United Airlines will switch Sydney-US flights to 787-9 Dreamliners

United Airlines will deploy its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on the Sydney-Los Angeles and Sydney-San Francisco routes from the end of March, meaning all three of its daily flights between Australia and the United States will use the ultra-modern aircraft.

United last year launched daily flights between Melbourne and Los Angeles with the 787-9, in a move that United managing director Japan and Pacific sales Alison Espley said had "redefined flying for our Melbourne customers".

"We're delighted that our Sydney passengers will now also enjoy the superior inflight comfort and amenities that the Dreamliner offers," she said. "This announcement demonstrates United's continued strong commitment to the Australian market, which we have been serving for almost 30 years."

United will be the only airline using the Dreamliner between Sydney and mainland North America. Qantas Airways uses A380 and 747 aircraft on its flights to Los Angeles and from December, San Francisco. Virgin Australia and Delta Air Lines use Boeing 777s, as will American Airlines when it begins flights between Sydney and Los Angeles in December. The 787-9 features higher cabin humidity and larger windows than aircraft from previous generations.

United will no longer offer first class between Australia and the US as a result of the changes.

Dreamliner features

The United 787-9 features 252 seats, including 48 fully flat beds in its business-class cabin arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration and 204 seats in the economy cabin, of which 63 are economy plus seats with extra legroom. The business class configuration is an improvement from the 2-4-2 configuration on the 777-200s it had been using on the routes over the past 18 months since it removed its ageing 747s from the routes.

Its economy class capacity between Australia and the US will decline slightly as a result of the changes, as the 777-200s have 269 seats. United arranges both its 787-9 and 777 cabins in a 3-3-3 configuration in economy class, meaning the switch in aircraft will make for narrower seats for passengers in that cabin, although extra legroom economy plus seats can be purchased.

United offers complimentary food, beer, wine, soft drinks and inflight entertainment with personal screens to its economy class passengers. The airline offers Australian customers more than 200 daily connections to more than 90 destinations across the US via San Francisco and Los Angeles.

See also: Flight test: United Airlines Dreamliner review