Five Things I Like About Qantas' Reboot

Qantas has announced massive changes to its international route structure, altering some key destinations and revamping its aircraft. While all the details aren't clear yet and there's some major issues to be resolved, here are Road Worrier's initial thoughts on the changes.

Picture by Christopher Neugebauer

As regular readers will know, I'm a long-term Qantas frequent flyer, so any changes to its overall plans are going to impact on me fairly directly. Qantas' own spin on the changes is on its Qantas Answers site. A different take on its plans to change employment conditions for pilots and other staff can be found on the Qantas Pilots site. Making the changes Qantas has announced will require those not-inconsiderable issues to be resolved, and any plan that involves getting rid of 1,000 staff may impact on services in ways that aren't yet apparent.

But assuming that the broad-brush alterations go through, here are the changes I can see having a positive effect on my own travel plans. This is definitely a personal take, based on my own Europe and America-centric travel plans and my fairly elevated Qantas flyer status. Casual economy passengers would doubtless have a very different take, but might well be travelling with someone else anyway (Qantas' own calculation is that it only has 18% of the market for passengers leaving Australia).

All Europe flights routed through Singapore. Qantas will continue flying to Hong Kong and Bangkok, but will no longer fly continuing services from there to London from April 2012. Singapore will be its main pass-through airport, which suits me just fine. Singapore is a better organised and equipped airport with much better lounges and more efficient staff. It also makes a better break in the journey for sleep; you can stay awake on the Australia-Singapore leg, sleep on the Singapore-London (or Frankfurt) leg, and wake up fairly well aligned to European time.

New lounges in Singapore, Hong Kong and Los Angeles. Having said that the Singapore lounge suits me fine, I've got no objection to it coming into line with the Marc Newson-designed First lounges in Sydney and Melbourne. Even better is the news that the Los Angeles lounges will be upgraded, and around three times the size of the current one. I've never been in the LA lounge and not felt majorly crowded, so any expansion is welcome.

A380 entertainment systems on 747s. I've long been a fan of the on-board entertainment system for the A380, so seeing its enhanced flexibility on 747 aircraft will definitely be welcome. A total of nine 747s are being upgraded right now, with the first to roll out within three months, and 21 due to be updated before June 2014.

Expanding next-generation check-in internationally. Given my current Platinum status, I never spend much time hanging out in international check-in now. However, I've become very accustomed to automated check-in for domestic flights, and I could definitely see myself using it internationally as well. New Zealand is the first country that will see the change.

Additional European gateway cities through Malaysian Airlines. Flying Qantas to Europe generally means flying to London or Frankfurt, which can be fiddly if your ultimate destination is elsewhere on the continent. Offering flights to Rome, Istanbul and Amsterdam could improve flexibility, though if I'm realistic I rarely pass up the opportunity to visit London even when it's not the most convenient option.

What's your take on the "new" Qantas? Tell us in the comments.

Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman has a constantly oscillating collection of frequent flyer points. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.


Comments

    As a regular flyer, although not with Qantas most of the time, these moves really smack of shuffling deckchairs on the Titanic. They're dropping their already scant Europe coverage by almost half, with little expansion to pick up the slack. It's effectively an admission that they won't compete.

    They haven't announced anything about flying to KL yet either, so where does that leave the partnership with Malaysian Airlines?

    This is less an announcement of a new Qantas than it is a gradual morphing of Qantas into Jetstar.

      Just to add, imo Ben Sandilands of Crikey's Plane Talking speaks a lot of sense about this issue - his blog is worth checking out:
      http://blogs.crikey.com.au/planetalking/2011/08/16/how-not-to-grow-qantas/

    Qantas? are they still kicking around?

    Id just like to say thank-you for your article. There are so many people who keep kicking QANTAS, especially in the media.. So to have a positive story or opinion is great to see.
    Australia really does have Tall-Poppy Syndrome and one of the biggest victims of it is QANTAS.

    I love QANTAS, and what they deserve is support.

    How often do you go to Hong Kong? Do you really believe Singapore to be a better organised and more efficient airport than HKG?

      Yep, absolutely. Hong Kong is (in my experience) much harder to get around. Singapore also has better lounges and more efficient flight interchange.

        Respectfully disagree with each point Angus, IMHO.

        Assuming you're travelling only on OneWorld, I can't agree on the comparison between lounges. The Qantas Business Lounges are almost the same, decor-wise, but the spread in HKG is far better - probably because they're competing with the Cathay lounges which are superb.

        As for getting around, I find HKG to be laid out very well and the people-mover excellent for getting between far flung gates. Even though the terminal train in SIN helps, there's still way too much distance to traverse inside each terminal, on top of which there's the gate-based security which is horrendous for transfers - I have a much better time getting through the transfer security points at HKG.

        In general I would have said that immigration is a toss-up, but if you have a HKIA frequent visitor card or e-Pass, HKG wins hands down.

        As mentioned below, the Airport Express also makes a quick trip into the city (if you have time and so choose) ridiculously easy.

        SIN may be a more logical mid-point for the Kangaroo route for other reasons, but IMHO it's a much less pleasant transit port.

      I deliberately choose not to fly QANTAS, so I can't comment directly on QANTAS related service at HKG v SIN, but in general, I think they pan out fairly evenly. Some things are better at SIN (eg, immigration lines inbound and outbound), but HKG is much better in other respects, like the Central check-in and fast train service to the airport. Lounge wise, I find that both SIN & HKG lounges are good.

    I fly with SIA; I refuse to fly QF 20 year old 747s. Has that little man not heard of metal fatigue?

    I'm happy with the lounge upgrades! My dad's a platinum as well, and we travel a fair bit so whenever we're at some of these cities we always get in the lounge, first class one at airports that have them. I totally agree, LA's feels very crowded, will be a nice upgrade.

    Speaking of lounges, Qantas need to move the BNE-LAX leg back to TBIT... the American airlines lounge in T4 is terrible. My last trip I had an 8hr layover and they give you 3 drink tickets.... for 8 hrs and you have to pay for food.

    Not only that but you have to wait for Qantas staff to man the desk to get any internet access.

    I really hate T4!

    I ditched Qantas for Emirates years ago because I fly often from Melbourne to continental Europe and Qantas were always trying to get me to fly via London Heathrow.

    London is fine if you are stopping over there, but it is a nightmare if you are just transiting. Why?
    1) You need to unnecessarily change currencies. Why they don't accept euro (or euroes as the English prefer to call them) in Heathrow is anyone's guess;
    2) You need to wait forever in queues. In fact, they close security isles if they see there are not many people waiting;
    3) Their security personnel follow the theory that if passengers are extremely inconvenienced then it means they are doing their job. They think it makes them seem more serious, even though I often hear them talking amongst themselves about last night's pub shenanigans;
    4) In 5 years that I flew with Qantas I was upgraded to Business Class once, and was subsequently treated with contempt by the Business Class stewards. In 2 years with Emirates I have been upgraded 5 times!!
    5) It adds at least 6 hours to a journey from Melbourne to Rome.

    I'm sorry Qantas, but for me it's too little too late.

    Too bad about the 1000 people out of work to achieve this!

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