Qantas pulls A380, first class off Melbourne-Los Angeles

An ongoing ‘superjumbo shortage’ jinxes plans for the A380’s return.

By David Flynn, October 20 2022
Qantas pulls A380, first class off Melbourne-Los Angeles

Travellers hoping to jet first class between Melbourne and Los Angeles next year appear to have had their high-flying hopes dashed, based on the latest round of schedule updates cascading through Qantas’ timetable.

Those changes indicate the airline has abandoned its planned rollout of the Airbus A380s on the trans-Pacific route from late March 2023.

In its place remains the steadfast Boeing 787 Dreamliner, stepping into the daily QF93/QF94 slot.

While the A380 and Dreamliner share the same business class and premium economy seats, the 787 of course doesn’t have the superjumbo’s 14 first class suites, nor the upper deck ‘premium lounges’ where business and first class passengers can relax with a drink and light snack.

The new A380 lounges add a social element to the superjumbo flying experience.
The new A380 lounges add a social element to the superjumbo flying experience.

And with the double-decker A380 carrying significantly more passengers than the Boeing 787 – including an extra 28 business class seats and a double-sized premium economy cabin – Qantas’ downsizing to the Dreamliner will add more pressure to the ongoing capacity squeeze caused by a mismatch between the number of travellers and the amount of seats in the sky.

Another wrinkle is that from late March the departure of QF93 will be pegged to late evenings, leaving Melbourne at 8.25pm to arrive into LAX at 5.45pm – less than ideal if you’ve got a connecting flight, especially to the US east coast.

Approached by Executive Traveller for comment, Qantas declined to comment specifically on the withdrawal of the A380 from Melbourne but said it was part of what the airline flagged in a market update on October 10 as “a conservative approach to scheduling” so that extra aircraft were available to be “called upon to reduce delays and cancellations.”

“This includes up to 10 narrow-body, six wide-body and four regional aircraft on standby across Qantas and Jetstar,” the airline noted at the time.

“This capacity can be gradually added back as certainty improves and the additional cost is expected to be similarly temporary.”

The handful of superjumbos which Qantas has brought back from desert hibernation remain allocated to the flagship Sydney-Los Angeles and Sydney-London routes, although five more are due back in the hangars by December 2023.

The same raft of schedule updates also sees the Melbourne-Singapore QF37/QF38 service pared back to three days a week, while the return of Sydney-San Francisco flights has now been pushed back to May.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 234

This is becoming a joke - announce routes / equipment sell tickets - lock people in with future ticket sales and then cancel the route / equipment - and I’m assuming offer “credit shell” far far from ideal. Look at Air NZ - charter in ac to run the routes and fly their commitment. 

Qantas is a total joke. UNITED and SQ just continue to constantly add services operated by state of the art aircraft, yet Qantas cannot even manage to maintain their already pathetic number of flights with their depressing and aging fleet. Qantas doesn't care one bit about their customers just profits.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Jul 2014

Total posts 57

This would explain why almost all my future QF bookings from MEL to the US with connections beyond LAX have been re-routed through SYD in both directions ... perhaps it's time to reconsider UA?

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 205

Mine have been changed like that in November.  Only plus is the SYD-LAX leg is now a 380.  

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 530

Hopefully everyone here will learn not to book first class with QF, and then there will no longer be discussion threads about equipment change and flight rebooking. 

Sure, everyone is entitled to complain or enquire but frankly speaking I suspect most of us are not expecting QF to fulfill their A380 obligations with their imaginary schedules. Worse still are those changes at last minute and expecting pax to pay exorbitant premium for short notice booking not of their own doings.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2016

Total posts 73

Outrageous. Melbourne snubbed yet again for Sydney. Every week you take a stride closer to losing me Sydtas.

20 Dec 2017

Total posts 15

Not sure it’s a Melbourne snub. Melbourne was the priority port for the rollout of the 787-900 and still more of them are based there. Sydney meanwhile gets the dregs with the ageing A330s and a constant chopping and changing of the schedules because of insufficient numbers of a surprisingly unreliable A380 mini fleet. 

SQ

23 Oct 2015

Total posts 25

No. They are not on the Syd - Lax route

I had a first class ticket with Qantas - it was downgraded to business class on the return (b787 ‘baked in’ to the schedule 5 weeks before) but the flight I was meant to be on ( this coming Friday in seats 3A and 4A) is scheduled as a 787

I requested refund for my ticket (it may arrive a few months after the flight) and bought a flight with Emirates

This is a scam

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 112

I have also had the 'complimentary downgrade' from A380 F to B787 in J on some recent flights - really poor form by Qantas with the usually short notice  given, and then struggling to find alternate flights and having to incur added costs due to last minute accom & hire car booking changes.

