Qantas upgrades Sydney-San Francisco to Boeing 787

By David Flynn, May 7 2019

Qantas will move its daily Sydney-San Francisco route to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from 4 December 2019 as the airline steadily puts its Boeing 747 jumbo jets out to pasture.

The Sydney-San Francisco Dreamliner service will complement Qantas’ existing Boeing 787 between Melbourne and San Francisco, which flies four times per week.

Review: Qantas Boeing 787 business class, Melbourne-San Francisco

It's difficult to understate the improvement this brings to business travellers bound for Fog City and Silicon Valley, from the Dreamliner's modern business class seat with direct aisle access and plenty of personal space to the Boeing 787's ability to help reduce inflight fatigue and jetlag.

For example, the Sydney-San Francisco business experience will be transformed from this...

... to this.

Also read: How to choose the best business class seats on the Qantas Boeing 787

The scene's not quite so shiny if you're in premium economy.

As we've previously detailed in our first look at Qantas' Boeing 787 premium economy seat, as well as reviews from Melbourne to Los Angeles and Perth to London, this is generally excellent seat but one cruelled by cramped conditions, mainly due to a lack of legroom (with the seats simply ranked too close together) and what can be an overly-complicated footrest system.

If your budget or travel policy restricts you to premium economy, consider a points-based upgrade to business class.

This is the first of a new raft of Dreamliner destinations as Qantas takes delivery of six more Boeing 787s on top of the current eight.

By the end of 2020 there'll be 14 red-tailed Dreamliners scooting into and out of Qantas hangars, which will also see the retirement of all Qantas Boeing 747s.

David
David

David Flynn

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Pcoder

Pcoder

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 35

I'm not sure the economy passengers would consider this an upgrade.

reeves35

reeves35

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 521

Premium Economy passengers may be a bit ambivalent also.

StudiodeKadent

StudiodeKadent

20 May 2015

Total posts 584

Economy passengers lose 0.3inches of width, but gain 1 inch in pitch, as well as get a newer seat, plus the Dreamliner's cabin humidity benefits and lower noise etc.

It seems to me like a SLIGHT upgrade, except for those with short-and-portly builds.

Scepticalflyer

Scepticalflyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Aug 2017

Total posts 15

Article headline is a misnomer. The narrow footwells and claustrophobic cabin not necessarily an upgrade. The continually declining on board service will also be the same. Downgrade for the vast majority of pax. Reduced capacity will result in increased ticket prices. Probably good for shareholders but not for passengers.

RMITLad

RMITLad

31 May 2013

Total posts 17

Does the frequency change? Otherwise it’s a capacity reduction.

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2322

Frequency doesn't change.

Smithy

Smithy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Apr 2012

Total posts 52

The next QF 789 delivery I assume helps with fleet numbers. Complements the MEL-SFO -9 :)

paperysomething

paperysomething

05 Feb 2015

Total posts 17

When will this be updated in the GDS? I have a booking to SFO in Jan which is still showing a 747.

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2322

It's just been announced this morning, I'm sure the booking system will soon be updated to reflect this.

djtech

djtech

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 85

It will be a reduction of seats in all cabins. That would make finding awards even harder. Hoping an AA/QF JV would up the frequencies of these flights to provide more capacity.

Red Cee

Red Cee

15 Feb 2018

Total posts 45

I always thought SFO would be next.

DrSK

DrSK

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Jul 2014

Total posts 49

The image of the Skybed II above is from an A380 - the 747's main deck 2-3-2 configuration is even less desirable. That said, I'm quite partial to the space and privacy offered by seat 5J on the QF 747 - it is the consistency of the business class experience on the 787 that is one of its greatest assets.

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2322

Quite so, our focus was more on the seat than the cabin – we don't have any suitable images of the 747's updated business class cabin, but yes, that middle seat on the main deck, grrrr! 5B and 5J are definitely the seats to get! [https://www.ausbt.com.au/here-is-the-best-business-class-seat-on-a-qantas-boeing-747]

Robertybob

Robertybob

20 Dec 2017

Total posts 13

So what happened to the talk that BNE-PER-CDG was on the cards for late this year with the next 787 deliveries? The QF dispute with PER airport must be really bad?

QFcrew

QFcrew

19 Nov 2012

Total posts 38

The second delivery group were always promoted as direct 747 replacements. So I’m sure the next one to go will be SCL.

