COVID-19 Update: Qantas’ international network is severely impacted until mid-2021 at the earliest. This includes suspension of flights and aircraft swaps, including the grounding of a majority of its A380 fleet. Further information can be found in this guide.
According to Routesonline, from 24 June 2020, Qantas’ four-times-weekly service from Sydney to Santiago will increase to daily flights on the Dreamliner.
That means an upgrade from the current Boeing 747 with SkyBed II seats:
to Qantas’ flagship Business Class product.
How will this affect award availability?
Whilst the number of Business and Premium Economy Class seats on each plane will drop by 28% and 22%, respectively, I expect overall award availability on this route to increase.
That’s because moving to daily flights means that the number of seats available across the whole week will increase by 27% and 36% for Business and Premium Economy, respectively.
Right now, Qantas Gold, Platinum and Platinum One members may be able to book an award seat on the new plane. That’s because Qantas gives them preferential access to premium cabin award seats on most Qantas long-haul flights at 353 days before departure. As Bronze and Silver members get access at 297 days, the earliest date you could start a booking on the new plane is on 1 September 2019.
Keep an eye on the Qantas website as award space may open up over the coming weeks.
How many points are required?
A one-way Business or Premium Economy Class flight between Sydney and Santiago will set you back 108,400 or 81,300 Qantas Points from 18 September 2019 onwards.
Other points currencies like Asia Miles can be used and are detailed later in this guide.
What are my other options for getting to South America?
The main alternative is flying Qantas partner and oneworld alliance member LATAM from Sydney or Melbourne to Santiago. Read more in our guide to how to use points to get to South America.
Where does the Boeing 747 still fly?
You can still find the Queen of the Skies with Qantas’ ageing Business Class product flying from Sydney to:
- Honolulu (seasonal)
- Tokyo Haneda
My take on this announcement
This is great news coming as part of Qantas’ plan to retire its old Boeing 747s from its fleet by the end of next year and replacing them with more modern (and smaller) Dreamliners. This allows the airline to increase frequencies, as it is doing to Santiago.
Business Class travellers win with a superior product thanks to this upgrade. However, those in Premium Economy may prefer the more comfortable product on the 747.
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 Johannesburg and Vancouver. 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
- Melbourne – Perth – London
- Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane – Hong Kong
- Sydney – Auckland (December 2019 to March 2020)
- Brisbane – San Francisco
- Brisbane – Chicago (starts 15 April 2020)
- Sydney – Santiago (upgrade from 747 to 787 from 24 June 2020)
- Sydney – Vancouver (seasonal service 12 December 2020 until 27 February 2021)
Other routes that are rumoured to be in the pipeline for Qantas are:
- Perth – Paris/Berlin/Rome/Frankfurt
- Melbourne/Brisbane – Dallas/Fort Worth
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.
Below is a comparison of one-way pricing between these points currencies on select international routes.
Important note: Qantas redemptions changed in price from 18 September 2019. The figures below show the pricing after the changes.
|Route||Class||Qantas Points||Alaska Mileage Plan||AAdvantage||Asia Miles||Avios|
|Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane - Hong Kong||Business||68,400||N/A||40,000||50,000||77,250|
|Sydney - Santiago||Business||108,400||N/A||82,500||75,000||154,500|
|Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane - Los Angeles/San Francisco||Business||108,400||55,000||80,000||90,000||154,500|
|Perth - London and Brisbane - Chicago||Business||126,500||N/A||80,000/85,000 (Chicago/London)||90,000||154,500|
- Alaska Mileage Plan does not allow routings between Australia and Europe or South America; 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
- To South America: LATAM (no Premium Economy)
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 in terms of seat pitch, 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.