Much as Emirates is Qantas’ major partner on European flights, China Eastern Airlines is the Roo’s cornerstone comrade in China: on which Qantas Frequent Flyer members can earn and spend Qantas Points.
There’s just one catch – China Eastern reward flights don’t appear for booking on the Qantas website. They can only be secured by phone, for those who know to call.
Here’s how many Qantas Points you’ll need for your journey, how to check whether reward flights are available on a specific date before you dial in, and who to call when you’re ready to book.
Using Qantas Points on China Eastern flights: how many points you’ll need
The number of Qantas Points required to book a flight on China Eastern is the same as most of Qantas’ other airline partners, including British Airways and Cathay Pacific, even though China Eastern belongs to the SkyTeam alliance rather than Oneworld.
Flights from Brisbane to Shanghai – and seasonally, from Cairns to Shanghai – command 65,000 Qantas Points for a one-way business class journey, and 35,000 Qantas Points for economy.
Travelling from Sydney and Melbourne to Shanghai, along with Sydney to Hangzhou, Kunming, Nanjing and Wuhan, instead requires 78,000 Qantas Points for business class and 42,000 Qantas Points for economy, one-way.
Where first class is also offered from Sydney and Melbourne, a one-way reward ticket would cost a higher 114,000 Qantas Points.
On round-trip journeys, you can either double those figures (e.g. 156,000 Qantas Points for a return business class trip to China from Sydney or Melbourne), or can mix and match.
For instance, if you don’t have a large bounty of points to spend, you might choose to fly economy from Sydney to Beijing for 42,000 Qantas Points on a daytime flight where sleep isn’t the main goal, and then business class on an overnight flight home for 78,000 Qantas Points, for 120,000 Qantas Points all up.
Note that Qantas also flies from Sydney to Shanghai – and has non-stop Sydney-Beijing flights also – which can be booked online for 72,000 Qantas Points in business class and 35,000 Qantas Points in economy: slightly fewer points needed than to book China Eastern flights of the same length.
Using Qantas Points on China Eastern flights: checking availability
Worked out where you want to fly and how many Qantas Points you’ll need? The subscription-based website ExpertFlyer is your friend here, as you can use it to check reward availability on any given China Eastern flight, before then calling Qantas to book.
That not only helps minimise time spent on the phone, it’s also handy when travelling with a partner or as a group: as you can find flights yourself and get the ‘OK to book’ from everybody involved, rather than having to call up once to check availability, and then again to make the booking.
Existing ExpertFlyer users should log-in to their account and head to the ‘Awards & Upgrades’ tab, while new users can sign-up for an obligation-free five-day trial, or take out a paid membership from US$5/month (A$6.20) for access to the same reward flight search tools.
In any case, select ‘China Eastern Airlines - MU’ from the airline list on the ‘Awards & Upgrades’ tab, key in where you’re travelling from and travelling to, your desired flight dates in each direction, how many passengers you’re searching for (‘quantity’), and what type of reward flights you’re hoping to find.
For example, we’ll search for a return journey between Melbourne and Shanghai for one passenger, who is happy to fly first class, business class or economy for travel in mid-February 2018:
As their travel dates aren’t fixed, we’ll also change the ‘exact date’ setting to ‘+/- 3 days’ for both the outbound flight and the return flight, to view reward availability across an entire week in each direction:
The next page reveals a list of flights arranged by date, and for each flight, whether a reward booking is possible in first class, business class and economy. For example, on February 13 2018 from Melbourne to Shanghai, the following is displayed:
Along with the details of each flight including departure and arrival times, the software gives a clear ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ next to each reward booking type:
See a ‘Yes’ and you’re clear to book a business class reward ticket using frequent flyer points for the number of passengers you searched for – but see a ‘No’ and that’s not possible.
Using our example above, business class and economy class reward bookings are indeed possible on flights MU738 and MU740, although travel in first class is unavailable on this date.
Advanced users angling for a particular aircraft type can also glance over to the ‘aircraft’ column, where it’s shown that an Airbus A330-200 is serving the MU738 flight, and a Boeing 777-300 on MU740.
(If you don't recognise an aircraft code, you can click on it to see the full aircraft type.)
Scroll down to repeat this process for the return leg, and make a note of the flights you wish to book, including your dates, flight numbers, flight times and travel classes.
If you can’t find something suitable, go back and try searching on a different route or a different range of dates.
Using Qantas Points on China Eastern flights: booking your journey
All set to travel? The final step is to call the Qantas Frequent Flyer team on 13 11 31 between 7am and 7pm Monday-Saturday (excluding public holidays).
When prompted, press 1 for ‘travel arrangements, including Classic Flight Rewards’, and when connected to an agent, tell them you’d like to “book a Classic Flight Reward on China Eastern Airlines”.
From there, simply feed through the information you jotted down after your ExpertFlyer searches, and have your credit card ready to cover the taxes, fees and charges payable in addition to the points required, which vary from route to route and sometimes between travel classes too.
Qantas also normally charges an assistance fee for telephone reward bookings, but as these tickets cannot currently be secured via the Qantas website, Qantas has confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that this fee is waived when using points to book China Eastern itineraries.
The airline also expects China Eastern reward flights to become bookable online in the first half of 2018, as previously reported: with the ‘ExpertFlyer and telephone’ dance getting the job done in the meantime.
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.