Ultra-long-haul flights are becoming ever more common. Today’s aircraft can fly further – and more economically – than ever before. And airlines are taking advantage of this. Just last week, Qantas commenced non-stop flights between Perth and London.
Non-stop flights from Australia to destinations across the United States are also becoming more common as modern aircraft can bypass the traditional west coast hubs of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Several years ago, Qantas started flying from Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth. And United Airlines commenced non-stop Sydney to Houston flights earlier this year. Flying into hub airports for American Airlines and United, respectively, these services offer ample onward connections to destinations across eastern USA.
Air New Zealand is another airline ramping up non-stop services to the United States. The airline is uniquely positioned to offer one-stop services via Auckland from all major Australian cities to the United States. Auckland’s geographical location also means that most US destinations can be served by direct Air New Zealand flights. The Kiwi airline already flies from Auckland to Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver and Houston. And from November, Air New Zealand will also fly non-stop from Auckland to Chicago.
Air New Zealand flight NZ26 will depart Auckland at 8.10pm, arriving in Chicago at 4.15pm on the same day. The return flight NZ27 leaves Chicago at 7.10pm, landing in Auckland two days later at 6.30am. The flight time will be around 16 hours.
The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner service from Auckland to Chicago will operate 3x weekly on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from 30 November 2018. The service will codeshare with United Airlines. The schedules allow for ample connection opportunities on both ends. Chicago is a major United Airlines hub, but it is also a destination in its own right.
Meanwhile, United Airlines will start flying from San Francisco to Auckland year-round from next year. Currently this is a seasonal service running only from November to March.
If you’re travelling from Australia to Chicago, Air New Zealand could be a great option if the price is right. Transiting Auckland is much easier than a transit through somewhere like Los Angeles! But the 16-hour flight from Auckland to Chicago could be an endurance test in Economy. Air New Zealand’s Economy seats are just as narrow as those installed on Qantas’ new Dreamliner. A lack of seat comfort in Economy was a major criticism of the new Qantas service from London to Perth.
Don’t expect to see any Premium Economy or Business class award availability on the new Auckland to Chicago service. Air New Zealand releases barely any premium cabin award seats.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Air NZ to fly Auckland-Chicago