Qantas will offer first class between Sydney and Hong Kong this summer, making the 14 suites on its seasonal Airbus A380 available to well-heeled high flyers who want to luxe it up on the 9½ hour journey.
The superjumbo will replace a Boeing 747 on the daily QF117/QF118 service from 1 December 2018 through to 28 March 2019.
While Qantas regularly rosters the Airbus A380 between Sydney and Hong Kong during the peak summer months to handle the higher holiday travel load, during those periods the superjumbo’s first class suites are usually treated as business class seats rather than being sold on a first class ticket.
This allows savvy Platinum and Platinum One travellers to upgrade their seat from business class to first class by choosing any spot in rows one through five on the advance seat selection screen, although of course they’re still served the same meals and drinks as their colleagues on the upper deck.
However, in a show of confidence and facing sharpened competition on this popular route, Qantas will now sell first class as its own product – something the airline has not done for many years.
A spokesperson for Qantas told Australian Business Traveller that these primo passengers would enjoy a similar level of food, drinks and service as on the Airbus A380 first class cabins on the Sydney-Singapore-London and Melbourne-Singapore flights.
Sydney-Hong Kong return first class fares are currently showing on sale from $4,888, which is less than some of the airline's current A380 business class fares – making this a smart move, as long as you move fast.
If you do book first class on Qantas' Airbus A380, we suggest suites 1A and 1K for that ‘private jet’ feeling; 2F if you want a cosy nest; and 5A and 5K for maximum privacy. For the best view on the daytime flight to Hong Kong, opt for 4A and 4K, but on the overnight return leg, light sleepers should avoid 5F.
While Cathay Pacific makes three of its four daily Sydney-Hong Kong flights on its Boeing 777-300ER flagships, the airline relies on a three-class version of the Boeing 777 which tops out at business class rather than the long-range models which include a small first class cabin of six open suites.
A spokesperson for Cathay Pacific told Australian Business Traveller that while the airlines "continually reviews our offering in the market based on customer needs and commercial requirements, currently we don't have any plans to introduce First Class from Australia to Hong Kong."
An estimated half-million passengers shuttle between Sydney and Hong Kong every year, with seven daily flights split between Qantas, Cathay Pacific and as of July 2018, Virgin Australia.
In related news, Qantas will also schedule its Boeing 787 Dreamliner onto flights from Sydney, Brisbane and Hong Kong in a staged rollout commencing 13 December, 2018.