This is quite a significant development on United’s part. San Francisco to Hong Kong is a huge market, and nonstop flights are operated by Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and United Airlines.
Hong Kong Airlines flies to SFO (for now)
United adding second daily San Francisco to Hong Kong flight
Historically United has operated one daily flight between San Francisco and Hong Kong, but as of October 26, 2019, United is adding a second daily flight between San Francisco and Hong Kong.
Currently United’s daily flight between San Francisco and Hong Kong operates with the following schedule:
UA869 San Francisco to Hong Kong departing 1:15PM arriving 8:20PM (+1 day)
UA862 Hong Kong to San Francisco departing 12:20PM arriving 8:40AM
United’s new daily flight between San Francisco and Hong Kong will operate with the following schedule:
UA877 San Francisco to Hong Kong departing 10:50PM arriving 5:55AM (+2 days)
UA878 Hong Kong to San Francisco departing 10:30PM arriving 6:50PM
It’s cool to see United alternating the schedule like that, and offering both a daytime and nighttime option in both directions.
I imagine another motivating factor here is how bad the aircraft utilization previously was for the route. The 777-300ER used for this route currently sits overnight in Hong Kong, which is not only a long time to “waste” that frame, but parking in Hong Kong is outrageously expensive.
United 777-300ER, which is currently flown daily from SFO to HKG
The two new flights will have less combined time on the ground in Hong Kong than United previously had with their one daily flight. Combined the two flights will have just about 10 hours on the ground in Hong Kong.
United is swapping planes on SFO to HKG
As of October 26, United will operate both daily flights between San Francisco and Hong Kong using 777-200ERs. Currently United’s one daily flight is operated by a 777-300ER.
United 777-200ER, which will be used for both daily SFO to HKG flights
This means that United isn’t quite doubling capacity in the market.
As far as premium capacity goes, United’s reconfigured 777s feature 50 business class seats and 24 premium economy seats.
United Polaris cabin
Award availability is wide open
This new flight is now bookable, and the great news is that United has wide open business class award availability on this new frequency.
While United now has dynamic award pricing, in general business class seats are bookable for 75,000 MileagePlus miles one-way, which is a great deal. United is transfer partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Alternatively, you can redeem plenty of partner airline mileage currencies for this, including:
- 75,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles (transfer partners with Amex and Capital One)
- 75,000 Avianca LifeMiles (transfer partners with Amex, Capital One, and Citi)
It’s great to see United add a second daily flight between San Francisco and Hong Kong, and in particular to offer such a varied schedule in both directions. This will allow them to better compete with Cathay Pacific, and also greatly improves United’s aircraft utilization in Hong Kong.
I do find it interesting that this announcement comes now, rather than as part of United’s massive SFO international expansion announcement that was made late last year.
Which of the two flight schedules do you prefer between SFO & HKG?