John Phelan

John Phelan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 318

There won't be any new routes ex-PER until the terminal usage dispute is settled.

josephjohn8484

josephjohn8484

17 Jan 2013

Total posts 19

I am confused at the inference that the new business suite is leaps and bounds better than SkyBed II. SkyBed II has far more space per passenger and I'd much rather it than the new business suite or the Zodiac suites that AA/Virgin/Cathay are using. Cant undertstand this sentiment at all.

Dont get lost on the fact that with the refit of the A380's they are fitting in many more business suites in the same area than the SkyBed's they are replacing.

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2322

The SkyBed II has more space per passenger in terms of legroom and the room around your 'pod' but that is it's only positive attribute. No direct aisle access, so anybody in the pair of window seats has to step past their seatmate (or hop over them, if they're sleeping) or be the person who is stepped past/hopped over; no space at or around the seat for keeping laptop, tablet, smartphone, reading material, documents, amenity kit etc close at hand; a middle seat in business class on the 747's main deck; a video screen that's small and has poor contrast & visibility; seats which often sag in flatbed mode... in other words, plenty of reasons why the Business Suite is superior. I love the SkyBed II's space around my legs and feet and in front of the seat, don't get me wrong, but in my mind (and I'd suggest, in the mind of most business travellers) this is far outweighed by all those other drawbacks.

Covo95

Covo95

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 113

This is gonna mean that they will be a overall reduction in capacity on qantas between Australia and San Fransisco unless the melbourne San Fransisco flight frequency is increased to daily

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

In that respecf it's not dissimilar to Ozm - LHR where QF used to fly 2 x A380s daily each way, but now with QF1/2/9/10 there's one A380 and one B789 each way daily, representing about a 25 per cent reduction in capacity for this supposed fantastic airline. It's probably chasing yield not seat capacity, but this still points to its inability to fill two A380s each way at what it considers sufficiently high fares.

MLangley

MLangley

07 May 2019

Total posts 3

As a regular business traveller on QF63/64 to JNB, serviced with a 747, I am really keen to know when and what with, Qantas will be replacing the 747s. As nice as they are their age is very telling. I get the feeling that this might be the last regular route to be changed to a newer plane. BTW the seat image might be from the A380 but it is the exact same seat used in the 747.

vitorsyd

vitorsyd

04 Jun 2018

Total posts 9

I agree with MLangley that JNB might be the last route to be upgraded. Speaking of which, any news on whether SCL will be upgraded by the end of the year and to which aircraft?

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2322

If we had any news on Qantas' plans for Santiago we'd have published it.

born2fish

born2fish

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 50

Before the QF 787 can operate SYD - SCL/JNB, doesn't CASA still need to approve ETOPS 330 operations?

Whilst the B787 has type certification for ETOPS 330, the local regulator also then needs to agree per airline / route - not sure that CASA have done that yet have they? If not, then can't see JNB or SCL getting the 787 if they have to fly more northerly (uneconomical) tracks on those routes.

USA west cost is only ETOPS 180, and even less for PER-Europe so no issues there.

patrickk

patrickk

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 395

I suspect they will go Melb sfo daily to maintain capacity. Easier than 10 times weekly from Sydney.

brad2k

brad2k

11 Feb 2016

Total posts 15

United is also starting flights between MEL and SFO, so time will tell.

mviy

mviy

05 May 2016

Total posts 524

Going to miss the 747. I enjoyed flying it to SFO

Steve987

Steve987

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 250

Maybe heading should read “Qantas upgrades Business Class for...”

Pretty clear everything else is downgraded.

MLangley

MLangley

07 May 2019

Total posts 3

I too have heard the current ETOPS is a problem with SYD/JNB especialy in the winter months where the polar circle is often crossed, fantastic sight by the way. Maybe, hopefully, they hold out as long as posable on this route and put a new A350 with ETOPS 420.

djtech

djtech

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 85

Qantas doesn't have a350s on order and don't plan to do so. At most, an a380 to JNB but doubt they'd put so much capacity there.

AJW

AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 501

The problem isn’t the ETOPS rating of the aircraft rather that CASA doesn’t recognise the higher limits. Though I believe they now recognise ETOPS 240 which would have helped Virgin Aus when they were operating the 777 to JNB.

MLangley

MLangley

07 May 2019

Total posts 3

Added to this, is the capacity of this route, it is very seldom I see the QF63/64 flight less than 80 or 90% full. would have to put on another flight to accomadate current passanger number if a 787 is used.

antkleve

antkleve

American Airlines - AAdvantage

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 40

As a regular on the 63/64 it will be sad to see the 747 go. In fact the nice roomy 747 business class cabin was one of the only things stopping me from switching my loyalty to United.

