North America Calling: Qantas Schedules Flights From December

Qantas plans to return to North America in December, resuming scheduled flights and ending a 21-month absence. If all goes to plan, five North American destinations will see Qantas aircraft landing again. But changes are afoot and regular flyers will notice changes as Qantas initially recommences its North American operations.

Qantas plans to resume flights to North America in December. Photo: Qantas

In the timetables are ex-Sydney flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas Fort Worth, Vancouver, and Honolulu. Qantas will also link Melbourne with Los Angeles.  Brisbane will see flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“We can adjust our plans if the circumstances change, which we’ve already had to do several times during this pandemic. Some people might say we’re being too optimistic, but based on the pace of the vaccine rollout, this is within reach,” said Qantas boss Alan Joyce last week.

Missing from the schedules are the A380s although they now are set to return in mid-2022. Also absent is New York, the final destination for QF11 until Qantas suspended its international flights in March 2020. There is also no word on the much-touted Brisbane – Chicago flights set to begin last year but is now delayed.

Sydney departures from December 20

If all holds up, the first flights out of Sydney are on December 20. Los Angeles will see a daily Boeing 787-9 service from that date. Honolulu will get Airbus A330-300 flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Mondays.

A Boeing 787-9 will take off for Vancouver on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Previously, QF75 was a seasonal service. However, Qantas now has Vancouver flights in its schedules until August 2022. Making this flight permanent is a significant upgrade and will provide some much-needed competition for Air Canada who normally fly to Sydney year-round.

Ex-Sydney flights to Dallas Fort Worth will start on February 14. Initially five times a week, it will mark the first time a Qantas 787-9 has regularly headed to DFW. The big Texan airport normally hosts a Qantas A380.

Flights to San Francisco from Sydney will resume on February 16, also operated by a 787-9 Dreamliner. There will be thrice-weekly QF73 services, departing Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.

Flights to North America from Sydney will start on December 20. Photo: Qantas

Airbus A330s US-bound from Brisbane

Brisbane will see Qantas flights take off to Los Angeles three times weekly from December 22. QF15 will depart Brisbane mid-morning on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Flight to San Francisco from Brisbane will start on February 14. QF59 will run on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

The US-bound flights from Brisbane will be operated by modified Airbus A330-200 aircraft. Qantas is now finalizing some technical changes with Airbus which will extend the range of the planes, putting the US West Coast airports comfortably within reach.

Think the Airbus A330 is a downgrade from the Dreamliner? Many might argue the opposite. The Airbus A330-200 feature Qantas’ tip-top business suites. Down the back, many would prefer the 2-4-2 A330-200 economy class configuration for the 13.5-hour flight to SFO against the squeezy 3-3-3 economy class layout on the Qantas 787-9. What is missing from the mid-sized Airbus plane is a premium economy class cabin.

Simple Flying approached Qantas about its proposed Brisbane – Chicago flights but has not received a response before publication time.

Qantas will use the Airbus A330-200 on its US services out of Brisbane. Photo: Qantas

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Melbourne is the biggest loser

The biggest loser is Melbourne. That city’s airport will initially only see one Qantas flight to North America. From December 20, Qantas will send a Boeing 787-9 from Melbourne to Los Angeles on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.

Qantas is optimistic these services will take flight. The airline seems more confident than most that Australia will relax travel restrictions by December. But a lot can happen in the four months to December. While confident, Qantas’ Alan Joyce is also hedging his bets slightly, saying plans can be adjusted if circumstances change.

In such an uncertain environment, just how many people are hitting the buy button on the Qantas website to fly to North America in December is anyone’s guess. But this writer reckons it probably isn’t that many.