United to fly to Auckland again from July 2016

United Airlines has announced three new international services out of its San Francisco hub: Tel Aviv, Xi’an and Auckland.

The new service to Auckland will launch on 1 July 2016. Initially three times weekly, the service will move to daily from 28 October 2016.

United Boeing 787

United Boeing 787 (picture courtesy United)

The schedule will be:









10:45 p.m.

6:55 a.m. two days later




1:20 p.m.

6:40 a.m. the same day

The flights will initially be operated with Boeing 787-8 aircraft, which as 36 business class seats (branded as BusinessFirst) spread over six rows in a 2 – 2 – 2 configuration. From 28 October 2016 (when the service goes daily), the service shifts to being operated by a Boeing 787-9 and so the seat count rises to 48 business class seats, as the aircraft has two additional rows of business class seats.

United BusinessFirst, Boeing 787 (picture courtesy United)

United BusinessFirst, Boeing 787 (picture courtesy United)

Award inventory for the flights has not yet been loaded, and it will be interesting to what United offer on that front. United’s Star Alliance Partner, Air New Zealand, does not seem to release any award seats in business class on its North American routes at all. Air New Zealand business class is an experience we are not in a hurry to pay for again.

Back to the future

United previously flew between Los Angeles and Auckland for 17 years. Shortly after filing for bankruptcy protection, United withdrew from the route: flying its last service from Auckland on 29 March 2003. At the time, it was claimed that United was losing money on the route and had been for most of the time it was flying to Auckland.

Qantas also cut its Auckland / Los Angeles route in May 2013, ceding to Air New Zealand a monopoly on non-stop flights between Auckland and the mainland United States.

Market speculation is that American Airlines are also far advanced in considering re-introducing flights to New Zealand. We will keep our readers informed of developments.

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