MarkivJ

MarkivJ

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 61

I just posted a similar comment before reading Yours!

TZB88

TZB88

QFF

16 May 2016

Total posts 39

I fly the UA 787 and prefer it immensely to the QF747. No comparison in terms of noise, comfort and wellbeing. Pumped for the new Polaris seat too, hopefully 2020. Polaris Lounge in SFO also amazing.

Madhatter49

Madhatter49

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 40

Interesting. The last number of 747s being retired have had their final flight to SFO before going onto Mojave.

I wouldn't think that QF would send an empty 747 across the pacific if they could get some final cash out of it to pay for the flight. Now without SFO or LAX, I guess the final 6 x 747s might make the final flight to Santiago before Mojave for the crusher.

John Phelan

John Phelan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 318

…...or to HNL. I think it's a very safe bet that the final QF 747 flight will be SYD-HNL-SFO - a reversal of the very first flight 50 years earlier.

Grannular

Grannular

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 288

Or they can just swap that days flight from a 787 to 747.

MarkivJ

MarkivJ

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 61

Say what you want about the 747, but nothing comes close to the nice spacious feel of the Queen Of skies. On j class, I’ll definitely miss the bubble - the one reason I opt to fly SEA-LHR on BA during the summer season.

QFP1

QFP1

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 44

Sitting in the 747's 'hump or the nose where first class once was is definitely the place to be, but I'd rather have a Boeing 787. Better business class seat, better bed and for those you haven't flown in, there's a real difference between how you feel at the end of the flight walking off a Boeing 787 vs a 747.


TZB88

TZB88

QFF

16 May 2016

Total posts 39

Couldn't agree more. If I had choice between 787 vs 747 on any route I'd take the 787 every time. There is a genuine wellbeing benefit on the long haul.

P1

P1

24 Apr 2017

Total posts 37

Well, almost anything is better than a B747, but does it have WIFI yet?

Himeno

Himeno

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 920

787s onto SFO was the next expected route.

I'd expect HND to go to 787 next, along with a return of QF25/26 to NRT (and an alternate timetable with a day flight SYD-HND and NRT-SYD and night flight SYD-NRT and HND-SYD and no aircraft sitting in Tokyo all day)

I see JNB and SCL being the last 747 routes to change type.

The seat loss on SYD-SFO could be balanced out by moving the 2 weekly MEL-LAX 787s to SFO and, assuming the JV is approved, handing off the evening MEL departure to AA.

MitchSydney11

MitchSydney11

29 Mar 2019

Total posts 11

I've just returned from SFO having taken a return business class trip with my wife on the 747. I have also flown the A380 in Qantas business and I was pleasantly surprised with the 747. Yes it is a bit noisier but we had also booked early enough to be in row 3 in the nose and found that it private, comfortable, no issues really.

LEGS11

LEGS11

Etihad - Etihad Guest

04 Mar 2018

Total posts 4

Flown the 787 business class product, very much improved over the Skybed in 747. Big improvement.Just wondering what will happen to SYD-JNB when all the 747 are gone, as the 4 engine plane can fly down near the ice in very lonely skies, but the twin engine planes do not have sufficient ETOPS to take that route. Maybe the A380's have a new lease on life?

WeeGee

WeeGee

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 May 2019

Total posts 2

I haven’t flown QF long haul. The longest I’ve flown is Brisbane to Narita on an A330. So I can’t commend on their J product. But I’ve flown with BA on the 777-300ER in J an I’ve flown on the 787-9 in J.

I have to say that I’m not really a fan of the 787 long haul. I know it’s a twin aisle jet, but it felt like a small aircraft to me, and I felt quite claustrophobic in it. It really felt like a downgrade to be flying in the 787.

Travelwell

Travelwell

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Oct 2017

Total posts 72

More and more people are flying and airlines are providing less and less seats with 747's being retired and A380's ending production.

Supply/demand laws of Economics can only mean one thing higher prices and less award seats especially into airports with very few spare landing slots .... Who Knows, perhaps by then, the 787 will be squeezed with the same number of passengers as an A380 today....... BTW, That new W class seat pitch is a bigger disgrace than the J class pigeon hole foot-wells and the words cabin upgrade today only translate to share price upgrades not passenger comfort.!!

flychrisfly

flychrisfly

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jun 2011

Total posts 76

I'm amused by the people concerned by the reduction in capacity with this down-gauge as it wasn't that long ago when there was no MEL-SFO flight. Perhaps the Oz-SFO capacity is being right-sized

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