Qantas International A330 Business Class Review – QF129 Sydney to Shanghai

This review is by Lachlan, a digital marketer, blogger and avid traveller. We haven’t run a review of the new Qantas A330 Business Class suites on a long-haul international route yet, so enjoy!

Recently I returned from south China with my girlfriend Larita, visiting her family and their local region on a two week adventure. We originally booked return tickets with Qantas in economy with our initial plans to visit Taipei (Taiwan) first, then onto China.

One month later because of a political issue and visa restrictions between the two countries, we had to change our flights with Qantas and sadly front up more cash because of peak season travel.

The pre-trip feeling was now off to a low start from the change in flights and increased cost, but I had a game plan to change that – I was going to use my points to save the day. With some seat availability scanning and some small luck from Qantas I successfully won a bid to upgrade our Sydney to Shanghai seats on route to China up to Business Class. Continue reading…

What would be the best ways to use frequent flyer points for the Qantas 787 Perth to London flight?

Qantas have announced that they’ll be operating a Perth to London direct flight with their new 787 fleet from the 24 March 2018.

perth-london-qantas

In this guide we’ll look at this route specifically when it comes to the best value points redemptions – using Qantas Points, Asia Miles and AAdvantage miles.

Also, as Qantas fly seasonally from Auckland to Perth between November and April (QF111/QF112), there is a small window of opportunity for those on the North Island to fly to London on Qantas for the first time in 2018, with only one stop (albeit with a 21.5 hour layover). Obviously this isn’t going to make sense for everyone, and will likely only appeal to those who wouldn’t mind some time in Perth – however, for completeness, it’s important we cover this flight option off!

Options for using points for Perth to London direct with Qantas

Outside of Qantas Frequent Flyer, the main Qantas partners with points redemption opportunities on Qantas flights for New Zealanders are Asia Miles and AAdvantage. The latter, unfortunately, doesn’t offer Premium Economy redemptions on any carrier at this point, although we are likely to see this change in 2017.

We’ve rounded up the costs for Perth to London direct in all three programs, plus looked at pricing if you were to tack on the seasonal Auckland to Perth flight with no stopover (> 24 hours spent):

 Qantas PointsAsia MilesAAdvantage Miles
one wayreturnone wayreturnone wayreturn
Perth - London
Economy55,000110,00055,00090,00060,000120,000
Premium Economy84,000172,00066,000108,000--
Business Class112,000224,00085,000145,00085,000170,000
Auckland - Perth - London
Economy60,000120,00070,000110,00060,000120,000
Premium Economy96,000192,00084,000132,000--
Business Class128,000256,000110,000175,00085,000170,000

The pricing for other NZ cities for these programs are the same as Auckland (these would involve a second stop however).

Interested in which frequent flyer programs offer the best value for redemptions on this route? Jump down ↓

What about stopovers?

Neither Qantas, AAdvantage or Asia Miles permit stopovers of more than 24 hours on a multi-stop international itineraries without costing more.

Our full guide to building in stopovers or transits with Qantas Points is here.

What you should do now if you want to fly Qantas’ new Perth to London route using points

Interested in doing Perth to London without a stop? Here’s where to start:

  1. Identify which points currencies work best for you – see our summary from the list above
  2. Start saving the points you need for the redemption
  3. Keep informed on when opportunities to snag award seats on the route – follow us on Facebook.

About the Perth – London route

The distance for Perth to London clocks in at just over 9,000 miles (via gcmap.com).

If flying from Auckland, to Perth, and then onto London, the total distance would be 12,320 miles, pushing the pricing up a band in both the Qantas Classic Award and the Asia Miles Award charts.

Auckland London Route

Qantas’ A330 fleet fly the route from Auckland to Perth, which features one of the best Business Class cabins in the world – though the plane will not feature the Premium Economy cabin that will feature on the 787 flying between Peth and London.

About Qantas’ new Boeing 787-9s

Perth to London will be Qantas’ first international route using their 787.

Qantas haven’t yet announced what the Premium Economy cabin on the route will look like, but otherwise the Economy cabin will be slightly roomier in pitch than most of it’s competitors, but comparable in seat width.

qf-787-y-tablet

The Business Class seat and cabin will be very similar to that on Qantas domestic and international A330 fleet.

qf-787-j-front

qf-787-j-back

The 787 will likely go into service for training and familiarisation runs before the launch of the Perth to London direct flights in 2018.

Will Qantas make any award seats available on this flight?

Right now Qantas’ most competitive flights for points redemptions with Qantas Points or their frequent flyer points are usually their flights to the USA in Business or First Class.

