United kicks off Melbourne-Los Angeles flights on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

By Chris Chamberlin, October 28 2014

United’s non-stop services between Melbourne and Los Angeles start today, with the inaugural flight also marking the first route for the airline’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Replacing the previous Melbourne-Sydney-Los Angeles runs on UA’s Boeing 777s, the Dreamliner goes head-to-head with Qantas' daily Airbus A380 flights on the same route.

Also read: The longest Boeing 787 flight in the world

Ahead of the inaugural flight and with tongue planted firmly in cheek, Melbourne Airport CEO Chris Woodruff told journalists and travellers that “the new non-stop service means that passengers don't have to transfer through that sad, declining, high-cost, low-service airport in New South Wales.”

Left to right: Tourism Victoria CEO Leigh Harry, United SVP Global Sales Dave Hilfman, Melbourne Airport CEO Chris Woodruff and Acting US Consul General Amy Hyatt
Left to right: Tourism Victoria CEO Leigh Harry, United SVP Global Sales Dave Hilfman, Melbourne Airport CEO Chris Woodruff and Acting US Consul General Amy Hyatt

Greeting passengers on board are 48 lie-flat beds in BusinessFirst with 198cm of space to stretch out and enjoy a full night’s sleep, plus a 35cm touchscreen entertainment system, laptop power, USB ports and inflight wireless internet.

In economy, you’ll find 116 standard seats with an adjustable headrest and a 22.8cm personal seatback entertainment screen, plus 88 Economy Plus seats that give travellers 35” of space from headrest to headrest – three full inches more than that of regular economy.

Business travellers stuck down the back in either economy or Economy Plus can also keep their gadgets charged throughout the flight with in-seat power outlets within reach of every passenger.

UA99 pushes back at 10:15am on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and 2:15pm on Saturday, to reach Los Angeles at 6:50am and 10:50am, respectively, on the same calendar days.

On the return, UA98 takes to the skies at 10:30pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and at 9:30pm on Thursdays, arriving in Melbourne at 8:15am and 7:15am two calendar days later.

Passengers checking in for the maiden voyage across the Pacific were greeted by Southern Californian icons such as Marilyn Monroe, a Dodgers baseball player and a Lakers basketball player, and were given commemorative baggage tags:

Already flying six times weekly, United is bumping up the Melbourne-LA run to daily from March 12 2015, while Qantas is adding three extra weekly flights to its already-daily schedule from January 21.

Just days ahead of United's Dreamliner debut, Virgin Australia axed its Melbourne-Los Angeles flights in favour of daily services between Brisbane and the Californian coast.

Melbourne-based Virgin Australia Velocity members can earn points on United by first crediting them to Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer scheme and then converting those miles in to Velocity points from next month.

Chris Chamberlin is visiting Melbourne as a guest of United Airlines.

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

28 Oct 2014

Total posts 1

Already have 3 x business class returns booked with United after Virgin shafted its South Eastern Australian customers by moving everything to Brisbane.

The flight times are excellent allowing me to fly into Melbourne that morning and out of LAX for Miami the next .

Melbourne Airport CEO Chris Woodruff told journalists and travellers that “the new non-stop service means that passengers don't have to transfer through that sad, declining, high-cost, low-service airport in New South Wales.”

No that's right. They'll just have to suffer through "that sad, declining, high-cost, low-service" business class cabin!

Have you seen those seats? That is simply offensive for a long haul product from an airline of a 1st world country here in 2014!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

They may as well drag out the overhead monitors from the clapped-up old 747 they used, too!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Sep 2014

Total posts 19

so true united needs to pick up there game!!

09 Sep 2014

Total posts 55

And they call them Business First!!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

Well, it is 'Business First' insofar as the business coming first and the customer coming second.

09 Sep 2014

Total posts 55

But if your flying on a Good airline it is the customer first and the business second!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

Well, duh.

09 Sep 2014

Total posts 55

Oh, so you were just making fun of UA???

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

Yes.

