The New United Airlines Melbourne Service

It’s that time of the year when airlines make seasonal shifts of aircraft and capacity. That means more planes and bigger planes in the southern hemisphere where its coming into summer. I’ve discussed quite a few upgrades to Australian services, including Korean Air running A380s in Sydney and Melbourne hosting China Southern’s A380s.

It’s also a time when airlines open new routes and this week United Airlines is starting its inaugural San Francisco – Melbourne – San Francisco. This service, starting on Thursday, 31 October, 2019, will go head to head with Qantas on the route.

This will be United Airline’s fifth non stop service in Australia and the second into Melbourne (it already flies Los Angeles – Melbourne). The three times a week service will be operated using a Boeing 787-9. This will be a permanent rather than seasonal service.

Much as I like the 787-9s, United is only just starting to roll out its Polaris business class product onto this type of aircraft. So, for the time being, the premium seat product on United’s Melbourne – San Francisco flights will be the old BusinessFirst B/E Aerospace Diamond seats laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration.

This places the new United Airlines service at a competitive disadvantage against Qantas from the get go. Qantas has its very good 1-2-1 configured Business Suites on their 787-9 San Francisco services out of Melbourne. 

United has 48 business class seats on their 787-9s, 88 economy plus seats, and 116 economy seats. This is a very premium seat heavy plane! Up in business class with the dreaded 2-2-2 configuration, seat pitch is 78” and seat width is 22”. In economy plus (United’s rebadged premium economy), the seats are in a 3-3-3 layout. The economy plus seats have a seat pitch of 35” and a seat width of 17.3”. In the main economy cabin, the configuration is the same as in economy plus. Seat pitch in the main economy cabin is 32” and seat width is 17.3”.

United Airlines San Francisco – Melbourne – San Francisco timetable effective 31 October 2019 is:

Flight NoFrequencyTimes
Dep San Francisco (SFO)UA60Tue, Thu, Sat22:45
Arr Melbourne (MEL)

08:30 (+2)
Dep Melbourne (MEL)UA61Mon, Thu, Sat10:30
Arr San Francisco (SFO)


It’s a 15+ hour flight so best try and make yourself as comfortable as possible.

First flights are Thursday this week.


Categories: United Airlines

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