United begins Brisbane-Los Angeles flights

The Star Alliance member and Virgin Australia partner adds a new non-stop option for visitors to La La Land.

By Chris Ashton, December 1 2023
United begins Brisbane-Los Angeles flights

Queenslanders who’ve set their sights on a trip to California now have an alternative to Qantas and its much-derided trans-Pacific A330, as United Airlines begins direct BNE-LAX flights.

There’s also added appeal for Velocity frequent flyers, with the partnership between United and Virgin Australia allowing earning and burning of Velocity points (as well as earning Velocity status credits) and enjoying some reciprocal status perks.

For example, under the terms of the Virgin-United alliance, Velocity Gold and Platinum members have access only to United’s own lounges, not those of partners – and as United has no lounge of its own at Brisbane, those high flyers are currently left loungeless before joining the flight to La La Land.

United Airlines is of course no stranger to the Sunshine State, with daily Brisbane to San Francisco flights also on the departures board.

United’s local boss Tim Wallis notes “Australians are in the top five sources for international visitors to Los Angeles just as Americans are for Queensland, and we’re happy to offer travellers, and our trade partners, even more choice”.

But it’s not just about visiting Los Angeles itself, Wallis explains.

“LAX Airport has undergone significant infrastructure works in recent times, improving the transit experience considerably for travellers with U.S. or Latin American connections.”

United’s current Brisbane-Los Angeles schedule has three flights each week:

  • UA284 from Brisbane is wheels up at 12:45pm every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, reaching Los Angeles at 8am the same day thanks to time differences
  • UA283 then bids farewell to LAX at 9pm each Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, arriving in Brisbane at 5:15am two days later.

However, United is starting the non-stop route as just a seasonal service through to March 29.

“We actively decided that we would make it a seasonal flight during the winter here, the summer in Australia, which is when demand is the strongest,” United Airlines’ Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Nocella tells Executive Traveller. “We'll see how it does and decide how to bring it back.” 

United's Polaris business class now features bedding from Saks Fifth Avenue.
United's Polaris business class now features bedding from Saks Fifth Avenue.

The Brisbane-Los Angeles flights are on a Polaris business class-equipped Boeing 787, which Executive Traveller has reviewed as “easily among the best from a US carrier”.

For comparison, Qantas flies an Airbus A330 between Brisbane and LAX, which is significantly older and noisier, and arguably much less comfortable, while also lacking many of the Dreamliner’s advanced passenger-friendly features such as lower cabin altitude (which diminishes fatigue and the effects of jetlag) and higher cabin humidity.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2013

Total posts 138

Now, let's hope the prices on this sector come to more reasonable levels, and hopefully this would give QF the much needed kick in the butt to upgrade their aircraft in this leg. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 372

Meanwhile, Qantas choses and near 20 year old A330-200 on this route.

Across all major routes, QF are being outplayed by the likes of UA, SQ, CX to the point of being an insignificant minor player. This is far from being a ‘national carrier’. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 234

From the way they've been treating their customers it's hardly surprising. Many ex-loyalists are now voting with their feet and are flying with other carriers who offer better customer and in service product, and for a cheaper price too. They have no one to blame but themselves and their greed to exploit their customers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Mar 2018

Total posts 27

The Qf A330 has almost the same business suites as 787 and refurbed A380 and its quite nice being on a smaller aircraft its just the poor crew rest. Good competition nothing will ever be as good as Virgins 777 RIP

14 Feb 2015

Total posts 16

Thank god we have a better option than the QF train wreck. Competition is a great thing, hope UA decides it warrants a year round service! And agree with you Flyer86, the VA 777 was the pinnacle of J service across the pacific, greatly missed. 

Etihad - Etihad Guest

06 Apr 2012

Total posts 124

United's new service to the U.S. further cements Star Alliance as the dominant airline alliance for Brisbane.  For example, Star Alliance now covers 3 of the direct services to North America (if you include Vancouver), with Singapore Airlines typically operating 4 daily services to asia with onward connections to europe. You also have Air NZ operating 5 services on a typical day and Eva Air running 3 times a week....


14 Jan 2022

Total posts 4

Yep.   Now if only Virgin Australia would join Star Alliance …

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 325

Alliance membership is likely going to be a problem of the post-IPO part owners (i.e Late 2024 at the earliest).  Alliance membership is in the same boat as widebodies, very low on Bain's CapEx priorities for VA.

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