Qatar Airways are upgrading their daily Melbourne to Doha flight to an Airbus A380 from the current Boeing 777 – and as a result, First Class is now available on the route. This is a great option to target using Qantas Points, and especially Asia Miles, as we explain later in this guide.
The new flights kick in from June 30th, and First Class is already bookable, with some award availability in First Class for the northern summer of 2017 – there are blocks of seats, but it’s not wide open.
We ran a few test searches and, as at the time of writing, the availability from Doha to Melbourne is good, but Melbourne to Doha is not.
These are the dates with 2 seats available in First Class from Doha to Melbourne throughout August:
And for September:
Melbourne to Doha availability in First Class is much more limited, with no dates for two seats available in August, and some in September:
Business Class is not really available at all right now, but we would expect a few more seats to become available in due course. Qatar launched A380 flights to Sydney in September, and this route continues to have decent points redemption availability in Economy and First Class, and some limited availability in Business.
Qatar’s A350 flights to Adelaide were launched in May, but wound back to five flights weekly in late October – Qatar wanted to use the aircraft on other routes but publicly state they want to bring it back to daily again in future.
In this guide
Part I of this guide explores the different business class offerings between the A380 (on flights from Sydney from mid-September), A350 (Adelaide) and 777 (Sydney until mid-September as well as Perth and Melbourne).
In Part II, we’ll go into detail on redeeming Qantas Points, Asia Miles and AAdvantage miles for travel from Australia to Doha and beyond.
As Qatar generally make a decent number of frequent flyer redemption seats available – and are Qantas Frequent Flyer redemption partners – understanding how to use your points for Qatar flights to the Middle East and Europe is a very useful part of your points redemption knowledge.
What to expect from Qatar Airways Business Class
A380 service from Sydney
Qatar launched their Sydney-Doha flight in March 2016 and moved it to an A380 from 16 September 2016, with a better inflight product. They also operate A380 services to Atlanta, Guangzhou, London, Paris and Bangkok.
On both the A380 and A350 (as well as onward flights from their Doha hub to destinations served by the 787 Dreamliner), Qatar has a herringbone 1-2-1 configuration in Business Class.
There is also a full-service on-board bar on the A380.
A350 service from Adelaide
The A350 is the world’s newest commercial aircraft and Qatar was the first airline to fly it, launching its Doha-Adelaide service in May 2016.
The A350 has 36 fully-flat beds stretching to 203cm when flat with a 17-inch personal entertainment screen, as well as a seemingly airier cabin with large windows.
As opposed to the A380’s full-service bar, the A350 has a self-service snacks and drinks bar.
777 service from Perth (due to change to A350?) and Melbourne
From Perth (plus Melbourne for now), Qatar operates 777-300ERs with a 2-2-2 full lie-flat beds Business Class configuration. It is probably a slight improvement in seat offering than Qantas’ similar layout on their A380s and refurbished 747 aircraft, but inferior to the two other Qatar offerings above.
Researching award availability for Qatar Airways redemptions
Qatar Airways flights show up in the British Airways booking engine, and then, of course, also in Award Nexus. They can also be booked using Qantas Points and online using Asia Miles.
Qatar’s route options from Australia to Europe
Qatar Airways fly direct from Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth to Doha, connecting to a multitude of European cities – Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Belgrade, Berlin, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Geneva, Larnaca, London, Madrid, Manchester, Milan, Munich, Oslo, Paris, Rome, Sofia, Stockholm, Venice, Vienna, Warsaw, Zagreb and Zurich.
Using points/miles to book from Australia on Qatar Airways using points
Here’s a summary of the main oneworld program costs for the Australia flights Qatar operates to Doha:
|From||Qantas Points||Asia Miles||AAdvantage miles|
Using Qantas Points
Qantas charges 112,000 Qantas Points for one way Business Class on the Sydney and Melbourne routes, which is considerably more expensive than the comparable Dubai flights flown by Qantas or Emirates at 96,000 points.
The same case applies to the other two cities, with Qantas charging 104,000 points from Adelaide to Doha and 92,000 from Perth, which is 20,000 points more than it costs to fly to Dubai on Qantas or Emirates. Qantas passes on full taxes and surcharges too.
If you are flying all the way onto Europe with no stopover, you’ll get more out of your Qantas Points by aiming for a redemption on Qantas/Emirates flights as this will come in at 128,000 points in total.
By comparison, partner award costs are pieced together flight by flight, costing you Sydney/Adelaide/Melbourne/Perth to Doha, plus the cost of the flight from Doha to your final destination.
Using Asia Miles
Asia Miles award charts are distance-zone based, with Sydney to Doha falling into the more expensive Zone E and the other three destinations into the cheaper Zone D.
For Asia Miles redemptions in Business Class from Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne to Doha, flights cost 70,000 Asia Miles one way, or 120,000 miles return.
Flying from Sydney costs 85,000 Asia Miles in Business Class one way, or 145,000 miles return.
If you are not flying from Sydney as your starting point (e.g. from Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Hobart), it may be worth booking your Qatar Airways redemption from Adelaide, Melbourne or Perth, instead of Sydney, when redeeming Asia Miles, and tagging on a paid, connecting domestic flight to one of the three.
Asia Miles also pass on all taxes and surcharges on partner redemptions, so out-of-pocket costs in cash will be similar to using Qantas Points.
Using AAdvantage Miles
Qatar Airways is probably one of the better uses of AAdvantage miles for Australian travellers, given the better-than-average redemption availability.
While AAdvantage only lets you redeem miles for travel between Australia and Europe on Etihad with two separate awards, Qatar will let you redeem with one award.
This means that you can take advantage of the reduced cost of 85,000 AAdvantage miles one way in Business Class to Europe, or 80,000 AAdvantage miles to Doha. Granted, these amounts were increased substantially from 60,000 and 45,000 miles respectively in AAdvantage’s March 2016 points devaluation.
By comparison, AAdvantage redemptions on Etihad will be much higher as you will need to redeem two awards, one to Abu Dhabi (80,000) and another to Europe (42,500) = 122,500 in total.
It’s great to have Qatar flying from four major Australian cities now (hopefully Brisbane will get service in the near future too) and adding some competition on the Middle East routes, especially with Australian travellers being able to experience their newer A380 and A350 aircraft.
Asia Miles and AAdvantage award redemptions on Qatar seem to represent the best value for flights to Doha and beyond to Europe, with Qantas Points making more sense for connections through its Dubai shared hub with Emirates.