How Qantas travellers can enjoy a stress-free stopover at Dubai

By James Wallis, March 31 2017
How Qantas travellers can enjoy a stress-free stopover at Dubai

Flying on Qantas QF1 from Sydney to London? James Wallis reveals how to take the stress out of the short Dubai stopover.

As a British ex-pat living in Sydney I often find myself doing the Kangaroo Route a couple of times a year – and as a Qantas Platinum Frequent Flyer, I typically choose QF1 from Sydney to London via Dubai.

And while those are long flights, the stopover in Dubai is relatively short. QF1 arrives from Sydney around 12.25am, and departs Dubai for London at 2.10am.

That gives you 1 hour 45 minutes on the ground. But by the time you get off the plane, go through transit security and make your way to Emirates' first class lounge it's at least 12.45am, or close to 1am if you're not up front in business class or first class.

But with boarding for QF1's Dubai-London leg from around 1.40am this leaves you less than an hour in the lounge itself.

Read: The Qantas QF1 transit guide to Emirates' Dubai Airport first class lounge

Ready, set, go!

After the long journey from Sydney, my priorities on arrival at Dubai are to hit the showers and grab a meal at the à la carte dining room before heading back onto the plane.

Add the fact that you are one of many travellers trying to book a shower at the same time (meaning there may be a wait) plus slightly tardy service in the restaurant due to the same factor, and suddenly you’re back on the A380 and continuing to London without being able to fully unwind.

I'm very much aware that the clock is ticking during my stay at the lounge, so it's not very relaxing – especially if I've had to fly in economy.

What's more, as much as I look forward to being in London, I don't enjoy negotiating Heathrow at one of its busiest times when QF1 lands at 6.55am, or fighting rush hour traffic into the city.

Change flights and shift gears

There's a solution to all of this which isn't obvious at first, but makes plenty of sense: for the final leg to London change your Qantas flights at Dubai, from the inbound QF1 from Sydney to the outbound QF9 from Melbourne.

Setting up this 'broken' journey is no more difficult than a standard booking at, as Qantas offers this an option within its proposed connection routes.

Both flights are on a Qantas Airbus A380 but because QF9 leaves Dubai at around 9am you get a decent layover time between the incoming QF1 from Sydney and then continuing on QF9 to London, stretched from a rushed hour to a lavish seven hours.

At face value, seven hours in the Emirates first class lounge may seem a lot, but I’ve found it provides me with much-needed time to actually relax before continuing onto London.

Nothing seems rushed or stressful. I don’t worry about trying to get off the plane quickly to launch into my preferred lounge itinerary.

Instead, I leisurely disembark and head through security, not frustrated that I've again been 'randomly' selected for extra explosive checks, before heading to the lounge.

Time to relax

With such a wide window of time in Dubai it means there is more flexibility to sample everything the first class lounge has to offer, and more.

As a Qantas Platinum Frequent Flyer I'm entitled to a short complimentary treatment at the lounge's spa, but being able to book a slot during the short stopover of QF1 is very difficult indeed.

However, with the longer QF1-QF9 layover the likelihood of getting a spot is significantly higher.

The same principle applies for the showers, where any kind of wait becomes immaterial.

All of a sudden, it doesn’t matter if the restaurant meal service is a bit slow (or you fancy two desserts). You’re still able to enjoy a full three course meal without any time pressure.

With all that extra time in Dubai you also have the option to explore the airport, browse the duty-free stores, or take advantage of the airport's super-fast WiFi and catch up on some work.

The stopover becomes a sleepover

The real clincher for me is that if I've been flying in economy, this longer transit time provides an opportunity to get some decent sleep in the lounge's Quiet Room.

This room, as the name suggests, has been specifically designed for weary travellers seeking some shut-eye before continuing on their journey.

The Quiet Room is a large communal lounge containing many individual nooks with a chaise-type lounger where you can stretch out.

Although not completely private, there are several partitions to provide enough separation to feel you have your own personal space.

Bottled water is available on entry and next to each lounger is a side table with power points, which is great for recharging devices which you also recharge.

On each lounger are eye shades and blankets to ensure you can truly get comfortable. Of my seven hours in the lounge I usually manage to get a decent 2-3 hours of sleep.

Just be sure to set your smartphone alarm because there's no wake-up service!

Breakfast in Dubai, lunch in London

After a few hours' sleep, my routine sees me rise about 90 minutes before QF9's 9am departure, giving me plenty of time to fit in a light breakfast and a coffee at the restaurant before being called to the gate.

The flight to London is about seven hours and after being fully rested, even in economy that's a breeze.

A final benefit which QF9 regulars would be aware of is that the flight lands in Heathrow at 12.40pm when there's much less congestion at the airport.

Moving through passport control and customs is much quicker, and the roads are much clearer (a huge relief for any colleague, friend or family member driving to the airport to pick you up) or checking straight into your hotel.

Having access to Emirates first class lounge is key to all this, although you can adapt the same strategy for Emirates' business class lounge.

There's the obvious sacrifice of a longer overall travel time, because you're spending extra hours in the lounge instead of in the air.

But if you're travelling in economy or premium economy, have the time and have the required Qantas status (Platinum for the first class lounge, Gold or Qantas Club for the business class lounge) this is a great way to de-stress the long journey to the other side of the world.

