Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 16 seconds
Today I awoke to the exciting news that there is now a Qantas Emirates alliance.
I’ll not be offended, or surprised, if you are circumspect/nonplussed/ambivalent about this, so allow me to explain.
In addition to being very exciting for Aussies and Kiwis heading to Europe, this announcement is important for those from EU and UK flying to Australia for a cycling holiday (e.g. for the Tour Down Under).
Before we dive into the announcement, a few acronyms/meanings for those not accustomed to nerdy airline-speak.
- Metal – refers to the actual airplane being flown
- BCN – Barcelona airport
- CDG – Charles de Gaulle, Paris
- EK – Emirates airline code
- GVA – Geneva airport
- LHR – London Heathrow
- NCE – Nice
- QF – Qantas airline code
- QFF – Qantas Frequent flyer
A bit of background
I’ve been a Qantas frequent flyer and Qantas Club member for a long time and have collected many FF points (enough to shuttle Kate and I to Europe and back twice each, or once each in business). Up until now, they’ve had limited use as I hate – HATE – flying via Heathrow into the EU.
Plus, trying to get a QFF reward seat into Europe in July for the Tour is about as likely as me ever riding as a pro cyclist (to clarify – the chances of that are 0. About the same as the Melbourne Football Club winning a premiership ever again – EVER – or Bangladesh winning the Ashes, or Mt Hutt having a whole season of the road being open or the Red Sox winning AL East – wow, I think I covered everyone off!). As a consequence I’d started accruing points to a Virgin Australia account as their European partners are very solid – they’re tied up with Etihad and Singapore.
Virgin, Etihad and Singapore all have new planes (A380s or B777s between the EU/UK and Australia), but I don’t have lounge access and lounge access on long haul flights between the EU and Australia is, I think, a necessity. (Bombay Sapphires, Chivas Regals, Cointreau, Baileys? Come on! It’s like being a movie star. But without the private jet.)
But I digress.
The Qantas Emirates alliance means that in addition to providing a seamless experience to and from a LOT more airports in Australia and throughout Europe, there are a host of other benefits.
Although on the surface this alliance appears to be of most benefit for Aussies, it’s great news for those in Europe and the UK as well.
Frequent Flyer points
The tie up allows flyers to accrue and redeem each others points on each others flights.
If you’re an Emirates FF, you can earn and redeem EK points on Qantas flights now.
Likewise, if you’re a Qantas FF, you can earn and redeem QFF points on EK flights now.
The Qantas Emirates alliance will see both airlines honouring each others’ baggage allowances. This is incredibly important.
There is nothing worse than arriving at an airport thinking you have a certain baggage allowance only to find, no, en fait, you do not.
Even if you’re travelling on a close partner of the airline on your ticket – for instance, if you’re on a British Airways plane but a Qantas coded flight – don’t expect the partner to honour your baggage. By the way, the QF-BA partnership is 17 years old – some partnership!
In addition to honouring the baggage allowances, expect to get a bigger baggage allowance. Currently, EK allows a 1x30kg allowance (if you play nice, you’ll get away with 35kg) on its flights between the UK/EU and Australia but Qantas only allows 1x23kg.
For those in the Qantas Club, you’ll now have your extra allowances honoured on flights to a *lot* more European destinations. You’ll get 2x23kg for you and your travel partner between the EU/UK to the South Pacific.
You’ll now have greater access to destinations at both ends of the journey.
Previously, if you were flying Qantas, you could fly into London. And Frankfurt.
If you were flying on Emirates you could hit London, Nice and Paris and some other airports.
Now, you can fly to and from all of Qantas’ European destinations (London – Frankfurt will be deprecated) and Emirates (Nice, Paris, Lyon, Geneva, Milan, Barcelona, LHR) into Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and all of these connecting to Auckland and Christchurch.
Why this matters to Aussies and Kiwis
Apart from the obvious benefit with baggage, Aussies and Kiwis now have a seamless travel experience. Qantas flights from basically everywhere in Australia to major hubs (e.g. Melbourne) connecting to Dubai and Europe.
This is totally awesome.
For instance, I live near the Gold Coast airport, so previously I’d had to have driven to Brisbane for a flight into the EU (unless I wanted to fly on Air Asia X). Now, I can fly from Gold Coast, WITH large baggage allowances, up to Brisbane and then connect to Emirates metal on a Qantas flight.
Why this matters to UK and EU residents
Although the focus of VeloNomad has mostly traditionally focussed on France, the TDF and Etape, Haute Route and Marmotte, I’m now introducing other events (like the Tour Down Under) and destinations to the site.
This announcement is really important for the Tour Down Under (not until the 2014 TDU though).
If you’re flying into Australia for the Tour Down Under, you now have a bunch of extra key airports you can fly from.
I totally recommend flying on an EK/QF flight for the baggage allowance alone. Not only will the experience be a lot smoother and pain free, you’ll also be on a Boeing 777 or Airbus A380 all the way. New planes equals awesome.
Obviously there are other options (Virgin Australia, Singapore, Thai, Malaysian, Etihad, Gulf and more – read more about airlines into Europe here), but my recommendation is to fly using this alliance.
I’ve flown on a Qantas A380 and Emirates B777 and both experiences were seriously great (especially the EK flight).
If you’ve flown on an old Qantas 747 you’ll know why being on an A380 or B777 is awesome. Flying on a Qantas B747 is akin to being on that crazy old airplane in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. You know the one. Rickety plane, chickens, high above the Indian Himalayas.
What’s this? I happen to have footage of said Indiana Jones scene? How serendipitous!
What to watch out for!
Obviously, you should always double-check the conditions of carriage of your ticket but there is one thing you have to watch out for.
Jetstar – for those who don’t know – is Qantas’ budget offshoot. The key issue is Jetstar pretty much won’t honour your baggage allowance on Qantas flights unless you get a Jetstar flight as part of a series of flights and your baggage is checked all the way through.
That internal domestic flight on Jetstar would have significantly different baggage allowances than your international legs.
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