The nation’s capital will get one of the world’s best Business Class products from next month. Here is how to book an award seat.
In this guide
Part I of this guide explores the different Business Class offerings between the 777, A380 and A350.
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.
What to expect from Qatar Airways Business Class
‘Qsuite’ product from Canberra via Sydney
Since February, Qatar has been flying from Canberra to Doha, making a one-hour stop in both directions in Sydney.
This route used to be serviced by the old Boeing 777 Business Class product in a 2-2-2 configuration:
Starting in July 2018, it has been upgraded to Qatar’s 777-300ER aircraft flying four times a week initially and daily from 1 August.
The two middle seats convert into a double bed, again just like in Singapore Airlines First Class Suites.
And there are removable row dividers in the middle row to convert four adjacent middle seats into a family room.
As we see it, the pros are:
- a high level of privacy for solo travellers
- a more intimate flying experience for couples, groups and families
- beautiful finishing touches
The cons could be:
- slightly more cramped seat due to an increase in overall space with addition of door
- family room is great for families but could be a noise concern for solo travellers
- no inflight wifi
Sydney-based travellers are able to choose between this service and the daily A380 flight, however, Qatar does not have rights to transport passengers solely between Canberra and Sydney on this flight.
A380 services from Sydney, Melbourne & Perth
On the A380 (as well as onward flights from their Doha hub to destinations served by the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner), Qatar has a herringbone 1-2-1 configuration in Business Class:
There is also a full-service onboard bar on the A380:
First Class is available on A380 flights but not on other aircraft. Qatar First Class award redemptions can be hard to come by but, if secured, are a great use of Qantas Points.
In addition to these three Australian services, Qatar also operates A380 services to Bangkok, Frankfurt (from 31 March 2019), Guangzhou, London and Paris. Note that as of mid-July 2018, First Class award redemptions are not available to/from London.
Review: Qatar Airways A380 First Class
A350 service from Adelaide
Qatar was the first airline to fly the A350, 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:
Old 777 product
Qatar is progressively replacing this product, which served Perth until April 2018, with a 2-2-2 lie-flat-bed 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 other Qatar offerings above.
Review: Qatar Airways 777 Business Class
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, including 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.
Researching award availability for Qatar Airways redemptions
The best place to search for a monthly view of Qatar Airways flights is on the American Airlines website. Then you can book online through the Qantas, Asia Miles or British Airways websites (depending on which currency you want to use).
You can expect to see Qatar Airways seats released at 361 days before departure but some programs will not see those seats until later on.
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 (in Business Class):
|From||Qantas Points||Asia Miles||AAdvantage miles|
|Canberra (via Sydney)||104,000||90,000||80,000|
Using Qantas Points
Qantas charges 104,000 Qantas Points for one-way Business Class on the Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra routes, which is more expensive than the comparable Dubai flights flown by Qantas or Emirates at 96,000 points.
The same case applies to Perth, with Qantas charging 92,000 points from Perth, which is 8,000 points more than it costs to fly to Dubai on Emirates. Qantas passes on full taxes and surcharges too.
If you are flying all the way on to 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 Australia to Doha, plus the cost of the flight from Doha to your final destination.
Using Asia Miles
Some changes to the Asia Miles program came into effect on 22nd June 2018, the figures in this guide have been updated accordingly.
Asia Miles award charts are distance-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 140,000 miles return.
Flying from Sydney or Canberra costs 90,000 Asia Miles in Business Class one-way, or 180,000 miles return.
If you are not flying from Sydney or Canberra as your starting point (e.g. from Brisbane, Cairns, Hobart), it may be worth booking your Qatar Airways redemption from Adelaide, Melbourne or Perth, instead of Sydney or Canberra, 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 five Australian cities (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 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 Dubai with Emirates.
Supplementary images courtesy Qatar Airways.