The Pros And Cons Of Qantas’ New Dallas Routing

From May 16, Qantas will begin direct flights between Australia and Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), marking its first non-stop route to the USA that doesn't land on the west coast. Road Worrier looks at the good and the bad consequences that will flow from that decision.

Qantas remains just one of four choices to fly direct from Australia to the US (the others being United, V Australia and Delta), and the most popular of those options. As such, any changes to its routing policy will affect a large number of passengers.

The new flights on offer are QF7 (running direct Sydney to Dallas) and QF8 (which returns via Brisbane). The flight will run four times a week. Qantas is also increasing the frequency of its own flights between Los Angeles and New York, which will now run daily, though there's no getting around the inconvenience of having to deplane when you land.

To attract people to the new route, Qantas had some ludicrously cheap specials (such as $1000 return flights to the US) on offer. But in the long run, cost will only be one factor. Here's my quick take (as a super-frequent US traveller who won't fly on United for international connections under pretty much any circumstances) on what the change means.

The pros

An excuse to not visit LAX. LAX is a terrible airport — overcrowded, sprawling, and with not much in the way of apparent logic or facilities. Any excuse not to use it will be welcomed.

Better airline connections. DFW is one of the key "hubs" for American Airlines, Qantas' main partner for US flights. As such, it will offer a much wider range of options for getting to other parts of the States (American runs flights to 186 destinations), and better options in terms of frequency compared to LAX. I'm frequently amazed by how often my US flight routings offer DFW as an option — now it becomes a better choice from an Aussie connections perspective.

Less activity. DFW is a major airport and it's not going to be deserted at any time of the day or night, but in terms of passenger movements it still ranks behind LAX. (In the US, the busiest airport is Chicago O'Hare, followed by LAX and then DFW.)

The cons

No more direct San Francisco flights. To accommodate the new service, Qantas is dumping its current direct Sydney-San Francisco service. This was a very handy option, especially for us geeky types who like Silicon Valley. Connections to SFO will now be via LAX (United remains the obvious direct option). You could also do it with American Airlines from DFW, but that's a much longer trip overall. On which point . . .

17 hours in the air. Flying to the US is a massive timesink however you look at it, but the trip time represents a big increase on the 14-odd hours of a typical Australia-US west coast run. That's potentially a benefit if you're headed further east, of course, but it's a lot of time to kill in the air. The return flight via Brisbane is even more time-consuming if you're ultimately heading to Sydney.)

No A380. Only 747-400s will be flying on the new routes. Last year's engine scares aside, the A380 is a comfortable experience, and over 17 hours having the improved entertainment options and access to in-seat power would have been a major boon. With luck, as Qantas' A380 fleet increases, DFW might become an option (it is equipped to handle the larger aircraft, but fuel supplies over such a long flight might be a concern).

No Qantas lounges at DFW. Perhaps the only saving grace of LAX is that the airport lounges in Terminal 4 and Tom Bradley are run by Qantas — they're much more comfortable and better equipped than the equivalent Admirals Club facilities that American Airlines offers when it does lounges on its own. Right now, Qantas doesn't even list an associated lounge for DFW, though I imagine it will strike a deal with American and British Airways to offer some facilities before the arrangements start.

Given the length of my legs and my usual routes, I suspect I'll still be making the LAX connection more often than the DFW one. However, for trips elsewhere in the States, DFW is sometimes going to win out.

Happy to see Qantas hitting Dallas, or did you leave your heart in San Francisco? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman has largely fond memories of Dallas Fort Worth airport, but suspects that viewpoint might change over the next year. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.


Comments

    I haven't bothered with the maths, but DFW might be better for Status Credits especially if connecting to elsewhere in the USA or if you get off the return in Brisbane and transfer to a domestic BNE-SYD.

    How is 17 hours in the air a potential benefit if you are heading further west? You can't get much further west than LAX. Do you mean further east?

      D'oh! Yep, indeed I do. Fixed now.

    Just booked a SYD - DFW for August as I'm heading to NYC. The connections like they will work better as American has around 7 flights a day to NYC and the $1000 return airfare certainly helped keep the cost down.

      AA runs about 16 flights a day between DFW and LGA, 5 or so to both JFK and EWR. You should have plenty of options.

    Since Qantas no longer offers Premium Economy all the way to JFK, but legally requires you to change to a miserable economy seat on American Airlines at LAX, one could shave off a couple of hours from that terrible airline's grip by flying to DFW then continuing onto JFK in economy from there. The removal of Premium Economy LAX to JFK and the dumping of SFO means Qantas is gambling with my continued patronage. I'm now booked to fly the alternatives: V Australia and Delta.

      Have you thought about booking your domestic to New York with Virgin America?

    The majority of my travel to the US is to go to SFO, and the direct Sydney-SFO flight was great. Now having to go via LAX kinda sucks. Domestic air travel in the US would have to be one of my least favourite experiences, right down there with sticking a fork in my eye.

    Qantas Dallas Multipass

      Hi what's a multi pass?

