Qantas offers first plane bookable with points only

One of the biggest complaints for many frequent flyers is the inability to redeem their points/ miles for reward seats on airlines. The frustation of lack of availabilty means in turn frequent flyers are having points simply sit in their accounts. Qantas has been pushing the envelope of late when it comes to passenger experience. When they made an announcement on their next venture, it came at no surprise it’d be equally compelling.

The Australian airline has announced they’ll offer a series of dedicated frequent flyer redemption flights across their network with seats only available to those redeeming Qantas points. The innovatively titled Points Plane initiative will see the first plane to be bookable only on points depart 21 October 2019 from Melbourne to Tokyo Narita.

Using my personal favourite Qantas aircraft the A380, Qantas Frequent Flyer members will have the chance to book all 484 seats on this flight (14 first class, 64 business class, 35 premium economy, and 371 economy seats) at the ‘classic’ award level.

Redemption costs for the flight are:

  • Economy seat – 35000 Qantas points
  • Premium economy seat – 54000 Qantas points
  • Business class seat – 72000 Qantas points
  • First class seat – 108000 points

The seats are available on a first come first served basis. Those fortunate to be successful in booking a flight on the Points Plane can expect to be treated to a special inflight service that includes a cocktail and meal service, pajamas for all passengers (not just those in the front end or in the A380s case the top end) and inflight giveaways.

A return leg is also on offer for 26 October 26 2019 but those hoping for an A380 experience again will be disappointed to find the aircraft is an A330. Qantas believes those returning may stay beyond the initial date as part of their trip and so the aircraft does not require the same patronage.

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What do you think of the Qantas announcement? Would you be keen to book a trip on the Points Plane? I’m eager to hear your thoughts.

AIRBUS A380 TO END PRODUCTION IN 2021

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For an Airbus and moreover A380 geek like myself, the superjumbo is and remains my favourite aircraft to fly. I purposely go out of my way to book an airline offering the A380 over another aircraft type due to the space, comfort and experience. If B747 was the queen, A380 was certainly the princess. On Valentine’s Day Emirates and Airbus decided to kill my aviation love affair with the airliner by announcing that it would cease production of the aircraft from 2021.

Emirates has scaled back its order of the aircraft, instead option for additional 30 A350s and 40 A330neos as part of a 70 aircraft deal. The airline expressed their disappointment at the change of heart but remained committed to the A380 stating that the aircraft would be a pillar of their fleet well in the 2030s.

Debuting in 2005, the A380 was meant to be a competitive rival to B747 but the landscape changed quickly due to improvements in two engine aircraft like the A350. The aircraft despite being popular with the travelling public sadly wasn’t so popular within the aviation industry.

Airbus will produce 17 more of the planes including 14 for Emirates and three for Japan’s ANA.

Despite being saddened by this development (I feel compelled to make that Airbus factory visit in Toulouse I’ve bene holding off happen much sooner than expected), I’m heartened that Emirates will continue to fly this aircraft well into the 2030s and as such I’ll continue to fly Emirates based on this very aircraft!

How do you feel about the A380 cancellation? Are you feeling this is the last gasp in terms of excitement when it comes to flying? 

 

LATAM FINALLY GOES BUSINESS CLASS DIRECT AISLE ACCESS FROM 2018

Who loves direct aisle business class? I do and so does LATAM Airways apparently with the South American airline set to roll out a dramatically improved business class seat across its international fleet from late 2018.

LATAM has chosen the Thompson Aero Seating Vantage XL seat with styling by London-based PriestmanGoode. The changes will be noticed on their Boeing 767 and Boeing 777 fleet as well as their new fleet of Boeing 787-9s and Airbus A350-1000s.

In addition to direct aisle access, the seats will offer passengers to rest easy on a new fully lie-flat bed. The design is very similar to fellow Oneworld partner Qantas who has a similar layout and design on the A330, 787 and soon A380 fleet.

Having flown the current LATAM business class 2-2-2 configuration I can say the new changes will really enhance their product offering. Sure the current seat hasn’t aged and still provides some decent space but there’s a lack of privacy, let alone the not so fun game of hopping over your neighbour should you be seated against the window.

I look forward to seeing their new product rolled out across their network as it’d really give not only Qantas a run for its money on that hop between Australian and Santiago but also offer passengers another decent business class option when travelling abroad.

QANTAS BOLSTERS FLIGHTS TO JAKARTA, SINGAPORE AND NOUMEA

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Qantas will operate additional Airbus A330 services on the Sydney-Singapore and Sydney-Jakarta routes from December 2018.

From 14 December, a third Sydney-Singapore service (QF83/84) will be added on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays. This brings the total Sydney-Singapore services to 17 a week, up three on the previous amount.

From 13 December, Sydney-Jakarta services (QF41/42) will also be bolstered from five to six weekly with the additional service operating on Thursdays.

From 12 December, the Sydney-Noumea service will increase from three to four times weekly with the additional B737 service operating on Wednesdays.

The new schedule is as follows:

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The new flights will be available for purchase next week.
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Qantas to launch wifi on domestic A330s in June

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It was quite a while back when I first tested Qantas’ trial onboard wifi. The experience at the time was thrilling especially as it had been the first time I had used wifi aboard a Qantas aircraft. Since then Qantas has pushed ahead and rolled out wifi ‘slowly’ across its network. The latest news on the wifi front is that Qantas will launch inflight wifi on its domestic Airbus A330 jets in June.

The roll out follows wifi upgrades to its 737 fleet and will be welcomed by those making the transcontinental trek on the Airbus A330-200s.