There were x5 A380 's operating (x3 for LHR and x2 for SYD-LAX), but after a brief return to service VH-OQJ has been parked in SYD since 31/08/2022. The spasmodic A380 schedule for SYD-LAX is a result in part of scheduled maintenance requirements, plus allowing for an A380 fleet that is "not match fit".

Look on the upside, at least the share price is recovering well being up circa 20% YTD - no doubt helped by the high load factor when you take bookings for an A380 with 485 seats, then squeeze them onto a B787 with 236 seats. Full planes are profitable planes, and further justify current high ticket prices. Makes you question some of the motivations behind these constant last minute changes and cancellations. QANTAS - The Spirit of 'Ostracising' customers.....

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 103

Not missing much

The F product has been so downgraded that it was embarrassing for both passengers and crew on my Syd-Lax flight last month 

The Business product is still grossly overpriced but less disappointing 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Apr 2019

Total posts 1

Alerted by David's post, I checked and my early December MEL/LAX - and LAX/SYD - flights have both swapped from A380 to B787-9.  The QF93 timing remains (fortunately) 11:00 - 06:20.  On a quick schedule check, the 11:00 departure continues until late March when it changes to the evening departure mentioned by David.  Given it is now almost 12 months since international travel resumed and the evidently pressing need, I am still unclear from Qantas announcements as to why each of the remaining five A380s not yet in service will only re-enter the active fleet "by December 2023".  I would be interested in any explanation offered by Qantas on this point is response to ET's approach.

QF37 and QF38 in 2023 have now changed plane type to an Airbus A332 from the Boeing 789. Annoying as I had booked those flights a few days ago specifically as they were the 789 aircraft type. Just got a flight change notice and updated e-ticket.

Not so much an issue if you're in business, but in economy the seats have gone from QF's best widebody economy to their worst.

DCW
DCW

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 May 2014

Total posts 21

Hi all, as frustrating as it is, please allow a bit of context.

Airbus have dropped an critical AD on the rear axels of the body gear and wing crack inspections. These tasks are very manpower and time consuming. Each aircraft are out of service for circa 3-5 weeks depending on the severity of the damage identified. This also has significant flow on to the RTS of the upcoming A380’s. 

Notwithstanding the challengers of business schedule resilience, there are further challenges with crews and allocation.

SQ have the same issues and I was booted from an A380 to a B777. All airlines are struggling with the return to flying. European and USA are…… well awful.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2016

Total posts 73

Hi. Have to disagree. Especially about USA. Just a few weeks ago i flew to/from lax on QF and spent 2.5 weeks traveling on many internal flights across many states in USA. All flights in the US were perfect, always early except one of them (mostly 20-30mins before scheduled arrival), security a breeze. The experience was amazing. Including customs at LAX. the only two times I got completely screwed around and had a disaster, was in Syd on the way out, and Syd on the return. Pathetic Qantas.

23 Aug 2011

Total posts 65

Was booked to fly to JNB from MEL via Per in J class next month, flight cancelled was advised by my travel agent I could travel via Syd, but as there were no seats in my booking class the cost would be an extra au$2000. I am LTG and this trip would have moved me up to Platinum. However, I cancelled and booked on SQ.  Have a booking on QF to OSL, via LHR with my wife in June 2023, cheapest J fares au$11750 each via Syd, forget Sin or Perth they want thousands more. Thank heavens we have SQ, QR and UA. Tragic what is happening.

 

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 101

QF has become totally unreliable . I will not be booking and future flights with the airline as I have endured too many flight changes , cancellations or reroutings. The current situation is untenable, it would seem inconveniencing  customers is now the norm and absent of remorse .

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 142

Enough is enough! No amount of rationalizing by QF apologists can disguise the fact QF management has been terrible in route planning/implementation. It's really beyond a (bad) joke now. And no amount of special pleading about worker shortages and 'technical requirements' will cut the mustard. Would it have killed Mr. Joyce to have adopted a more conservative approach in announcing new/resumed routes?!?! And here is an airline that mocked pax for not being 'game-ready' and 'forgetting' how to travel! Unbelievable.

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 383

Well all things considered, they are still flying a fairly new aircraft 787 on the MEL-LAX route and are maintaining a good product. If you're in economy, premium or business it's much same:same on board 787 or A380, albeit different ETA/ETD. 

