United Airlines Boeing 787-9 goes daily on Melbourne-Los Angeles

By David Flynn, March 12 2015
United Airlines Boeing 787-9 goes daily on Melbourne-Los Angeles

United Airlines is boosting its direct Melbourne-Los Angeles Boeing 787-9 service to daily flights, up from the previous six days a week when the Dreamliner debuted in late October 2014.

Flight UA99 departs Melbourne at 10.15am to reach Los Angeles at 6.50am the same day; the return flight, UA98, leaves LAX at 10.30pm to touch down into Melbourne at 8.15am two days later.

"We are happy with the performance of the Melbourne–Los Angeles route and are excited to expand its frequency in order to meet increasing customer demand" said Alison Espley, United’s managing director, Japan and Pacific Sales.

"The new service has been positively received by our customers who enjoy the benefits of the non-stop service and advance features of this evolutionary aircraft."

Read: United Airlines: why Melbourne got our first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

PREVIOUS | United Airlines will begin flying its Boeing 787-9 to Australia in October with the launch of a new direct Dreamliner service between Melbourne and Los Angeles.

The new direct flights, tagged as UA98/99, will run six days a week from October 28 and replace the current daily dogleg route which sees United's Melbourne-LA flights go via Sydney with a one-hour stopover.

On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, flight UA99 will depart Melbourne at 11.15am to reach Los Angeles at 6.50am the same day.

On Saturdays, however, UA99 will leave Melbourne at 3.15pm and arrive at Los Angeles at 10.50am.

If you're flying in from stateside UA98 will be wheels-up from LAX at 10.30pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, arriving in Melbourne at 9.15am two days later.

On Thursdays UA98 will shift its schedule one hour earlier, leaving Los Angeles at 9.30pm to reach Melbourne at 8.15am.

Read: United Airlines tells "why Melbourne got our first Boeing 787-9"

Sydney timetable to be tweaked

United will retain its two daily flights from Sydney to Los Angeles and San Francisco, which from March 29 will be upgraded from Boeing 747s to Boeing 777s.

However, the airline says it "will seek to retime" those flights "to allow a greater range of connections beyond the hubs and more convenient arrival times for customers travelling on connecting flights to New York and other East Coast destinations."

While Melbournians headed to Los Angeles will welcome the direct flights, those bound for San Francisco will need to hop a domestic flight to Sydney to meet up with United's daily UA870 service to Fog City.

This will be the international debut for United's Boeing 787-9, a larger and longer-range version of the Boeing 787-8 for which the airline was the US launch customer and currently flies on several domestic US routes as well as international legs to London, Shanghai and Tokyo.

The 14.5 hour trek from Melbourne to Los Angeles will be Australia's longest Boeing 787 route to date and showcase the Dreamliner's traveller-friendly traits such as a lower effective cabin altitude and higher levels of humidity to help defeat jetlag, and oversized windows which let more light into the cabin.

United's Aussie Dreamliner debut will come just one week after Air New Zealand launches its Boeing 787-9 flying between Auckland and Perth from October 15.

Australia is also in the box seat for Scoot's inaugural Boeing 787-9 service which is expected to take wing in December 2014, with Sydney-Singapore tipped as a likely launch route.

Also read: Australia's boom in Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights

United's Boeing 787-9 seating

United’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners will carry 252 passengers, or 33 more than its 787-8 siblings.

The pointy end will carry 48 business class seats – which United tags as Business First, in a confusing attempt to differentiate it from 'Global First' international first class and the US domestic 'United First' – in a 2-2-2 configuration from rows 1 through 8.

These seats recline into a fully-flat 1.98 metre bed with a 49cm video screen, laptop and USB power.

That's followed by a sizeable Economy Plus cabin of 88 seats stacked in a 3-3-3 configuration.

It's worth noting that United's Economy Plus doesn't equate to conventional Premium Economy seats such as those of Qantas and Cathay Pacific and Air New Zealand: it's just an economy seat with "up to 12.7cm" of extra legroom.

The rest of the plane is given over to 116 standard economy seats.

All Economy Plus and Economy seats are fitted with an adjustable headrest and a 22.8cm personal screen, with AC power sockets shared between seats.

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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.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jan 2012

Total posts 171

Or if you want to go to SFO from MEL, then you connect from LAX to SFO.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Nov 2011

Total posts 122

Definitely an option, however, would be much more comfortable transiting in SYD rather than the cluster f*** that is LAX

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 741

The best option for MEL-SFO is (imho) still AKL.

21 Jul 2012

Total posts 128

The 777 from SYD will be much more comfortable than the 787, at least in Economy.  UA is going with the high-density 3-3-3 seating configuration at the back of the bus.  Business is a wash.

I wonder how far prices for this sector would drop.

How does the UA lounges at LA rate against Admirals Club?

Presumably A3 Gold would be able to access both lounges at MEL and LAX?

Does A3 Gold also give you priority and free access to Economy Plus?

