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United Airlines unveils huge South Pacific expansion

United Airlines has just announced its biggest South Pacific network expansion in history, connecting the continental U.S. to the region like never before.

The move will see the airline operate a whopping 66 flights between the U.S. and Australia/New Zealand every week next northern winter – an increase of 40%.

The Star Alliance member attributes its successful expansion to strong partnerships with Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia, which provide easy connectivity across the region and reciprocal benefits for frequent flyers.

The expansion will also ramp up competition with Qantas on several routes – which is great news for consumers.

Starting December 1 2023, United will be the first and only carrier to offer nonstop flights between San Francisco and Christchurch, connecting the U.S. directly to the South Island of New Zealand.

The new route will be operated by a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner three times a week.

The airline is set to become the largest U.S. carrier to serve Auckland with four new weekly flights from Los Angeles. The Los Angeles-Auckland route, operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, will commence on October 28 and will complement the airline’s existing San Francisco-Auckland route.

United will also become the largest carrier between the U.S. and Brisbane, with three weekly Los Angeles-Brisbane flights starting on November 29, also on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, and in direct competition with Qantas.

The airline’s existing San Francisco-Brisbane Boeing 787-9 route will become a daily service from October 28, while San Francisco-Sydney on the Boeing 777-300ER will go twice daily, again increasing competition with Qantas.

Lastly, United is boosting capacity between San Francisco and Melbourne from October 28 by switching the aircraft to its largest airplane, the 777-300ER, adding nearly 100 daily seats to each departure.

Virgin Australia Velocity Points can be used to book seats with United.

Reward seats on the new routes are being added to the system and, as usual, economy is easier to find than business class.

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