United Adds Flights To Auckland And Tel Aviv

United announced some impressive expansion out of San Francisco yesterday, whereby we’ll see United launch 787 flights to Auckland and Tel Aviv.

UA-SFO

United’s new San Francisco to Tel Aviv route

United will be launching 3x weekly Boeing 787-9 flights between San Francisco and Tel Aviv as of March 30, 2016.

The new flight will operate with the following schedule:

UA954 San Francisco to Tel Aviv departing 8:00PM arriving 8:10PM (+1 day)
UA955 Tel Aviv to San Francisco departing 12:55AM arriving 6:00AM

The 14hr10min eastbound flight will operate Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, while the 15hr5min westbound flight will operate Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.

This complements United’s twice daily flights between Newark and Tel Aviv, which are operated by 777s.

United’s new San Francisco to Auckland route

Perhaps even more interestingly, United will be launching service to a new destination as well. United will launch 3x weekly Boeing 787-9 flights between San Francisco and Auckland, New Zealand, as of July 1, 2016. The flight will become daily seasonally, starting in October 2016.

The new flight will operate with the following schedule:

UA917 San Francisco to Auckland departing 10:45PM arriving 6:55AM (+2 days)
UA916 Auckland to San Francisco departing 1:20PM arriving 6:40AM

The westbound flight is blocked at 13hr10min, while the eastbound flight is blocked at 12hr20min.

Auckland-1

What makes United’s new flights so interesting

Both of these new routes make perfect sense. It’s nice to see an airline being a bit innovative with new routes. Tel Aviv is clearly a very strong market for United, and the airline has also been talking about expanding to Auckland for quite a while now.

Years ago, Houston to Auckland was supposed to be the launch route for United’s 787, though that never came to fruition. Instead Air New Zealand recently announced flights between Houston and Auckland.

So what makes these new routes so interesting?

The Tel Aviv route is interesting because American has just one flight to Tel Aviv, which is operated out of Philadelphia. And they’re cutting that route in early 2016, thereby pulling out of Tel Aviv altogether. American claims they haven’t turned a profit on the route in six years. It’s bizarre to me how United can make twice daily flights to Tel Aviv work, and now they’re adding even more capacity, while American can’t even make a single flight work. I wonder if the additional frequency has anything to do with American pulling out.

Furthermore, the Auckland announcement comes shortly after American announced that they were expanding their partnership with Qantas, and launching flights between Los Angeles and Sydney. During that announcement American also expressed interest in soon launching service to Auckland, though no exact details had apparently been worked out yet. I do wonder whether the timing of United’s flight to Auckland has to do with them wanting to beat American to New Zealand.

Bottom line

These are exciting new routes for those in the Bay Area, and certainly add value to customers, rather than the typical capacity dumping we’ve mostly seen from airlines lately when it comes to adding flights.

The new Tel Aviv flight will become bookable as of October 10, while the new Auckland flight will become bookable as of October 17, 2015.

What do you  make of United’s new flights to Auckland and Tel Aviv?

Comments

  1. I suspect part of the TLV consideration is that NYC is just a much stronger market for that route, given the sizeable local Jewish population, than PHL is.

    I guess UA has pretty much abandoned LAX as a hub but I would have guessed for similar reasons that LAX-TLV might be a stronger route than SFO-TLV.

  2. SFO to AKL is exciting it’s just too bad it’s United and United’s horrible product (both hard and soft). It still boggles the mind to think they are getting these spiffy new long range planes (787-9) and putting in their 1995 Business First (is that meant ironically?) seats….anyway, I say this as a United 1K flier who is finally abandoning them this year.

  3. What Mark said. If you’re going to pay for either Y or J, NZ will always be the way to go. And as they’re both *A members, earning points can’t really be a deciding factor. United is too far behind the power curve to really be considered a viable contender in any market outside the US, save maybe some routes in Asia or the Middle East that are only served by carriers with questionable safety and service reputations.

  4. How many miles for SFO to AKL?
    I assume seating should be wide open.
    Would you think this would be a good way to use UA points to get to Australia?

  5. @Bgriff, I wouldn’t be surprised to see UA open LAX-TLV in the future, but that will compete with El Al’s LAX-TLV.

    The SFO-TLV route was petitioned by the tech industries in both Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv, as TLV has one of the world’s biggest emerging tech centers. That bodes well for high revenue business passengers for UA’s SFO-TLV route and with no competition at all from any other carrier. Besides, it’s a short hop with frequent hourly flights from SFO-LAX on UA to provide additional feed for the SFO-TLV route.

  6. Hopefully the new flight SFO-AKL will add some much needed competition and lower fares. Flying from YUL to AKL through SFO with AC and onwards with Air New Zealand, econ alone is 3K for the winter months, and J class begins at 8K! Looking forward to some lower fares and more seat availability!

  7. 14+ hours on a United flight? No thank you!!!! That would be the last airline among all US airlines I would want to spend that much time inside a plane.

  8. Don’t forget that they are also launching Dreamliner service from SFO to Xian, China, starting seasonally next year! Didn’t see a post on here about that.

  9. Anyone else kind of bummed the new UA is using a flight number starting with “9XX” over the pacific? should be “8XX”

  10. [andrew10412 says:
    October 9, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Anyone else kind of bummed the new UA is using a flight number starting with “9XX” over the pacific? should be “8XX”]

    Even more interesting is that UA is slowly moving away from the “traditional” flight numbering that segregated pmUA and pmCO flights. The 8xx and 9xx series flights are traditionally pmUA trans-oceanic. But the 787-9 are sCO planes with sCO crews.

  11. In the first paragraph of your Auckland story you should correct the last date to October of 2016 not 2015.

  12. Previously, the only nonstop from the west coast to Israel was El Al’s flight from LAX. By contrast, El Al, United, and Delta all operate flights from the New York area to Tel Aviv, and El Al just started BOS – TLV a few months ago. The west coast’s Jewish population outside of LA (especially in the Bay Area and Seattle) as well as Silicon Valley’s tech companies strike me as able to create enough demand for the SFO – TLV flight.

  13. I cannot imagine why anyone would choose United on the Auckland route when they could bank their miles on Air NZ and actually have a pleasant flight experience. (I say that as Skyteam and Oneworld elite to be fair, but having flown Air NZ’s 773 on that route recently I have no clue why anyone would choose UA).

  14. Sounds great. Why not off these premium saver award seats for only 10miles instead of 140k as they will sell just as many seats… NONE. The entire schedule for SFO-TLV has no premium saver award seats available. United has a pattern (like Qantas and others) of never offering premium award seats on certain routes and this looks like another one unfortunately.

  15. Has anyone flown United recently now 5 years after the merger? Food is better crews are happier, 787’s are awesome, free beer and wine though I wish free liquor would come soon. Glad to see SFO grow for UA. . Now Tel Aviv and Singapore? great news.

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