United is launching San Francisco – Singapore service June 1 operated by a Boeing 787-9.
United will terminate its Singapore – Tokyo Narita flight June 2.
Here’s the schedule:
- San Francisco – Singapore, 11:25pm – 6:45am +2, United Flight UA1
Singapore – San Francisco, 8:45am – 9:15am, United Flight UA2
This flight is 132 miles shorter than Qantas’ Sydney – Dallas, which is the current longest flight in the world. And it’s shorter, of course, than the Dubai – Auckland, New Zealand flight that Emirates just announced for March.
United will terminate service between Singapore and Tokyo/Narita effective June 2, 2016 (eastbound).
There are several things striking about this development.
- They’re naming the flights United 1 and 2. They’re proud of this flight, the longest flight operated by the US airline and longest flight operated by a 787.
Image courtesy United Airlines
- Their Tokyo hub continues to diminish in importance (once again United follows Delta, though this is likely wise). They want to push all of their US travel to Singapore through San Francisco, rather than sending customers from other markets (e.g. Washington Dulles) through Tokyo.
- This is a direct blow at their erstwhile Star Alliance partner Singapore Airlines which offers one-stop San Francisco – Hong Kong – Singapore and San Francisco – Seoul – Singapore. Singapore has eyed aircraft to make the non-stop economical. Singapore Airlines and United have been frenemies at best for awhile. Remember that United proactively removed Singapore Airlines award space from its website (and falsely blamed Singapore for it) and Singapore went looking for another US domestic partner first in Virgin America and then with JetBlue. Clearly Singapore has felt United isn’t getting the job done for them. Now United is doing the job to them.
And to think, United used to crow about one-stops to San Francisco.
This 16 hour 20 minute US-Singapore, 15 hour 30 minute Singapore-US flight would be quite something in 9-across economy. I wouldn’t look forward to it in United’s 6-across business class (American’s 787 business class, in contrast, is four seats across). Personally I’d take Singapore’s flights, though they’re 2 hours 15 minutes (Hong Kong connection) and 2 hours 40 minutes (Seoul connection) longer on the Singapore-US segment.
It will be interesting to see whether United’s sales contracts, San Francisco hub, and non-stop can win them the business on this route against not just Singapore but also Cathay Pacific (connecting in Hong Kong).