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Being home to technology giants such as Microsoft and Amazon plus 'satellite' offices of Silicon Valley-based companies like Google and Facebook, along with a wide range of start-ups, Seattle is a natural magnet for Australian dot-com business travellers.
However, it's also a destination with plenty of appeal in its own right. The scenic national parks and evergreen forests gave Seattle its nickname of 'the Emerald City', and in recent years Seattle has become the premier hub for cruises to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
When planning a trip from Sydney to Seattle, most travellers will reflexively think of Los Angeles as their transit point, as there are no direct flights between Australia and Seattle (although Qantas has teased the possibility more than once).
But while LAX remains a solid option, there are plenty of other ways to make the trip. You can get there as quickly as possible, stretch out in comfort for the entire trip, attend meetings while in transit or even break the journey in between for some much-deserved downtime.
While this article is written from the perspective of a Sydney departure, many of the airlines listed here also fly to other Australian capital cities.
Fly Cathay Pacific from Sydney to Seattle
Transit city: Hong Kong
Transit time: Choice of two hours (taking CX100 from Sydney) for a quick pit stop, 5.5 hours (on CX162) for longer lounging time, 8 hours (aboard CX110) to leave the airport and enjoy dinner in downtown Hong Kong, or 18 hours (CX138) where you arrive early morning and depart later the same evening, for a full business day in Hong Kong. Cathay also has some great lounges for the stop-over: The Wing, The Pier, The Deck and The Bridge.
Business class: From Sydney to Hong Kong, you'll travel either on a Cathay Pacific Airbus A330 or a Boeing 777-300ER, both of which feature the airline's well-regarded business class seat offering plenty of space to work and relax in a passenger-pleasing 1-2-1 configuration.
On the overnight flight from Hong Kong to Seattle, you'll board an Airbus A350-900, offering an upgraded version of the seat with premium design tweaks by Studio F.A. Porsche.
Upsides: Unlike some of the other options, choosing Cathay Pacific gives you a true international-grade business class experience from door to door, without spending part of the journey on a domestic-style aircraft.
Unlike transiting through Los Angeles, there's also no need to collect and re-check your luggage while in transit – and with four daily flights from Sydney to choose from, business travellers could take the opportunity to attend meetings or visit clients while on the ground in Hong Kong as part of the same trip, rather than having to take an entirely separate journey from Australia.
Downsides: As you'd arrive into Seattle as an international passenger, US passport control and Customs clearance takes place after your journey is complete, rather than during the transit time between flights as when jetting through LA. Travelling via Hong Kong also takes longer than flying via another city in the United States. It's also a long journey: even with the shortest transit time at Hong Kong, you're looking at a 24 hours from start to finish.
Fly Singapore Airlines from Sydney to Seattle
Transit city: Singapore
Transit time: 4.5 hours in Singapore after SQ288 from Sydney, which also transits Canberra for 95 minutes in between, or nine hours when arriving on the best-connecting non-stop flight, SQ242.
Business class: Between Sydney and Singapore, Singapore Airlines offers three different business class seats: its newest Airbus A380 business class, its original Airbus A380 business class, and its refurbished Boeing 777-300ER business class, pictured below:
While each has a different look and feel, all provide the expected pairing of a fully-flat bed with direct aisle access, with the latest Airbus A380 business class seats having the added advantage of transforming into a double bed in selected rows, for couples travelling together.
Onwards from Singapore to Seattle, Singapore Airlines' Airbus A350s adopt the same seats as found on those Boeing 777-300ER flights above.
Upsides: Whichever flight you choose, be sure to take advantage of Singapore Airlines' Book The Cook service, whereby you can pre-order your preferred meal from a wide variety of dishes not normally offered on the regular inflight menus. As with Cathay Pacific, flying Singapore Airlines also gives you the airline's best business class experience from door to door, with no domestic connecting flights, or need to fetch your luggage when in direct transit.
Downsides: With that transit being either two-stop via Singapore and Canberra or a one-stop journey requiring an overnight stay in Singapore, flying Singapore Airlines between Sydney and Seattle is most appealing for those breaking the journey in The Lion City, but less so for those with no need to do so.
Fly Air Canada from Sydney to Seattle
Transit city: Vancouver
Transit time: After arriving in Vancouver at 7:30am, onward flights to Seattle are available from 10:35am, providing a comfortable transit of three hours or more.
Business class: On the longest leg between Sydney and Vancouver, you'll find Air Canada's Signature Suites in business class, which are based on the same Super Diamond seat as Virgin Australia's The Business.
