Business Class Award Availability to Sydney on New United Houston Flight!

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Update: The really good award availability has now disappeared. Congrats to those who got in quickly!

Years ago we were told that a United operated Houston – Auckland flight was in the works, but that never came to pass. Fingers were pointed at Southwest’s international expansion at Hobby as part of the reason why that flight never materialized, but I never quite figured out how Southwest’s flights to Cabo interfered with a United flight to New Zealand. However, I’m clearly not the expert in route planning. There is actually now an Air New Zealand operated flight from Houston to Auckland, but I haven’t really heard any rumblings about United re-starting the conversation about heading that direction from Houston until today. Now there isn’t just a rumor of a new route, but a bookable United flight all the way from Houston to Sydney!

This is a very, very long flight clocking in at 8,596 flown miles. For reference, Houston to LaGuardia is about 1,417 flown miles each direction, so Houston to Sydney one-way a little over three round trips from Houston to New York City. I really don’t want to do that in coach, though I know that is how most people will fly this route. If you want to break the trip up a smidge, United does still fly to Sydney from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Focusing back at the brand new Houston flight, it is scheduled to begin on January 18, 2018, and it will leave Houston at 8PM, getting into Sydney at 6:30AM two calendar days later. In terms of hours, it is scheduled at 17 hours and 30 minutes in the air. Holy guacamole. 

On the return, you leave Sydney at 11:50AM and arrive in Houston at 10:35AM the same calendar day. Yes, you time travel coming home. In terms of hours, that is 15 hours and 45 minutes of flying to get back home to Texas.

The great news for miles and points freaks like myself is that there is actually pretty decent award availability, even for multiple seats in business class on the 787-9 Dreamliner. You will want to use the flexible date search and select nonstop flights to spot the days with award availability, but they are there, largely on Tuesdays and some Wednesdays into the summer.

Using United miles, these awards price at the saver level at 70,000 miles each way in business class, though if you book after October 31, 2017, that price jumps to 80,000 miles each way. In economy it is 40,000 United miles each direction. Taxes and fees come to about $120 per person for an award booking.

Even though that is an intensely long flight, I’m very excited my this surprise announcement. Anyone now planning an Australia trip via Houston?!


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  1. The calendar will often show saver award availability but the flights are multiple-stop flights, even after selecting non-stop in the search or clicking on “show only non-stop flights.” It happens all the time for flights to Europe. The calendar will show available premium cabin but after clicking through it will be on crazy itineraries with multiple stops, or often it will be a “mixed business award” where half your trip is in economy (but you will still pay the full price in miles!). Have you clicked through and confirmed that these were non-stop flights? My own quick search shows no availability for the dates you highlighted. You should include screen shots of the actual non-stop options, not the calendar. The calendar isn’t reliable

    • Yes, you are totally right that has happened with the nonstop button. However, in this case it was accurate when it was written. Totally possible it has changed since then. I have included another image of the actual flights we were looking at clicked through to booking, but I’m not sure that will help if the availability situation has already changed.

  2. I booked this today in paid business SYD-IAH…interesting that everyone is reporting the SYD-IAH flight is at 11:50 am to 10:35 am when the schedule has it loaded as 9:45 – 10:35. It also shows ineligible for earning on the ticket but I’m sure that will work itself out once they add the info.

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