In mid-June Qantas formally announced that they’d launch flights from Brisbane to both Chicago and San Francisco in 2020.
This didn’t come as a surprise — this came after the US Department of Transportation tentatively approved the joint venture between American and Qantas, and as part of that the two airlines promised new routes.
While they announced these flights in mid-June, Qantas said they’d start selling seats on the routes once the joint venture received final approval, and that has finally happened.
Qantas’ Brisbane to Chicago flight
Qantas will launch 4x weekly Boeing 787-9 flights between Brisbane and Chicago as of April 20, 2020 (hey, that’s my 30th birthday!). The route will operate with the following schedule on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays:
QF85 Brisbane to Chicago departing 3:30PM arriving 4:40PM
QF86 Chicago to Brisbane 9:50PM arriving 6:10AM (+2 days)
The flight will cover a distance of 8,916 miles in each direction, and is blocked at 16h10min eastbound and 17hr20min westbound.
This is just about 100 miles shorter than Qantas’ Perth to London flight, and will be the world’s fourth longest flight. It will be Qantas’ first flight to Chicago, though they’ll be joining Air New Zealand, which operates flights from Chicago to Auckland, also using the 787-9.
Qantas’ Brisbane to San Francisco flight
Qantas will launch 3x weekly Boeing 787-9 flights between Brisbane and San Francisco as of February 9, 2020. The route will operate with the following schedule on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays:
QF59 Brisbane to San Francisco departing 8:35PM arriving 4:15PM
QF60 San Francisco to Brisbane 10:05PM arriving 5:00AM (+2 days)
The flight will cover a distance of 7,153 miles in each direction, and is blocked at 12h40min eastbound and 13hr55min westbound.
This flight will complement Qantas’ existing flights to San Francisco, as the airline already operates flights from both Melbourne and Sydney to San Francisco.
Qantas flies daily from Sydney and 4x weekly from Melbourne, so they’ll have a total of 14x weekly flights to San Francisco.
However, this flight won’t actually be adding any capacity to the US, as Qantas will be reducing frequencies on their Brisbane to Los Angeles flight from 10x weekly to daily. In other words, Qantas is simply shifting capacity from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
Qantas has a total of eight 787-9s in their fleet, and they have a further six on order.
Qantas will be using their Boeing 787-9s for both of these routes, which feature 236 seats. That’s a pretty sparse configuration (Air Canada has 298 seats on those planes, for example).
Qantas has 42 Vantage XL staggered business class seats on the 787-9, which are pretty good seats. While Qantas has great crews, I don’t otherwise find their soft product to be very good, though.
Then the 787-9s have 28 premium economy seats, in a 2-3-2 configuration.
Lastly in economy there are 166 seats, in a 3-3-3 configuration.
Qantas is stingy with awards (as always)
As always, Qantas is stingy as can be with award availability. As of now I don’t see a single business class award seat available on the new Brisbane to Chicago flight.
I understand that they’re trying to sell seats on these routes, but there has to be some balance between making something available to frequent flyer program members and just being endlessly stingy.
It’s great to see these new Qantas routes finally on sale, including the new ultra long haul flight from Chicago to Brisbane.
While the new joint venture is resulting in new routes, it’s not exactly resulting in a huge capacity increase. At least the Brisbane to San Francisco route is coming at the expense of Brisbane to Los Angeles frequencies. Meanwhile on the Chicago route, I’m not sure if the plane for that is coming from one of the newly delivered Dreamliners, or if they’re cutting capacity on another US route to make this happen.
What do you make of Qantas’ new routes from Brisbane to Chicago & San Francisco?