The onward hop to Seattle provides a simple reclining seat for the 64-minute journey.
Upsides: Although flying from Australia to the United States via Canada may not be the first option that comes to mind, Vancouver Airport operates a US Customs pre-clearance facility, whereby travellers clear US Customs and passport control on the ground in Canada, and arrive into Seattle on their connecting international flight just like a 'domestic' passenger.
As an added advantage, there's no need to collect and re-check baggage when travelling via Vancouver – this is taken care of automatically. You're simply shown a photo of your bag at passport control, confirm verbally that it's yours, and it's sent right through.
Downsides: Air Canada's US Preclearance lounge in Vancouver offers standard facilities like showers and WiFi, but is otherwise rather basic. Flying from Australia to the US via Canada also means that in addition to the expected US ESTA or pre-arranged US visa, you'll need to obtain a Canadian Electronic Travel Authority (eTA): forget that key step and you'll be unable to travel.
Fly Hawaiian Airlines from Sydney to Seattle
Transit city: Honolulu
Transit time: With daily flights from Sydney to Honolulu and then onwards to Seattle, passengers have a typical transit time of 2hrs 40min on the ground in Honolulu.
Business class: Both these flights are served by the airline's Airbus A330-200 aircraft, which offer fully-flat beds in business class in a 2-2-2 configuration.
This makes the outer pairs of seats ideal for two people travelling together, and an aisle seat in the centre group a better pick for solo travellers, where direct aisle access is provided and without anybody stepping over you.
Upsides: While you can simply change planes in Honolulu and keep moving (clearing Customs in between), you're in a great place to break the journey for a little relaxation between Sydney and Seattle, whether for one night to revive and unwind or as a longer stay – taking the chance to use some annual leave for a Hawaiian holiday in the middle of what's otherwise a business trip.
At 17 hours 15 minutes from departing Sydney to arriving in Seattle, Hawaiian Airlines also offers the fastest journey time of any airline flying between these two cities.
Downsides: While access to Hawaiian Airlines' Plumeria Lounge is available in Honolulu, it's rather basic by international business class standards, serving only light refreshments and snacks: and, there's also no lounge access at SeaTac when flying from Seattle to Honolulu.
Fly Qantas from Sydney to Seattle
Transit city: Los Angeles
Transit time: Usually a minimum of three hours between arriving on QF11 and connecting onto Alaska Airlines, between which, you'll clear US passport control and Customs, and re-check baggage. On the domestic LA-Seattle leg, Qantas passengers travel on codeshare flights operated by Alaska Airlines.
Business class: Qantas' Sydney-Los Angeles flights are served by the Airbus A380, generally with the airline's SkyBed II business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration on the upper deck.
Qantas has begun refurbishing all 12 of its A380s with Business Suites in a more favourable 1-2-1 layout, but at the time of publishing, only one of these superjumbos has been completed and appears earmarked primarily for Sydney-Singapore-London flights.
Upsides: When it comes to the connecting flight on Alaska Airlines, Qantas' codeshares extend to flights departing throughout the day, not only those that best-connect with QF11. This makes it possible to arrive in to Los Angeles in the morning, venture into the city for any meetings or sightseeing, and continue the journey later the same day, while still earning Qantas Points and status credits on that connecting flight.
Qantas' Airbus A380 also features a communal lounge area at the front of the business class cabin, which is great when travelling as a group – and, with first class downstairs, business class flyers may also be able to use Qantas Points to upgrade from business class to first class on these flights.
Downsides: Immigration lines at Los Angeles can be long, especially in the mornings when the first wave of international flights hit the tarmac, including QF11 from Sydney. Passengers are also required to collect and re-deposit their luggage before continuing to their connecting flight.
The Alaska Airlines lounge that these passengers can use in Los Angeles is also quite basic: its most exciting feature for these morning flyers being a DIY pancake machine as found in many Australian domestic airport lounges.
Note also: Qantas' partner American Airlines flies from Sydney to Los Angeles and also from Los Angeles to Seattle, but the transit time between flights operated by American Airlines is roughly six hours, with passengers speeding things up by taking codeshare Alaska Airlines flights instead, as above.
Qantas also flies from Sydney to San Francisco with onward connections to Seattle on Alaska Airlines.
Fly Virgin Australia from Sydney to Seattle
Transit city: Los Angeles
Transit time: Three hours or more after arriving on VA1, with the connecting flight from Los Angeles to Seattle operated by Delta Air Lines.
Business class: Across the Pacific, Virgin Australia's superb business class experience awaits – branded as The Business, guaranteeing every passenger a fully-flat bed and direct aisle access on every Sydney-LA flight.