    Just a note, the busiest airport in the US is Atlanta, not O'Hare. Also, the flight is direct to/from Sydney both ways - direct is a flight with the same flight number, as opposed to non-stop which is, well, non-stop.
    I think it's also worth noting that this flight is very likely to go to an A380 when the lighter models begin delivery, so expect SYD-DFW on the A380 around 2012. Qantas is most likely going to be losing money money on this route until then as the 747 is not the best equipment for the route (hence the stop in Brisbane) but they're getting their foot in the door early, particularly before Continental begin their Houston-Auckland services next year.

      The figures are different depending whether you count passenger movements (which I did) or aircraft movements.

        Nah, Atlanta is still busier in terms of passenger movements. As of 2009 (things won't change much for 2010) ATL = ~88 million, ORD = ~64 million. In terms of aircraft movements, ATL = 970,000+, ORD = 820,000+

        Anyway, sorry to be pedantic regarding this, but aviation is one of my major interests and I tend to pick up on any inaccuracies straight away. Lifehacker is generally much better than the major newspapers etc though.

          D'oh! Better read my stats more carefully, though the key point is that DFW is less busy than LAX.

        Actually, DFW is busier than LAX by movements too. (3rd, after Atlanta and Chicago. LAX is 5th)

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World%27s_busiest_airports_by_traffic_movements

    Air New Zealand direct from Auckland to SFO is an option I've used before. The transit at AKL is a lot less onerous than LAX.

    First, I think someone should recognise the VERY clever humour exhibited by Sean. His 'punnish' reference to a line in the 5th Element movie is sublime. Now, about the flights. I'm more looking at it from the other end...it will encourage more Yanks to visit our beautiful country (I know what you're thinking) and learn a bit more about the world.

      i doubt it will help all that much
      the real kicker is the flight time...theyre not happy to do 14 hours...tell them its 17 (even though theyll save time on transfers) and theyll chicken out

      personally i just think it's another reason to visit my second home the lone-star state :)

    Hawaiian, SYD to SFO via HNL is a good option also, particularly if you'd like a nice stop over.

    I have no problem with the long flight - the killer for me is always the layovers and then the short connections to get back to DC (and vv). While I'd prefer a melbourne - dallas connection i think this will speed up my travel time and hopefully reduce length of layovers (usually have to wait 4+ hrs in lax/sfo)

    FYI, "direct" in airline parlance does not mean "non-stop". A direct flight makes at least one stop enroute, but no change of plane is involved.Surprised to see that some still don't know the difference.

      Actually - a "non-dtop" flight is a "direct flight", but a "direct" flight is not neccessarily "non-stop". Surprised to see that some still don’t know the difference.

    While LAX is not the most pleasant airport, I really don't think DFW is any better. The restaurants and facilities at DFW are similar to LAX, and the crowding is only slightly less.

      Have you ever been to DFW? Terminal D (the international terminal) is one of the nicest in the States, IMO. Customs is pleasant and efficient, the terminal itself is bright and airy, and the SkyLink to Terminals A, B, C, and E comes every two minutes, is bi-directonal, and is quite fast. The difference is night and day from LAX.

        I agree I've travelled a lot and believe the International terminal is great in Dallas . I love the monorail.

    I have just returned from DFW and used my Qantas Club card to get into the Admirals Club at 2 different terminals. I think they are much better than the lounge at TBIT. The showers are great.

    If the return via BNE because of winds/fuel?

    I'd love to see V Australia pick up the SYD-SFO route. Since Virgin America is based at SFO, it makes sense for Virgin to use SFO for connections to other parts of the US.

    Dallas? Yuck!
    United? Double Yuck!

    As an Aussie living in Texas, I welcome this news!

    The SYD-DFW flight is blocked at 15:25; SYD-LAX averages 13:30. Subtract the 3:00 flight time for LAX to DFW and the SYD-DFW travel time is almost an hour shorter. And you have great access to the entire US, Mexico, Latin America, etc. And you don't have to deal with the TBIT. Seems really logical to me that QF is doing this.

    The service is an absolute disaster, there are no ground staff to help when things go pear shaped, the AA staff are rude and unhelpful.

    Terrible experience, 24hr delay heading to Boston via Dallas, 24hr delay heading home, all because Qantas couldn't hold the plane for 5mins ... utter bastards! ...

    I am travelling from Mexico to Brisbane via Dallas
    QF4410
    to QF8
    we have 1 hour 25 minutes between flights - is this enough?
    Do we need to clear immigration and customs? or is it a simple gate change?

    The biggest downside to connecting in Dallas is weather; delayed over 18 hours due to thunderstorms in July and some 9 hours last week due ice and freezing rain. Something to consider. LAX is pretty much calm and sunny year-round. Never had a weather related delay connecting there.

    So how'd the A380 to DFW in 2012 plan work out for ya, Des? That big bird is about 30K pounds over DFW's weight limit…the 744, which is also over the limit but only by a few 1,000 pounds, operates from here on permanent waiver.

      only a couple of years late, QF is planning to fly A380's this year...

    THis must be an old article.
    I just flew DFW-Dallas via Quantas a couple of weeks ago...and it was on an A-380.

    Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport Is the busiest in America serving over 100 million passengers a year. When I was at DFW last month I got to see a Qantas A380 up close! Such a cool experience!

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