Airline partnerships such as those of Qantas and Emirates, or Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines, can see you paying thousands of dollars more to travel on the exact same flight, depending on which airline you book your ticket with.
What if you could pay up to $3,200 less for the exact same seat on the exact same flight, while still earning frequent flyer points?
Frequent flyers have long been trained to hunt down codeshare flights through their ‘home’ airline – such as Qantas codeshares on Emirates flights and Virgin Australia codeshares on Singapore Airlines flights – to earn more points and status credits.
But travellers don’t often think to compare the codeshare prices against the ‘normal’ cost for the same flight, which frequently means missing out on the best deal.
We’ve given the native and codeshare flight prices between Qantas, Emirates, Virgin Australia, Singapore Airlines, China Eastern and LAN a real grilling to see how they compare on value.
Qantas vs Emirates: Sydney to London
Using dates in November and December, Qantas and Emirates were offering matching prices for economy travel – in fact, down to the cent.
It was $1,878.14 to fly Sydney-Dubai-London on EK415 and EK5 or QF8415 and QF8005 (Qantas codeshares on the same flights), and then London-Dubai-Sydney on EK6 and EK412 or QF8006 and QF8412 – again, the same actual flights regardless of which flight number is booked.
That’s a great example of where codeshares can be your friend, as Qantas Frequent Flyer members can opt for the QF code to earn both points and status credits on the Emirates flights.
(Qantas frequent flyers can still earn points, although not status credits, when travelling on an Emirates EK flight number.)
However, the magic ended when searching for business class seats. On the same flights, Emirates’ best offer was $8,954.94…
… while Qantas wanted a higher $9,744.94:
Platinum frequent flyers would pick-up 62,000 Qantas Points and 560 status credits on the Qantas codes, but only 27,250 points and zero status credits when booking directly with Emirates.
Ultimately, road warriors would need to decide if the promise of status credits and an extra 34,750 points is worth the $790 premium.
Virgin Australia vs Singapore Airlines: Sydney to Singapore
Again using dates in November and December, we could find return economy flights with Singapore Airlines for a total of $796.94…
… but when booked through Virgin Australia, the same flights came out at $1,059.14:
It’s a similar case in business class, with Singapore Airlines charging $4,251.14 for its own flights…
… and Virgin Australia commanding $4,446.14 to sit in the same seat:
All up, jetsetters would collect 9,780 Velocity points in SQ business class, but only 782 points in economy on the return trip.
The additional cost of booking on the VA codeshares comes with a reward in the form of more points… the earning jumps tenfold for Platinum-grade flyers in economy to 7,824 Velocity points, and in business class with the Platinum status bonus, it maxes out to a cool 23,472 points.
Whether booking on the VA or SQ code, Velocity members would also gather 240 status credit on the return trip, which means your extra dollars are only being spent to buy you more points.
Crunching the numbers, it’s a good deal in business class at 1.42c per extra point earned on the VA code, but on these particular economy fares, you’ll be paying 3.72c per additional point – far from a bargain.
Qantas vs LAN: Sydney to Auckland
Qantas’ Oneworld partner LAN flies from Sydney to Santiago, but makes a stopover in Auckland on the way.
The Sydney-Auckland-Sydney legs can be booked without flying onwards to South America, and on LAN, it’s a steal at only $777.54 return from Sydney:
Try to book that flight as a Qantas codeshare and it’ll cost you nearly $1,000 more:
The difference again lies in your points haul – Qantas flight numbers would get Platinum flyers 8,500 points and 160 status credits on the return trip, but on the LA code, that drops to roughly 3,362 points and 80 status credits.
As you’re paying less than half as much to book through LAN, we can’t dispute that it’s certainly ‘fairer' under Qantas’ revised frequent flyer program.
Qantas vs China Eastern: Melbourne to Shanghai
Qantas runs its own daily flight from Sydney to Shanghai, but also whacks its code onto China Eastern’s Melbourne-Shanghai services, making it easier for Victorian travellers to fly directly to China’s business hub.
With only Business Flex fares for sale on our dates, those codeshare flights would set us back $6,460.62 – which is a little pricey:
To compare, the price drops to a mere $3,207.62 when booking directly with China Eastern:
That’s less than half price and a staggering saving of $3,253 – again, to sit in the same seat on the same flight.
As you’d expect, the higher Qantas price comes with greater flexibility for changes and cancellations, but also with status credits and more frequent flyer points.
On the return journey, Platinum frequent flyers can earn 28,600 points and 270 status credits on the QF code, whereas the MU flight number yields only 12,405 points.