Qantas has fitted the first of its 12 domestic A330-200s with the same satellite technology as the B737. A second wifi equipped A330 will take to the skies by June 30.

The A330 rollout was originally scheduled for early 2017 but constant delays by Qantas has seen the product rolled out until now.

Qantas envisions the majority of its B737 and Airbus A330-200 jets will be equipped with wifi by the end of 2018, with remaining aircraft to be equipped in 2019.

You can read my review of the Qantas onboard wifi here.

QANTAS TO LAUNCH PERTH-JOBURG FLIGHTS FROM DEC 2018

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For a long time I had wanted to visit South Africa due to my family’s heritage being linked there but getting was a bit of a problem with limited airline offerings being fairly slim to/ from there. A few years back Virgin Australia gave it a red hot go but pulled out of the market quickly and instead placed emphasis on a partnership with South African Airways.

Now Qantas has all but formally announced that it will expand their flights to Johannesburg by offering passengers a chance to connect on new non stop flights out of Perth.

Word on the tarmac suggests direct flights from Perth to Joburg would run four times per week from December 7 on an Airbus A330-200.

Flight QF65 would depart Perth at 12:45pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and touch down in the evening in Joburg whilst QF66 would depart Joburg at 10:25pm on the same calendar days and touch down in Perth at 2pm the following afternoon.

The move would see Qantas adding additional direct flights to Joburg on top of their existing Sydney-Johannesburg B747 flights which fly six days a week.

It’s likely that business class passengers on Qantas’ Perth-Johannesburg flights will be able to relax and unwind in Qantas’ new Business Suites as opposed to the older SkyBeds in a 2-2-2 layout which is still operating on a handful of the Airbus A330-200.

Despite the flights operating from the new international wing of Qantas’ Perth T3 terminal rather than the T1 international terminal, it is understood that passengers and frequent flyers will not have to the ultra cool newly opened Perth International Transit Lounge. Instead these passengers will have to make do with the Qantas domestic business lounge at Perth’s T4 terminal. Whilst initially disappointing, I am hopeful that Qantas in time will better manage the flow of traffic in the new lounge and be willing to expand passenger accessibility to new international routes out of Perth.

A formal announcement is expected to be made over the next few weeks.

 

QANTAS ECONOMY CLASS A330 SYD – HONOLULU: REVIEW

Flight: QF3, Sydney – Honolulu (24 January 2018)
Loyalty Scheme: Qantas Frequent Flyer (a partner of the Oneworld program)
Frequency: 4 flights weekly
Duration: 10 hours

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Qantas operate a number of A330 aircraft (200 and 300 series). The aircraft predominately operates on flights domestically within Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Honolulu. The A330 operates in a two class configuration. This particular aircraft consists of 28 full flat business class seats and 272 standard economy seats.

 

 

The Seat

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Economy 26A. Upon entering this particularly A330, I was fortunate to experience the new generation Qantas interior which was kitted out with the Boeing 787 seats. The new seat does look the goods with a dropdown shelf built into the back of the seatback to support your own device, meaning you no longer have to hold your phone or tablet, or lie it on the tray table. 

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Despite Qantas claiming the new seat would offer better space (and to a degree it does), when reclined, the seat in front almost touches your knees and as a result makes it impossible to watch the TV screen nor be able to get out of ones chair.

Sleeping wise I really did struggle in this seat. Again with the seat reclined out in front I felt quite claustrophobic, hot and unable to really stretch out comfortably enough to allow my body to rest despite feeling drowsy during the flight.

 

Entertain me

One of the x factors about the new seat is its new entertainment screen. Much larger than previous Qantas economy seat variants including the current A380, the display is better for the eyes when viewing entertainment in the dark. The selection of movies, tv shows and audio onboard is extensive and good. I found myself struggling to view everything I wanted to watch during the flight.

Sadly there was no wifi on board. Power ports and USB charging ports were available at each seat to charge your devices.

 

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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Qantas is one who doesn’t do food and wine in halves, even in economy. I have always found the Qantas economy dining product to be very strong in this area. Soon after take off flight attendants came around and offered passengers a refreshing Bickford’s lemon, lime and bitters drink.

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An hour into the flight and dinner service was served. There were three choices for main including a vegetable lasagna and a southern style chicken with polenta. I went with the chicken option and the dish was flavoursome and delicious. However the chocolate pudding for dessert was a tad too sweet for my liking. I couldn’t even finish it despite its small size.

The service during dinner was odd at best with attendants impersonal, rushed and rather rude. When I went to order my dinner the flight attendant did not look at me once even when he went to hand me my dinner. I found that rather rude, no matter how swept off his feet he may have been.

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Before landing Qantas served a light breakfast. There were two choice on offer – a fresh fruit platter and a hot dish of a feta and spinach omelette with pork and apple sausage, bacon and braised beans. I went with the hot option and was not disappointed. It was the ideal meal to hit the spot before our decent into Honolulu.

 

Verdict

Qantas’ flight to Honolulu in economy was adequate but could have been better in terms of the service and comfort. The flight went like a blink of an eye (which is great when one is flying cattle class) but long enough that a bit of sleep would have been great. Sadly this was not the case with the seat generally uncomfortable, especially when the passenger in front is fully reclined.

Food, drink and entertainment earned top marks but again lacked the selection of its 747 and A380 counterparts (ie. no snack bar). I found myself struggling to get an snack other than rice crackers throughout the flight when I was peckish between meals. Again not great.

Overall the flight experience was decent but there was a lot of room for improvement.

 

Comment

Have you flown on the newly converted A330? I would love to hear if your experience was similar or better/ worse.