09 Sep 2014

Total posts 55

Sorry, because when I posted that I wasn't sure if you were being serious or just joking. Thanks Mate!

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 271

I have been on the UA 787 from SFO to KIX recently and the Business class service and seats were excellent. I got 6 hours of fully flat sleep.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jun 2013

Total posts 367

The seating is only one part off it USA airlines  including UA are not known  for great service .I try to avoid using any Americian airlines if I can.

I would disagree. Try American Airlines (AA). I particularly enjoy the Dallas based crew and thoes serving in Domestic First Class. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jun 2013

Total posts 367

THB I would agree somewhat as we are spoilt in this part of the world including Asia international short hall flights in Europe in Euro Business class are actually worse than the USA  so called first class!! Lounges at US airports have improved considerably as well.have flown AA a few times in First seat ok service 3 out 10 .once again I think we are spoilt in the Asian region 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

06 Apr 2011

Total posts 18

I flew the inagural flight LAX-MEL today.  There are quite a few good thigns about this flight.

So far this seems to be the only flight accross the pacific with working internet connectivity from Melbourne or Sydney.  It worked when I needed it.

On the bad side the new J seats are awful.  I am 5'11" and could not fit in them, I was too tall.  I had to either get wedged or tuck in to try and sleep.  when you are laying flat yout feet need to fit in to a "foot well".  But the foot well was so small my size 8-9 feet (no shoes) kept getting wedged. 

These seats seem to be the "new" united seats that are simialr to the upgraded Continental J seats in US trans con domestic.  they are very nice for that but IMHO not well suited for a 15 hr flight.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

Do you know how much the internet cost?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

06 Apr 2011

Total posts 18

I think it was b/w $30-$40.  Nothing on my CC statement yet.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1136

How disappointing to read about the inferior J seats on such a new-generation aircraft.

09 Nov 2011

Total posts 88

Except for those all excitied about their 787-9 flight today will be dissapointed to see a 787-8 at their gate!!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 736

Kudos to UA for reinvesting in Australia. The 787-9 is great for these "long and thin" routes. The seats look fine, there's WiFi if you really need it - and the whole package is a generation ahead from the old 747s. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

05 Nov 2013

Total posts 15

“the new non-stop service means that passengers don't have to transfer through that sad, declining, high-cost, low-service airport in New South Wales.”

Lol, Melbourne's inferiority complex rears its head again, as always.

25 Jan 2014

Total posts 10

I wish the crittics would wait util we have some passenger that have actually flown on this Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and then give the seats in all classes the thumbs up or the thumbs down. I'm booked on the service on Australia day and love the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and I'm looking forward to it. Maybe some of the critics are Qantas management and worried about the compettion from other carriers,  on the LAX Route, YOU should be worried!!!

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1229

Chandi above has posted a semi review.

The 787 may be a great plane... but UA appears to have missed an opportunity to have the lead product across the Pacific. Certainly an improvement from their old 747's,  but certainly at risk of being severely outdated within a few short years.

Qantas management may be worried about many things... but getting lectures from supporters of an airline (UA) that was unable to pay it's bills in the last decade is probably not be one of them.

23 Nov 2012

Total posts 24

Would I be right in thinking the economy photo is a little misleading in that it appears to show a single aisle when actually the config is the dreaded elbow crunching 3-3-3

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 165

If you look at the overhead lockers you can see that they aren't symmetrical which shows it's not single aisle.

06 Apr 2015

Total posts 2

The seating in UA 787 Dreamliner in Economy Plus & Econmy is awful! Sorry but after 30 years flying with UA why on earth I ask have they opted for seating with less recline than the cheapest budget airline? Is it time to look at alternatives? Recently heard customer complaints after arrival intto Melbourne ex LA. Sure a direct flight, food is less that acceptable, seating comfort is below par. Why not charge passenger a little more and give better food, seat reclining which is comfortybale on a 15 hour flight? A380 aircraft far quieter and seating much better. Can see many customers looking at QF flights to USA ex Melbourne.


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