Six questions (and answers) about Qatar's Doha-Sydney-Canberra flight

By David Flynn, February 15 2018
Six questions (and answers) about Qatar's Doha-Sydney-Canberra flight

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.

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.

30 Oct 2017

Total posts 2

This is all very helpful as we are flying at the beginning of March! Will we be able to do immigration at Sydney or will we need to wait until we get to Canberra? Many thanks

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

You'll be processed through passport control at Canberra. Something also to note is that Canberra currently doesn't have SmartGates so you may be faced with a bit of a queue if everyone else has beaten you to the queue.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

14 Mar 2017

Total posts 132

Indeed. Then you have to deal with the countries slowest and least competent immigration and customs officials.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 954

CBR has only 2 international flights. QR and SQ. The immigration/customs area is only maned as required around those 2 flights and will only have pax from 1 flight there at any time. Given the amount of pax likely to be getting off in SYD, there isn't likely to be a long queue for immigration in CBR.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

Something interesting that Qatar has chosen not to do is allow tickets like DOH-SYD (break) SYD-CBR.

Cathay, when they used to offer the BNE-CNS-HKG flights, would allow you to stop in Cairns for up to 30 days on the same ticket and you'd travel on Cathay aircraft from BNE-CNS with a 'D' sticker on your boarding pass. Currently Hong Kong airlines also has the same deal from OOL-CNS-HKG.

DGP
DGP

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jan 2012

Total posts 172

United Airlines used to allow passengers a stopover in SYD when the final destination was MEL in the old days of the flights going via SYD to MEL.

08 Feb 2018

Total posts 46

Wonder why they chose to do a DOH-SYD-CBR-SYD-DOH route as opposed to a triangular DOH-CBR-SYD-DOH route??

I guess they make more $$ out of the Sydney passengers, and the CBR connection is just an excuse for the second flight that they couldn't otherwise have.

07 Mar 2017

Total posts 32

The answer is in the text above:

"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."

04 May 2015

Total posts 246

The fact that they can't take off in Canberra with a full load has no impact on them landing at the end of a long haul flight (when the load will be much lighter as fuel gets burned), so the runway issue would have no impact on a Doha-Canberra-Sydney-Doha routing because they'd still be taking off from Canberra with less fuel and stopping in Sydney. Suspect it is really just because of the Sydney passengers.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1242

It is 100% about Sydney. I will be interested to see load figures from Canberra.

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 448

Because SYD pax are far more valuable than CBR pax so they would rather inconvenience CBR pax with an additional stop than SYD pax. Remember in SYD theyre competing with EK, EY, QF etc who all offer one stop services to Europe.
AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 523

Because the flight is about getting that second flight into Sydney. It is a Sydney flight with a Canberra leg added on.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 95

Thank you for the very helpful article David. I think this great for people in CBR to have, a relatively straightforward, option outbound to Doha and beyond. It certainly avoids some of the pain associated with either (a). travelling to SYD by road or (b). transiting from SYD domestic to SYD international.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Sep 2012

Total posts 244

So long as your duty free bought in Doha satisfies the security limits, there is nothing to stop someone removing their newly purchased cologne from the Doha DF bag and into their carry on? Also, surely on the basis you're an in coming int. passenger, a trip to the DF before immigration is ok before entering the transit zone?

I may be wrong, but food for thought for those transiting to Canberra

You have to go through international security screening at Sydney Airport while in transit from Doha to Canberra before entering the international transit lounge, so if you have liquids over 100ml at the checkpoint which aren't in a compliant duty-free bag, they'll be confiscated, as at any other international checkpoint. This would include if you managed to buy duty-free goods before arrivals immigration in Sydney (before turning around and going up through transit screening), as these won't be packaged in the compliant tamper-proof bags required to take them through the checkpoint.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Sep 2012

Total posts 244

Thanks Chris. I don't live in Oz so perhaps the regs are different in Sydney. Was thinking of liquids 100ml or less, not bottles of alcohol.

Here in Europe, when you buy duty free, so long as each item is 100ml or less, you can just carry it in your hand luggage in plastic bag as normal regardless of where it's been purchased. Assumed it would be the same in Oz.

17 Feb 2018

Total posts 1

It seems odd that you can't buy duty free liquids inbound in SYD that are compliantly packaged by the duty free seller. Is it a packaging problem or anomaly in the flight number rules hinted at in the original article?
Of course you could purchase in Doha and put it into checked luggage.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 954

If getting on the QR flight in CBR, you'll go through AU domestic screening, then international screening when entering the international area near the VA lounge, then international connections screening during the SYD transit.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 954

"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."

Where did you get this from? The runways at CBR were upgraded to at least handle a fully loaded 747-200 in 1991.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2351

From a press briefing with Canberra Airport MD and Qatar Airways CEO in which they both spoke of the issue.

