United Airlines will resume flights between Los Angeles and Melbourne on October 28, adding competition to a route currently monopolised by Qantas.
The Virgin Australia partner says it the popular trans-Pacific corridor will restart with three flights per week, increasing to daily from 1 December.
The popular San Francisco-Melbourne route also steps up from thrice-weekly to daily from 28 October, making the most of Qantas pushing back San Fran flights until at least March 2023.
Significantly, those double-daily flights to the USA will be more than United offered prior to the pandemic.
“United’s extensive network and local partnership with Virgin Australia means that millions of people have one-stop access to Melbourne, and as Virgin Australia’s largest domestic hub, Melbourne has more connections to Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and Tasmania than any other Australian city,” notes Melbourne Airport CEO Lorie Argus.
Both of the Star Alliance carrier's Melbourne flights will feature the modern Boeing 787 Dreamliner – the ticket to a quiet, comfortable and jetlag-diminishing ride across the Pacific – fitted with United’s latest Polaris business class seats.
Those seats adopt a 1-2-1 layout so every passenger enjoys direct access to the aisle, along with plenty of personal space and of course a fully flat bed for the overnight portion of the 14-15 hour journey.
Behind business class is United’s Premium Plus premium economy, set in its own cosy cabin of 21 seats (three rows of 2-3-2) with added legroom and seat recline plus upgraded meals, which all lift the experience a few notches above economy.
Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston – also returning from October, in the form of United’s Sydney-Houston service – will unlock the carrier’s ‘triple gateway’ for onwards flights offering one-stop service to other points on the United network, a factor which helped cement United Airlines as Virgin Australia’s new US partner.
“That all gives Virgin customers much more travel via one stop to virtually anywhere in North or South America because of United's vast network, they’re not having to double- connect or even triple-connect,” the airline’s senior vice president of international network and alliances, Patrick Quayle, tells Executive Traveller.
“It’s a real win for Virgin.”
United Airlines not only allows Virgin’s frequent flyers to earn Velocity points and status credits on UA flights but also offer status-based perks such as access to United Club lounges plus priority check-in, security clearance and boarding, along with opening up Velocity point redemptions on its flights.