United Airlines is swapping aircraft on its daily San Francisco-Sydney-San Francisco run over the 2019/20 summer.
Between Friday, December 3, 2019 and Thursday, March 26, 2020, the airline will send a Boeing 777-300ER down to Sydney rather than its regular Boeing 787-9.
This may seem a retrograde step but that rather depends on where you sit during the flight.
The aircraft on the route right now, the 787-9, seats 252 passengers. There are 116 passengers in the main economy cabin in a 3-3-3 layout. Midway along the aircraft, in United’s Economy Plus cabin, there are 88 seats also in a 3-3-3 layout. Towards the front of the aircraft are 48 passengers in business class in a 2-2-2 layout.
In contrast, the 777-300ER is a larger plane, seating 350 passengers. In the main economy cabin there are 204 seats in a 3-4-3 layout. Moving forward, in United’s Economy Plus secton of the cabin, there are 62 seats also in a 3-4-3 layout. Just before the business class cabin is the Premium Plus cabin with 24 seats in a 2-4-2 layout.
The biggest winners of this swap are business class passengers. The business class cabin on the 777-300ER is larger with 60 seats (in fact, there are essentially two business class cabins). Unlike the 787-9 layout, business class on the 777-300ER comes in a 1-2-1 configuration and features the most uptodate Polaris seats.
The addition of a Premium Plus cabin, essentially United’s version of premium economy is also a welcome extra on the 777-300ER. Whether passengers down the back of the plane will prefer a 3-4-3 layout over the Dreamliner’s 3-3-3 layout is debatable. Frankly, both are pretty horrendous. With a cabin width of 5.96 metres, the 777-300ER is only marginally wider than the 787-9’s cabin width of 5.49 metres.
The schedule for the San Francisco-Sydney-San Francisco United Airlines service across the aforementioned dates is:
|Dep San Francisco (SFO)||UA863||Daily||23:00|
|Arr Sydney (SYD)||09:05 (+2)|
|Dep Sydney (SYD)||UA862||Daily||14:00|
|Arr San Francisco (SFO)||08:40|