Qantas and Emirates launched a five-year partnership on March 31, ending Qantas’s joint services agreement with BA. It includes co-ordinated pricing, sales and scheduling but for Qantas passengers on the Kangaroo route between Europe and Australia, the biggest change is a connection at Emirates’ Dubai hub rather than Singapore. Qantas has also introduced free chauffeur services on the London-Dubai-Australia route, and turndown service in business class, while Emirates has added a Platinum tier to its Skywards scheme, in line with a similar Qantas offering.
My companion and I arrived at Heathrow T3 at 1815 for flight QF002 at 2130. We were seen immediately at check-in, had our bags checked through to Sydney and used fast-track security.
Qantas still uses BA’s Galleries at T3. It was fairly busy but there were plenty of seats. Food on offer included Bombay potato soup, beef bourguignon and Thai vegetarian curry. I had been told it was a silent lounge but the flight was called to Gate 1 at 2050.
We boarded right away and went upstairs to seats 22A and B. Drinks, pyjamas and amenity kits were offered. We taxied on time and took off at 2145.
Business class on the A380 is configured 2-2-2 (A-B, E-F, J-K) and is at the front of the upper deck, across two cabins (rows 11-13 and 15-22). I last reviewed this seat on Qantas’s A380 delivery flight in 2008, and the design has aged well. The stylish fixed-shell seat turns into an 80-inch-long (203cm) fully-flat bed and has plenty of storage.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE?
Window seats have extra stowage bins but otherwise I would probably avoid them (unless travelling in a pair) to avoid having to climb over your neighbour to get to the aisle. Our seats were probably the least desirable as they were right at the back close to the toilets, which also meant we got served last. Opt for the three-row section at the front for more privacy.
When the seatbelt signs went off, crew started the turndown service, offering to fit a mattress to the seat by hooking it around the headrest. I put it on myself later, which was fairly simple. My companion’s IFE system wasn’t working so a crew member reset it and it was operational in about ten minutes. The cabin service manager explained the new transit procedures in Dubai, and I then watched some recent films.
We landed in Dubai at 0725 and were told that the connecting flight (on the same aircraft) would depart from Gate A10. Qantas and Emirates are the only airlines to use the new A380-dedicated Concourse A. We went through security quickly then took a lift to the business class lounge, arriving at 0740. There are several food and drink areas – we headed to the far end where the gate was. I freshened up in the washrooms before boarding the 0920 flight at about 0850.
We had seats 21B and E on either side of the aisle, but the person in seat 21F offered to swap so we could sit together. Connecting in Dubai on the way to Australia from the UK means a much longer second leg than via Singapore – about six hours longer. I decided to stay awake for a while and eat. My chicken salad starter and seared bass main were pretty bland. I watched a film before reclining and sleeping lightly for four or five hours – the bed was comfortable, with a nice enclosed feel. Breakfast was offered before arrival.
We touched down at 0515 and quickly disembarked. Our bags were among the first out.
An excellent service from start to finish, with attentive crew. The quick connection and modern facilities in Dubai make this a compelling proposition.
FLIGHT TIME 20 hours 35 minutes (plus two-hour five-minute transit)
PLANE TYPE A380-800
SEAT WIDTH 20.5in/52cm
SEAT LENGTH 80in/203cm
SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
PRICE Internet rates for a return business class flight from London Heathrow to Sydney via Dubai in September start from £4,120.