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Qantas-Emirates: a boon for business travellers?

While Qantas has an excellent premium economy cabin, Emirates offers no such in-between class.

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.

Twitter: @AusBT

21 comments so far

  • I tried Emirates on my last flight from London to Melbourne. I found the A380 Business seats to be small and very uncomfortable when in the upright position - nowhere near as good as the Qantas SkyBed. The B777 for the second leg was more comfortable. The food varied from mediocre to atrocious. The cavernous Lounge at Dubai was quite comfortable but very noisy and there were insufficient toilets with long queues.

    Brian Burbage
    Date and time
    October 02, 2012, 11:32AM
    • Good to have a choice between QF and EK, and definitely agree about how much better this will be for both European flights and redeeming Qantas frequent flyer points. Putting aside the emotive 'politics' of the Qantas-Emirates alliance, once you work through the list of what it all means, this really does look good for not just business travellers but all passengers.

      Son of Ryan Bingham
      Date and time
      October 02, 2012, 12:09PM
      • Do your maths before redeeming points for Qantas flights. A did the maths for flights from Sydney to Taipei via Hong Kong and found that I get better value by redeeming my Qantas points for gift cards and then paying for the flights using a Platinum AMEX to get extra frequent flyer and credit card points. Get gift cards for a place where you do your shopping anyway, such as Myer or Bunnings. Also, check out flights with other airlines and you may get better value again both in terms of price and service.

        Date and time
        November 14, 2012, 7:45PM
    • If Dubai can ever finish its second airport and make it as good as Singapore the change will be OK for transit passengers. I cant see Dubai ever being a stop over destination to match Singapore, therefore I cant see why Qantas could not have stayed in Singapore and used their One World european parteners for mainland europe destinations.

      Date and time
      October 02, 2012, 12:10PM
      • Maybe because out of Singapore there is 1 OneWorld member other than Qantas that flies direct to Europe, which is BA flying to London which Qantas serves anyway.

        Moving to Hong Kong might have been an option but Cathay, although part of OneWorld goes it alone quite a lot, a move to KL with Malaysia entering OneWorld would have opened up a few extra destinations in Europe and Asia. But really Emirates is the better choice for access to Europe and Africa. One stop with heaps of destinations to feed into.

        Date and time
        October 03, 2012, 11:47AM
      • My biggest issue is the layover times on EK to Europe usually a minimum of 4 hours plus and that after 16 plus hours on a 777 from SYD just the thing to make flying enjoyable.
        If QF and EK are serious about this they will use A 380's from Sydney to Dubai @ 14 hours flying time instead of nearly 17 and rewrite the timetable so the wait for connections to Europe is @ 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours or so a reduction in cost to compete with Air France Singapore Lufthansa Malaysian would be good as they also fly A 380's to Europe with better timetable shorter layovers and cheaper prices

        Date and time
        October 03, 2012, 3:27PM
    • Dubai Vs Singapore? Well, how many times have you flown through both ports? Let's consider the ability to get in and out of customs and then in and out of the airport, Singapore wins hands down. The country has thrived as a service culture for many, many years. Dubai (and the UAE as a collective) just doesn't have this ethos. Line up and shut up. Lounge's? Unless you are flying First with EK forget trying to have a shower in the EK Bus Lounge - line up and hope you get your 10mins. As for the stop over itself, I'll still have Singapore any day. All this said, the EK option into Europa is a no brainer. Great move. Back to the lounges, what about SYD? Bus & First is busy as it is, just imagine all the extra EK punters knocking on the door.

      Bevan McBevan
      Date and time
      October 02, 2012, 1:55PM
      • EK has its own fairly large lounge at SYD, so I don't see why EK passengers would place any pressure on QF lounges.

        Date and time
        October 02, 2012, 8:45PM
    • When will business class airfares from Australia stop being a rip off? Emirates fares from London to Australia are £2,800 to £3,000 most of the time ($4,500) whereas the same flights in reverse are around $8,000 (£5,300). Most other airlines follow the same pattern.

      Date and time
      October 02, 2012, 2:49PM
      • That is why I always purchase a return to Melbourne from London even though I live in Victoria. Most discount return Business tickets are valid for 12 months but incur a change fee if 'out of range' at the time of booking. Qatar charges £100, Emirates £275 but Qantas does not allow changes to 'out of range' bookings any more.

        Brian Burbage
        Date and time
        October 02, 2012, 5:59PM

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