Brisbane | Published on 24th July 2019 at 9:05

Australians can now book direct flights from Brisbane to Chicago and San Francisco for the first time, with fares available for sale from today.*

The new routes will be operated by Qantas’ Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, offering next-generation seating and built-in jet lag reducing features, and see the national carrier grow its United States network from one to three non-stop destinations from Brisbane.

The announcement follows the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) final approval of Qantas’ joint business with American Airlines last Friday.

San Francisco flights will begin on 9 February 2020 and operate three times per week, complementing Qantas’ existing flights from Sydney and Melbourne and offering customers the choice of double daily Dreamliner services from Australia’s east coast to the popular Californian city.

Chicago flights will begin on 20 April 2020, operating four times per week. By flying direct, Qantas customers will save more than six hours on a return trip compared with today. The service also opens up a new Qantas gateway for Australians into North America, with access to onward destinations across American Airlines’ extensive network including to Canada and the North Eastern United States.

The flight number, QF85/86, pays homage to the 1985 Chicago Bears football team, winners of the 1986 Superbowl and widely regarded as one of the best teams in history. It follows the QF49 flight number given to airline’s Melbourne-San Francisco service as a nod to that city’s football team.

The 14,326km flight from Brisbane to Chicago will be the fourth longest in the world, and the second longest flight on Qantas’ network, and take approximately 16 hours and 20 minutes (depending on winds).

Qantas International Acting CEO Naren Kumar said there had been widespread interest in the new Brisbane flights since they were announced last month.

“This is the first time Australians will have a direct link to Chicago, the third-largest US city. We expect the flights will be popular with corporate travellers looking to do business there, but also with tourists wanting to experience some of the culture and history that Chicago is famous for,” said Mr Kumar.

“The new route from Brisbane will cater for both leisure travellers and the growing number of Australian entrepreneurs wanting to connect with Silicon Valley and San Francisco’s world-leading technology companies.”

Mr Kumar said direct routes had been shown to stimulate new travel demand, which is expected to benefit the Queensland economy and boost Australian tourism more broadly.

“We’ll be working closely with our industry and government partners to jointly promote Brisbane and everything Queensland and Australia have to offer,” added Mr Kumar.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the new flights from Chicago and San Francisco would pump more than $150 million into the Queensland economy over the next three years.

“As the world’s largest economy, the United States offers enormous potential for inbound tourism to Queensland,” the Premier said.

“These flights represent a great opportunity for Queensland, one that is forecast to support more than 1,700 jobs over the next three years.”

Fares will be available for sale via or through travel agents from today. Qantas is currently holding a USA Sale with return Economy fares from Brisbane to Chicago starting from $1,299. Return Economy fares from Brisbane to San Francisco start from $999.

The new routes are also good news for Qantas Frequent Flyers, with the loyalty program recently announcing it would be increasing the number of reward seats made available to members. Qantas’ new joint business with American Airlines will also deliver additional frequent flyer benefits by further integrating the carriers’ programs, including higher earn rates for both Points and Status Credits on each other’s networks beyond what is available today through oneworld.

The new routes will see a total of 14 weekly services year-round between Brisbane and the US, including the daily 787 Brisbane to Los Angeles service that continues to New York.  In addition to the new routes, Qantas will increase flights between Brisbane and Los Angeles from ten to thirteen per week during the peak season from 2 January to 8 February 2020.

Qantas expanded its International Brisbane Lounge by 25 percent this year in response to the popularity of flights from Brisbane.

Schedule information*

Flight no.  Route  Depart  Arrive  Days  Aircraft  Flight time 
QF85  Brisbane-Chicago  1530  1640  Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat  787-9  16h20 
QF86  Chicago-Brisbane  2150  0610+2  Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat  787-9  17h20 
QF59  Brisbane-San Francisco  2035  1515  Tue, Thu, Sun  787-9  12h40 
QF60  San Francisco-Brisbane  2215  0600+2  Tue, Thu, Sun  787-9  13h45 

* Subject to government and regulatory approvals.