Qantas are generally fairly predictable about releasing Business Class seats on the US routes – there aren’t many, and they open up two at the time when their booking calendar opens (353 days before travel) and then usually very few others unless folks who booked them cancel their points redemptions and these seats are usually then made available again. Sometimes other redemption seats do pop up but it’s rare.

Premium Economy availability is usually a little better, with a few seats popping up here when the calendar opens, and then again on and off as the flight gets closer – but of course still with low availability relative to other routes and no guarantees you can pick up a seat.

When it comes to availability for Perth to and from London, these are my general observations – who knows if I am right though:

  • Premium Economy and Business Class upgrades using points will be in high demand, similar to the Australia – US routes
  • There will likely be an initial wave of demand during the first few months as frequent travellers to the UK and Europe may try out the direct route and see what they think
  • Qantas will also want to protect prices on the new route, probably after an initial launch sale to get forward bookings and bums on seats

All these factors make me think the situation will probably mirror the US redemption availability situation, where it’s tough to find seats unless you plan well ahead or are willing to jump on seats when they come up, often more last minute.

On the positive side, historically Qantas have been good about opening up plenty of award seats on new routes when they first open for booking – San Francisco for example had 2 Business Class seats on most dates to start with, and then another round of availability opened up again a few months later.

Qantas may do this again with the 787 Perth – London route too – once April comes, and bookings open, we will monitor it and keep you informed of any opportunities as they arise.

What about taxes and fees?

Flights originating in Auckland usually have lower fees and surcharges than those originating from Australian ports – from Auckland to Perth, for example, taxes and fees are only around $60 NZD using Qantas Points.

For the connection through Perth, I would hope to see lower fees payable with Qantas Frequent Flyer and Asia Miles redemptions than for comparable routes connecting via Sydney or Melbourne.

Observations – which frequent flyer program is best?

This route creates a great opportunity to look at some comparative frequent flyer program pricing.

There’s nothing particularly unique about this route or the 787 specifically when it comes to pricing, it’s just a nice time to remind you of some comparative strengths of different programs.

Qantas Points and Asia Miles are readily available in New Zealand, but primarily from credit card spend and travel partners.

Unless you still have an ANZ Qantas Visa card, your ability to earn Qantas Points and Asia Miles on everyday spend will either be with the American Express Platinum Edge, or Platinum Charge. Membership Rewards Points transfer to both programs at the same rate – 1:0.5.

Asia Miles comes out much better off in terms of redemption pricing, compared to Qantas which is comparatively high.

This table shows the % of Asia Miles needed for a redemption on this route vs Qantas Points:

Qantas Points vs Asia MilesPerth - LondonAuckland - Perth - London
one wayreturnone wayreturn
Economy100%82%117%92%
Premium Economy79%63%88%69%
Business Class76%65%86%68%

You can see that the majority of price points for using Asia Miles are substantially less than when using Qantas Points – at best, an Asia Miles return Premium Economy award costs just 63% of the same flight redeemed using Qantas Points.

Taxes and fees for a Qantas Frequent Flyer redemption vs Asia Miles should be fairly similar.

What about AAdvantage?

Not shown in our comparison table is the comparative cost of taxes for each program – AAdvantage are usually much cheaper than the competition thanks to not passing on the fuel surcharges otherwise imposed by most other programs in the region.

Well, there are no credit cards that are direct transfer partners of AAdvantage in the market here, but AAdvantage is a partner of Starwood Preferred Guest – the American Express Platinum Edge is a 0.99 Starpoint per dollar spent earner at supermarkets (where you can extend your earning reach through the use of gift cards).

1 Starpoint usually transfers to AAdvantage miles at 1:1 ratio, but transfers of 20,000 Starpoints will earn you 25,000 AAdvantage miles. As a result the effective earn rate on the American Express Platinum Edge is 1.23 points per dollar if you optimise your transfers and only transfer in 20,000 point blocks.

This is without even considering Marriott Rewards travel certificates, or bonuses on Starwood transfers to AAdvantage either.

It’s complex to the uninitiated in points – but in short, if you spend a little time thinking about the points currency you earn, you can dramatically increase your redemption power – you can read more in our AAdvantage and Starwood conversion guide if you’d like to learn how.

