Confirmed: United will fly between Los Angeles and Melbourne later this year

Reports are circulating that United will fly between Los Angeles and Melbourne. Photo: United.

Reports are circulating that United will fly between Los Angeles and Melbourne. Photo: United.

United Airlines is expected to announce a new flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia that will start in October, according to Airchive, an aviation blog. (We have since confirmed it — see below.)

United will fly the route six times per week using a Boeing 787-9 aircraft starting Oct 26, Airchive reported. The news is being warmly greeted on Flyertalk, the message board I profiled in a feature story earlier this week. Posters on the website, who are probably airline employees, are talking like it’s a done deal, though they note the international flight is subject to government approval. (Flyertalk members get this stuff wrong occasionally, but not often.)

I reached out late Thursday to United for a comment, but I have not heard back.

Qantas already files between Los Angeles and Melbourne using an Airbus A380. United for now offers one-stop service to Melbourne. The plane stops in Sydney.

UPDATE: 10 p.m. The flight is now available for purchase on United.com. Also, the reputable Airlineroute.net website says the flights start on November 3.  It starts Oct. 26, as we originally stated.

United

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United Airlines computer problem leads to delays on Tuesday morning

United Airlines is devaluing its MileagePlus program in 2014. Photo courtesy of the airline.

United Airlines had computer problems on Tuesday morning. Photo: United

United Airlines computer systems were down on Tuesday morning (L.A. time), leading to some flight delays and inconvenienced passengers.

When I inquired at about 10 a.m. United said in an email that the problem had been fixed.

“This morning we experienced intermittent issues with our passenger service computer system, causing some flight delays,” the airline said in a statement.  “With the system now restored, we are working to get our customers to their destinations as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

At least one passenger at LAX was taking it pretty well, according to a Tweet.

 

If you get the feeling that this happens a lot, it does. And not just for United. It seems that just about every airline has this problem once or twice a year. Sometimes more.

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United Airlines will no longer operate a hub in Cleveland. Read the internal letter

United will no longer call its Cleveland operation a hub.

United will no longer call its Cleveland operation a hub. Photo: United.

United Airlines will no longer operate a full-scale hub in Cleveland, many news organizations reported today.

The hub in Cleveland — a former Continental stronghold –was not profitable, United CEO Jeff Smisek told employees and was not feasible to operate such a robust operation there. By June, when the reductions are complete, there will still be 72 departures on peak days to 20 destinations. But now there are about 200 flights on peak days. Midwesterners will now do even more of their connecting on United in Chicago. (72 flights from Cleveland is still a lot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that number is further cut in the coming years.)

Sadly, this is becoming a thing for once vibrant hubs in the middle of the country. Cincinnati (Delta), Memphis (Delta), Pittsburgh (US Airways) and St. Louis (TWA) have all lost significant flights in the past decade. Meanwhile, major hubs, like LA, have stayed the same or gotten stronger.

Read on to see the letter Smisek sent to his United “Coworkers.”

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A CONVAIR 340, built in 1955, visits LAX

Can you name this plane, seen last month at LAX? Photo by your blogger.

Can you name this plane, seen last month at LAX? Photo by your blogger.

We wrote last week about Biman Bangladesh Airlines retiring the world’s final passenger DC-10. But do you know where planes like this go when they’re done with passenger service? To cargo operators, of course.

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United’s “Fantasy Flights” take children to the North Pole

This children got to meet Santa after flying to the North Pole with United Airlines. Photo courtesy of United.

This child got to meet Santa after flying to the North Pole with United Airlines. Photo courtesy of United.

Some Los Angeles-area children got a special surprise this week from United Airlines. They got to fly to the North Pole to visit Santa.

United has been doing these flights for 20 years, and they’re meant for seriously ill children as well as disadvantaged kids. Many of them have never been on airplane before, so apparently they don’t seem to mind that the flight to the North Pole only takes a few minutes.

According to the United, the Fantasy Flight program is led by volunteer teams of employees and retirees. In addition to Los Angeles, the airline led trips to the North Pole from Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Denver, Newark, N.J., San Francisco and Washington, D.C. – as well as Boise, ID., Phoenix, San Antonio, Texas, and Sydney.

After the short airplane trip, children are led into an airport gate or hanger, where they get to meet Santa, receive gifts and celebrate the holiday.

Delta has a similar program from LAX, and I’ll be attending it on Wednesday.

Fantasy Kid 2

The above pictures are from United’s other hubs, but this one below is from the LAX celebration. Looks like there was a good crowd.

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