Qantas will unleash an Airbus A380 onto the Sydney-Hong Kong route between December 2017 and March 2018, with the flagship superjumbo offering first class suites to selected business class passengers.
The annual upgrade for Hong Kong – which delivers a wave of extra seats to cater for a marked uptick in travel across the extended summer season – will see a bit of a shuffle, so here's what you need to know.
From October 29 2017 through to March 24 2018, QF127/128 will switch from a Boeing 747 jumbo jet to an Airbus A330.
However, Qantas says that "on Mondays and Thursdays for parts of the season" it will swing back to being a Boeing 747.
Also from October 29 2017 through to March 24 2018, the other daily Sydney-Hong Kong service QF117/118 will move from an Airbus A330 to a mix of the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380.
The superjumbo will specifically appear each day "during the Christmas peak" between December 10 2017 and March 1 2018, Qantas says.
Come March 25 2018, everything resets to the way it was.
A Qantas spokesperson said the the changes were "due to seasonal and operational requirements", and told to Australian Business Traveller that"impacted customers are being given the option to change their flight or be reaccommodated on the replacement services."
What this means for business class flyers
For most business class travellers, having your flight swapped from an Airbus A330 to either the Boeing 747 or Airbus A380 isn't ideal, because it sees the superb Business Suite of the A330, below...
... traded down to the decade-old design of the Skybed II seat.
You'll be moving from a well-appointed business class seat which converts into a wide and comfortable lie-flat bed with direct aisle access, a large video screen and plenty of personal space to, well, a seat which has none of those traits – and is tipped to be upgraded next year, at least on the superjumbos.
(One upside, however, is that unlike the Airbus A330s, both the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 offer premium economy seating.)
Fancy a free upgrade to first class?
That said, 14 business class passengers on every Airbus A380 flight will have the opportunity to swap that seat for this suite.
Qantas doesn't sell first class to Hong Kong, but rather than leave the first class cabin empty, it allows top-tier travellers to select a suite at the pointy end of the plane.
They'll have the same meals, wine and service as business class, but it's all done in a far more comfortable environment.
Chairman's Lounge members and Platinum One frequent flyers booked in business class are expected to see the first class cabin appear when making their seat selection – simply click anywhere between row 1 and row 5 and you're set.
(If you really want to make the most of this, check out our guide to choosing the best first class suites on the Qantas A380.)
I's not yet known whether Platinum-grade frequent flyers will also be able to assign themselves a seat in the first class zone from the time of booking.
However, roughly three days before the flight, any unoccupied first class suites can then be assigned to other passengers based on what Qantas terms their 'PCV' value – a secret, internal-only Perceived Commercial Value rating assigned to all travellers.
If there are still some empty suites on the day of the flight, you might see them appear on the seating chart if you go to check or change your seat – or you can ask at check-in or at the lounge in case there's a vacant suite still up for grabs.