Really the only tangible piece missing is the F class cabin (still get F class lounge at Melbourne) but QF First is not really in the same class (pun intended) of EK/SQ/CX/LH/AF so is it such as loss?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2016

Total posts 73

I agree with your point about the 787 being a great aircraft and the missing class being F, but my annoyance is the capacity drop and the useless timing. This restricts upgrades and reward seats too. And increases the seat fares. Bring on the competition! Always Sydney centric, and flying through there is a total nightmare.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

20 Mar 2020

Total posts 4

Infuriating as I was booked in F on the A380 Mel/Lax for 30 May 2023.  Not an ounce of communication from Qantas. Checking my booking, not only have I been downgraded but just to rub it in, am now allocated one of the worst seats in the front business class cabin.  And the delayed departure screws up my onward travel that day.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2013

Total posts 133

And you would think, after the 10th debacle or so, they would go and get the malaysia airlines A380 for a 1-2 year lease or get some other leases sorted on dreamliners, rather than working with their limited number of aircrafts, and stretch their A330 distribution to jakarta, bengaluru and chop and change all the time.

Something has to give now. 

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 142

@mspcooper

Well said. Unlike QF's mothballed fleet, those MS a380s are ready to go right now. But knowing current QF management group-think, they would rather die than have another airline's jumbo serving 'prestige' routes. Too much personal pride at stake; too much personal ego to overcome. Leasing would be a tacit admission they got it wrong! So it will never happen, despite the good business sense (knowing MS's desperation to get rid of their a380s, QF could virtually name its own price!!) And so we, the pax, will continue to suffer.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 655

It's MH; MS is Egyptair ;)

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 142

Good eye, Joe. I'm booked to Cairo/Luxor, and obviously have MS on the brain! (Did I mention I'm an archaeologist?)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2013

Total posts 46

Now I'm no Qantas apologist, I believe the airline has been shocking ever since the covid bounceback occurred BUT in this case it seems they are in a no win situation with the commenters here.

Either they try to fulfil the previously announced and fairly unachievable schedule and fail dismally, inconvenience the masses and get torn to shreds for it 

OR

they acknowledge reality, trim and adjust their schedule to minimise overall disruption and inconvenience comparatively fewer customers and at least try to get their shitshow back to functioning. Either way they get torn to shreds by the commenters here and can't win.

For my part, as inconvenient as this is and Qantas can and should do better by flyers, these temporary changes seem to be the least worst option. 

Who in their right mind wants to be arriving into Los Angeles at this time of day ?
Absolutely correct for anyone needing a connection onwards in an easterly direction. Ridiculous.
Same scenario as that late afternoon arrival from Sydney into Vancouver BC.


Another wrinkle is that from late March the departure of QF93 will be pegged to late evenings, leaving Melbourne at 8.25pm to arrive into LAX at 5.45pm – less than ideal if you’ve got a connecting flight, especially to the US east coast.

21 Aug 2019

Total posts 67

Time to head to Star Alliance I think with Air NZ and Singapore air meeting my needs for Europe and US. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Mar 2022

Total posts 11

Into LAX at 6pm - unless you're next destination is SFO (which it might be due to the further delay to SYD-SFO) you'll likely get to your final destination past midnight on the West Coast, redeye to the Midwest / East Coast once you build in the buffer for luggage recheck etc.

I'm also sure the downgraded F folks will find their J seats are full fare flex business and so receive a paltry refund. Its all about extracting dollars than providing a service now. AJ was in yield mgt at Are Lingus - under capacity on key routes does keep those fares nice and high. Good thing AA is coming back online for LAX so we have some hope of point redemptions.

PG1
PG1

17 May 2017

Total posts 12

I only hope that QF reads these posts and realises that this is their customer base talking !!

And when it comes to comparisons .... Qatar biz is (or was last I flew them) an experience. Looked after the whole way, table set for you (1st world problem I know), your own cocooned space ....BUT ... get on QF (last week LAX-MEL) and you get water or champagne (no orange juice) upon boarding and a meal on a tray. Plus an array of gotta-miss-em movies.

Time to get real Qantas .... we pay over tote odds for under-delivered service.

Whilst I'm at it ... yes ...booked QF F SYD-LAX going over and unbeknowns to me, had it downgraded to 787 J.

My head is still shaking in disbelief

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Jan 2016

Total posts 17

@mspcooper

MAB A380 not an option. They’re in dis-repair and still in KUL because due to issues with their landing gear they’re not certified to fly anywhere. In fact MAB were seeking dispensation from EASA and Airbus just to do a ferry flight back to TLS which I’m not even sure is approved - but the unavailability of these birds has zero to do with Red Roo ‘pride’.

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 112

After being downgraded from F to LAX, I got the final insult with my connecting SYD-MEL flight on B737 in J cancelled about 1 week out from my return from the US. My flight was replaced with a new flight number with identical timings, but still got booted from that flight. Gave up on Call Centre after 5 frustrating calls, and only got resolved upon arrival to SYD, by which time most flights to MEL full and had to wait in Domestic J lounge for 6+ hours.