Like Emirates, China Eastern isn’t a member of the Oneworld airline alliance, so status credits are also off the table when travelling with MU.
With prices this far apart, we’d still suggest booking the cheaper MU-coded flights, and if it’s a once-off, there’s no harm in keeping your points together in Qantas Frequent Flyer.
But if your travel plans will see you frequently in Shanghai and booked onto the China Eastern flight number, it might be time to consider switching to a different loyalty program – such as GarudaMiles.
With China Eastern and Garuda Indonesia both members of the SkyTeam alliance, travellers can use the GarudaMiles scheme to earn and redeem points, but also, to climb the frequent flyer status ladder.
This single return trek in business class would take you straight to Silver status, three trips would have you reaching GarudaMiles Gold (SkyTeam Elite), while five return journeys takes you to GarudaMiles Platinum and SkyTeam Elite Plus status – comparable to both Qantas Platinum and Oneworld Emerald.
Further reading: The GarudaMiles rewards scheme for Aussie flyers
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT
Air New Zealand's Airpoints frequent flyers will enjoy have access to Qantas Clubs around Australia under the newly-forged alliance between the two airlines.
As of October 28, 2018, Airpoints Elite and Gold members booked on a codeshare flight with Qantas will find the doors swing open for them at the two dozen Qantas Club lounges in Australia's capital cities and regional centres. They'll also be permitted to bring in one guest.
But it won't be as easy as flashing your shiny Airpoints card, as the following conditions apply:
- you have to be travelling on a domestic Qantas flight
- it has to be booked under the Air New Zealand codeshare (those flight numbers will be in the NZ7xxx range)
- and this must be booked as part of a trans-Tasman booking
This arrangement replaces Airpoints access to Virgin Australia lounges following the dramatic bust-up between the two former allies.
However, there appears to be no Qantas Club lounge access for Koru Club members, nor can AirNZ frequent flyers cool their heels in the more upmarket Qantas Business lounges.
The Qantas / Air New Zealand alliance covers selected flights on the domestic network of each airline, however trans-Tasman and other international flights are excluded from the arrangement.
Cathay Pacific will roll out its new 'business class dining concept' this month, with the meal service taking a step closer to a first class experience.
Meals will be individually plated and delivered to passengers by hand rather than by trolley, as the airline adopts more personalised and upmarket approach.
Cathay also expects this will result in a "quieter and calmer cabin environment", especially on late night flights.
Passengers will have a choice between three appetisers and "up to six main course choices" on flights over ten hours in the initial launch of the service to the likes of Chicago (on July 30), London/Gatwick (in August) followed by Frankfurt, Manchester and Washington DC (September); Amsterdam, Paris and Johannesburg (October), Madrid, Brussels and Barcelona (November) and London/Heathrow (December).
And, being very much on trend, light and healthy 'wellbeing options' feature in every main course.
On flights from Hong Kong the menu will be changed every month, with a quarterly menu refresh for flights to Hong Kong.
Fights from Hong Kong (but not, for now, the return leg) will also see a new range of Hong Kong Favourites inspired by local dishes, such as
- Hong Kong char siu pork with egg noodles, seasoned soy sauce, spring onion and ginger (shown below)
- Wok fried seafood in lobster soup with ginger, spring onion, crispy and steamed rice
- Beef brisket with flat rice noodle soup
- Mango with pomelo and sago
But before all that eatings starts, business class passengers will notice the new-look menus.
Printed as eight pages on quality paper, they not only detail the meals and drinks available on that flight but include foodie-friendly articles such as 'Anatomy of a Laksa' and feature a local chef revealing their favourite eateries both in Hong Kong and around thr world.
There will also be a breakfast menu card which passengers will complete before hitting the hay, so that they can wake to what the airline described as a "hotel room-service" experience.
However, these are set menus rather than allowing travellers to pick-and-mix from a wide selection of items.
In addition to what's described as 'traditional' Chinese and Western breakfasts, there's also a lighter Continental breakfast plus a minimalist Express breakfast of a piece of pastry and a drink, which can be served 60 minutes before landing for passengers who wish to maximise their sleep.
Refreshments will be revamped as a selection of 'most loved dishes' available throughout the flight as a snack between meals on services to North America and Europe, including the airline's signature burger and popular soup noodles. These will also appear on the main meal menu.
Next year will see Cathay's 'new business class dining concept' extend to medium-distance routes, with plans to include Sydney and Auckland in February 2019 and Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide and Perth in May 2019.
