United Airlines launches San Francisco to Christchurch flights in major tourism boost

by James Wilkinson

After months of excitement and build-up, United Airlines has inaugurated flights from San Francisco to Christchurch in a massive tourism boost for the South Island of New Zealand.

With the launch, United has become the only airline to offer direct flights between the South Island and the United States and the first to offer a direct service from Christchurch to San Francisco.

“This is a route I’ve personally wanted to add to United’s network for a long time – I had the opportunity to backpack in New Zealand earlier in my life and it’s such a special destination that offers travellers an experience unlike anywhere else in the world,” said United’s Senior Vice President of Global Network Planning and Alliances, Patrick Quayle.

“And because of United’s partnership with Air New Zealand, customers can easily connect from Christchurch to 19 other destinations across New Zealand.”

The new direct route will fly three times a week on board a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, headlined by United Airlines’ brilliant Polaris Business Class cabin with 28 seats alongside 21 Premium Plus, 36 Economy Plus and 158 Economy seats.

United’s Polaris Business Class cabin features 198cm-long flatbed seats, pyjamas (on flights over 12 hours), all-new Saks Fifth Avenue bedding and onboard amenities from Therabody – including a kit that features an eye serum, face spray, hand cream and cleansing towelette exclusive to United customers – alongside fantastic inflight food and drinks (including a new, brilliant wine menu), premium noise-reducing headphones and fantastic inflight hospitality.

The new Christchurch route is part of United’s massive expansion in the region, which, by the end of 2023, will see the carrier operating 66 flights between the U.S. and the South Pacific region each week.

With nearly 50% growth over the past year, it is the largest expansion to the region in United States aviation history.

Air New Zealand Chief Transformation and Alliances Officer, Mike Williams, said the new direct Christchurch to San Francisco service is an expansion of the already strong alliance partnership between the airlines.

“This new route is great news for customers, who now have even more connection options between New Zealand and the US,” he said.

“What’s more, our alliance with United Airlines means customers can book to travel on the new service on an Air New Zealand booking and receive the same loyalty benefits as they would travelling with Air New Zealand – and vice versa for United Airlines customers.

“With fantastic onboard experiences available across the airlines, we’re thrilled to welcome United into another region here in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

The inaugural aircraft on the route was christened with the name ‘Kiwi Cruiser’, adorned with a special New Zealand silver fern, signifying a defining moment in aviation history, and the strengthening of United Airlines’ relationship with New Zealand for years to come.

Thanks to the partnership, travellers can enjoy easy connections to 35 destinations across New Zealand and the South Pacific and more than 150 destinations within the United States.