UPDATE | Qantas' new Melbourne-San Francisco flights are now on sale, with the route kicking off on September 1 2018 and running four times each week.
Using its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, business class passengers can relax in one of 42 suites, configured in a 1-2-1 layout offering direct aisle access from every seat, ample storage space and a fully-flat bed for that all-important rest:
AusBT review: Qantas Boeing 787 business class, Los Angeles-Melbourne
Ahead of economy is also a premium economy cabin of 28 seats, spread across just four rows in a 2-3-2 layout:
AusBT review: Qantas Boeing 787 premium economy, Melbourne-Los Angeles
From Melbourne, flight QF49 will push back at 9:40pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, reaching San Francisco at 7pm local time.
On the return, QF50 takes to the skies at 10pm on those same days, touching down in Melbourne at 6:30am two calendar days later.
"We expect this flight to be popular with tourists and also corporate travellers looking to do business with San Francisco’s world-leading technology companies," said Qantas International CEO, Alison Webster.
“With connections to 17 codeshare destinations including Chicago, Seattle, and Vancouver, the new service also provides another gateway for Australians travelling into the US," Webster added.
Qantas' San Francisco flights also present new opportunities for travellers booking their journey using frequent flyer points, with many flights currently offering up to four business class seats plus four premium economy seats and at least nine economy seats on each departure, all for points-based bookings: a rarity on Qantas flights to the USA.
You'll need 96,000 Qantas Points for a business class ticket, 72,000 Qantas Points for premium economy or 45,000 Qantas Points for an economy seat, one way, plus a cash payment on the side to cover taxes, fees and Qantas' carrier surcharges, usually in the realm of $200-500 per person on USA routes.
But as a result of the new San Francisco service, Qantas will dial back its Melbourne-Los Angeles Boeing 787 flights to run two days per week – down from six days at present – complemented by its existing daily Airbus A380 service.
Qantas also flies from Sydney to San Francisco using a Boeing 747 aircraft.
PREVIOUS, December 15 2017, by David Flynn | Qantas will begin flying between Melbourne and San Francisco in late 2018 with the airline's Boeing 787-9 taking the new route under its wing.
Qantas and United Airlines already fly from Sydney to San Francisco, but the Red Roo's new Dreamliner service will be the only direct flight from Melbourne to Fog City.
Freshly-minted Qantas International CEO Alison Webster confirmed the new Dreamliner route ahead of today's debut of Boeing 787 flights between Melbourne and Los Angeles.
"We’re excited to fly Australians to one of the most popular destinations on the Qantas network in Dreamliner style and comfort. We’re proud that with the new San Francisco route too, it will strengthen tourism and trade links, particularly with Silicon Valley."
However, the Melbourne-based Dreamliner won't be doing a daily run to either Los Angeles or San Francisco – instead, the advanced jet will be shared between the two routes.
"Capacity between Melbourne and the US will be rebalanced to match demand for the two Californian cities, meaning that the Dreamliner will fly to Los Angeles some days of the week and San Francisco other days," the airline says.
"A significant number of our Melbourne passengers flying to Los Angeles already connect on to San Francisco," Webster explained.
Qantas is understood to be planning for the Boeing 787 – which will fly into Melbourne from the non-stop London-Perth service – to continue to San Francisco on fours day each week and Los Angeles on the other three days, complementing the daily Airbus A380 between Melbourne and Los Angeles.
Tickets for the Melbourne-San Francisco flights will go on sale early in the new year, with flights expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Brisbane will see its daily flight to Los Angeles switch from a Boeing 747 to the Boeing 787 in the second half of 2018, with the Dreamliner then continuing on to New York – meaning that NY-bound Qantas travellers from Sydney and Melbourne to Los Angeles will also enjoy a cross-country jaunt on the Dreamliner.