My 5 calls to the Call Centre over a few days resulted in some of the following laughable interactions with staff who are clearly poorly trained. Yes, call wait times have improved, but the quality of the new people is not good enough (not their fault if not trained properly). FYI - most of the o/seas call takers are not authorised to make any changes - they have to submit a request back to head office.

  • No seats SYD-MEL in J for next 6 weeks
  • Another call taker argued that Qantas has never flown between SYD-MEL (my favourite)
  • We can sell you a new very expensive ticket a week later routing SYD-PER-ADL-MEL, on top of what I already have paid.
  • I lodged a complaint to QF Customer Relations, but got a response 3 weeks after my flights, saying we assume your concerns are resolved, since you have since flown.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2017

Total posts 28

I well knew this would happen.   A shortage of super jumbos.    Lets face it, they are short of A380's.     What does that say?   Airbus should never had stopped the production.    Emirates, Qantas, Singapore and others still need these aircraft.    Premature decision by Airbus to can the type.    The A350 and B-777 just don't quite do what the A380 can, and now so many major carriers are trying anything and everything to try run their shedules, and annoy passengers in the process when they fail.    I admit the A380 is only useful for specific airlines, but in saying that, no other aircraft in production can properly fill the void that the A380 left.   

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1175

I think the question is more why is it taking so long to reactivate the A380s.  Sure, they have t cycle through for wing spar inspections but nt immediately.  Maybe, they should have returned unrefurbished A380s to service and done the refurbs later on rather than leaving them in the desert until the refurbs can be done in AUH.   Likewise, maybe the decision to scrap 2 A380s was a mistake.  The aircraft were fully written down and QF would have received nothing for scrap value; they didn't even  own the engines.

I have to wonder how well the aircraft were stored in the California desert.  There were stories of snakes in the wheel bays etc.  It is possible that QF figured the A380s were unlikely to ever return and did a cheap desert park which has come back to hurt them as it takes so much longer to reactivate.

07 Dec 2016

Total posts 7

With the above in mind what will Qantas do with their proposed AKL/NYC service next year?

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1175

The sensible course of action would be to defer it until the extra 3 789s are delivered.  QF desperately needs timetable integrity and adding more services to an already stretched fleet won't help one bit.

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 112

Not long now for the final 3 B789's - the last 2 (ZNM & ZNN) are at Victorville California in Qantas livery, albeit still wearing Boeing temp registrations (i.e. not yet delivered) and undergoing final fitout. Ironically, they are parked just down the ramp from stored A380's OQI & OQL which are fully wrapped up still.

For info, sentimental favourite A380 OQA 'Nancy Bird Walton' repositioned from Victorville to the LAX Jet Base on 24/09/2022, which is a step in the right direction. The other 2 A380's to return are OGC & OQG, which are both still up in Abu Dhabi. Hope that helps give you the bigger picture - can't tell you about the planned timings to enter service, other than "when they are ready".

20 Dec 2017

Total posts 15

This route and timings should be ditched. The three remaining 787-900s - from the greatly reduced earlier orders - will complete the fleet at meagre count of 14. And the announced Syd-AKL-JFK route is a disaster for two key reasons. 1. It is scheduled to take longer northbound into JFK than taking the alternative Qantas/AA services on either Mel or Syd-DFW-JFK, routes which have the added advantage that you clear immigration during the transit in Dallas, which avoids doing it in peak hour in New York after a long flight. 2. Its return scheduling is a complete debacle. It lands into AKL at the equivalent of 3am Mel/Syd time before a 90 minute transit then another three hour leg. Who in their right mind would take this flight? For The Australian east coast, QF9 via Dallas is perfectly timed, as is the new DFW-MEL schedule when it launches. Air NZ is having a shocker of a time on its new AKL-JFK service with repeat disaster on the long southbound flight. QF should give it a wide berth. Its Dreamliners, already stretched too thin after the early 747 retirements, are desperately needed to return service frequency and scheduling integrity to Mel/Syd-LAX and SFO ... and then restore BNE to LAX. If not, QF runs a huge risk of losing its Trans-Pacific golden egg.

19 Aug 2017

Total posts 4

Most decisions are made for financial reasons. I currently have experiences where Bclass tix are costing between $15-25k to US or Canada with QF. And planes are full…and note that Melbourne now only has 5 flights per week to the US! I can recall years back when QF was flying 2 jumbos daily. And yes - the late departure from Melbourne is terrible! It’s a woeful service for Melb.


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