Qantas-Emirates: a boon for business travellers?
While Qantas has an excellent premium economy cabin, Emirates offers no such in-between class. Photo: GREG WOOD
Last month's historic hook-up between Qantas and Emirates generated plenty of fireworks, but what does it mean for the business traveller?
Over the past few weeks we've seen some more details start to filter through.
When it comes to burning your frequent flyer points, the Qantas-Emirates alliance should make it much easier to snare 'free' reward flights.
High Flyer has also been busy pinging Qantas and Emirates for additional information in order to pull together this summary for business travellers and frequent flyers.
Qantas A380s still fly to London
First up, the flagship of the Qantas fleet – the mighty Airbus A380 – will keep flying from Sydney and Melbourne to London.
All that changes is that it will now stop over at Dubai instead of Singapore.
While that's sure to comfort the Red Roo's rusted-on supporters (and yes, it has many of those left), if your business travel budget is on the right side this is the only way you'll be able to make the whole trip in premium economy.
While Qantas has an excellent premium economy cabin, Emirates offers no such in-between class – you choose either economy or business.
If you're fortunate enough to be flying first class, however, might want to try the Emirates A380s, which offer private fully-enclosed first class suites.
As long as your first class ticket on the Emirates flight is booked under its codeshare QF flight number you'll officially be flying Qantas (and earning full Qantas status credits for the trip).
The rest of Europe
If you want to travel anywhere else in Europe, you'll change at Dubai for a direct flight onwards to any of some 30 cities across Europe.
This is a seriously big win for business travellers. Emirates has built an extensive European network compared to Qantas' decidedly London-centric vision.
Travellers hamstrung by their company's Qantas-only travel booking rules will no longer have to endure the insanity of the Heathrow hop, flying all the way to London and working through the airport scrum only to bounce back across the Channel to some European city on a codeshare BA flight.
Likewise, Qantas' axing of the Frankfurt route is no great loss because Emirates flies not only to Frankfurt but also Hamburg, Munich and Düsseldorf.
Those Dubai transits will be easier than Heathrow, too, as Qantas will share Emirates' terminal at Dubai Airport.
What's in store for Singapore?
Qantas says it'll keep some flights to Singapore, although expect these to be made on Airbus A330s rather than the superjumbo A380.
(Also expect to see those A330s upgraded to the A380-grade SkyBed II business class seats, which are fully lie-flat models rather than 'sloping sleeper' recliners).
The Singapore flights will also be rescheduled to for more sensible arrival and departure times, as they'll no longer need to dovetail into Kangaroo Route connections to and from London.
Qantas has confirmed to High Flyer that it will also codeshare on Emirates flights which transit though Asia, such as Melbourne-Singapore-Dubai and Brisbane-Singapore-Dubai. (This also includes Sydney-Bangkok-Dubai and Melbourne-Kuala Lumpur-Dubai).
However, Qantas will scale back its Singapore lounges to a single Qantas Business lounge, ditching the current first class lounge.
That doesn't strike High Flyer as such bad news. The current first class lounge is a bit tired and tatty, and overdue for the renovation which Qantas planned along with the business lounge.
Provided the made-over Qantas Business lounge comes up to scratch, and the WiFi is no longer as slow as a wet week in Wagga, we'll be happy.
Frequent flyer points and perks
Qantas frequent flyers will be able to earn points on all Emirates flights, even if they're not operated as a codeshare with Qantas.
Status credits can be earned only on Emirates flights which are codeshared with Qantas, however – and only for travel booked under the Qantas QF flight number rather than Emirates' EK flight number.
Qantas and Emirates have pledged "reciprocal access to the tier status benefits" of their respective Frequent Flyer and Skywards programs – perks such as priority check-in and boarding, lounge access and a higher checked luggage allowance.
Qantas Silver and Qantas Club members will be able to use the Emirates lounge at Dubai airport, while Qantas Gold and Platinum members have entry to all Emirates business lounges worldwide.
A Qantas spokesperson tells High Flyer that the airline is still working through the details of lounge access for Qantas Club members when travelling on flights to and from London.
When it comes to burning all your frequent flyer points, the Qantas-Emirates alliance should make it much easier to snare 'free' reward flights because of the vastly increased number of flights and destinations on tap through Emirates.
As a business traveller, what's your take on the the Qantas-Emirates alliance?
David Flynn is a business travel expert and editor of Australian Business Traveller.