Qantas shakes up Sydney-Hong Kong with overnight flights

By Chris C., November 27 2018
Qantas shakes up Sydney-Hong Kong with overnight flights

Qantas will begin offering overnight flights from Sydney to Hong Kong in 2019, going up against Cathay Pacific's popular CX138 red-eye service on the increasingly competitive route.

The move will allow travellers to put in a full day's work at the office and even have dinner with the family before heading to the airport, sleeping in the sky and hitting the ground running in Hong Kong before the busy business day begins.

From March 31 2019, Qantas flight QF117 from Sydney moves its departure time from 3:50pm to 10:20pm, to reach Hong Kong at 5am local time the following morning.

(That 5am arrival will make a visit to the Plaza Premium Hong Kong arrivals lounge quite appealing, especially since Cathay Pacific closed its own arrivals lounge earlier this month.)

However, don't get your hopes up for a daytime flight back to Sydney – something which we know many readers would embrace: the QF118 return leg will remain an overnight service, pushing back in Hong Kong at 10:35pm to reach Sydney at 10am the next day.

The Airbus A330 flights will continue to sport Qantas’ Business Suites in business class, pairing a fully-flat bed with direct aisle access from every seat in the expected 1-2-1 layout:

The airline’s flights from Melbourne and Brisbane to Hong Kong will remain daytime services, but the evening departure from Sydney also allows passengers from other Australian cities to connect via Sydney, if wanting to travel overnight.

Qantas’ other daily flight from Sydney to Hong Kong, QF127, will retain its morning departure and evening arrival – and, as previously reported, will feature an Airbus A380 from December 1 2018 until March 28 2019, offering travellers first class, business class, premium economy and economy.

From March 29 2019 onward, QF127 and its return leg, QF128, will see a mix of Boeing 787s, with similar Business Suites as aboard the Airbus A330s, along with premium economy...

… and the occasional two-class Airbus A330, offering Business Suites up the front, but no premium economy.

Although alliance partners through Oneworld and newly-acquainted codeshare partners on other routes, Qantas competes heavily with Cathay Pacific on flights to Hong Kong, which has four daily departures of its own from Sydney across a range of times.

Rival Virgin Australia also flies daily from Sydney to Hong Kong with northbound flights running during daylight hours, and the return legs going overnight.

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

12 Apr 2011

Total posts 71

QF117 currently has terrible on time reliability. I wonder if this is to sort this out.

08 Aug 2013

Total posts 14

Best guess is that Qantas may know that it's an inefficient use of the aircraft's time. But they couldn't get the slots for a morning departure.

01 Jun 2017

Total posts 16

This is not the first time QF has done this. I think 3 years ago, QF had both red eye for MEL - HKG return and BNE - HKG return - poor utilisation of aircrafts (instead of 1 aircraft to do MEL-HKG return route they would need 2). HKG - SYD on a day flight restricts the number of connecting passengers particularly with SYD curfew. CX139 morning flight arriving SYD 21:00 in summer. Somehow this is also the same for SYD - HND (Tokyo) return both legs are red eye. I suppose the biggest risk for QF to run a late night flight out of SYD (very close to curfew hours), in the event of a major delay, the flight will have to wait till next day to depart.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

23 May 2013

Total posts 44

Great news! Just a shame about the plane sitting on the ground all day and not operating a day time alternative on the way back to SYD

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

18 Jun 2013

Total posts 24

Poor utilisation of an a/c on the ground for nearly 18 hours a daytime flight back .

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 462

For some reason, Qantas is determined that everyone must be forced to arrive in Australia at dawn!

This is a classic opportunity to make one - just one - of its services to Australia a day time flight, arriving in the evening so people can go home and straight to bed.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 321

Most likely QF couldn't get the daytime take-off slots at HKG and/or SYD to allow a daytime flight back. Hence the long turn back time.

Had QF had the morning slots at HKG and/or evening landing slots at SYD, QF would've done a quick turnaround in HKG in the morning to form the daytime flight back to SYD.

I wonder if this is also in interim measure for them - that they will 'bank' the night flight slots now and then keep angling to get day return flights over the next few months?

15 Aug 2014

Total posts 5

Could not agree more. CX and SQ's morning flight back to Sydney from HK and SG respectively are great options, not so great it you want to stick with QF for loyalty purposes. Lately, i've been moving to the CX or SQ alternatives.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

14 Apr 2013

Total posts 326

Finally I thank the QF gods for an overnight Flight HKG, now only needing the day time and this will be one happy P1 flyer 😁

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Mar 2015

Total posts 94

Or instead of leaving the plane on the ground send it to Cairns or Darwin.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 105

Great to see another option, but would love a day flight up and back!

On a side note a day flight back from SIN would be great! Even in business the red eye hurts!


22 Jan 2013

Total posts 94

Great half effort QF, now drum roll...a day flight back

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 153

Will still choose daytime flights. Can't sleep in Economy!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 May 2018

Total posts 8

Now all we need is QF to add a night time service from MEL 😀

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

31 Oct 2016

Total posts 71

Take the extra points and add a MEL-SYD leg

28 Nov 2018

Total posts 1

QF will use the long layover to get cheap maintenance done in HKG,the QF A330 is flown so hard they just don’t get ground time for their own engineers to maintain the aircraft in Australia. It’s just another exercise in outsourcing & nothing to do with customer satisfaction! More bonuses for cost savings & reductions in quality

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Nov 2016

Total posts 129

Agree with this as Qantas use HK maintenance facilities a lot especially for their 747s. Singapore is used for their 330s but now HK comes into play. Still see it as poor utilization of aircraft. An aircraft on the ground does not make any money.

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

05 Jun 2017

Total posts 5

Well maintenance is literally revenue negative so if it really is for maintenance, then no point saying "aircraft on ground does not make money" when it's on the ground for something that clearly is not about making money..?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Apr 2012

Total posts 57

#64Birthday overnight run haha ... 87 used to do it & you will be in early for any connections into Asia & beyond. Good plan; helps with flexibility in Aus although on ground time in HK is a little 'inefficient'. Could run a HKG SIN etc sector lol.

I think this is great news for an overnight flight! It is poor utilization of the aircraft. I am sure Qantas knows what it is doing!

06 Dec 2017

Total posts 110

very well timed.Ex Adelaide I can get QF764 around 5pm to Sydney and connect to this next time I go to Hong Kong.coming home will depend on schedules.I will either return on CX if the night flight just after midnight arriving 11:40am local exists or go VA via Melbourne.most likely the latter to compare it out.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 381

Day flights from Asia to Oz ie ex SIN, HKG, Japan etc is a big minus for QF, I wish they could make day flights work.

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