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Qantas will begin selling tickets for direct flights between Perth and London by April, ahead of a March 2018 kickoff for the non-stop service.
And there's no exaggeration in saying this marks a new era for Qantas, not just for the new Boeing 787 aircraft involved – an aircraft which will eventually take over most of Qantas' international and domestic east-west routes – but for a future network built around ultra long-range direct flights.
Qantas plans more of these to come, not just from Perth to other popular European cities but – with the right aircraft from Airbus or Boeing – Sydney to New York, Melbourne to London and Perth to Los Angeles.
But for now all eyes are on Perth, which will anchor this shortest and fastest version of the Kangaroo Route in its 70 year history and turn the WA capital into a new home-gown international hub for Qantas.
It's a seismic shift for Qantas, so here's how the airline will run its Perth-London flights.
1. Perth-London flights will start from Melbourne
The actual route for the Boeing 787 will be Melbourne-Perth-London, with the Dreamliner taking flight from Melbourne Airport's international terminal.
Passengers will go through customs and security at Melbourne before the Dreamliner makes a cross-country leg to Perth.
For Platinum-grade frequent flyers, this will include access to the Qantas first class lounge (below) with its seasonal a la carte menu and spa treatments.
As the Boeing 787 itself tops out at business class, most other passengers will be ushered into Melbourne's Qantas international business lounge - which, sad to say, is arguably the worst international lounge in Qantas' Aussie network.
At this point, savvy Platinum card-holders will be hoping that Qantas will sell the Melbourne-Perth leg as a domestic flight, in the same way as some Jetstar flights are offered today.
This would let them clock up some pre-flight time with fine food, wine and perhaps a spa treatment at Melbourne's Qantas First lounge before doing an otherwise bog-standard transcontinental run to Perth.
However, it's tipped that Qantas may prevent the Melbourne-Perth leg from showing on domestic airline schedules so can't be booked as a purely domestic flight.
It's also been suggested that Qantas could drop its daily Melbourne-London flight from early 2018 in favour of the Boeing 787 service, with partner Emirates moving to fill in the gap in Qantas’ network by rostering one of its own aircraft onto the Melbourne-Dubai leg as a codeshare with Qantas.
2. A new international lounge for Perth
Those London-bound flyers from Melbourne will arrive at a new international zone at Perth Airport's Terminal 3.
This is currently a domestic terminal and part of the T3/T4 'Qantas precinct' but is being converted to allow international operations thanks to a $14 million investment by the WA state government.
Eligible travellers will head straight to an all-new Perth International Lounge which will be similar in concept and design to the airline's existing international lounges at Singapore, Hong Kong and Brisbane, below (and a substantial upgrade to the current Qantas International Lounge at Perth's T1).
Not eligible for lounge access? Let's hope the terminal's international zone includes at least a cafe.
(It should, given that Qantas will also shift its Singapore and Auckland flights to T3).
3. For those connecting from Sydney, Brisbane or Adelaide...
Travellers on Qantas' other east-west flights will arrive into the domestic T4 terminal and walk across to T3's international zone.
This could make more sense for passengers from Brisbane and Adelaide who today have to fly to Sydney to join QF1 (or to Melbourne for QF9) – they're already making one stop before they even set foot onto the flight to London via Dubai, so the Perth-London service will be mean one less connection, and a far easier one than at Sydney.
Sydney-siders may likely stick with the daily Airbus A380 flight to Dubai and London, especially as unlike the Boeing 787 it offers first class – unless they're driven to transit at Perth rather than Dubai, prefer to fly on the Dreamliner over the superjumbo, or want that non-stop Australia-London experience.
Additionally, some pundits predict the Perth-London flights will cost more than those which run via Dubai.
How much time do travellers stand to save on these direct flights?
Qantas estimates around 17 hours from Perth to London, to which you can add four hours if you're coming from Melbourne and around five hours from Sydney or Brisbane.
By comparison, the Sydney-London QF1 flight takes an average 14 hours from Sydney to Dubai and a further 7½ hours from Dubai to London for a total flying time of 21½ hours
4. London, here we come!
Qantas hasn't revealed the timings of its Perth-London flight but if the Boeing 787 was wheels-up from Perth in the evening it could arrive into London from 6am onwards.
The alternative would be leaving Perth mid-morning to reach London at around 7pm, although passengers from the east coast would face a very early start.
Either way, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has said the airline will revise its east-west timetables with an eye to better connections so that some specific flights would neatly feed into the Boeing 787 schedule.
5. The return journey
Passengers will relax pre-flight at Qantas' new London lounge (below) at Heathrow Terminal 3 before boarding the Dreamliner for the long trek back to Australia.
A return flight leaving London mid-morning would reach Perth close to noon, allowing passengers from eastern states to continue on a connecting flight from Qantas' T4 domestic terminal and arrive home in the evening.
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