Well, the AFA seems to confirm that the rumor is true:
From September 28 through November 23, 2008, Air Pacific will be sending one of their 747s into heavy maintenance and has contracted with United for 747 aircraft and United crews to cover their flying during this time. This is similar to the previous wet-lease with SAS to provide aircraft and crews on the IAD-CPH (Copenhagen) route in the fall and winter of 2004. These flights will operate with an Air Pacific flight number, and positions will be assigned at LAX (and included in the lines of flying). Most trip IDs will be 8 days in length and operate twice-weekly.
Flying will be assigned at LAX with service to NAN (Nadi, Fiji), SYD and AKL on 747 equipment. All ID operating in October and November flying will be included in the lines of flying. Most trips include multiple layovers in NAN and are 7 or 8 days in length. To support the NAN trips, there will be some reserve patterns up to 8 days in length at LAX for October.
This is interesting stuff. Apparently UA will be flying LAX-NAN-AKL-SYD and back for Air Pacific. I guess it’s safe to assume that the flight will still depart from TBIT and that there will be no special benefits for UA flyers, other than feeling at home. I’d really like to try one of these flights, just to see which airline’s service prevails in terms of meals, announcements, etc. Also, I really have to wonder where UA is getting all of these 747’s from, considering they’re parking six of the them.
As far as the staffing goes, on one hand I’d think this route would go pretty senior since I’m betting many FA’s have never been to Fiji and wouldn’t mind hanging out in a tropical paradise for a few days. At the same time eight days is a long trip, probably far too long for many FA’s to trust their partners home alone. OK, maybe I shouldn’t have said that. 😀