Qantas on track for long-awaited San Francisco return

After multiple delayed restarts, the trans-Pacific link will finally take off before the middle of the year.

By Chris Ashton, January 20 2023
Qantas on track for long-awaited San Francisco return

Travellers eagerly awaiting Qantas’ long-in-the-works return from Sydney to San Francisco don’t have long to go now, with the Red Roo confirming everything is on track for its May restart.

Originally scheduled to take off in October 2022 before being shunted to March, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner connection will now take wing from May 22. If the schedule holds, it’ll bring an end to the Flying Kangaroo’s more than three year absence from the Fog City.

Qantas’ timetable shows the 13 hour 20 minute flight QF73 from Sydney taking off at 9:55pm every Monday, Thursday and Saturday, with wheels down at 6:15pm local time.

On the return, QF74 waves goodbye to San Francisco those same three days at 10:25pm, before touching down in Sydney at 6:05am two days later. The west-bound service is slightly longer at 14 hours and 40 minutes.

Why the multiple delays? Long-range aircraft shortages are most likely to blame. Only six Qantas A380s have reentered service to date, with the remaining four due by December 2023 following interior upgrades and maintenance.

The Dreamliners are also needed elsewhere, including treks to Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth, plus the ongoing Sydney-Vancouver, Perth-London and Sydney-Johannesburg routes.

Qantas is due to receive three more Boeing 787-9s by the end of June 2023, which will come just in time for the launch of Sydney-Auckland-New York.

When Sydney-San Francisco takes off, Qantas will have some incumbent competition on the route, with United’s daily Boeing 777 flight (UA870) having a significant head start on the Oneworld airline.

Sporting the roomy Polaris business class – which our review described as “a cosy cocoon for relaxing, working and sleeping” – United Airlines’ 777 flight remains a very attractive option, while its Brisbane-San Francisco has the Queensland market firmly locked down.

The Red Roo’s own flights from Brisbane and Melbourne to San Francisco currently remain on ice, with no dates scheduled for a return.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Sep 2013

Total posts 15

United has more than a “12 month head start” on Qantas. They didn’t abandon Australians by suspending their SFO-SYD service throughout the pandemic, like Qantas did. UA was a lifeline for cargo and passengers.

I don’t trust Qantas to resume service on this (third!) promised date, I don’t trust them to look after Australians overseas, and I don’t trust them to check my baggage!

United has gained a lot of credibility and respect from Australians in the Bay Area, and Qantas will have to work very hard to get those flyers back.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 791

and United have BNE-SFO. Not everyone wants to go through the SYD-SYD transfer, even for the first lounge.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Nov 2018

Total posts 97

Too little too late. I had a United status match and have been using it well. United’s MEL SFO, BNE SFO, SYD SFO plus LAX mean that Qantas has lost it for me here. The only thing that will entice me back to Qantas for USA travel will be the A380. Otherwise I’m sticking to UA.

United will be double daily from Sydney soon. Daily from Melbourne. And have introduced Brisbane. On aircraft that have wifi and Polaris Business. And have gained a lot of trust from expats by keeping SFOSYD going consistently throughout the pandemic. 

A 3 per week Qantas offering that is continually pushed back and delayed is insignificant and irrelevant.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Mar 2022

Total posts 13

Can’t believe QF didn’t try and at least make SYD-SFO at least a couple of times a week much sooner. And when it does come back, lots of people were burnt with the prior postponement where they only realised it had changed when they logged in and found out they were flying via LAX etc. 

I know a lot of people who’ve now built up status with *A and don’t mind Polaris. Coupled with direct options from other AU cities, and the FF recognition on Singapore Airlines once you build up to *A Gold, they’ve ceded one of the highest value markets in terms of $ and high status FFs that were Qantas’ to lose. 

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