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Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner has enabled airlines to launch some very interesting routes, and United’s arguably been one of the most ambitious here in the US, using the extended-range Boeing 787-9 to introduce nonstop service from Houston (IAH) to Sydney (SYD), San Francisco (SFO) to Singapore (SIN) and other intriguing routes.

Monday, United shared plans to launch what’s arguably one of its most exciting new routes yet, a nonstop from Newark (EWR) to Cape Town, South Africa (CPT), beginning on December 15, 2019 and running through the end of March 2020. The new route will operate with the following schedule:

  • Newark (EWR) 8:30pm Departure → Cape Town (CPT) 6:00pm (+1) Arrival (Wed, Fri, Sun)
  • Cape Town (CPT) 8:50pm Departure → Newark (EWR) 5:45am (+1) Arrival (Mon, Thu, Sat)
Image courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.
Image courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.

The flight will be operated with a 787-9 Dreamliner, with 48 seats in business class, 88 seats in Economy Plus and 116 seats in coach. It’s not yet clear whether or not United will offer the new Polaris business-class seat at launch, though the airline’s 787-9 fleet is slated for a retrofit, with the first reconfigured planes expected to re-enter service later this year. Still, even United’s old 2-2-2 biz is a step up from the product South African Airways flies between New York-JFK and Johannesburg (JNB).

United may initially fly its older 2-2-2 business product, as the 787-9 undergoes an extensive retrofit. Photo by Zach Honig.

As the only nonstop option between the United States and Cape Town, United says the new route will save flyers nearly eight hours of travel time round-trip, compared with a stop elsewhere in Africa. The new CPT service obviously appeals most to Newark-based flyers, but it’s timed to accommodate easy connections elsewhere in the US, enabling one-stop service from more than 80 cities across the country.

EWR-CPT is expected to appeal primarily to leisure travelers — as the airline explains:

Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa and the country’s center of trade and commerce. Located at the shore of Table Bay, the city is home to some of the most popular attractions in South Africa including Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Travelers to South Africa often begin their African journey in Cape Town before touring the Cape Winelands, viewing the African penguins at Boulder Beach or traveling beyond Cape Town to explore South Africa’s natural beauty including its many national parks, game reserves and beautiful coastlines and beaches of the KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape provinces.

At 7,817 miles each way, this will be one of United’s longest flights, but not even the longest out of Newark — that honor will remain with the airline’s daily service to Hong Kong (HKG), though the flight time will be comparable, at around 14 and a half hours on the southbound leg and 15 and a half on the return. United expects flights to go on sale beginning in May, once the airline secures government approval.

For an idea of where to stay in Cape Town, see our most recent TPG reviews:

Featured photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy.

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