Qantas brings the Airbus A380 back onto Sydney-Hong Kong

By David Flynn, July 6 2018

Qantas has swung its flagship Airbus A380 back onto the Sydney-Hong Kong route, with the superjumbo replacing the Boeing 747 on most days through to August 16 on the QF127/QF128 service.

There's a hidden upside for savvy business travellers in this, and that's the availability of the A380's first class suites for that nine hour flight.

Qantas doesn't sell first class on its Hong Kong flights – but instead of leaving the first class cabin empty it allows top-tier frequent flyers to select one of these suites at the pointy end of the plane.

You'll be served the same meals and wine as anybody in business class, however it's all done in a far more comfortable environment of these 14 suites, which quite frankly have aged pretty well considering they're now a decade old.

(That said, they're in line for a refresh when each of Qantas' dozen A380s start hitting the hangar mid-2019 for an overhaul which will also see new business class and premium economy seats plus a more social cafe-like business class lounge on the upper deck.)

David Caon / Qantas
A concept sketch for the new-look Qantas A380 business class lounge
David Caon / Qantas

Read more: Qantas Airbus A380 business class lounge gets a cafe-style refresh

So how can you snare one of these suites for your trip to Hong Kong or back?

Chairman's Lounge members, Platinum One and Platinum frequent flyers booked into business class will be able to see the seat map for the first class cabin when making their seat selection – simply click on a seat between row 1 and row 5 and you're set.

Everybody else can see only the A380's regular business class cabin (rows 11-22) when it comes to selecting their seat.

Roughly three days before the flight departs, Qantas can then assign any unoccupied first class suites to other passengers based on what Qantas terms their 'PCV' value – an internal-only Perceived Commercial Value rating assigned to all travellers, which is a different measure to their actual frequent flyer status.

Much closer to the day of travel the first class cabin can 'open up' to all business class passengers regardless of status – so even if you don't have Platinum or above status, there's no harm in checking closer to the date of departure in case the first class cabin is now at your fingertips, so you can change your seat to a suite.

You can also ask about this seat re-assignment at the check-in desk or at the lounge in case.

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.

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.

pkjames

pkjames

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2017

Total posts 48

damn, i bought a j return partly wanted to fly the 747upper deck before it disappears for good. :(

tommygun

tommygun

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 88

Only through August 16. I get dizzy with all the equipment changes (not just on this route, QF is famous for it and not always in a good way). Nice while it lasts though.

eminere

eminere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1132

Why doesn't QF sell F to HKG, when it deploys the A380 there? Is there really no demand for paid F on this route?

Bob Burgess

Bob Burgess

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 184

Probably not, I would think Qantas has done its sums here, Cathay Pacific has four flights a day and doesn't offer first class on any of them, even though three are a Boeing 777-300ER and CX has some of those with first class in the nose. It might seem a bit odd that SYD-SIN has first class on the A380 while SYD-HKG doesn't but the SYD-SIN A380 is all year round and most of the first class passengers would be going all the way through to London, compared to the SYD-HKG A380 being seasonal and HKG being the final destination for pretty much all passengers.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2947

I can only speak to one flight in particular, but I flew Sydney-HK in Qantas first class a few years back (when First was a separate cabin) and was the only passenger booked into first class the day before the flight - then, Qantas processed a batch of points upgrades and the cabin mostly filled up – and I'd booked my flight outright using points, so on that flight at least, nobody was actually 'paying' for a first class ticket with real money.

Becky1

Becky1

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 May 2018

Total posts 5

Chris, correct me if I am wrong, but Qantas Frequent Flyer Ltd sells frequent flyer points to a variety of different companies, then, when a frequent flyer upgrades using FF points or buys a FF rewards seat, Qantas Frequent Flyer Ltd pays money to Qantas Airways Ltd. So, does it matter to Qantas Airways Ltd who actually pays for the seat with "real money"?

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2947

The difference is in revenue: somebody paying full fare first class is much more profitable and desirable for the airline on an individual flight than somebody using frequent flyer points to book a seat.

That's not to say that frequent flyer programs aren't profitable (Qantas Loyalty is the most profitable division of Qantas, more so than the airline itself), and of course, earning some revenue for the seat (by selling points to partners where those points are then used to book the flight) is better than flying it empty with no revenue, but when the entire cabin is filled with people using points versus people paying (much more) for a commercial ticket, the cost vs benefit doesn't often stack up longer-term. Remember, an airline will only release a seat to be booked or upgraded to using frequent flyer points when it doesn't expect to sell a commercial fare for the same seat.

So, from a passenger's perspective, it doesn't 'matter' whether you buy a fare or book using points: you should have the same experience because both are legitimate ways of flying in the same cabin, but for airline revenue management, if nobody is buying the highest-priced fares, it affects the economics of the entire flight, and in this case, Qantas has obviously run the numbers based on its past experience of selling first class to Hong Kong, and decided that not selling a first class cabin is the better outcome (and by doing so, they can sell more commercial business class seats at the fare types most corporates book, as most travellers aren't allowed to expense first class tickets, but business class is often fine).

KateD

KateD

20 Apr 2015

Total posts 9

Oh, so that's why I can see those seats on the flight plan. Greyed out, mind you, me being humble Gold 'n all.

