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United is putting a 787-9 Dreamliner on its all of its routes to Australia by March 26, 2016. United currently flies the 787-9 on its Los Angeles to Melbourne route and 777s on its San Francisco and Los Angeles to Sydney routes.
There is great economy award space on the Sydney routes after the operating aircraft switches to a Dreamliner, but very little Business Class space. There is, however, a trick to increase your chances of getting Business Class award space on the Dreamliner to Australia.
United 787-9 Dreamliner
The United 787-9 Dreamliner has 48 beds in Business class in a 2-2-2 configuration. In 2-2-2 configurations, I always choose a middle seat, since both have direct aisle access. If you choose a seat on either side of the plane, you’ll either need to climb over your seatmate or be climbed over during the flight.
Each seat converts to a fully flat bed with 6’6″ of sleeping space.
Los Angeles to Sydney switches to a Dreamliner on March 26, 2016.
San Francisco to Sydney switches to a Dreamliner on March 25, 2016.
Both flights are 15 hour redeyes. Both returns are 14 hour redeyes that take off around midday.
Award Space Picture
Los Angeles to Sydney
Award space is fantastic in economy, and five days in the Spring (their Winter) have Business Class award space.
Sydney to Los Angeles
Award space is fantastic in economy and three days have Business Class award space.
San Francisco to Sydney
Economy award space is slightly worse, and there is no Business Class award space.
Sydney to San Francisco
Just like the San Fran to Sydney flight, very good economy award space, no Business Class space.
All the above calendars were for one person. The award space hardly changes if you change the search to four people.
How to Fly Business Class on the Dreamliner
So little Saver award space is released on the Dreamliner in Business Class that if you really want to fly it, I’d recommend using United Plan B.
The basics of Plan B are that:
- You book United-operated flights with United miles. In this case, you can book from your home airport to Australia in economy for 40,000 United miles one way or 80,000 United miles roundtrip. I repeat: Plan B only works when redeeming United miles for United-operated flights.
- You call United and ask to be waitlisted for a higher cabin on the flights you booked.
- The agent takes extra miles from your account as if you were confirmed in the higher cabin. In this case, that would be an extra 30,000 miles each way, since United Business Class to Australia is 70,000 miles.
- You are given top priority on the waitlist as if you were displaced Business Class passenger. That means you have higher priority than attempted upgraders.
- Since United rarely (ever?) sells all 48 beds on its Dreamliner to Australia, and you are at the top of the upgrade list, you are very likely to fly Business Class.
- If you don’t fly Business Class, you are refunded the extra miles (30,000 each way in this case) that you paid at the time of being waitlisted.
This is an ideal route for a Plan B award because economy award space is so wide open, the Business Class product is good quality and fairly priced, and the Business Class cabin is so large that an upgrade seems very likely.
Here are the first hand experiences of other people who have booked Plan B awards.
- Just Another Points Traveler: Success using Plan B from Newark to Barcelona
- Dan’s Deals: United Plan B is Pretty Much the Most Awesome, Underutilized, and Underappreciated Thing Ever
How to Get United Miles
The United personal, business, and Club cards plus the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus all earn United miles.
United is moving its newest plane the 787-9 Dreamliner to all of its Australia routes by the end of winter. Economy award space is fantastic for 4+ people, but Business Class space is rarely available for even a single person.
Use United Plan B awards to turn an economy award magically into a flat bed.
Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.