/Sydney, Canberra and Perth get upgrades to Qatar Airways services later this year

Sydney, Canberra and Perth get upgrades to Qatar Airways services later this year

Jump on award availability to/from Sydney and Canberra in October and November.

Change 1: one daily Sydney/Canberra service gets an upgrade to newest plane

Currently, Sydney is serviced by two daily Qatar Airways flights. One flight is operated by the A380 (with First Class, explained later on) and the other starts in Canberra, lands in Sydney and then continues to Doha. On the way back, it touches Sydney first and then continues onto Canberra.

From 27 October 2019, this daily flight currently serviced by a Boeing 777-300ER will be upgraded to an Airbus A350-1000. What does this mean?

Well, the onboard product is basically the same—the excellent QSuite, which is probably the best Business Class product in the world—but the aircraft will be more modern. It’ll be a more comfortable ride as the A350 has more oxygen flowing through the cabin, thereby decreasing jetlag. It is also more environmentally-friendly.

I can see availability for at least two award seats on the Sydney to Doha service on 29 October as well as 3-6, 11, 18, 20 and 22 November 2019.

On the way back, I can only see two seats from Doha to Sydney on 22 January 2020.

You can read more about the product and how to book later in this guide.

Change 2: Perth gets QSuite product on a temporary basis

Currently, Perth enjoys one daily flight to Doha on the Airbus A380 (with First Class). However, between 12 September and 12 December 2019, a Boeing 777-300ER will replace this aircraft.

What does this mean? It means that First Class will disappear from this route during those three months, but the new plane is equipped with the excellent QSuite (which is more private than the First Class product anyway).

Unfortunately, I can see no award availability in either direction for the QSuite. Perhaps keep an eye on it during this week to see if any opens up. Info on how to easily search for award seats is provided later in this guide.

In this guide

Part I of this guide explores the different Business Class offerings of the A350, A380 and 777.

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 on the A350-1000 and 777-300ER from Canberra via Sydney & Perth

The Qsuite features sliding privacy doors, much like you can currently experience in Singapore Airlines and Emirates First Class Suites as well as on Korean Air’s Boeing 747-8i aircraft.

Qatar Airways Qsuite

The two middle seats convert into a double bed, again just like in Singapore Airlines First Class Suites.

Qatar Airways Qsuite

And there are removable row dividers in the middle row to convert four adjacent middle seats into a family room.

Qatar Airways Qsuite

Qatar Airways Qsuite

As I 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.

You can check which overseas routes and specific flight numbers the QSuite can be found on here.

Review: Qatar Airways Qsuite Business Class

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:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class 1

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class 2

There is also a full-service onboard bar on the A380:

QR A380 Bar

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.

Qatar First Class Suite

Qatar First Class Suite Lie Flat

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 effective mid-July 2018, First Class award redemptions are not available to/from London.

Review: Qatar Airways A380 First Class

A350-900 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:

Review: Qatar Airways A350 Business Class

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 Australia - Europe 2 201509

Qatar Airways fly direct from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide 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
Perth 92,000 70,000 80,000
Melbourne 104,000 70,000 80,000
Adelaide 104,000 70,000 80,000
Sydney 104,000 90,000 80,000
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.

AAdvantage miles are typically best picked up in a buy miles promotion. The guide to AAdvantage miles purchases is here, along with a detailed overview of redemption options to Europe.

Summing up

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.