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Best way to fly

Looking to book a fight Jan 2, 2018 from LAX to Sydney and return flight from Sydney, Jan 24 to Honolulu, Jan 29 to Boston. We would want either business or first class for a trip this far. Any an all comments appreciated.
Which airlines offer the most comfortable beds, service for a flight this long? Is it more expensive because we are stopping in Hawaii? Is it better to leave from San Francisco?

Posted by
11292 posts

In addition to any replies you get here, look at the Flyertalk forum - that's where you can find people who have taken all the various planes, and can give details of which would be best.

You can get nonstops to Sydney from both LAX and SFO. Sydney to Honolulu is served by several airlines. From Honolulu to Boston, you'll have to change once, but the options are endless. You can choose to have two legs of roughly equal length by flying via the west coast, or have one much longer leg to, say, Chicago or Newark, then a much shorter one to Boston.

Posted by
313 posts

Have flown multiple times to Sydney and Aukland. We live on the West Coast and much prefer to fly out of SFO instead of LAX.

We have flown coach, business class and first class depending upon what miles we have to use, whether someone else is paying for it, or how we feel about our time and money.

Personally, I really can't sleep on the plane so business class is a treat, and coach with the right seat location is okay. I'd rather spend my money on good food and wine when I get to my destination. Even an extra night in a good hotel makes up for the discomfort of a not great flight.

We lean towards non-US carriers. Air New Zealand is a favorite. Hate to say it, but my experience on United to Sydney or Aukland has been much better than my domestic experience.

I can't address the extra cost stopping in Hawaii. We've never done that.

Happy travels!

Posted by
920 posts

In general, foreign based carriers have a better reputation for hard (seats) and soft (food, service) products. If you want to see details about each carrier/flight, check out You can look at each plane to see what type of aircraft usually flies the route and get an idea of the seat pitch and width. There are also reviews left by passengers. There is a table that shows the seat width and pitch for long-haul international flights by airline/plane as well. You can also use youtube to see actual flight review videos. Just enter "Los Angeles to Sydney flight" in the search engine and you'll get a lot of hits.

One other consideration: check out premium economy. It's a better seat but same service as coach and the price usually lies in the middle. From LAX to Sydney, both American and Qantas fly four class planes (first, business, premium economy/main cabin extra, economy). American flies the Boeing 777 while Qantas flies the Airbus A380 (double decker plane). Both are great planes and the first/business seats are fully lie-flat seats.

One word of caution: If you are paying for business/first class, make sure the seat is fully lie-flat to 180 degrees. Some first class products are simply recliner seats with a leg rest (Hawaiian, Jetstar) which is a lot like domestic first class.

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you everyone for all your help! We have finalized our trip based on everyone's help.

We are now trying to book a flight on Air NewZealand but we have to go through United because we are using miles. It has been a nightmare trying to get information from United. Does anyone have a suggestion as to how we can actually speak to a real person in the US?
We have called 5 times and each time we get a different answer so we are not sure if the information we have is accurate. Any help will be appreciated.

In contrast, we booked a flight on American and were treated to a real person who had knowledge of the system and helped us tremendously! Flights booked and set in one call! Thank you Nancy in N.Carolina for your help.

Posted by
920 posts

Suggestion about United: Get on Twitter and complain that you can't get any help and provide specific flight /route info. Most companies don't want you complaining in public and they might send you a DM and try to help out.

This is from united's web site regarding Air New Zealand:

Using miles

See our award chart to find out how many miles you'll need to fly one way or roundtrip, depending on class of service and region of travel, on any Star Alliance network airline. You can book award travel on Air New Zealand through Service charges may apply for booking or changing award reservations, depending on ticketing, travel dates and MileagePlus status. Award tickets cannot be issued at the airport. Call 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331) to reach the United Customer Contact Center within the U.S. and Canada, or view more contact and language options.

Posted by
5775 posts

We are now trying to book a flight on Air NewZealand but we have to go through United because we are using miles.

I have bad news for you. If you are trying to book business class seats on Air New Zealand using United points, forget it. Not going to happen. No matter who you talk to.

Here are some of the Dirty Little Secrets of using miles...

  1. Getting a bunch of miles is the easy part. Getting to actually use them - for a flight you want - is the hard part.
  2. Although every airline's program is different, to various degrees they all make it hard (or impossible) to book highly desirable seats. You may be able to book one good seat, but not two. You may only be able to book seats with crazy routing and miserable connections that add days to your travel time. You may only be able to book the seats you want at a time you can't go (like, tomorrow, for example). You may only be able to book the seats you want if you pay 2X, 3X or 10X the miles. You may only be able to book the seats you want if you pay stunningly high "fees" on top of the miles (I'm looking at you, British Airways). Basically, they make it hard, often impossible to get what you want. It's their game, they make up the rules (and change them) as they want. It's not in their best interest to make it easy for you (quite the opposite). Don't like it? So sorry.
  3. The availability of business class seats on Air New Zealand, using United miles (or any "partner" miles), is about the same as availability for free tickets to the moon.

Air New Zealand business class is purportedly very nice. But if you're planning to get those seats with your United miles, you need a Plan B. Sorry to be the one with bad news.