Australia’s flag carrier is putting its most fuel-efficient aircraft on flights to Hong Kong from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. During the summer months, the jumbojet will also make an appearance, with rare award availability at the front of the plane available right now.
In this guide, we keep you updated with the latest confirmed routes the Dreamliner will be served by, explain the differences between the three cabin products, and advise how to get the most value out of using your points to fly the Qantas 787 Dreamliner.
Newest route: Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane – Hong Kong
Depending on the time of year, Qantas operates a mix of A330, A380 and 747 aircraft to Hong Kong, which is quite confusing. From summer, you can add another type to that—the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Here is the older 747 and A380 Business Class seat:
compared to the more modern product found on the A330 and 787:
The latest Premium Economy seat is also found on the 787 but reviews have not been positive—see later in this guide.
The Dreamliner will come onto flights between Hong Kong and:
- Brisbane from 19 December 2018 (only 1-2x week)
- Melbourne from 13 December 2018 until 29 March 2019 (5-6x week)
- Sydney from 30 March 2019 (6x week)
I can see at least two Business Class seats available on about half of the dates in December-March for Melbourne, on most 787 flights for Brisbane, and every third day in April-May for Sydney.
A one-way Business Class redemption will set you back 60,000 Qantas Points (or 40,000 AAdvantage miles or 50,000 Asia Miles).
A380 to fly for summer to/from Sydney
To cater to summer travel demand, the jumbojet will come onto the Sydney – Hong Kong route for the months of December to March.
Usually, First Class seats are reserved for elite Qantas status holders but at the moment, there are at least two seats available for award redemption on nearly all of these flights.
You’ll also get access to the excellent Qantas International First Lounge Sydney before your flight.
You can use 90,000 Qantas Points for this redemption. Technically, it is also available for only 50,000 AAdvantage miles + ~$90 in taxes each way but we’ve heard a report that Qantas has now blocked these seats for redemption through partner programs like AAdvantage and Asia Miles, which is shame.
The airline is looking to capitalise on Perth as a hub between the East Coast of Australia and Europe, with routes from Europe tracking back to Perth and stopping in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane before continuing onto North America.
The aircraft is gradually taking over routes currently operated by the airline’s older Boeing 747s, such as Sydney to Vancouver, Santiago and Johannesburg.
Tickets are on sale for the following routes:
- Melbourne – Los Angeles
- Perth – London
- Melbourne – San Francisco: from 1 September 2018
- Brisbane – Los Angeles – JFK: gradually from 1 September 2018; all flights from 1 December 2018
- Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane – Hong Kong: gradually from 13 December 2018
Chicago is most likely to be announced as the next destination.
- Sydney – Chicago
- Perth – Paris/Berlin/Rome/Frankfurt
- Melbourne/Brisbane – Dallas/Fort Worth
The ‘swing strategy’ looks something like this:
Qantas also put out a call to Boeing and Airbus in August 2017 to work on new long-range aircraft that could carry a full cabin nonstop from the East Coast to New York and London, negating the need to stop in Los Angeles or Dubai on the way, however, this aircraft has not yet been developed and wouldn’t come into service until after 2022.
Qantas is joining many airlines in shunning First Class and investing in a great Business Class product, as well as revamping its Premium Economy and Economy offerings.
The much-loved Business Suites which have been installed on Airbus A330s flying between the East Coast capitals and Perth, as well as on flights to Asian destinations such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bangkok, Shanghai and Manila, are also on the Dreamliners.
However, the fixed divider in between the centre seats has become an adjustable one, offering more versatility for solo and accompanied travellers.
There are 42 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, offering direct-aisle access to all passengers.
Premium Economy Class
At first glance, the Premium Economy seats look plush but also cramped if the passenger in front of you is in recline mode.
There are 28 seats in a 2-3-2 configuration over four rows and each seat has a mesh hammock for your feet as well as a pillow that attaches to your headrest.
Photo courtesy Andrew Dean
You can clip a tablet on in front of your inflight entertainment screen, and you’ll have two USB ports to yourself and one AC power outlet to share with the person next to you.
There are 166 Economy Class seats across a 3-3-3 configuration, with an extra inch of pitch than currently found on the Airbus A380s that Qantas fly to London, Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth.
Welcome additions will be USB charging ports and a tablet holder, in keeping with the airline’s move to streaming on your own device rather than maintaining expensive inflight entertainment systems (IFEs).
How to use points on these flights
The five main points currencies Australia-based travellers can use on Qantas flights are:
- Qantas Points
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- American Airlines AAdvantage miles
- Alaska Mileage Plan miles
- British Airways Avios
Asia Miles offer good value and are easily transferred from a number of credit card rewards programs, whilst Qantas Points are the most popular points currency in the country and can also be used to upgrade a cash ticket.
Avios are best saved for short-haul domestic flights.
Here is a comparison of one-way pricing between these points currencies on select international routes:
|Route||Class||AAdvantage||Alaska Mileage Plan||Asia Miles||Qantas Points||Avios|
|Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane - Hong Kong||Business||40,000||N/A||50,000||60,000||75,000|
|Melbourne/Brisbane - Los Angeles||Business||80,000||55,000||90,000||96,000||150,000|
|Perth - London||Business||85,000||N/A||90,000||112,000||150,000|
- AAdvantage does not allow Premium Economy redemptions
- Alaska Mileage Plan does not allow routings between Australia and Europe; routings between Australia and Asia must be on Cathay Pacific, not Qantas
You are most likely to find open award seats on these flights when the Qantas award calendar opens up 353 days before departure and in the week before you want to fly.
Reward seats in Economy Class are easier to find than those in premium cabins.
If you can’t find availability on Qantas, the most common alternatives for Business and Premium Economy seats are:
- To Europe: Cathay Pacific and Emirates (no Premium Economy)
- To the US: Cathay Pacific, American Airlines and Japan Airlines
To get started, learn how to search for frequent flyer award space most efficiently.
Where to credit miles
If you are purchasing a cash ticket on one of these flights and want the most value out of the points you’ll get out of it, check out our guide on how to choose which program to credit your frequent flyer points to.
It’s great news that Qantas is continuing to invest in its superior Business Class on this new aircraft; the updated Premium Economy product is a welcome addition; and a little more room in Economy Class is never a bad thing.
We’ll keep our ears open for announcements about where it will fly next and what award availability trends emerge.