Jan 22, 2013

Qantas beats Emirates by $100 in Paris trial booking

The Qantas-Emirates offers are now bookable on line. So far they differ on important things like price, comfort and convenience. Buyer beware, especially when it comes to $6000 one way economy fares to Paris!

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

It’s only day one of bookings on services jointly offered by Qantas and Emirates and different consumers will no doubt get different results in their fare comparisons.

In this exercise both sites were searched for a return flight between Sydney and Paris in June in economy, and the essential preference was to fly on A380s, since the Emirates 777 is a cruel but no longer unusual punishment at 10 across seating in the 777-300ERs it offers along side its A380s on the route.

(Emirates economy on the A380 is great. Go for the seats in the forward cabin where everyone else puts first class.)

First up, Qantas won on price. It offered a total of $2106 return, split $1046 outbound and $1060 inbound.

Emirates conducts its booking process differently, and the offer at the end was a total $1912 plus $294.38 taxes (hello ACCC that’s not how it is supposed to display fares) making $2206.38.

However the Emirates process also stuck the Skyward miles earned and bonus offers on the fares offered in all classes onto the display, and all looked good if you are into points and status.

On the Qantas site it did look like a work in progress. The old Air France code share from Singapore was still on display but with no seats available in economy unless you paid more than $6000 for a fully unconditional fare for which you were carried on board atop a palanquin born by nubile amazons which of course the airlines always insist they aren’t really offering, and I mean Y class fares that cost more than J class and are supposed to be weird artifacts of the booking rules.

Actually I think such economy fares are deliberate attempts to catch the stupid, but that’s just my suspicious mind. No?

Anyhow the Qantas site did offer the Emirates A380 out of Sydney at 9.10 pm into Dubai at 5.40 am next morning connecting to the 8.20 am to Paris, arriving 1.30 pm local time, both assigned QF code share numbers properly identified as such.

Had I wanted to fly on the Qantas A380 to Dubai on its way to London as QF1 I could have left Sydney at 4.05 pm and arrived in Dubai at 12.35 am the next morning and waited until 4.30 am for a 777 to Paris offering perdition in economy, or hung out for the 8.20 am A380.

There is nothing in Dubai airport to encourage a prolonged stay in the terminal, other than having to fly 10 across in economy in a 777.  Qantas also offered an epic 17 hour flight to Dubai via Bangkok on an Emirates 777. No thanks.

Coming back from Paris, Emirates now has a late night A380 departing 9.50 pm and arriving Dubai at 6.20 am with a three hour wait for the Qantas A380 operating QF2 which will arrive in Sydney at 5.10 am the next day.

This was a 55 minutes faster connection than waiting for the 10.15 am Emirates A380 to Sydney.

The Emirates site had a whole sentence in red letters qualifying the Qantas code shares as subject to government approval.

However, and this can be a big factor for a small number of passengers according to Qantas research, the Emirates flights all have quite cheap and from past experience quite good on board internet connections, while Qantas has disabled the same system which is built into its A380s.

Personally, I’d rather fly the Emirates A380 all the way both ways to Paris via Singapore, and not stop in Dubai.  Which is impossible. Wait, I can do that, on a Singapore Airlines A380, going over, but would have to change to one of its A330s or refurbished and still nine across configured 777-200s on the way back, or even a -300ER if lucky.

Unless I stopped over for a day in Singapore, and then took one of two night time A380 departures to Sydney. Singapore is much more interesting than its airport, and its airport is much better than Dubai’s, at least at the moment.

Choices, we are spoiled by choices.

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12 thoughts on “Qantas beats Emirates by $100 in Paris trial booking

  1. Matt Stark

    Looking at fares to London EX- Brisbane the booking engine is giving me no option to travel via Qantas all the way.
    Is this correct?
    Code shared all the way… kinda defeats the purpose of flying the “Spirit of Australia” overseas doesn’t it?
    Guess I’m putting Qantas out by not living in Sydney.

  2. Ben Sandilands


    Exactly. If you are flying the Spirit of Australia out of Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth your loyal duty to Qantas is to fly on Emirates. It is a giveaway of whatever was left of the Qantas business on those routes to EK for nothing. Something I’ve been rudely pointing out ever since the deal was announced.

    I think there are aspects of this partnership that stink, badly. But according to the uncritical media and financial analysts, hey, this is terrific news.

    My view is that the biggest competitive disadvantage Qantas has on the kangaroo routes is the inferior calibre of its management.

  3. Geoff

    Ben, I know you are being ironic but to stick to my long established theme – only you Sydney and Melbourne siders have lots of choice. We banana benders have to fly to and from Sydney as well, or take Emirates! And if you think there is nothing to do in Dubai try being stuck in the SYD international terminal for a few hours.

    Matt Stark – search for a SYD – somewhere flight then book the connecting flight BNE-SYD to make sure you are there a couple of hours before the next ETD. See remarks about the exiting SYD terminal.

    If I was you I would reward an airline that actually flies it’s own metal out of BNE. Check seat guru first to see which has the best seating.

  4. Rufus

    “Actually I think such economy fares are deliberate attempts to catch the stupid, but that’s just my suspicious mind. No?”

    Come on, no one gets “tricked” into paying $6k for a fare when the price is prominently stated and the alternatives are a third of the price. Most likely they’ve forgotten to remove the full fares from the GDS – as in all things, it’s gonna be a cock-up over a conspiracy every time.

  5. pieter

    Spoiled for choice indeed… especially if Malaysian gets you there for just over 1500 dollars, a saving of AUD 600 (28,5%) over QF, on a brand new A380 for the long leg to Paris and a good connection in KUL. What’s wrong with that?