James Wallis

An infrastructure engineer by trade who does lighting design for theatres on the side, James enjoys making the most of status benefits and ensuring the journey is every bit as enjoyable as the destination.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 141

Doesn't QF1 depart in the afternoon?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Jun 2016

Total posts 9

QF1 departs Sydney in the afternoon and arrives in Dubai before midnight. QF9 leaves Melbourne at close to midnight and arrives in Dubai the next morning. 


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1488

I know easier solution. Yep, fly via Asia with plethora of connections in SIN or HKG. And with careful planning one can go to swimming pool in SIN - truly priceless especially if you flying in economy or PE and do not have access to lounge.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 592

which is exactly what I do

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 157

Totally agree with the Asian option - QF and EK have run their race and lost, with the Asian airlines and hubs doing a far better job with greater airport comfort options available. Qantas needs to look at a new game plan to keep in the race, and I am afraid its medium bodied 789 PER-LHR is not the answer. Its a backward step with a PER transit and medium bodied aircraft providing limited comfort for its 18 hour journey. What is QF thinking.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 362

I don't know, that much time in the lounge and at that time of the morning does not really appeal to me. I would sooner get to Heathrow as soon as a I can and try and give myself more time at that end. By that I mean making sure I am not working the day of arrival, arranging an early check in so that I can freshen up and get a few hours sleep. 

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 178

This is a very smart idea James! I've had to do QF1 in premium economy and no, not fun and despite my QFF Platinum status the lounge is too much of a rush, I'm behind the queue going through transit security. I'm definitely going to try this next time especially as it means I can check straight into the hotel at London and not risk there being no vacant rooms at 9am.


14 Jun 2013

Total posts 353

Wouldn't bother doing this in business class but yes, if you're sitting further down the back of the bus (Airbus) it could be good.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 204

Most business or even leisure travelers don't have that amount of time to waste in the lounge, after about 3 hours it's pretty boring...if you need more time in DXB there would be an EK flight between the QF 1 and QF9

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Oct 2015

Total posts 22

Yup, for Heathrow, EK1/QF8001 works nicely at a 7:45am departure. Couple of Gatwick departures around that time as well.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Dec 2016

Total posts 5

You would also get 2 Qantas sector's flown points as well(I think?)as opposed to one.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Mar 2016

Total posts 169

I know a few people who prefer QF9 timing for arrival into LHR and beating jetlag but they do a domestic QF sector first and leave from MEL. I feel like the scheduling in this article would exhaust me!

11 Jul 2016

Total posts 8

You used to get more SCs switching flight numbers as well, not sure if that still works post-simpler and fairer.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1248

Not anymore, earn is now exactly the same.


Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 50

I see the merits in this strategy. I usually get similarly timed flights to QF1 & QF9(from Dubai) but either use Dubai connect or get an airport hotel. I find sleeping four hours in a hotel more relaxing and feel more refreshed than spendign that time in the lounge

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 477

If Qantas moves QF9 to MEL-PER-LHR it will potentially put an end to this plan...

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

31 Mar 2017

Total posts 1

Love this idea. I much prefer to break up the Sydney - London schlep with a snooze and wash and use the same tactic when flying Singapore or Etihad. I hate arriving in London at silly am when you can't access your hotel room for hours and are left hanging around for a shower!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 504

Hi, you seem to have a typo after the Breakfast in Dubai, Lunch in London where you have put QF2 instead of QF9. It is very minor and doesn't affect anything but thought I'd point it out. 

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 86

Who cares, SQ or CX through Asia, better trips, better airports and much better lounges!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Sep 2012

Total posts 241

Sounds like exactly something I'd do if I wasn't time pressed. 

I am based in Athens and of often do short trips to Europe for long weekends. There are no flights to Europe ex Athens that leave after about 8pm. Due to work it's hard for me to make those. Instead there is a 10.30pm departure with Turkish Airlines to Istanbul that gets in at 11.50pm. I then spend 6 hours sleeping in the lavish Turkish Airways lounge on a day/night bed, shower, eat and am ready for the 8am departure for most European cities. I arrive refreshed, well fed and avoid the early morning 4am rise. Plus I don't need to rush from the office or lose a day travelling.   

But it's not everyone's cup of tea.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jan 2016

Total posts 91

Sorry, I can't understand why you would want to spend 7hrs in the 1st Lounge in DXB. Was on a delayed QF1 which sat still until the 'en-lightened' hours of the morning, great lounge, but...!!!

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 262

I'm not sure I would do this either, but it is good to know options like this exist.

I can see the benefits (easier immigration experience, landing and being able to check in at hotel rather than possibly sitting around etc). 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 220

If a business traveller then the luxury of an extensive stop is often just not there. I do this three times a year and these days depart on a Friday so have finished the week in Sydney and then into London for the weekend ready for the week ahead.  Now there are a few comments regarding Asian hubs. Not much use if a QFF and to be honest academic.  The old Singapore stop was fine but Dubai is not exactly third world and gives a massive range of options for onward via EK. 

06 Mar 2017

Total posts 1

Guys what's the deal with the above comments on the same status credits being applied? I will be crediting this similar "split fare" to my BAEC account... are you saying the tier points applied will be credited as if I've only down the MEL-LHR flight? As opposed to the MEL-DXB and DXB-LHR?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 230

I agree with quite a few posts. Why on earth would you want to go through DXB when one can go via SIN , Abu Dhabi or Doha with far better Airline service, better airports and much better lounges. Dubai was good but now has dropped way back in the best Airport/ lounges stakes. EK Business is a very tired product and I know of several people who tried them recently and will never do it again , preferring to fly via the afore mentioned Airports with better carriers.

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