This announcement is great news to increase the number of seats flying to the US as well as opportunities to use your Qantas Points.
Which are Qantas’ next US routes?
Qantas will fly nonstop from Brisbane to both San Francisco and Chicago.
The San Francisco flight is great news for those wishing to visit the Bay Area and Northern California, as well as for connecting to domestic Alaska Airlines services.
The Chicago service will be Qantas’ first time flying to the airport and will become the world’s fourth-longest flight. Chicago is an American Airlines hub, which will be useful for connecting to the Midwest as well as Eastern US and Canada.
When will the services start?
Qantas says that ‘the new routes…are expected to launch by the end of April 2020.’
Which plane will be used?
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Does Qantas already fly from Brisbane to the US?
Yes, Qantas currently flies daily from Brisbane to Los Angeles and onward to New York JFK.
Are award seats available yet? When will tickets go on sale?
No, they’re not. They are expected to become available in the coming weeks once the US Department of Transportation approves the routes.
What will award availability be like?
Tight. Flights to and from the US are some of the hardest Qantas routes to find award availability on (in Business Class, at least).
However, when announcing new routes, Qantas tends to release award availability when the tickets go on sale. As such, if you are interested in booking one of these flights, then prepare your points balances now so that you are ready when that day comes. We will update this guide when it does.
How many points are required?
Brisbane – San Francisco will cost 96,000 Qantas Points one-way in Business Class; Chicago is more expensive at 112,000. Other points currencies like Asia Miles can be used and are detailed later in this guide.
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.
Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner routes
The airline is capitalising on Perth as a hub between the East Coast of Australia and Europe. Then, flights from Europe tracking back to Perth 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 (upgrade from 747 to 787 from 4 December 2019)
- Melbourne – Perth – London
- Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane – Hong Kong
Chicago will be the next destination.
- Brisbane – Chicago (by April 2020)
- Brisbane – San Francisco (by April 2020)
- 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||Qantas Points||Alaska Mileage Plan||AAdvantage||Asia Miles||Avios|
|Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane - Hong Kong||Business||60,000||N/A||40,000||50,000||77,250|
|Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane - Los Angeles/San Francisco||Business||96,000||55,000||80,000||90,000||154,500|
|Perth - London and Brisbane - Chicago||Business||112,000||N/A||85,000||90,000||154,500|
- 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.