Qantas is switching up its schedule on the airline's flagship London and Los Angeles routes, resulting in some novel changes for regular passengers on the QF2, QF11 and QF93 flights once international flying resumes from Saturday December 18.
The moves, which in the cases of QF2 and QF11 currently run through to late March 2022, will allow Qantas to make better use of its Boeing 787-9 jets so they spend less time sitting on the ground and more time in the air, while also removing airport charges for having the planes 'parked' for around 12 hours.
However, the tweaked timetables – which specifically impact QF2 from London to Sydney, QF11 from Sydney to Los Angeles and QF93 from Melbourne to Los Angeles – contain both upsides and downsides for travellers.
While the QF1 Sydney-Singapore-London service is still wheels up from Sydney at 5pm to reach London at 6.15am, the return leg QF2 will now leave London at 9.50am instead of the long-standing evening departure.
The new morning departure time from London will make a must of wake-up calls and early hotel checkouts, although travellers outside of London may wish to head down the night before and stay at one of the nearby airport hotels.
The resulting daytime flight of QF2 from London will also pose something of a challenge for travellers as they attempt to reset their body clock ahead of arriving into Singapore at 7am the following day, and – after a 90 minute layover – eventually reach Sydney at 7.25pm.
This also means that travellers from outside Sydney – typically regional centres or even another city such as Canberra – will need an overnight stay in Sydney before catching that final connecting flight home.
Executive Traveller understands that while Qantas is now working through the finer details, its intention is to have its London Heathrow Terminal 3 and Singapore Changi Terminal 1 lounges do an early opening to cater for QF2's new morning schedule – we can picture the Singapore lounge being especially popular for passengers grabbing breakfast and perhaps a quick shower.
(It's also worth noting that Qantas no longer sells just the London-Singapore leg of QF2, which used to allow passengers bound for cities other than Sydney to jump off QF2 when it reached Singapore in the late afternoon and change to a direct Qantas flight to the likes of Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth.)
Similarly, Qantas' QF11 and QF12 flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Los Angeles will now leave in the late evening rather than mid-morning, so that their arrival into LAX dovetails into the evening departure of each flight's return leg.
For QF11, that means leaving Sydney at 10.25pm for a 5pm touchdown at Los Angeles; while QF93 will now depart Melbourne even later, at 11.25pm, to reach LAX at 6.45pm.
The overnight flight to Los Angeles will certainly make it easier to grab some shut-eye on the first part of the journey and still be up to enjoy a little LA nightlife after checking into your hotel.
Normal schedules return in April
At the time of writing, the London-Sydney QF2 and Sydney-Los Angeles QF11 flights revert to their previous timings from the end of March 2022, although Melbourne-Los Angeles QF93 appears to keep its late-night departure for longer.
Qantas currently has 11 Boeing 787-9s in its fleet, and they'll dominate long-range routes to London and the USA until the return of the first five Airbus A380s in the second half of 2022, when the superjumbos will take over Sydney-Los Angeles from July and Sydney-Singapore-London from November.
The airline also intends to take delivery of three more Dreamliners across July 2022-June 2023: these jets were previously due to arrive by the end of 2020, but once the pandemic set in, Qantas delayed their debut and had Boeing put them into storage.