United Airlines to launch Brisbane-San Francisco flights

The Virgin Australia partner is putting down roots in Virgin’s home town.

By David Flynn, June 8 2022
United Airlines to launch Brisbane-San Francisco flights

United Airlines will begin flying between Brisbane and San Francisco from October 2022, adding a new Australian port to the network of the freshly-minted Virgin Australia partner.

The Star Alliance member's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, equipped with lie-flat Polaris business class suites as well as comfortable Premium Plus premium economy seats, will run three times a week from Brisbane from Monday October 31.

According to Brisbane Airport, the San Francisco to Brisbane flights will run on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday; Brisbane to San Francisco flights are slated for Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

“As Brisbane Airport welcomes more than 75% of all international arrivals into Queensland, securing United is good news for tourism and hospitality businesses from Coolangatta to the Cape,” said Brisbane Airport Corporation CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff, describing the deal as “a gamechanger for the tourism industry.”

“These new services bring welcome news for jobs and the economy, and offer Queenslanders a direct connection to Silicon Valley and beyond.”

Brisbane landed the new United service through a $200 million Attracting Aviation Investment Fund, set up in partnership between the Queensland Government and Brisbane Airport Corporation. 

Speaking with Executive Traveller earlier this year, United’s senior vice president of international network and alliances, Patrick Quayle, said the airline was “always looking at new opportunities… having Virgin as a partner is going to be helpful and that will create more opportunities for more service.”

Virgin Australia previously flew between Brisbane and Los Angeles, but new owners Bain Capital ditched the long-range Boeing 777 jets to sharpen Virgin’s focus on the domestic market.

While having United recreate this route has been subject to equal parts speculation and hope, San Francisco is also a major hub for United Airlines, with direct connectivity to 80 North American cities.

“From Australia to anywhere in North America, Los Angeles is the largest destination, the largest terminating point in the United States,” Quayle tells Executive Traveller“In San Francisco, the local market is a lot smaller, but the size of the hub is a lot larger.

United will be going head-to-head with Qantas, although the Flying Kangaroo has yet to restart its suspended Brisbane-San Francisco service.

Travellers from Brisbane in United business class or holding suitable frequent flyer status with United or its Star Alliance partner airlines will begin their journey at either the Air New Zealand or Singapore Airlines lounges.

However, under the current terms of the Virgin Australia / United Airlines alliance, Virgin’s Velocity Gold and Platinum members have access only to United’s own lounges, not those of partners – which means they are likely to be accommodated at the independent My Lounge – which was of course a Virgin lounge when it debuted in October 2019.

On the return leg from San Francisco, business class passengers will enjoy a pre-flight respite at United’s well-appointed Polaris Lounge, with the United Club accommodating all other lounge-worthy travellers.

More to follow...

Competition win

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Mar 2022

Total posts 13

Fantastic - for all that's said about the US carriers, they typically just get on with it.  Day by day, the Star Alliance options into AU increase...

08 Sep 2018

Total posts 26

Probably no real need for VA to bother with LAX on its own metal anymore. 

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1192

Probably just as well given they no longer have any metal that could do it if they wanted to.  I don't think the new VA has ever had any real intention of going back to long-range operations.  Bain has been quite clear that they see huge value in VA's domestic franchise; they have never expressed any interest in or love for international operations.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 251

VA still holding onto the LA and Tokyo landing slots. 

26 Jul 2011

Total posts 12

Dang. I enjoyed my usual stopover in LAX on each US trip. From what I've been reading/hearing, San Fran isn't the sunny, carefree place it once was.

07 Nov 2020

Total posts 39

No sure San Fran has ever been especially known for sunshine. Fog perhaps.  As for carefree, are you thinking the flower-power 60s?

Come on Qantas, get your wings flapping with North American services in and out of Brisbane.   
Get that Brisbane to Chicago service up and running that you have been playing around with for such a long time and please make sure its arrival into Chicago is early in the day.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1426

They are waiting on their three languishing 787s to be delivered, and then hopefully all of the above will happen.

sounds great until you look at the fares.

United nonstop BNESFO 3JAN, SFOBNE 22JAN $3500+ return in economy. Fiji Airways via NAN, coming home a day earlier, which suits school holidays better for ~$1599 & get a ski bag at no extra cost. It's really a no brainer & get qantas points on Fiji Airways

26 Aug 2019

Total posts 4

Via MEL and SYD... BNE non-stop isn't open yet for reservation

787 boeing UNited are having an opening sale BNE/SFO return (on nonstops) for $2500 each Jan 3, back Jan 22, but just got 5 seats for$1500 each(same except coming home a day earlier), so saved $5k over that sale fares & get to take our ski bags which paying any extra & get qantas points rather than useless united miles.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 232

Awesome news - win win for Virgin FF’s and Qld. Think that’s 6 routes to US now on United.  Makes Virgin domestic travel at the current prices 30-50% are of Qantas fares even more appealing. 

KW72 Banned
KW72 Banned

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 242

Good news. Much better option than the QF A330 that is not match fit. 

Which Australian crew refuse to fly because the crew rest is economy class seats with blankets to block out cabin light.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Mar 2015

Total posts 1

I had 2 point business class SFO - SYD December and two days ago had them changed to SFO-BNE without any penalties. Brilliant 

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