United Launching One of World’s Longest Flights, San Francisco – Singapore

United is launching San Francisco – Singapore service June 1 operated by a Boeing 787-9.

United will terminate its Singapore – Tokyo Narita flight June 2.

Here’s the schedule:

    San Francisco – Singapore, 11:25pm – 6:45am +2, United Flight UA1
    Singapore – San Francisco, 8:45am – 9:15am, United Flight UA2

This flight is 132 miles shorter than Qantas’ Sydney – Dallas, which is the current longest flight in the world. And it’s shorter, of course, than the Dubai – Auckland, New Zealand flight that Emirates just announced for March.

United will terminate service between Singapore and Tokyo/Narita effective June 2, 2016 (eastbound).

There are several things striking about this development.

  1. They’re naming the flights United 1 and 2. They’re proud of this flight, the longest flight operated by the US airline and longest flight operated by a 787.


    Image courtesy United Airlines

  2. Their Tokyo hub continues to diminish in importance (once again United follows Delta, though this is likely wise). They want to push all of their US travel to Singapore through San Francisco, rather than sending customers from other markets (e.g. Washington Dulles) through Tokyo.

  3. This is a direct blow at their erstwhile Star Alliance partner Singapore Airlines which offers one-stop San Francisco – Hong Kong – Singapore and San Francisco – Seoul – Singapore. Singapore has eyed aircraft to make the non-stop economical. Singapore Airlines and United have been frenemies at best for awhile. Remember that United proactively removed Singapore Airlines award space from its website (and falsely blamed Singapore for it) and Singapore went looking for another US domestic partner first in Virgin America and then with JetBlue. Clearly Singapore has felt United isn’t getting the job done for them. Now United is doing the job to them.

And to think, United used to crow about one-stops to San Francisco.

This 16 hour 20 minute US-Singapore, 15 hour 30 minute Singapore-US flight would be quite something in 9-across economy. I wouldn’t look forward to it in United’s 6-across business class (American’s 787 business class, in contrast, is four seats across). Personally I’d take Singapore’s flights, though they’re 2 hours 15 minutes (Hong Kong connection) and 2 hours 40 minutes (Seoul connection) longer on the Singapore-US segment.

It will be interesting to see whether United’s sales contracts, San Francisco hub, and non-stop can win them the business on this route against not just Singapore but also Cathay Pacific (connecting in Hong Kong).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. This is just another example of how they are just copying DL and AA…right? 😛 Welcome to the new UA. 🙂

  2. For history buffs, UA 1 and 2 were the old Pan Am 1 and 2, San Francisco – Hong Kong – Delhi and return. I believe United started up a second time, but later discontinued it sometime after 9/11.

  3. @Old Flyer – close, it was a round the world routing with Delhi continuing on to London and back to the States.

    The US city actually varied a bit. At one point it was JFK-LAX-HKG-DEL-LHR-JFK I believe. At another point JFK was subbed in for IAD. And I think you’re right, that SFO replaced LAX. I recall flying it domestically from IAD. And I do miss that widebody (and all of United’s widebodies!) flying domestically. I used to have my choice between a 777 and a 747 when flying IAD-SFO and IAD-LAX.

  4. For any class of service, but especially in a premium cabin, I’d still take Singapore over United. Not even close.

  5. I realize it’s against the grain here…but if I were traveling to SIN or perhaps onto Male from the West Coast, I’d consider this UA SFO-SIN flight in premium class. I love SQ,, CX, OZ, JA, AN, etc. but I also far prefer a nonstop whenever possible. If I could fly LAX-SVO on Aeroflot Business (angle flat) and not have a bad flight, I think I could fly SFO-SIN if the price or mileage award were right for Business. I never like to connect when flying long distances if I don’t have to…with so many stupid things that can go wrong with flights/air traffic/weather/equipment. I’d rather get to where I’m going.

    While everyone else whines about UA’s 2-2-2 Business layout without all-aisle access, I simply take a middle aisle seat and avoid the problem. Having just flown AA’s new Business class on LAX-MIA and LAX-LHR, both on the 77W, and generally lauded as one of the best in the world in Business Class, I confess to preferring the UA BF seat…and thinking that UA service is often better than AA’s.

    Instead of whining about UA among those who seem to never fly UA, I think this new SFO-SIN option is great. Please understand that I’d certainly choose LAX-SIN on SQ F/J over UA SFO-SIN in J–but until SQ offers that, the UA option is a great alternative.

  6. Going back to pre-merger United Airlines history…
    UA had a flight #1 & 2 that was a “Round-The-World” flight.
    #1: LAX-HKG-DEL-LHR-IAD-LAX
    #2 : LAX-IAD-LHR-DEL-HKG-LAX

  7. My family and I do this route round trip 2-3 times a year, and this will probably be the one thing that would bring me back to United, crappy crammed seats, grumpy airlines attendants and all. Saving 4 hours each way is huge.

  8. I sooooo look forward to be treated like a king on United’s 6-across business class. Can’t wait, making me drool already!

    I’m certain it’ll make me HATE SQ’s and CX’s first class cabins!!!

    Hey United, if you’re reading this, I’ll bet Gary Leff’s farm you guys will win most of the business on this new route. Congrats!

  9. @Bill crews vary from flight to flight of course. with Singapore Airlines’ one-stop SFO-Singapore service you aren’t really connecting in that it is same-aircraft service

  10. Time to up their game as far as the seat is concerned. After 16 hours the shortcomings of the current UA BF seat will become apparent. An extra 2 inches of width is really needed. Hopefully the new seat coming this year is better.

  11. “This is just another example of how they are just copying DL and AA…right?”

    Wrong and it is the sort of mindless things that parroted here by folks who are likely quite clueless. In fact, I was sure we would hear ad nauseam from folks who would never get on this new UA service because of UA’s crappy product. Well, this service will start whether or not the troglodytes who inhabit the travel blogosphere have already declared it too crappy to hop on.

    My sense is that many who are vowing to avoid this flight even in BF on a B787 have probably done at least a 10-h TPAC trip in standard economy and survived. There is absolutely nothing wrong with UA’s TPAC routes that are serviced by their B787s, which I have taken countless times. To claim otherwise is to have standards so rigid as to either not be credible or be a vain prima donna…

  12. We did UA CTU-SFO and that was another 15+ hour flight going east in J. It was a miserable flight. Terrible crew that would ignore you when you asked for something. I will never do that again, and luckily there are so much better Asian carriers to get me across the Pacific.

  13. (Professor) DCS lectures us:

    “There is absolutely nothing wrong with UA’s TPAC routes that are serviced by their B787s…”

    Nothing at all wrong with the routes, sir, but the service is abysmal. On a good day. Even without the inevitable UA flight delays.

    As someone who doesn’t count on shiny pieces of plastic and “The Hobby” to purchase tickets in premium cabins, but rather pays his own hard cold cash, I’ll choose just about anything but UA for TPAC, TATL, or DSM-ORD.

    Not sure where that fits on your “spectrum” of travel personalities, Professor, but I’d rather spend my money on quality travel products and surly grandmas dispensing substandard airline “food” on airline that operationally is consistently late doesn’t cut it.

    g’day,

    GringoLoco, troglodyte, vain prima donna, never flown trans-anywhere in whY

  14. @GringoLoco — ‘Vain prima donna’ fits to a “T” because — reductio ad absurdum — cost-sensitive travelers paying with their hard cold cash will be flying in economy on this flight, which I suspect will become very popular, and surviving the 16-hr “ordeal”…

    G’day…

  15. @Gary: See, the benefit of living in Texas is everyone now knows you moved so you could be closer to your farm.

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