Qantas will fly three times per week from Brisbane to San Francisco from 9 February 2020. Meanwhile, non-stop service from Brisbane to Chicago will commence on 15 April 2020 (previously 20 April) and operate four times per week.
Both new trans-Pacific routes out of Brisbane will be served by Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners with 42 Business Class, 28 Premium Economy and 166 Economy seats. The Brisbane-San Francisco service will run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, while flights to Chicago will depart on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Here is the full schedule:
Brisbane to Chicago
- QF85 Brisbane 15:30 – Chicago 16:40
- QF86 Chicago 21:50 – Brisbane 06:10 (+2 days)
Brisbane to San Francisco
- QF59 Brisbane 20:35 – San Francisco 15:15
- QF60 San Francisco 22:15 – Brisbane 06:00 (+2 days)
The new Brisbane-San Francisco flights will complement Qantas’ daily Sydney-San Francisco and 4x weekly Melbourne-San Francisco services.
Once these new flights are up and running, it appears that Qantas will discontinue its QF55/56 evening service between Brisbane and Los Angeles. It will keep the daily QF15/16 service from Brisbane to Los Angeles, which connects onwards to New York. But the 3x weekly QF55/56, which will increase to 6x weekly next January for the peak summer period, will eventually be removed altogether to make way for the new flights.
Qantas says it chose the flight numbers of QF85 and QF86 for its Chicago route to pay homage to the 1985 Chicago Bears NFL team which won the Super Bowl in 1986.
When it launches, the Brisbane-Chicago route will be the fourth-longest in the world. It’s just 108 miles shorter than Perth-London, which is currently Qantas’ longest flight. The flight time from Brisbane to Chicago is scheduled at 16 hours and 20 minutes, while the return leg is blocked at an eye-watering 17 hours and 20 minutes. That is a very, very long time to spend in any aircraft seat – let alone a narrow Qantas Dreamliner Economy seat. Nonetheless, this new service does allow Chicago passengers to bypass the usual transit in Los Angeles, San Francisco or Dallas. That will be welcome news for many travellers.
Most of Qantas’ international flights start or end in Sydney. It appears that Qantas has chosen to use Brisbane for its Chicago route because the Dreamliner wouldn’t have the range to economically fly non-stop from Chicago to Sydney – a route which is 331 miles further.
The Brisbane-Chicago service is timed to allow for easy connections on both ends of the route. Passengers from all over Australia will be able to easily connect through Brisbane to/from Chicago. There are also plenty of onward connections available with American Airlines from Chicago, which is a hub for the US airline.
The new routes follow final approval being granted by the US Department of Transportation for Qantas and American Airlines to strengthen its alliance through a Joint Venture. Qantas announced its intention to commence Chicago flights last month after tentative regulatory approval was given.
The new Qantas flights to the United States are already on sale, with fares to San Francisco available from $999 return and to Chicago from $1,299 return. Classic Flight Reward seats have also now been released on these routes, including some seats in Business class.
Chicago will be Qantas’ sixth destination in the United States after Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Dallas/Fort Worth and Honolulu. Air New Zealand already began flying to Chicago last year.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: QANTAS announces direct BNE-ORD / BNE-SFO