What the Qantas-Emirates alliance means for London and UK travel

By John Walton, December 20 2012
What the Qantas-Emirates alliance means for London and UK travel

Business travellers heading from Australia to the UK and Europe will be the big winners in the Qantas-Emirates alliance, which has now received tentative approval from the Government's competition watchdog. 

Not only does the partnership deliver a dramatic boost to the number of flights and UK destinations, there's even a choice of airports for London itself.

The Red Roo's new route

As we've previously detailed, Qantas will adopt Dubai as its new hub for all flights to Europe.

Qantas will retain its daily Sydney-London and Melbourne-London services on the flagship Airbus A380, so you can still fly the Red Roo all the way – it's just that these flights will break their journey at Dubai instead of Singapore.

(There'll still be Qantas flights to Singapore of course, but those flights will be re-timed for more convenient arrivals instead of as a feeder into the London and Frankfurt services – in effect, treating Singapore as a destination rather than a stop-over.)

However, if you want to go somewhere other than London, Emirates will lay out almost all of the UK at your feet once you transfer at Dubai.

Sixteen daily UK flights from Dubai

Emirates offers an incredible sixteen daily flights to six UK airports, including three airports at London itself.

Also read: Qantas and Emirates: how each of those 16 flights' business class compares


The combined Qantas-Emirates schedule will boast seven flights into London Heathrow from Dubai every day -- five from Emirates, two from Qantas.

And they're all on the Airbus A380, which means the most comfortable trip for business travellers on fully flat seats.

But with Emirates, you can also catch one of three Boeing 777 flights into Gatwick, London's second airport and just thirty minutes' train ride to the heart of the city.

If you've spent any time in the UK until very recently you'll probably recall Gatwick as a grim 1970s edifice full of sticky children and beet-red Poms off on their holidays, delay-prone and miserable.

However, since Heathrow owner BAA was forced to sell Gatwick off, it's really hit its stride as an alternative to Heathrow -- especially for business travellers heading to the City of London and the revitalised Bankside district (think Melbourne's Docklands) near London Bridge, thanks to direct trains to London Bridge, through London and to Victoria.

Read up on Gatwick's train options via the airport's railway connections page

Australian Business Traveller toured Gatwick recently and we were very pleasantly surprised to find a modern terminal with priority security lines that actually work (Heathrow, take note!), plush new lounges (especially the Emirates lounge, which is the nicest in the airport) and fantastic gourmet restaurants (including one from Jamie Oliver) if the lounge food doesn't catch your fancy.

Yes, premium security that really is faster than the regular queues!
Yes, premium security that really is faster than the regular queues!

Birmingham and beyond

If you're heading for the north side of London, there's a third Emirates option: a double daily service from Dubai to Birmingham, in the heart of the country and at the centre of the UK's rail network.

Comfortable half-hourly trains take 90 minutes into London's Euston station, and some that stop en route to take you directly to your destination if you're heading for the manufacturing heartlands between London and Birmingham.

Also on the Emirates network map is Manchester, where regional airline Flybe's hub stands ready to shuttle you off to the UK's regions.

And speaking of the regions, don't overlook the daily flight into Newcastle, the hub for the northeast of the UK (and especially the UK's offshore resources sector) and the double daily service to Glasgow, the Scottish airport that serves as a hub for the north of Britain.

New lounges at Heathrow

Despite new options to get into the UK, Heathrow will still be the pick of most business travellers, with its five Emirates and two Qantas Airbus A380s -- holding the most comfortable seats on board -- arriving daily.

Qantas passengers will still be heading for Terminal 3, like today.

You'll be able to head for Lounge Zone E at Heathrow from April.
You'll be able to head for Lounge Zone E at Heathrow from April.

You'll still be able to use the British Airways Galleries First and Galleries Club lounges even after the Qantas-BA joint venture splits up, using your Qantas Platinum and Gold card, respectively -- so long as you're flying on Qantas, since they're oneworld partners with BA.

Don't miss our guides to the best oneworld business class (Qantas Gold, oneworld Sapphire) and first class (Qantas Platinum, oneworld Emerald) lounges: the picks may surprise you! 

But the Qantas-Emirates partnership will also open up the Emirates Lounge to you when flying Qantas or Emirates.

Specific Heathrow lounge access rules have yet to be announced, but it's pretty much a dead cert that you'll be heading in to the luxurious Emirates lounge in T3.

Further reading on the Qantas-Emirates tie-up:

How will the Qantas-Emirates partnership change your UK-bound business travel? Share your thoughts in a comment below.

For more on the Qantas-Emirates deal and everything the business traveller needs to know, follow us on Twitter: we're @AusBT.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.


11 Sep 2012

Total posts 20

It's worth mentioning that one of those daily flights to Manchester is also operated by the A380.

10 Jun 2011

Total posts 56

LGW is a great option for arriving in London with the ongoing investment.  The north terminal has a very good choice of shops, restaraunts and lounges, plenty of sitting area, and nowhere near as congested as Heathrow

Train connections are excellent and frequent for London, Brighton the whole Sussex region as well as going north, and about a third of the cost of the Heathrow express.

EK is meant to be deploying the A380 into LGW and should eventually be on all three of their Gatwick flights.  Manchester will probably increase to 2 x A380 services at some point

Really recommend giving the airport a try - its reputation is now all in the past, and far less stressful than LHR


Emirates Airlines - Skywards

15 Sep 2012

Total posts 2

If London isn't your UK destination then the new tie-up with Emirates means it is easy to avoid the chaos at Heathrow, particularly in immigration. Manchester is a brilliant airport, and has far better connections to other cities in the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia since Heathrow is so slot-constrained. At the moment the three daily flights are by A380 and 2 x B777. Etihad are also expanding rapidly at Manchester and have a brilliant lounge in Terminal 1.

20 Sep 2011

Total posts 27


Hope I haven't missed it but what is the position with Premium Economy to UK/Europe post 31 March & Emirates

I've just searched qantas Web site for PE fares and flightsfrom SYD or MEL to Milan and found nothing.  All the flights listed as PE and charging PE prices had "flags" saying that the OZ-Dubai and Dubai - Milan legs were in Economy!!!  Don't think I'll be buying those somehow.

Previously, I've gone SYD or MEL to london in PE with a London - Milan leg in Economy.  that's fine.

Is this option no longer possible with Qantas??

thanks for any advice



25 Jan 2013

Total posts 1

This seems a disaster if you leave from and return to Brisbane - if you use premium economy to spread your travel budget - and if you do, as I do, like flying in Qantas planes.  There seems to be no options to fly PE - and economy in Emirates is not attractive - and no option to fly in a Qantas plane.  I will be looking at Asian options now.

20 Sep 2011

Total posts 27

Much as I love qantas planes and the A380 and I KNOW that their PE is a great product, the cost differences are just getting to be too juch.  Online I've been looking at qantas PE to UK at over $5000 and BA world traveller Plus on special at just under $3000.  Same points, same status points and a $2000 difference.  I know BA isn't as good but at thos price differences??   Jeez Qantas, you are making it hard for us Platinums that love you :-(

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