Qatar Airways is now flying daily between Canberra and its hub of Doha, with a brief stopover at Sydney in both directions. Australian Business Traveller readers posed several questions about the flight, and we’ve dug up the answers. You’re welcome.
What lounges will Qatar Airways use in Canberra?
Canberra Airport’s new international wing doesn’t have its own lounge, but eligible passengers on the Qatar Airways flight will have access to the domestic lounges of Oneworld partner Qantas.
Business class travellers and those with Oneworld Emerald frequent flyer status – including Qantas Platinum and Qatar Privilege Platinum – can use the Qantas Business Lounge.
If you’re stuck in economy, a flash of your Qantas Gold or Qatar Privilege Gold card (or any other Oneworld Sapphire equivalent) will get you into the Qantas Club.
However, Qantas Club membership or a complimentary Qantas Club lounge pass will cut no ice – they’re valid only when your ticket lists a Qantas (or Jetstar) flight number as a ‘codeshare’.
Either way: as the entry to the airport’s international wing is in the ‘western concourse’ used by Virgin Australia, not the ‘southern concourse’ used by Qantas, you should allow a good 15-20 minutes to get from the Qantas lounges through to the international departure gate of the Qatar Airways QR907 flight.
What’s the story with the Sydney stop-over?
Routing the Canberra flight via Sydney allows Qatar Airways to add a second daily Doha-Sydney flight to its roster, because it can sell the Doha-Sydney and Sydney-Doha flights on their own.
The new flight’s timetable provides a counterpoint to the evening departure and arrival of the longstanding daily QR908/QR909 Sydney-Doha Airbus A380 flight.
After leaving Canberra, the Doha-bound QR907 departs Sydney at 3.55pm; the QR906 return leg arrives into Sydney at 6.15am.
The stop is also necessary for the flight from Canberra, as the airport's runway isn't long enough for a Boeing 777-300ER that's fully loaded with fuel to take off. Instead, the jet carries sufficient fuel to get to Sydney, where the tanks are topped right up ahead of the 14+ hour flight to Doha.
Can I buy a ticket for just the Sydney-Canberra (or Canberra-Sydney) leg?
As cool as this might be, it’s not an option.
Qatar Airways isn’t allowed to sell tickets for that short domestic leg: you can only book for the Doha-Sydney or Doha-Sydney-Canberra flight.
Can I use the Qantas First or Qantas Business class lounge during the Sydney stop-over?
As long as your Qatar Airways ticket or frequent flyer status makes you eligible for lounge access, yes indeed.
For most people that’ll mean the Qantas Business lounge, if they’re in business class or have Qantas Gold or Oneworld Sapphire frequent flyer status.
However, a Qantas Platinum or Oneworld Emerald card will get you into the Qantas First lounge for a quick bite to eat.
And we mean ‘quick’. The stopover is timetables for just one hour, which includes making your way from arrivals through the transit area and back upstairs to departures.
So as appealing as that plate of corn fritters from the Qantas First lounge may be when you arrive into Sydney at 6.15am after 14 hour flight from Doha, we suggest you think twice about your transit time.
If you’re up front in business class and will be among the first off the flight, and can step lively to and through the transit zone with your onwards boarding pass in hand – and provided the arrival/departure gate used by the Qatar Airways flight isn’t too far away – that Qantas First lounge pit-stop might work in your favour.
Can I buy duty-free at Sydney Airport?
Despite the fact that you land in Sydney on an international flight from Doha and continue on the same 'international' flight to Canberra, passengers on the Sydney-Canberra leg aren't permitted to do some duty-free shopping at Sydney.
A spokesperson for Heinemann Australia, which manages duty-free retail at Sydney Airport's T1 international terminal, confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that "customers are unable to purchase duty-free goods."
"Transiting through Sydney to Canberra makes the route a domestic destination, therefore as per Australian Border Force guidelines – outlined in the Australian Border Force Duty Free Operators guide – we are not permitted to sell duty-free goods" to Sydney-Canberra passengers.
What about duty-free from Doha’s Hamad International Airport?
If you’re continuing to Canberra, you must keep any duty-free liquids, aerosols or gels in its sealed plastic bag. Open the bag for a spritz of that new perfume and you’ll have to ditch the whole bottle at Sydney Airport’s international transit checkpoint.