Upsides: Beyond the business class seat, Virgin Australia's Boeing 777-300ER aircraft all feature an inflight bar and lounge for business class passengers, which attracts a more social vibe (and typically, more passengers) than Qantas' A380 inflight lounge. Virgin Australia also offers inflight WiFi.
Downsides: Other than the time consuming formalities at LAX of a morning – the same as with Qantas – Delta operates out of three terminals at LAX, and unfortunately, its Los Angeles-Seattle flights tend to depart from Terminal 3, which offers only a relatively small lounge which tends to be crowded.
Passengers with more time on their hands can take the free airside shuttle bus between T3 and Terminal 2, where Delta's Sky Club is much larger and better-equipped, but passengers taking the shortest transit are unlikely to have the time.
Fly Delta from Sydney to Seattle
Transit city: Los Angeles
Transit time: Connections start at 2hrs 45min, flying Delta Air Lines the whole way.
Business class: Delta arguably offers the best business class seats across the Pacific, flying its flagship Delta One Suites on the Sydney-Los Angeles leg, giving each passengers a level of privacy previously found only in first class, with closing doors at each seat.
On the three-hour flight from LA up to Seattle, expect a more typical domestic-style reclining seat in business class, with flights operated by Boeing 737s.
Upsides: Whether you want to eat, sleep, work or relax on board, your space is entirely your own: close the door to your Delta One Suite and you're in a world of your own. Delta also offers free messaging via WiFi to all passengers, with broader Internet access available for purchase.
Downsides: As with Qantas and Virgin Australia, arriving in Los Angeles in the mornings generally means long lines at the border, and having to collect and re-check your bags, even if they've been tagged to your onward destination.
Fly United Airlines from Sydney to Seattle
Transit city: San Francisco
Transit time: From 2hrs 10min, depending on flight schedule.
Business class: United usually flies Boeing 787s with 2-2-2 seating in business class between Sydney and San Francisco, but from early December 2019 to late March 2020, that's swapped for a Boeing 777-300ER, bringing with it the airline's newest Polaris seating:
On the three-hour domestic flight, expect a more typical reclining seat.
Upsides: When departing San Francisco on the flight home, business class flyers have access to United's Polaris Lounge, offering an experience closer to first class with perks like a la carte dining. United offers this in Los Angeles too where you can also connect, although San Francisco is more efficient.
Downsides: Outside of the few months where United is running its upgraded Polaris-equipped planes to Sydney, flights throughout the rest of the year feature a much less impressive – and less private – business class seat. You'll still get Polaris Lounge access, however.
Fly Japan Airlines from Sydney to Seattle
Transit city: Tokyo
Transit time: A brisk 60 minutes at Narita Airport, unless you stay overnight.
Business class: With both the Sydney-Tokyo and Tokyo-Seattle legs operated by JAL's Boeing 787 aircraft, you'll travel all the way from Australia to the US in the airline's Sky Suite business class.
Although technically arranged in a 2-2-2 layout, these seats offer direct aisle access for every passenger as those seated against the windows have a dedicated path to the aisle which doesn't impede on the passenger next to them. These window seats are also the most private in the cabin.
Upsides: Interestingly, compared to the more typical transit points of Los Angeles and San Francisco, flying from Sydney to Seattle via Tokyo takes just two hours more, and gives you JAL's flagship business class seat for the entire journey.
Downsides: With a quick hour-long transit in Tokyo, you'll be hard-pressed for any lounge time between hopping off your inbound flight, clearing security and making it to your onward departure gate before the door closes. Anything longer requires an overnight stay.
Fly ANA from Sydney to Seattle
Transit city: Tokyo
Transit time: 13 hours. You'll arrive into Haneda Airport at 5am, flying onwards to Seattle at Narita Airport just after 6pm.
Business class: You'll travel on ANA's Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Sydney to Haneda and then from Narita to Seattle, offering fully-flat seating in a 1-2-1 layout on both flights:
Upsides: Passengers who prefer to sleep in the sky and work on the ground will enjoy the timing of these flights, with Sydney-Haneda a 9.5-hour overnight hop, and Narita-Seattle another 9-hour overnight flight.
Downsides: As you're arriving into one airport and departing from another, you'll have no choice but to collect any checked baggage in transit and make your own way between Haneda and Narita.
That's less of an issue for passengers intending to spend the business day in downtown Tokyo – who'd have made the trip into the city and back out to an airport on the same day anyway – but as Narita Airport is further from the city than Haneda, allow plenty of extra time to get there and complete check-in formalities again.