Local News

Silicon Valley connection: New RDU-San Francisco flight takes off

Posted August 15, 2012

— The first nonstop flight from Raleigh-Durham International Airport to San Francisco took off Wednesday morning. 

The flight, offered by United Airlines, is expected to give Triangle business leaders a chance to connect quickly with their high-tech brethren in California's Silicon Valley. 

Gov. Bev Perdue and other North Carolina business leaders were aboard the inaugural flight, which took off from RDU just after 7 a.m. and should arrive in San Francisco by 1 p.m. Eastern time.

“Businesses, particularly the life sciences and technology sectors, have been very vocal about the importance of this flight to their ongoing success and ability to grow and compete," RDU Director Michael Landguth said in April when the airport announced the new service. 

Landguth said 400 passengers head to the Bay Area every day from the Triangle, with scores more connecting through the West Coast to destinations in Asia.

Chris Heivly, with the Triangle Start-Up Factory, said Wednesday that the flight allows investors quicker access to the companies they want to connect with. 

"Links to those companies and investors in Silicon Valley are critical to our community and those linkages need to be stronger, quicker and tighter than a two-stop flight," Heivly said. "This nonstop flight gives us access to investors, potential business deals, mentors, advisers and executives."

The outbound flights on a 218-seat Boeing 737 will leave RDU at 7 a.m., arriving at San Francisco at 9:50 a.m. Pacific time, which gives passengers time to connect to late-morning flights headed to Asia.

The inbound flights depart San Francisco at 1 p.m. Pacific time and arrive at RDU at 9 p.m. Eastern time.


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  • sjb2k1 Aug 15, 2012

    man i wish there was one direct to san jose!

  • itom68 Aug 15, 2012


  • Road-wearier Aug 15, 2012

    "In this age of teleconferencing I am not so sure why direct flights are so important?" Arthur in the Garden

    I can instantly see that you've never worked in sales or product development. There is NO substitute for face to face time...

  • Southern Discomfort Aug 15, 2012

    "In this age of teleconferencing I am not so sure why direct flights are so important?" Arthur in the Garden

    Most people want to still talk face to face whom they work with, especially when you have to physically see things to make decisions, etc.

  • Southern Discomfort Aug 15, 2012

    You people are nuts if you don't think they gave the NC and California delegations on these flights the flight complimentary or in a cost to the lowest point available per each state's laws.

  • Milkman Aug 15, 2012

    San Jose can land the big planes too. They at least used to have service to Toyko on a 777. But United's presence at SJC is smaller.

  • Milkman Aug 15, 2012

    I used to fly to the Bay Area for business constantly and this is a very nice flight for us to take out, and not a horrible return flight time either. Saves 3-4 hours total over the connecting time and the risk of a flight not happening on schedule, etc.

    The choice of SFO makes sense for United which has a hub there, and an international one at that. The drive from SFO to Palo Alto at the arrival time of 10am is about 30 minutes, and it's about the same to downtown San Fran from the airport. Downtown San Jose proper would be under an hour down 280. If you're going to San Jose you'd prefer to land in San Jose, but it's not that big a deal given the advantages of the direct flight.

    I hope they are successful, the Midway flight was never all that crowded, and I've actually had pretty good luck with the Southwest 1 stop no change of planes deals they and American have done for years.

  • scifion Aug 15, 2012

    Sean - San Jose is identified as an "International" airport, but I do agree that it makes business sense to fly into SFO instead. I know I'll be on this flight a lot in the next few years. Hooray for not stopping at DFW!

  • Bellar1 Aug 15, 2012

    amsantucci - " It would have been better to have a direct flight to San Jose, which is basically the center of Silicon Valley. Sounds like a marketing ploy by United Airlines, and not a very good one. Once the Triangle techies figure out how inconvenient SFO is to Silicon Valley, they're not going to take advantage of that flight."

    True from the City, but I've driven from SFO airport to San Jose in under 45 minutes easily. And San Jose airport is regional not national.

  • nancy1210 Aug 15, 2012

    i agree with VariousGood about the plane continuing since bev is aboard...her taking this flight is a good use of the tax payers money!