How you can fly the Qantas Boeing 787-9 between Sydney and Perth

Enjoy everything from a better business class seat to a free upgrade to premium economy.

By David Flynn, May 27 2021
How you can fly the Qantas Boeing 787-9 between Sydney and Perth

Flying with Qantas from Sydney to Perth, or vice versa? Then you may as well do it in the style and comfort of the airline's flagship Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which is now making almost daily appearances on this cross-country route.

The Dreamliner's been rostered onto domestic duty in response to growing demand for local travel, given that most overseas trips are now unlikely to restart until sometime in 2022.

So if a Sydney-Perth trip is on the cards, take a closer look at Qantas' timetable when choosing your flights.

Catch the Qantas Dreamliner on selected Sydney-Perth flights.
Catch the Qantas Dreamliner on selected Sydney-Perth flights.

On average, Qantas runs five daily flights between the NSW and WA capitals (sometimes it's up to six, other times it drops to four).

These usually run on either the single-aisle Boeing 737 – the workhorse of the domestic skies – or the larger twin-aisle Airbus A330.

We always recommend that travellers book the A330, especially if they're flying at the pointy end, owing to the A330's vastly superior business class seat dubbed the Qantas Business Suite.

Qantas business class on the Boeing 737 (left) and Airbus A330 (right).
Qantas business class on the Boeing 737 (left) and Airbus A330 (right).

But from Wednesday May 26, there's a third option – the Boeing 787.

This is the same Boeing 787 that you've probably already flown to the USA or London, with an updated version of the Business Suite.

The elegant business class cabin of the Qantas Boeing 787.
The elegant business class cabin of the Qantas Boeing 787.

You'll pay just as much money to fly on the Boeing 787 as you would on the Airbus A330 or even the Boeing 737, but you'll enjoy Qantas' most modern jetliner and its smoother, quieter and generally more comfortable ride.

If you're looking to book with Qantas Points instead of cash, the same rates apply, at a standard rate of 41,500 Qantas Points (plus $36) for business class.

Even in economy, the Boeing 787 offers between 1-2 extra inches of legroom compared to the economy seats of the Boeing 737 and Airbus A330.

Qantas Boeing 787-9 economy class.
Qantas Boeing 787-9 economy class.

And it's a better seat, too, with a recessed compartment where you can stow small personal items like reading glasses and your smartphone; a fold-out ledge that's perfect for holding an iPad if you're into BYO video; plus AC and USB power outlets at every seat, to help keep your travel tech charged en route.

Qantas Boeing 787-9 economy class.
Qantas Boeing 787-9 economy class.

Free premium economy upgrade for Gold, Platinums

Domestic Qantas Boeing 787 flights have special treat in store for top-tier Qantas Frequent Flyers: even if they're booked into economy, they can get a free upgrade to the Dreamliner's premium economy seats.

Qantas Boeing 787-9 premium economy class.
Qantas Boeing 787-9 premium economy class.

Premium economy is an international-grade product that's unique to the Boeing 787 and the now-mothballed Qantas Airbus A380s, which means it's not sold on Qantas' domestic flights: all that would-be travellers see are economy and business class fares.

But the Dreamliner has a compact premium economy cabin of 28 seats spread across four rows, in a 2-3-2 arrangement.

Rows 20-23 unlock the Qantas Boeing 787-9 premium economy seating.
Rows 20-23 unlock the Qantas Boeing 787-9 premium economy seating.

They're a few inches wider than standard economy seats, boast an extra six inches of legroom and have a greater recline, as well as more comfortable cushioning.

Qantas Boeing 787-9 premium economy class.
Qantas Boeing 787-9 premium economy class.

As we've noted in previous reviews of Qantas' Boeing 787 premium economy, it does become a bit of a squeeze around the knees when the person in front of you fully reclines their seat – but you can avoid that by sitting in the front row (row 20).

Qantas Boeing 787-9 premium economy class.
Qantas Boeing 787-9 premium economy class.

So how do you score that free upgrade to premium economy?

Be logged into your Qantas Frequent Flyer account when you to go make your booking, and choose an economy fare as usual.

When asked to select your seat, a Platinum One (or Chairmans' Lounge member) will see a seatmap showing rows 20-23 as well as rows 40 and above – and rows 20 through 23 are the premium economy cabin.

Platinums should see rows 21, 22 and 23, as the front row is 'reserved' for the Platinum One and Chairmans' Lounge set; Gold frequent flyers will see only row 23 in the premium economy cabin, ahead of 40 and above.

Either way, as long as you select a seat in any row from 20 to 23, you'll find yourself in premium economy.

How to find a Qantas Boeing 787 domestic flight

When you visit the Qantas website and search for a Sydney-Perth or Perth-Sydney flight, pay close attention to the little airplane icon on the row under the flight number and above the flight's duration.

This will read A330, B737 or B787 – and B787 is the flight you want.

Spot the Dreamliner: watch for the little B787 icon, shown on this screenshot in green.
Spot the Dreamliner: watch for the little B787 icon, shown on this screenshot in green.

But there's a caveat: no WiFi 

Despite the Dreamliner's many delights, we must sound one note of caution.

Although most of the Boeing 737s and Airbus A330s darting between Sydney and Perth are fitted with Qantas' fast and free inflight Internet, the Boeing 787s don't have WiFi.

In fact, none of Qantas' international fleet offer WiFi. this was on the cards for the near future until COVID-19 struck, so the Dreamliner isn't ideal if you need to be online to catch up on some work during your four hour east-west flight.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 366

This is really great to see, a win-win for the airline and passengers. Also note that Qantas now has a 30% off sale for available Classic Flight Rewards on domestic and NZ flights, see https://www.qantas.com/au/en/frequent-flyer/member-offers/classic-flight-rewards-may21.html, "all you need to do is book a Classic Flight Reward between 24 and 28 May 2021 for travel between 1 July and 9 December 2021."

This means that SYD-PER economy goes from 18,500 points to 12,600 points, and there's a lot of availability on the Boeing 787 the further out you are booking, so for 12,600 points if you can get into Premium Economy that's a decent deal. Business class rewards under the 30% off sale go from 41,500 to 29,000 but not as many of those available.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 225

Interesting to see how much of the premium economy cabin is shown to different frequent flyer tiers: P1s see all four rows, Platinums see three rows but not the first row which has extra legroom, and Golds see just one row at the back of the premium economy cabin.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1272

As it should be.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 251

This is great to see, a good way to use some points for upgrades. Hope the 787 will show up on more flights. 

01 Dec 2012

Total posts 23

Darwin has not seen domestic widebodies since the early 2000s B767 days. A330s will be great for travellers to and from the Top End, which is enjoying a domestic tourism boom and a resources-driven economic upturn.  

With A330s arriving at DRW from BNE and SYD in the middle of the day each day, plus extra flights by other airlines , border control and taxi arrangements will need to be upgraded to cope. As well, hotel occupancy rates are on a rapid rise, so travellers need to book early.

26 May 2021

Total posts 1

It would be great to see the 787 on the Tasman

27 May 2021

Total posts 1

Is the upgrade only offered for Qantas Frequent Flyer status or can you also be offered upgrade if you hold one world emerald status?


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