Qantas frequent flyers, rusted-on Red Roo loyalists and other Australian business travellers flying out of Sydney or Melbourne have a choice of Airbus A380s to Europe under the Qantas/Emirates alliance.
Both airlines count the superjumbo as flagships in their fleet, but they're far from identical. So which airline's A380 to choose?
When they fly
How the Qantas and Emirates flights fit into your schedule will be a primary consideration for business travellers.
Qantas QF1 Sydney-Dubai-London leaves Sydney at 3.50pm, to reach Dubai at 12.35am before continuing to London for a 6.45am touchdown.
Qantas QF9 Melbourne-Dubai-London was recently re-timed for an evening departure from Melbourne, leaving 10.55pm to reach Dubai at 7am and London at 1.40pm.
Emirates EK415 Sydney-Dubai: leaves Sydney at 6am, arrives into Dubai at 2.30pm.
Emirates EK413: Sydney-Dubai: leaves Sydney at 9.10pm, arrives into Dubai at 5.40am.
Emirates EK407 Melbourne-Dubai: leaves Melbourne at 9.25pm, arrives into Dubai at 5.25am.
Making the connection
Qantas' daily A380 services are fine if you're London-bound, but QF1's midnight arrival into Dubai makes for an exceptionally long layover if you're intending to connect to an Emirates flight to anywhere else in the UK, Europe or even South Africa.
That's because most of Emirates' flights from Dubai to Europe don’t start running until around 7am.
QF9's new timetable can make for a shorter connection time to mid-morning Emirates flights, while the Gulf carrier's own schedule for Australia-Dubai flights naturally dovetails into European services.
Maximise your Qantas points on Emirates flights
As we've previously pointed out, even if you choose an Emirates flight you should consider booking it through Qantas or a Qantas travel agent under the Qantas QF flight code to earn a full serve of Qantas Frequent Flyer points and status credits.
Emirates flights made on the native EK flight number will earn you as few as half the points for the same flight carrying a QF code, and no status credits.
With all that taken into account, here’s how the Airbus A380s of Qantas and Emirates stack up in our superjumbo smackdown!
Airbus A380 First Class: Qantas vs Emirates
While both Qantas and Emirates tag their A380 first class products as suites, there’s a substantial difference between them.
Qantas opts for a conventional semi-suite design with a super-comfortable lie-flat seat.
Emirates has gone all out with a high-walled private suite.
It's kitted out with a personal minibar, beefy 23 inch video screen (compared to Qantas’ modest 17 inch panel), a coat rack and a fold-up mirror.
However, the faux-effect wood and brass aesthetic isn't to everyone's taste.
And aesthetics being such a deeply personal thing, first class passengers will naturally gravitate towards either the restrained elegance of Qantas or the glitz of Emirates.
Where Emirates really pulls out all the stops are the added facilities of two shower suites.
Each suite can be booked for 30 minutes – providing a five minute flow of steaming hot water, with other top-end touches including inbuilt wardrobes, a large sink with marble counter top, a hair dryer and even a flat-panel TV.
There's also a small first class lounge at the front of the Emirates A380’s upper deck, although some passengers prefer the livelier vibe of the business class bar found further back (as long they bring their own top-shelf tipple from the first class bar).
The winner: Emirates’ A380 first class is definitely worth flying for the experience alone.
Airbus A380 Business Class: Qantas vs Emirates
Emirates' A380 business class is ahead of Qantas' A380 offering in terms of privacy, aisle access, personal space and storage.
Located on the upper desk, Emirates’ superjumbo business class boasts a fully-flat bed in a staggered 1-2-1 layout so that every passenger enjoys direct aisle access.
You’ll also find your own in-seat (non-alcoholic) minibar on Emirates’ superjumbos, so don’t be afraid to dig in.
In contrast, the 2-2-2 layout of Qantas A380 business class requires passengers in the window seats to squeeze past or step over a seatmate to get to the aisle.
(Personally speaking, I’ve found this quite easy from the window seat – particularly as there’s a bar to hold onto during the process. In saying that, not all passengers experience such ease, or indeed like being crawled over in their sleep.)
The winner: The business class round also goes to Emirates Airbus A380.
Airbus A380 Business Class lounges: Qantas vs Emirates
Qantas has a lounge area at the front of the A380's business class cabin that's good for stretching your legs and enjoying a chat with fellow travellers.
That simply can't hold a candle to the fully-stocked bar on the Emirates A380, with its own cocktail bartender and a lot more space where you socialise.
If you need to get down to some work, Emirates also offers inflight Internet (plans start from $15) while Qantas leaves you disconnected.
The winner: Emirates Airbus A380.
Airbus A380 Premium Economy: Qantas vs Emirates
Qantas takes the trophy on this one by default, because Emirates doesn’t have premium economy.
On the other hand, Qantas boasts one of the world’s best premium economy seats.
The winner: Qantas.
Airbus A380 Economy: Qantas vs Emirates
It’s always fun to examine first and business class, but of course not all business travellers get a seat at the pointy end.
On board Emirates' A380, you'll find economy stretching all the way along the lower deck in a 3-4-3 layout.
The economy seats have a bit more legroom – Emirates' pitch ranges from 32 inches to 34 inches, against a standard 31 inches for Qantas.
And with seat width at 18 inches over Qantas' 17.5 inches, there's a slight but better-than-nothing edge there as well.
However, a ‘foot net’ which folds down from the seat in front improves the Qantas' economy experience.
You can also make the trip to one of Qantas' self-serve economy snack bars...
... but I've never had an issue ordering-up nibbles and drinks in economy with Emirates – either by walking to the galley or just using the call bell.
The winner: We're giving this one to Emirates due to the greater seat pitch and width, but it's a narrow margin.
Your call: Qantas vs Emirates Airbus A380s
From Australia to London or even Dubai, which airline and aircraft gets your booking? Join the discussion by sharing your thoughts below!
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