.

27 Sep 2011

Total posts 34

As long as I can use the Qantas First lounge in Melbourne, no way would any other airline be getting my business between MEL and LAX!

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 304

It provides Those of US who are a bit over the Usual Singapore Stopovers going to and from the UK/Europe a decent alternative.I would rather if headed that way have a few days to visit Disneyland,Universal Studios,Knotts Berry Farm and maybe take one of those Tours that takes in the OC and Santa Monica but that's me everybody is entitled to their opinion.UA will be onto a winner.


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