Qantas' decades-old Kangaroo Route to London via Singapore is now history, with the Qantas-Emirates alliance anointing Dubai as the new stopover.
It's a win for travellers heading to UK and European destinations other than London. With some 30 European cities just a single Emirates flight from Dubai there's no need to head all the way to London and then make another trip to get where you really want to go.
And while Qantas will keep its flagship Airbus A380s plying the skies from Australia all the way to London, these days you'll find plenty of alternatives to the classic Kangaroo Route.
While the total journey time is much of a muchness, if you're hoping to be productive (whether that's getting things done or getting a good night's rest) you have three choices when flying from Australia:
- a relatively short leg to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, followed by a much longer leg to London
- a slightly longer first flight to Bangkok, Hong Kong or Guangzhou, and then a slightly shorter leg to London
- a long leg to the Middle East, then a short second half of the journey to London
In this list of one-stop options for getting to London, we've used travel times based on Sydney. Cut off up to half an hour for Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide flights.
London via Singapore
8h to Singapore, 14h to London
Now that Qantas has adopted Dubai as its international hub, British Airways and Singapore Airlines are the only ways to keep the Lion City on your itinerary.
BA's single daily Sydney-Singapore-London flight has moved to a new Boeing 777-300ER with fully flat beds in business class, but from other Australia ports you'll need to fly to Singapore with oneworld partner Qantas.
A more appealing option might be Singapore Airlines which runs direct flights to Singapore from almost all capital cities, with many services several times per day.
Not only will you get fully flat beds in business class on its Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300ER flights to London, you can earn Virgin Australia Velocity points all the way.
However, take a careful look at the type of plane you're booked on for the shorter leg between Australia and Singapore — Airbus A330 planes have an angled lie-flat regional business class instead of the fully-flat sleepers.
London via Dubai
14h30 to Dubai, 7h45 to London
From Qantas' perspective this is the new Kangaroo Route, although Emirates has christened it the Falcon Route.
Out of Sydney and Melbourne you can travel all the way with Qantas or Emirates; from other cities, it's an Emirates-only flight (unless you take a connecting Qantas flight into Sydney or Melbourne).
Our suggestion: given the 14-plus hour travel time to Dubai, Emirates' Airbus A380 in business class offers more spacious seats than either Qantas' A380 (your second-best choice) or the Emirates Boeing 777.
You'll collect Qantas Frequent Flyer points or Emirates Skywards miles regardless of which airline you travel on, but you'll earn the most Qantas points by booking onto a flight carrying the QF code, and you'll earn status credits only on QF flight numbers. If you're booked onto an EK flight you'll end up with fewer Qantas points and no status credits.
London via Hong Kong
9h30 to Hong Kong, 13h25 to London
Flying via Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific offers some of the best business class lounges — and best business class seats — to London.
Cathay Pacific's fantastic new business class is offered on all flights from Australia and many onward services to London, and you'll have the chance to stop in at Cathay's excellent lounges too. Qantas Frequent Flyers can earn points and status credits when travelling with CX.
Virgin Atlantic does Sydney - Hong Kong - London with fully flat beds all the way, a standup bar in business class and one of the swiftest connection times. It's an efficient and often cost-effective choice, especially when you can earn Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer points en route.
Red Roo loyalists can of course jet to Hong Kong with Qantas and then transfer to the daily British Airways flight to London, as long as you don't mind spending up to six hours waiting between flights at Hong Kong airport.
London via Kuala Lumpur
8h30 to KL, 13h30 to London
Malaysia Airlines' entry into the oneworld alliance has bumped MAS up from a sometimes "cheap and cheerful" option to a decent backup for Qantas Frequent Flyers, although the point earning rates for MH-coded flights aren't great: you'll pick up only 0.75 points per mile in business class, with no cabin bonus to bump up the balance.
The seating is a mixed bag, with angled lie-flat seats between Australia and Kuala Lumpur, while the KL-London leg on MAS' Airbus 380s boasts fully flat beds (although without direct aisle access).
London via Abu Dhabi
14h45 to Abu Dhabi, 7h45 to London
With flights from most Australian capital cities, Etihad offers an appealing alternative for business travellers who put a premium on seats and service. With excellent fully flat beds plus top notch food and drink all the way to Europe, you'll arrive rested and refreshed – and your Virgin Australia Velocity account will be topped up too!
A minor downside is at the airport: the business lounge in Abu Dhabi is crowded, and there's a fair bit of queueing if you have to change terminals. As the airline has grown, its hub airport facilities haven't entirely kept pace.
London via Guangzhou
9h40 to Guangzhou, 13h20 to London
China Southern's efforts to spruik its "Canton Route" via Guangzhou are meeting with some success, particularly among budget-minded business travellers.
While fully flat beds are only starting to be introduced onto the route, it's still a bit of a potluck effort to find out whether you'll be lying flat or at an angle. But the price is right for many business travellers.
London via Bangkok
9h20 to Bangkok, 13h to London
Thai Airways offers numerous connections through its Bangkok hub, with decent lounges and useful onward connections from Europe thanks to its partners in the Star Alliance. Winging your way to London on Thai's new Airbus A380 is another upside.
That said, the seating on flights out of Australia is less than impressive: it's mostly angled lie-flat seats, and Thai has a frustrating habit of swapping planes at the last minute so your carefully-chosen spot turns into a middle seat between a galley kitchen, a noisy lavatory and a screaming baby.
London via Doha
14h15 from Melbourne to Doha, 7h40 to London
If your home airport is Melbourne or Perth there's one more route on your roster – you can fly Qatar Airways via Doha.
Melbourne travellers see a reasonable fully flat bed — though no direct aisle access — on the long leg to Doha, while Perth will eventually get the top-notch Qatar 787 business class, which rivals Cathay Pacific for comfort and space.
Australian business travellers pick...
Which of the new Kangaroo Routes is your preference? Which have you tried — and which would you happily fly again? Share your thoughts with fellow AusBT readers in a comment below.
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.