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 741

UA lounge at LAX is pretty equivalent to Admiral's Club. Nothing to get excited about.

A3 gold will get lounge access, but definitely no economy plus.

Interesting. AA gives OW Sapphire and Emeralds free access to Main Cabin Extra, AA's version of United Plus.

05 Sep 2011

Total posts 66

You may get lucky, I'm NZ gold and have had free upgrades to UA economy plus before, but only on domestic flights. Once even got a free upgrade to their domestic first. Sadly if you want to guarantee a seat in economy plus, you're going to have to pay for it.

05 Jun 2011

Total posts 38

Same here, except not on HNL-IAD (& presumably Newark) which seem to be treated differently in the UA booking engine. 

21 Apr 2013

Total posts 34

 i wonder if Virgin Australia will drop out of melbourne La now 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 231

I'd doubt it but they may drop Melbourne in favour of daily Brisbane to LAX

08 May 2013

Total posts 18

Only time will tell :) 

we will have to wait and see the performance on the route when united starts it directly. I doubt they would drop out before United starts flying it

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

13 Mar 2015

Total posts 79

Why VA or QF will drop their great service from MEL? OMG.. please try UA in economy class and you will see why not. Do not let an amazing beautiful and great plane like the 787-9 to seduce you, after you try UA in Economy for 14 hours you will have regrets... unless you know that you are flying a regular airline with low cost airline service.

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 543

Are those seat pictures taken from different aircraft or generated by UA? I'm thinking the former but I don't know.

Furthermore UA's 789 has PTVs in Economy right?


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jan 2012

Total posts 171

Those pics do look like a B787 - Check out the windows.

And yes the 789's do have PTV's in Y Class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 364

Doing a dummy booking leaving MEL on the 31st October I notice the website says "Meal: None". Surely this is an error. No meal on a 15 hour flight??

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 741

Yeah, UA's site is pretty broken. You'll get meals. You might wish you didn't, but you'll get 'em ;)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1257

This is very exciting news.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Mar 2013

Total posts 13

Wow. You gotta hand it to an American airline to turn what is a modern plane on the outside and somehow turn the interior into a lacklustre 1980's throwback. 

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1258

Good news for travellers, bad for Qantas. The 20% reduction in capacity planned for when UA brought out the 777's will be replaced with the introduction of the 787-9 and adds a competitor to a near monopoly route.

More competition has to be a good thing, though I fly out of Brisbane so that's not really of much benefit for me personally.  Well done United, though unless you improve your Economy Plus product and transform it into something more aligned with Air NZ, Qantas or Virgin, I doubt I'll be flying with you.   I can't do cattle class on a journey that long.  I usually fly AirNZ Prem Econ on 773 from BNE to SFO (via AKL obviously) as I like their product and the price is pretty good if you can get it on sale.   Sometimes I fly Qantas to LA but they can be expensive and then you need to fly domestic to SFO, which I hate, unless you go via Sydney.  I'm still annoyed that Qantas don't fly to SFO direct anymore.

03 May 2012

Total posts 11

I don't know if it has the range, but a better move would have been MEL-SFO. LAX is overserviced and a dysfunctional hole. The current UA transit in SYD is good - just a gate change, whereas any LAX transit or terminal change in SYD should be avoided like the plague.

06 Feb 2014

Total posts 114

Flown the A380 more times than I can count and the 787 quite a few times. The hype around the 787 is unjustified. Fine The windows are a bit bigger and pixelated, but it's louder than a a380 and without the add ons particularly at the pointy end. It won't change the traveling experience that much vis a ve the a380

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 452

Anything is an upgrade from UAs 747s.  Absolutely horrific.

I think the biggest benefit of the 787 is that Boeing have stopped using engine bleed air to supply aircraft air conditioning and pressurisation. This means zero synthetic engine oils residues entering the cabin, which have been linked to aero toxic syndrome. Having humidifiers provide greater humidity and a cabin pressure of 6000' instead of 8000 are also a big plus.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

13 Mar 2015

Total posts 79

I’m a Premier Member of UA Mileage Plus but I stop flying UA in long haul flights because the horrendous on board service. Tries to Europe more than three times and to Asia just a couple of times and I quit to that UA complaining and they kept sending miles to “compensate” the issue… but they never had the attitude to change..then I decided to fly with alternative options within the Star Alliance (LH, SR, OR, SQ NH) and One World (AA, BA, CX, JL)  Doesn’t matter how much UA trying to change the “exterior” showing beautiful new airplanes while the “Interior” is the same bad on board service  and even worst every day!!! Their business class is nothing not award service at all but they are trying… the problem is tey are focusing effort in the Premium Cabins and forget all other 200’s passengers in Economy, I think travelling in Low Cost airlines is much better.. at least you know what to expect for what you pay… but not with UA that is a low cost airline service with regular airlines price. Why I will pick up to be 14 hrs in economy in UA knowing that for similar price I can fly with one stop to MEL in other airlines with a much better service and pleasant time that the “cheap” UA?

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