Business travellers flying with Qantas to London early next year will face a very different set of choices than today.
Here’s the scene mid-2017: if you’re in Sydney or Melbourne, you hop onto that city’s respective Airbus A380 flight to London via Dubai. If you live anywhere else, you fly to Sydney or Melbourne and connect onto that same superjumbo service.
Fast-forward to mid-2018 – well, from March 24 to be precise – and for most of us, that all changes when Qantas begins daily non-stop Boeing 787 flights between Perth and London.
Sydney-based flyers will still have Qantas’ flagship QF1 service via Dubai on their list, along with the option to head west to Perth for the direct-to-London Dreamliner.
Here’s how the Kangaroo Routes for 2018 compare.
Despite early concerns over the Dreamliner’s premium pricing, fares now appear to have equalised – at least during the early weeks of May 2018, when Australian Business Traveller ran a price comparison.
One-way business class fares listed from around $4,820 regardless of if you’re flying Sydney-Dubai-London or Sydney-Perth-London.
Similarly, Melbourne passengers are looking at an average of $4,820 whether they opt to zip north to Sydney to catch QF1 or hop straight onto the red-tailed Dreamliner at the start of its QF9 journey to fly Melbourne-Perth-London.
Points & status credits
While this won’t be anybody’s major decision driver, we should note that travellers on QF1 and QF9 will earn different numbers of Qantas Frequent Flyer points and status credits.
For Sydney-London via Dubai there’s a business class base of 18,600 points and 280 status credits (the same applies to Melbourne to London via Perth on QF9).
The non-stop Perth-London Boeing 787 flight yields 12,400 points and 220 status credits.
East coast travellers will need to add a domestic leg onto this – for Sydney-Perth, for example, that means an extra 3,300 points and 80 status credits, so you end up with slightly more status credits (300 vs 280) but fewer frequent flyer points (15,700 vs 18,600).
Making the connection
Travellers from anywhere other than Sydney will need to take one domestic flight before joining Qantas’ London-bound services: either the QF1 Airbus A380 at Sydney or the QF9 Boeing 787 at Perth.
The domestic-to-international transfer at Sydney is the biggest drawback here: it’s a cumbersome process which adds hassle and time to your travel experience.
By comparison, Qantas’ international flights from Perth will leave from a newly-built international wing of the domestic terminal so there’ll be minimal bother: just a short stroll from your inbound domestic flight, a security check, and then it’s off to the new Qantas lounge (below) for a Neil Perry-inspired BBQ.
The non-stop Perth-London flight clocks in at 17.5 hours, but of course the total travel time for anybody not starting their journey from Perth will be quite a bit longer: around 25.5 hours if you’re coming from Sydney or Melbourne.
That’s actually 1.5 hours longer than flying Sydney-Dubai-London, including your stopover at Emirates’ Dubai lounge.
Given that you’ll spend most of those 20+ hours sitting in a business class seat, the Boeing 787 has the edge here.
You’ll have direct access to the aisle, ample personal space, conveniently-located AC and USB power sockets, and a large 16 inch video screen for watching inflight movies.
The seat can be partially reclined during the taxi, take-off and landing stages of your Boeing 787 flight, and of course it swings down into a 2 metre lie-flat bed.
As anybody who’s flown business class on the Qantas’ Airbus A380s, there’s no contest between this and the superjumbo experience.
And despite having a great business class seats, the Boeing 787 makes do without first class. Want to use your Qantas points to upgrade to a first class suite? Then the Sydney-London Airbus A380 is your only option.
Unless you live in Perth, there’s a stopover regardless of which Kangaroo Route you hop onto: you’ll simply have a choice of resting up in Perth or Dubai.
The good news for residents of Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra, for example, is that there’s just that one stopover if they opt for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner out of Perth.
That said, some passengers will definitely prefer to break their journey at Emirates‘ Dubai lounges while others will be happy to barrel straight through the 17.5 hour stretch.
This more than anything else could the deal-breaker for London-bound travellers.
If you regularly fly Qantas business class to London, and especially if you're based in Melbourne, what's on your travel agenda for 2018: will you stick with the Airbus A380 to London via Dubai, or shift to the non-stop Boeing 787 from Perth?