United Sends 777-300ER Into Sydney Over Summer

united-airlines-777-300-er-sydney Photo: United Airlines.

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:


Flight NoFrequencyTimes
Dep San Francisco (SFO)UA863Daily23:00
Arr Sydney (SYD)

09:05 (+2)
Dep Sydney (SYD)UA862Daily14:00
Arr San Francisco (SFO)

08:40