Joe

Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 385

We all know this is only F because that's what Qantas calls it and charges. It's a premium Business Class service at best. Food quality and quantity, cheap pencil case amenity kits, Deluxe Y/J lavs, casual, layback unsophisticated F crew albeit super friendly.

The only true F thing about QF are the SYD and MEL F lounges. That's where it stops.

CitizenF

CitizenF

11 Jan 2017

Total posts 15

Cannot agree more. They are cutting First class passengers bit by bit as well. It made me feels like they actually don’t want to keep First class improved to be able to compete with other airlines, but to cancel F cabin in the future.

mviy

mviy

05 May 2016

Total posts 527

I think also that it's a seasonal service works against QF offering F.

It's probably easier to sell F when there's the continued expectation of it being available year round. With a service only available seasonally it'd be harder to drive sufficient awareness that F is available and then customers would get disappointed that it's not available outside the seasonal peak times.

QF can overbook Business even if it sells First knowing that it has to process upgrades from Business to First.

If SYD-HKG becomes year round on the A380 then I think there's a much stronger chance that F would be sold. That may not happen till Project Sunrise reduces the number of A380 used on existing routes.

Another issue with offering First is that whilst the Hong Kong lounge is among the best QF international Business Class lounges it's not close to the experience one would get in the MEL FLounge or SYD FLounge.

The HKG lounge is often very crowded before QF flights as they go around the same time, and whilst the lounge has a good buffet it's a long way from the extensive a la carte dining menu you get in MEL and SYD FLounges.

If I'm flying First I want the First Class lounge experience. Sure I could go to the Cathay Pacific FLounge, but they don't call the QF flights in there meaning one needs to leave earlier than one should. The carrier I'm flying with should have a FLounge.

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

mviy, your sensible comments could be applied to any transport mode including airlines' flights. Passengers want year round, at least daily trains, planes, ferries and (ugh!) buses: anything less means one can't have as much confidence that if something goes wrong, you won't have to wait two or three days for the next one.

JalanM111

JalanM111

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Dec 2015

Total posts 2

Shame, I’m booked for the 4th and no A380 seating plan is visible. Looks like ‘most’ days doesn’t include the 4th 😬

alenb

alenb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

14 Feb 2014

Total posts 32

of course nothing to do with VA launching flights on the same route,, cough ,cough

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

VA's launch is seeing fares decline, so I wonder about the economics of an A380 on the lower demand days of the week. But then as ChrisCh pointed out, it's not on offer every day.

patrickk

patrickk

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 405

I think they are slowly heading to A380 dailies from later next year. I am on an A380 in early December each way. They are just extending the period of A380s and juggling the older 747s.

AT

AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 259

It’s hard to make sense of what can and can’t work with F class. SQ flies their A380 into HK with brand new F suite for a 3.5hr flight which they absolutely market as F, so why wouldn’t the product work on SYD-HK? But then again both QF & CX have run the numbers are looks like it’s just not worth it.

mviy

mviy

05 May 2016

Total posts 527

If Project Sunrise happens in 2022 that's still a number of years before the A380 are due for retirement. QF will do something with the three planes freed up from SYD-SIN-LHR. SYD-HKG would be one likely route to get an A380 service.

mviy

mviy

05 May 2016

Total posts 527

Well 1 one of the A380 from SYD-SIN-LHR would still be used for SYD-SIN of course. But that would still leave 2xA380 to be able to do SYD-HKG year round and some other route.

The question is whether QF will meet its ambitious timeframe for Project Sunrise or not.

DownSouth

DownSouth

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 106

With limited 380 airframes and the others working to the max, not selling F means if the airframe for HG goes tech and they substitute say a 330 no pax in F are displaced.

BenniHK

BenniHK

16 Dec 2017

Total posts 9

Just a stupid question. Do all F seats allocate to QF's own FFP plat elites (or above)? Or benefit would be extended to other OWE as well?

My status with QF will down to gold very soon, but still have Emerald status in another ow carrier.

rencontre

rencontre

27 Aug 2015

Total posts 28

In my experience, Australians don't like to fork-out the dough to fly first class...they just like to use points to upgrade to it. Why would qf want to encourage that?

mrmaxwell

mrmaxwell

17 Jun 2011

Total posts 66

True many QFF members are happy to burn their points at full rate without status.

My partner recently travelled on QF11 A380 in Premium Y which was mostly empty along with about 10 free seats in J. Right up until the morning of the flight not much had changed when all of a sudden Premium Y was full along with J...mostly families and kids! They had all put their upgrade requests in and due to no status were processed last minute leaving a lot of empty Y seats.

J is where the sweet spot is along with business no longer shelling out for premium travel for most of its workforce means F is really a rare luxury.

ManHa

ManHa

08 May 2018

Total posts 19

I'm not sure what Project sunrise has to do with this - but I see it as a positive that QF is increasing market share to HK and SIN - if not by frequency, by size of the aircraft.

Both markets are very lucrative and in the A380 revamp - I'm sure it will make QF even more competitive in these two destinations.

Pallydou

Pallydou

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

02 Jul 2018

Total posts 35

Offering A380 all year round for QF128/9 is better - no offense, but I already fed up with taking "Longreach" coming back to Sydney.

CKH15

CKH15

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Oct 2014

Total posts 8

I was allocated to the first cabin when I first booked for flight to HKG in Jan 19, but now as been bumped back to upstairs Business seats, (FF Plat) and no way of even viewing downstairs.

Anyone encountered this?


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