EXCLUSIVE | Qantas will fly its new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on selected routes between Sydney, Melbourne and Perth from Friday November 3 to Thursday December 14, giving domestic travellers a chance to try out the new jet before it swings onto the Melbourne-Los Angeles QF95/QF96 service from December 15.
The six-week schedule – which Qantas has revised from an earlier widely-circulated draft schedule, and confirmed to Australian Business Traveller – will serve as familiarisation runs for Qantas pilots, cabin crew and ground staff, as well as a provide an added blast of publicity for the red-tailed Dreamliner.
Qantas is rostering the Boeing 787-9 onto routes usually flown by the Airbus A330, with a leaning towards Melbourne and Perth as both those cities will serve as hubs for the Dreamliner’s flights to Los Angeles and London.
Travellers can catch Qantas Boeing 787-9 on Monday through Friday on these flights:
- Melbourne to Perth on QF775 (departing 7.10am, arriving 8.20am)
- Perth to Melbourne on QF772 (departing 9.55am, arriving at 4.30pm)
- Melbourne to Sydney on QF460 (departing 6.30pm, arriving at 7.55pm)
- Sydney to Melbourne on QF497 (departing 10pm, arriving 11.35pm)
Weekends will see the Boeing 787-9 visit other capital cities including Adelaide and Brisbane as part of Qantas family days, but the airline currently plans for the Dreamliner to fly a Melbourne–Sydney return service on Saturday November 4, November 11, November 25, December 2 and December 9.
The flights to look for on those dates are:
- Melbourne to Sydney on QF422 (departing 10am, arriving 11.25am)
- Sydney to Melbourne on QF439 (departing 2pm, arriving 3.35pm)
However, Qantas understandably cannot provide a 100% guarantee that the Dreamliner won’t be swapped back for an Airbus A330 on those flights – and all of the Dreamliner's domestic flights are subject to regulatory approval.
If travellers book with the hope of flying on the Boeing 787 but an Airbus A330 rolls up to the gate, Qantas says that the usual rules for changing or cancelling a ticket will apply.
No ‘Dreamliner surcharge’, plenty of reward seats
The fares on flights earmarked for the Boeing 787 are in line with their Airbus A330 and even Boeing 737 counterparts – so if your travel schedule has sufficient flexibility to choose the Dreamliner, why not?
At the time of writing there were plenty of frequent flyer reward seats available, at 16,000 Qantas Points for Sydney-Melbourne business class and 36,000 Qantas Points for the pointy end on the Melbourne-Perth and Perth-Sydney legs.
Booking the Dreamliner’s premium economy seat
As the Boeing 787-9 will move onto some services flown by Airbus A330 jets, which don't have a premium economy cabin, Qantas will sell only business class and economy class on the Dreamliner's domestic legs.
The 28 premium economy seats will be available via Advance Seat Selection to selected customers with economy bookings.
Here's how the Boeing 787-9's premium economy appears in ExpertFlyer: it's still treated as being part of the economy cabin of an Airbus A330-200, with the 2-3-2 premium economy seating from rows 20 to 23 and the conventional 3-3-3 of economy starting further back at row 40.
Australian Business Traveller understands that top of the list will be Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge frequent flyers, who will be able to choose a seat in the Dreamliner’s premium economy cabin – identified as rows 20 to 23 – while other travellers will only be able to select seats in the economy class cabin starting from row 40.
Qantas says that premium economy seats which remain empty on the day of the flight will be assigned to travellers based on their frequent flyer status.
Boeing 787 business class upgrades
The Dreamliner boasts a significantly larger business class cabin of 42 seats compared to the 28 seats in the Airbus A330s it will replace.
This means there’s a much higher chance of scoring a Classic Upgrade Reward from economy class using your Qantas Points, although we'd not rule out some ‘surprise and delight’ bumps afforded to top-tier frequent flyers.
Upgrading from economy to business class on the Dreamliner’s Sydney-Melbourne leg will cost between 5,000 and 10,000 Qantas Points depending on the type of ticket you’ve purchased (10,000 points for a discount economy ticket, and 5,000 points for the more expensive flexible economy fare).
That’s fairly decent value, even though this is just a 90 minute flight – and the proposition is improved if you don’t hold Platinum frequent flyer status, as the upgrade will also include access to the Qantas Business lounge.
Upgrading to business class on the Boeing 787’s four-hour transcontinental Melbourne-Perth and Perth-Sydney flights will cost you 10,000 Qantas Points on top of a flexible economy ticket, or 25,000 points on a discount economy ticket.
You’ll be trading up from this…
… to this…
… and also enjoy access to Qantas’ excellent Perth Business lounge on the Perth-Melbourne flights.
Additional material by Chris Chamberlin