Howdy, Sydney! Houston is coming on United

Remember back when Continental Airlines promised to connect its Houston hub to the South Pacific? That 787 route to Auckland failed to materialize but the airline – now United Airlines – never lost sight of the market. Today the airline announced a new plan, slightly longer, to connect the regions. Daily non-stop service between Houston and Sydney launches on 18 January 2018.

The three long United routes, plus long options from Delta and American
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

The new flight clocks in at 8,596 miles making it the second longest United will operate. Adding this service in to the non-stop routes to Singapore from San Francisco and Los Angeles gives United the three longest non-stop routes flown by a US carrier, all operated on the 787-9.

The flight schedule is similar to most other US-Australia routes:

City Depart City Arrive
UA 101 Houston (IAH) 8:00 p.m. Sydney (SYD) 6:30 a.m. +2 days later
UA 100 Sydney (SYD) 11:50 a.m. Houston (IAH) 10:35 a.m. same day


Service between Houston and Auckland was inaugurated by Air New Zealand two years ago; with this flight the United/ANZ joint venture will offer significant lift between the regions on a daily basis.

As for why Houston? the local market is significant, of course, but the connecting flow matters, too. Houston (and DFW, served by Qantas) offers a far more convenient connection point for a significant portion of the Midwest, South and Southeastern United States. Between the Sydney and Air New Zealand flights the United/ANZ joint venture now offers significant coverage at both ends of the trip with multiple daily frequencies.

Oh, and if you have some points to burn it appears that the route has some business class seats open on Tuesdays.

Read More: Where to sit on the United 787-9 Dreamliner

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. J seats available every Tuesday. 70,000 one way. I can’t imagine travelling in coach for that long.

  2. sure beats an INTL-to-DOM transfer experience at SYD, which involves bussing to a different terminal and check-in agents trying to scam you AUD$75 checked-bag fee over the carry-on weight limit.

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