So, you can earn up to 1.5 Asia Miles or Qantas Points per dollar spent on the Platinum Edge, vs 1.23 effectively to AAdvantage via SPG. Let’s use these figures as a comparison of the spend required to earn enough points for the following redemptions:

 Asia Miles with Platinum EdgeAAdvantage via SPG with Platinum EdgeQantas Points with Platinum Edge
Business Class one way Auckland - Perth - London$73,333$69,106$85,333
Business Return Auckland - Perth - London$116,667$138,212$170,667

As you can see, the differences are pretty marked – with Qantas usually always coming out more expensive. Qantas Points however will be much easier to collect for those who fly Jetstar and Qantas frequently, either domestically or Trans-Tasman.

Finally – another partner program (that also allows stopovers, like AAdvantage) is Alaska Airways MileagePlan, who also offer decent promotions for purchasing miles. Alaska doesn’t currently publish pricing for Qantas awards to Europe but this new flight might mean they do. Depending on the price, that could be an option in future.

Summing up – Qantas’ new Perth to London flight

I personally wouldn’t want to fly this route in Economy – my long legs (which are the original inspiration for this whole site!) just wouldn’t cope with the break. I find 10+ hour flights in Economy hard enough as it is.

If my end destination was London, I would consider this route in Premium Economy and Business Class. However it remains to be seen if Qantas will work their flight times to offer usable connections to other close European cities.

Regardless, a need to connect to another city in Europe would have this route way down my list given there are now so many one-stop options to a wide range of cities in Europe from the likes of Qatar, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and others – all available as points redemption options.

And if I was redeeming points for this flight in Business Class – the programs I’d look at would be AAdvantage or Asia Miles. By all means use Qantas Points if you have a large enough balance from regional travel or spend from the now discontinued ANZ Qantas Points card, but there’s more value to be had by looking further afield.

Which specifically I would use would depend on my current balances, any other travel I had in mind and where I was transferring the points from – but AAdvantage edge it for one way itineraries and their cheaper taxes, while Asia Miles may get the nod for the return, depending on their surcharges.

Route & airline options when using American Airlines AAdvantage miles to get to Europe from Australia or New Zealand

American Airlines AAdvantage miles are some of the most valuable out there, so when AAdvantage miles go on sale, the astute points-collectors take note and consider buying them to redeem for Business or First Class flights.

While the act of redeeming them isn’t actually too hard, understanding the routing and ticket rules, and performing the research required to find flights can take time.

This post covers which airlines, routes, rules and costs apply to American Airlines AAdvantage tickets between New Zealand and Europe.
Continue reading…

Qantas A330 Business Class Review – Perth to Auckland

My family had always thought about visiting New Zealand for a holiday, as it was one of the few places close to Australia that we hadn’t visited together yet (we tend to stick to Southeast Asia).

Finally, we decided to make it happen over the 2016-17 New Year break, as they were already going to Melbourne. After some planning, I booked their Melbourne to Auckland flight in Emirates First Class (54,000 Qantas points per person). Continue reading…

Qantas A330 Domestic Business Class Overview

Qantas now have a majority of their Airbus A330s reconfigured with their ‘new’ domestic Business Class cabins – despite them being first seen last year, their full fleet isn’t quite finished.

That said, if you book yourself onto a Qantas A330 flight you should now find yourself with the reconfigured cabin more often than not – including on the Auckland – Perth route, and it’s an absolutely fantastic seat.

In this guide we run through what to expect from the Qantas A330 domestic Business Class experience, and look at how to redeem a range of frequent flyer points currencies ↓ for the routes it most frequently flies. Continue reading…

Qantas Sydney T3 Domestic Business Lounge Overview

As part of a recent trip to Canberra in Qantas Business Class, I called into the Qantas Domestic Business Class Lounge in Sydney so we could create this overview of one of Qantas’ flagship domestic lounges.

In short – while the Sydney lounge is not part of their recent lounge refurbishment program in Perth, Canberra and soon Brisbane – it still has good views, dining and comfortable seating, whilst still feeling relatively modern.
Continue reading…

Update!: now including Hawaiian – Flight Deal – New Zealand to Los Angeles direct, Business Class return for $3,500!

Update! Hawaiian Airlines have now jumped into this sale with return business class fares between Auckland and Los Angeles via Honolulu for $3,520. Sale fares are available on selected days from now until late June 2017 including holiday periods, and as shown later can also be booked to include a stop in Honolulu for no extra.

This week has seen some great return airfare deals across multiple carriers advertised for flights to North America.

We’ve written about the multiple carriers advertising sub $1,000 return fares to US currently on the market, however here I’m focusing purely on the ground-breakingly low business class fares the airlines have been a little more discreet about, and are available for booking all the way out to the end of June 2017.
Continue reading…