Later this year, the Queen of the Skies will disappear from flights to the US mainland.
In this guide, I 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 – San Francisco
Currently, this route is serviced by an old Boeing 747 6-7 times a week. However, Qantas has announced that:
From 4 December 2019, customers travelling between Sydney and San Francisco will experience the Dreamliner’s next generation Economy, Premium Economy and Business cabins.
The change is timed with the phased delivery of the airline’s six additional Dreamliners as the more efficient aircraft gradually replaces the Boeing 747 aircraft on Qantas’ international network by the end of 2020.
This is good news for Business Class passengers, who will switch up the Skybed II on the 747:
for the airline’s newest-generation seat.
I took the Melbourne – San Francisco service back five months ago and was impressed with the modern seat and good sense of privacy. However, I do not agree with Qantas saying that it has been ‘nicknamed “mini First Class” by some frequent flyers’—that’s misleading.
Premium Economy passengers will get a more modern seat but it’s quite cramped. Those in Economy Class will experience an increase in space on the newer aircraft compared to the current one.
Unfortunately, you can expect a decrease in award availability on this route by approximately a quarter. The number of Business Class seats will decrease from 58 to 42, whilst Premium Economy shrinks from 36 to 28 seats. In fact, I cannot see any Business Class availability in either direction on the new aircraft from 4 December 2019 to the end of the award calendar, i.e. April 2020.
If you can find award availability in the future, a one-way Business Class flight will set you back 96,000 Qantas Points. Other points currencies that can be used, such as Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, are detailed later in this guide.
Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner routes
The airline is looking to capitalise on Perth as a hub between the East Coast of Australia and Europe. Then, flights from Europe tracking back to Perth will stop 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. All 747s are slated to be retired by the end of 2020.
Tickets are on sale for the following routes:
- Melbourne – Los Angeles
- Brisbane – Los Angeles – New York JFK
- Melbourne – San Francisco
- Sydney – San Francisco (from 4 December 2019)
- Melbourne – Perth – London
- Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane – Hong Kong
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 mid-2017 to work on new long-range aircraft that could carry a full cabin nonstop from the East Coast to New York and London. This would negate the need to stop in Los Angeles or Singapore 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 are also on the Dreamliners. You can also find this product on flights to Asian destinations such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bangkok, Shanghai and Manila.
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.
You can clip a tablet on in front of your inflight entertainment screen. You’ll also 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. You’ll get an extra inch of pitch than you can currently find on the Airbus A380s that Qantas flies to London, Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth.
Welcome additions are 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
Closer to home, 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|
|Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane - Los Angeles/San Francisco||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 on partners (for now)
- 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. In addition, you may also find seats in the week leading up to when you want to fly.
Remember, 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 for now)
- To the US: Cathay Pacific, American Airlines and Japan Airlines
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.
Unfortunately, the updated Premium Economy product has been a miss, but getting 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.
Supplementary images courtesy Andrew Dean.