Very few watches can claim true originality, and the Cartier Santos is among those few.
The Santos made its debut way back in 1904 as a personal timepiece for aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, making it both the first pilot’s watch and one of the earliest known men’s wristwatches.
As we've previously detailed, the Santos was borne from a request by Brazilian flyer Santos-Dumont, who told his friend Louis Cartier – then a Parisian watchmaker – of the challenge of timing flights using the then-conventional pocket watch, as pilots needed to keep both hands on the aircraft controls.
In response, Cartier designed a large square-faced watch and fitted it to a strap so it could be worn on the wrist – quite a revolutionary concept at the time.
The first commercial Cartier Santos watches went on sale to the public in 1911 with solid gold cases and ultra-thin mechanical movements designed by French clockmaker Edmond Jaeger.
(In order to produce this movement for Cartier, Jaeger worked with Swiss movement manufacturer Jacques-David LeCoultre, a partnership that would lead to the birth of storied brand Jaeger-LeCoultre.)
The enduring design of the Cartier Santos was reimagined in the late 1970s as a luxury steel sports watch, later adding two-tone steel and gold and the now-iconic screwed bezel with exposed gold screws along the bracelet for a modern, industrial aesthetic.
For 2018, Cartier has once again re-invented the Santos.
The distinctive screw-set bezel now tapers at both ends towards the bracelet to create an organic, integrated look.
The satin-brushed case features a wide mirror-polished bevel along its length, extending all the way to the gracefully curved crown guards at 3 o’clock. A square watch the Santos may be, but there’s hardly a sharp edge or straight line to be found.
The case has been slimmed dramatically from previous incarnations of the Santos, allowing this watch to disappear easily under a shirt cuff when needed.
The bracelet is fitted with a new 'QuickSwitch' system allowing for easy swapping with the included tan calfskin strap or Cartier’s alternative crocodile straps, providing some style versatility.
Adding or removing bracelet links has also been made easier with a new 'SmartLink' design which allows the wearer to expand the bracelet during a hot summer’s day without requiring a tool.
While the bezel, case and bracelet have all been modernised, the dial remains classic Cartier. With Roman numerals, a railroad minute-track and heat-blued hands, it’s hard to imagine a more traditional look.
The 2018 Cartier Santos can serve dress-watch and sports-watch duties equally well, and boasts a history that few timepieces can match.
• In-house mechanical movement with automatic winding
• Seven-sided crown set with a faceted synthetic spinel
• Silvered opaline dial, blued-steel sword-shaped hands, sapphire crystal
• Water-resistant to 10 bar (approximately 100 metres)
• Medium version case width: 35.1 mm, thickness: 8.83 mm
• Large version case width: 39.8 mm, thickness: 9.08 mm
• Pricing from A$8,750 for the Cartier Santos Medium in steel, to A$52,500 for the Cartier Santos Large in solid pink gold with matching pink gold bracelet. For stockists, visit www.au.cartier.com.
Finnair will launch inflight Internet on its European flights this week, with travellers able to enjoy the high-speed satellite service free of charge during a two-month trial period running through to the end of September.
The Oneworld airline has already outfitted six of its single-aisle Airbus jets with technology provided through partner Viasat, which also provided the backbone for Qantas' Australia-wide WiFi system.
By the end of northern summer some 20 aircraft will be upgraded, with Finnair's entire single-aisle Airbus fleet slated for WiFi by mid-2019.
The system will be available on a gate-to-gate basis, so passengers won't even need to wait for their jet to reach level flight – which will maximise time online for many of Finnair's relatively short European hops.
However, parts of some European routes will present black spots to the satellite network, including above the Bay of Biscay and the North Sea, while some restrictions also apply over Latvia, Lithuania, parts of Belarus and Russia.
Over the two-month testing period Finnair intends to "gather information on system functionality and feedback on the overall customer experience."
"In entering the passenger testing phase, we’ll be gaining the critical insights needed to further optimise our service to ensure Finnair customers get a unique experience built around their needs, interests and usage behaviours," explains Viasat vice-president Don Buchman.
The airline has yet to reveal what pricing it will charge for its sky-high WiFi once the trial period ends, although frequent flyers will no doubt hope that some sort of monthly pass is available as an alternative to paying on a per-flight basis.
Finnair already offers WiFi on its long-range 'intercontinental' jets, with the first hour free for business class and Finnair Plus Gold members, then €3 (A$4.70) for three hours or €20 (A$31) for the entire flight. Finnair Plus Platinum frequent flyers are provided with free Internet access for the whole flight.