  6. johnb78

    The QF website is also still offering connections on BA15/QF320 in August, for the bargain price of $10,000 surcharge on the QF fare for one-way economy.

    Pieter: same problem as Dubai over Singapore – if you want to break the journey, the city is a tedious waste of space. If you don’t, then bring it on, indeed. Especially as (at least as long as QF remains in OneWorld), you get points and status credits for MAS flights.

  7. johnb78

    Geoff: before the current shenanigans, QF ran connecting flights from Perth, Adelaide and Brissie to Singapore linking into 1, 5 and 9, putting you in almost the same position as SYD and MEL passengers. You’re only now getting properly shafted.

  8. michael r james

    The last time I went to Paris I flew Cathay from Brisbane, using the 6 hour transit in HK to zip around the town; midnight flight to Paris, arrival about 5.30 am. If I remember it was a tiny bit cheaper than QF to London. On the return I stayed several days in HK and took the midnight flight back to Oz.

    I simply never get bored with HK and so it is a free bonus for me. With the midnight flights giving you effectively a whole day. And, importantly, CX has excellent arrangements with stowed luggage. Even if you stay in HK you can check in your luggage at the downtown HK Airport terminal (where the airport express train terminates at the IFC Mall) the day before, or 3 hours before, your flight (no charge; they take it to the airport etc it is fully checked in). I don’t think this can be done with any other airline though I am a bit out of date. In fact I am not aware of any other city/airline offering this service though that probably cannot be true anymore?

  9. patrick kilby

    I think the lack of a reasonable stopover option (i.e things to do) at Dubai is a furphy. If it mattered then Emirates would not be where they are today. The sheer set of options available are quite compelling. I booked Syd to Lisbon via Heathrow last year for July this year: QF and BA (no code shares). Now I can change it to a QF coded Emirates A380 via Dubai and a 3 hour connection to a Qantas coded Emirates 777 (or QF metal and a 7 hour connection – enough time for a nap). There are more code shares than there were before with many more options of getting from A to B. I have only been on Emirates regional flights before (Colombo to KL) and they are fairly average but then most airlines carrying migrant labourers around Asia are fairly average anyway. I suspect when timetables are sorted out for October the QF range of options will be more compelling despite Dubai being a dump; but by all accounts the airport is fine.

  10. michael r james

    patrick k at 8.30am

    It’s a question of personal preference. Though I would agree many travellers don’t really seem to assess the options or evaluate the transit implications. You must be right that millions simply don’t care about spending 3 to 6 hours between midnight and sunrise in an anonymous airport lounge. All for the “convenience” of a “more direct” connection to your destination, which is … err, to save–I dunno–“time” or maybe wear and tear? (For me it would just mean arriving exhausted and irritated.) I personally don’t get it, but am forced to admit you are right. Lots do it. Just like lots actually choose to fly Jetstar and those horrible American airlines.

    I stubbornly remain unconvinced about the UAE. Geography is the only thing in its favour (which is why my kangaroo route flights in the early 80s used to stop on the tarmac at Riyadh (or was it Jeddah?)–but no transitting back then, you just sat on the plane while they refueled.) There has been some fascination with the whole Disney-Vegas thing of Abu Dhabi but as so many testaments today unambiguously paint it (and their mega-airport terminals) as tacky, disfunctional and fundamentally uninteresting, the glitter is fading. IMO there is a reason why Changi and Chek Lap Kok are the highest rated airports, and their respective cities are endlessly rewarding to visit. (In a way in which mega-airports in Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou never will be.)

    As to “Emirates would not be where they are today”. Do we even know? They may have been successful in carving a very serious bit of market share but it has been done under non-transparent funding and, like much of UAE, voodoo economics and business plans (essentially, grow big a.s.a.p.). We’ll see if it is sustainable.

    But as I say, you may well be right. Business traffic is the key economic factor and business types seem to make the weirdest “choices”. One of their fave false notions is to do such voyages in fastest turnaround, never mind the exhaustion at either or both ends. (Real gung-ho business types don’t do lunch and don’t get jet lag–or never admit to it.) The “best practice” is “I must get back to the office asap because they so cannot function without me, and I’m so busy with important things…”. I seriously wonder if Tom Albanese/Rio’s decision to spend $38bn to buy Alcan was not arrived at under such conditions (seriously, it is the only rational explanation–they probably dreamt it up in a foggy huddle at some first class airport lounge somewhere/anywhere).

    But then, as I have written here several times, if there was a train to Europe I would take it! In fact I have done the Siberian Express. And 5 years ago I actually took the train from Paris to Lisbon: overnight to Madrid, then overnight again to Lisbon. About 36h Paris to Lisbon but full day in Paris and full day (actually ≈18h) in Madrid and arrived exhilarated in Lisbon.

    And on that subject, the next decade or two will see Europe and China (and parts of SE Asia; China is building one to connect Kunming, Vientiane, Hanoi, Bangkok) re-organize around mega-air-hubs linking to elsewhere with TGVs.


  11. whiskeyalphalimalimadashecho

    Ben, check out the price of J of the EK code share/QF operated flights..…’Emirates, you’re the reason we fly cheaper on Qantas, $2750.cheaper in fact

  12. patrick kilby

    I suspect we wil have a month of ‘teething’ problems while they sort out their fares then an advertisng blitz. I am about to give my travel agent a challenge by asking for a flight transfer to code shares to Lisbon in which there are only full economy default fares of $6,000 showing, and see if they can get a Red-E fare out of QANTAS.

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