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 523

It was upgraded to handle 747’s but not fully loaded.

Canberra is about 700m shorter than the main Sydney runway.

30 Oct 2017

Total posts 2

Thanks very much for all the helpful advice, another question please - do we have to get off the plane and take all our belongings with us in Sydney while they refuel or will we be able to stay on board if we want to?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jun 2015

Total posts 107

Based on other similar flights such as QF1/2 transit through DXB you would likely have to take your stuff and get off. Plane would be cleaned and recatered. A large number of pax sitting on the plane would hinder / slow this down.

Cant leave your stuff for security reasons i would say.

19 Jun 2019

Total posts 1

You absolutely have to get off the flight at Sydney both directions, walk walk walk and then go through transit security and then back to the gate.

One time, once we’d flown Canberra to Sydney we just walked straight into international departures without going through transit security... I’m still convinced it was a stuff up as it was a once only time... sadly...

And yes you have to take all your stuff off too...

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 523

Think you will find that it is now the norm for passengers from Canberra Sydney to be able to enter directly into international departures (without clearing security) because the flight has already come from an Australian port and as such the security screening is trusted.

The other way SYD-CBR you do indeed have to go through international transit screening.

As for how far the walk is, it all depends on where the plane parks! They do tend to get a gate near the transit like gate 24/31/33 so not that bad. And certainly far better than using the qantas domestic transfer.

24 Jan 2017

Total posts 7

I wonder how do they roster their crew? Does the same crew fly SYD-CBR-SYD? or the crew flyes DOH-SYD-CBR and has a layover in CBR?

03 Oct 2011

Total posts 29

The crew change in SYD and overnight. So, crew fly DOH-SYD, then get off and spend the night. The next day they fly SYD-CBR-SYD, then again get off and spend the night. The next day they fly SYD-DOH.

08 Mar 2018

Total posts 5

We recently completed the outbound legs (CBR-SYD-DOH-LHR), Can confirm people must disembark in Sydney (all 15 of us!) and that the crew changes over there.

Was disappointed with the advertised flat bed seats. They are not and this made for an uncomfortable flight on what is quite an elderly aircraft.

Due to a provisioning issue (we were told), there was no Champagne available between SYD-DOH and no choice of pyjama size. Service was otherwise excellent.

I’d be reluctant to book this route until Q Suites are installed (any insight on timing?). Although convenient to board in CBR, given the old business seats, we’d much prefer to make our own way to SYD and pick up the A380 instead.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 159

Just to note, BA is selling tickets LHR-SYD-CBR connecting on the QR flight (BA codeshare) SYD-CBR. This means the domestic leg is on a 777 (rather than a QF turboprop) , with international transit at SYD (avoiding the customs queues and the long transfer to SYD domestic) and clearing customs and immigration at CBR instead of SYD. An interesting option for some.

05 May 2014

Total posts 7

I'd love to be able to do this for CBR-SYD and then connect to a Qantas flight onwards to an internationa destination though can only dream...

03 Oct 2011

Total posts 29

Flew DOH-SYD-CBR a few days ago. The plane is a 77W with Qsuites. We did, as reported, have to get off in SYD with all our belongings and clear international transit security, then cleared customs and immigration in CBR.

Will be flying the return tomorrow. Have seen reports elsewhere that on the return CBR-SYD-DOH, passengers can stay on board in SYD. Would hope this is accurate, as transit security is annoying, and also because on long flights I brush my teeth after meals, and so shift my toothpaste and mouthrinse from my liquids bag to my toothbrush bag, and that's annoying to do on board. Much easier at a counter or bench in the airport.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2019

Total posts 3

On the “outgoing” flight from Canberra via Sydney, can you buy duty free in Sydney? (I understand on the incoming one from Doha you are not allowed)

30 Sep 2019

Total posts 1

Does anyone know regarding Tierpoints/Status credits earnings for this flight?

Do you get Tierpoints/Statuscredits for both legs DOH-SYD and SYD-CBR? Or is it calculated as a direct flight for DOH-CBR.

Any difference if you Qatar Privilege Club / BritishAirwaysExecutiveClub / Qantas Frequent etc.?

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 523

You get points and miles calculated as Canberra to Doha.

It's not two seperate legs.

13 Dec 2019

Total posts 1

I just signed up to pass on my recent experience about buying duty free. I was on QR906 from Doha to Canberra. In Sydney I asked a member of the ground staff and they said it was fine to buy duty free. This was confirmed by the staff in the Heinemann duty free shop next to the gate. I purchased 2 bottles of spirits without any problems. Perhaps I was just lucky or the rules may have changed.

On another matter, why is it necessary to have security screening in Sydney? The screening in Doha is just as thorough and every passenger went through that scanning. It was quite a long wait in Sydney for the screening, possibly 30 minutes, with only one screening point open.


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