There are few experiences worse than getting off a 14 hour flight and encountering LAX customs and immigration. Walking through miles of grey corridors one encounters a huge understaffed space. The custom agents have been rarely welcoming.
San Francisco, by contrast is a joy. One agent asked me why I flew through SFO and I told him “because you guys are a delight“. Much nicer airport, friendlier staff and easier to connect. (Plus I prefer the Bay area to its rival down the coast!)
This is why I am so excited to see SFO is back on the Qantas flight map!
Qantas has had a long history with San Francisco. They first started flying there in 1954 using Super Constellations (pictured right). 707 Jet service began on 29 July 1959. Flights for many years stopped at Nadi, Fiji and Honolulu!
In 2011, Qantas dropped #SFO off its roster.
The first “reborn” flight QF73 departed Sydney on Friday 18th December and reached San Francisco the same day. The flight will leave SYD at 3pm and arrive each day at 9.30am. The QF74 return leg leaves the Bay City at 11.25pm tonight for a Sydney arrival at 9am two days later.
Qantas will operate five flights a week from January on the route increasing to six in February. Until then, they will operate a few flights on “peak days”.
Sadly, they have opted for a Boeing 747 and not a 380. This 747 configuration is sans First Class but has 58 Skybed II fully-flat business class seats, 36 premium economy seats and 270 in economy. I love grabbing one of the Business Class seats upstairs. It is like flying in your own private aeroplane! Row 14 is my favourite as you have so much space around you being at the exit! Ultimately, this route needs a 787 option which will hopefully be from 2018 when Qantas starts receiving them. Their remaining 747s will be quite ancient by then!
The move brings competition for United Airlines, which has been the only carrier offering direct flights on this sector. The United product on their own ageing 747s had become truly awful.
The other way of getting to SFO from Australia and avoiding Sydney and LAX is to use the excellent Air New Zealand alternative through Auckland. This particularly works for Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth customers.
Fares on the US-Australia flights have all fallen over the last few months meaning a round trip economy flight can be procured for under a thousand dollars.
San Francisco, wait for me to fly in on Qantas again!
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