United Airlines is set to add Brisbane to its global network for the first time, thanks to the launch of flights to the Queensland capital from San Francisco on October 28.

The launch is the first new trans-Pacific route to be launched by a US carrier since the start of the pandemic and is a massive boost for travel between Queensland and the United States since the exit of Virgin Australia on long-haul flying.

From Brisbane, United customers will be able to easily connect to nearly 20 other cities within Australia thanks to the airline’s new partnership with Virgin Australia.

In return, United offers direct connectivity to over 80 North American cities from San Francisco.

“With United’s strong history in Australia – and now with a great partner in Virgin Australia – it’s the ideal time for United to expand service to Brisbane as demand for travel continues to grow,” said United’s Senior Vice President of International Network and Alliances, Patrick Quayle.

“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve looked for strategic ways to grow our international network, and we’re proud to be the first U.S. airline to put a new dot on our route map across the Pacific.”

In addition to the new Brisbane route, United currently flies nonstop to Sydney from San Francisco and Los Angeles and offers nonstop flights between Melbourne and Los Angeles.

United’s new Brisbane service will operate three times weekly on a 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft that includes 48 lie-flat, United Polaris business class seats, 21 United Premium Plus seats, 39 Economy Plus seats and 149 economy seats.

All seats are equipped with seatback on-demand entertainment featuring hundreds of films, TV shows and more.

United is the longest serving U.S. carrier in Australia, serving the country for more than 35 years with its first direct service to Sydney in 1986.

Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the United Airlines deal would inject $73 million into the economy.

“Rebuilding Queensland’s tourism industry is a priority for our government,” she said.

“We’re aggressively pursuing new direct flights to our key tourism destinations to drive visitation and support local jobs. That’s what our Attracting Aviation Investment Fund is designed to do.”

Palaszczuk said the deal with United Airlines was a great coup for Queensland.

“United has never flown direct to Queensland. The airline has more than 100 million loyalty members and is the largest and longest-serving US carrier in the Australian market,” she said.

“This airline route is also of strategic importance for Queensland when it comes to growing our share of the international tourism market.

“San Francisco is a major hub for United with direct connectivity to 80 North American cities.

“By securing these flights, Queensland becomes an easy choice for thousands of visitors throughout the US,” Palaszczuk said.

The launch of the route is supported by The Queensland Government’s ‘Attracting Aviation Investment Fund’, which was established to help rebuild the country’s international tourism industry.

United’s new service will support 385 local jobs and bring an estimated AU$73 million into the economy.

Pre-pandemic, San Francisco was the second largest mainland U.S. inbound passenger market and destination for Queensland travellers.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management