HOUSTON – United Airlines will add nonstop service between Houston and Sydney on January 18, 2018, in a route that will become the longest flight operated by a US airline. The route will be operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner seating 252 passengers (48J / 63 Y+ / 141Y). The route is subject to government approval. Flight schedules for the new route are as follow:

Houston – Sydney Flight Schedule
Flight 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

The new service to Sydney is United’s third nonstop flight to Australia’s busiest airport and the second from a Texas airport (Qantas serves Dallas Fort Worth). United also serves Sydney nonstop from Los Angeles and San Francisco. And once the route is added, United will operate all of the three longest flights by a U.S. airline:

  • 1st – Los Angeles, CA (LAX) to Singapore (SIN): 8,784 miles (14,136 kilometers).
  • 2nd – Houston, TX (IAH) to Sydney (SYD): 8,596 miles (13,833 kilometers).
  • 3rd – San Francisco, CA (SFO) to Singapore (SIN): 8,446 miles (13,593 kilometers).

The announcement of the route comes less than two weeks after the Houston metro area was devastated by the effects of Hurricane Harvey. Happy for a bit of good news for the region, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner waxed poetic about United’s commitment to the city and the new route:

For nearly 50 years, the City of Houston and United Airlines have built a wonderful relationship and we are thrilled that United continues investing in its operations at George Bush Intercontinental Airport and throughout our community. This new route is just one of the ways United is demonstrating its commitment to its customers and employees in Houston. We are looking forward to visiting Sydney and welcoming our Australian visitors with open arms to Texas.

United President Scott Kirby echoed the tone of Turner’s comments:

“Our Houston hub is stronger than ever and it continues to be an absolutely vital part of our industry-leading network. We are honored to have served this vibrant city for nearly half a century, and this exciting intercontinental flight is one more way we are demonstrating United’s commitment to our customers who call Houston home as well as the millions of customers who connect through Houston each year. This new route will serve more than 70 cities across North America making one-stop service to Sydney faster and more convenient than ever before.”

The route represents United’s second attempt at offering nonstop service from Houston to the South Pacific. Pre-merger Continental planned a route from its Houston hub to Auckland with the 787 Dreamliner, but the route was shelved after the merger went through. The nonstop service to Auckland was eventually started by Air New Zealand in 2015.

The route to Sydney, meanwhile, will suffer from the lack of a Star Alliance partner for onward connections in Australia. But Houston is relatively well positioned to draw in connections from the Eastern half of the US and that will be where this flight makes its money.