Qantas is set to launch direct flights from Brisbane to Chicago. Not only will this provide Queensland with a major tourism boost, but it also gives savvy Australian travellers unprecedented access to USA ‘cowboy country’, with destinations like Michigan and Wyoming sitting just only a short domestic flight from Chicago’s O’Hare hub — one of the busiest airports in the world.
Seats are reportedly set to go on sale in the next few weeks, and flights are to begin in early 2020, flown by Qantas’ Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. As reported by The Mail Online, this means that Queensland will likely receive more than 360,000 US visitors a year by 2027.
But one of the implications for adventurous Australian travellers has so far been overlooked. Not only will passengers on the Brisbane-Chicago route be able to avoid the most dreaded US airport — LAX — but it will drop passengers at the gateway to some of the most stunning destinations in the region, especially the vast expanse of the American Midwest.
From Ohio to The Great Lakes, many off-beat destinations are just a short hop from Chicago (Michigan, which gives you one point of access to The Great Lakes, for example, is just a 3 hour 20-minute flight).
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Qantas says the Brisbane to Chicago flight will take approximately 16 hours 20 minutes, which means that you could find yourself at The Great Lakes and its stunning views just 20-24 hours after leaving Australia.
Previously you would have had to fly Brisbane to LAX (anything between 15-17 hours), then LAX to Chicago (3-5 hours, depending on who you fly with) and then Chicago to The Great Lakes (3 hours 20 minutes) — which, depending on your layover time, could add up to be a 30 plus hour trip.
And the Great Lakes is just one example — the Brisbane-Chicago route will connect Australians to about 143 destinations, thanks to the 500 flights a day that American Airlines operates out of Chicago.
While the deal is “tentatively” confirmed, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is waiting on the full approval from the US Department of Transportation.
That aside, unlike Project Sunrise, which still requires the negotiation of a new pilot pay deal, aviation safety regulator approval and an updated aircraft manufacturer deal, Qantas told us this Brisbane to Chicago (and Brisbane to San Francisco) routes are ready to go.
“The new routes we announced today from Brisbane to Chicago and San Francisco are not part of Project Sunrise and can be achieved with our current arrangements as both are shorter than our current Perth-London service.”