Starting May 14, Qantas will discontinue their San Francisco to Sydney service, and instead add four times weekly service between Dallas/Ft. Worth and Sydney as of May 16. The flight from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Sydney will stop in Brisbane, while the return flight from Sydney to Dallas/Ft. Worth will be nonstop.
The flights will operate with the following schedule:
Qantas 8 Dallas/Ft. Worth to Brisbane departing at 10:00PM and arriving at 5:00AM (+2 days) [16hrs]
Qantas 8 Brisbane to Sydney departing at 6:30AM and arriving at 8:05AM [1hr35min]
Qantas 7 Sydney to Dallas/Ft. Worth departing at 1:25PM and arriving at 1:50PM [15hr25min]
On one hand this decision makes perfectly sense, since Dallas is a huge American hub, giving Qantas plenty of feeder traffic. San Francisco isn’t a hub of American’s, so connection opportunities on Qantas were somewhat limited, at least as far as nonstop destinations out of San Francisco went. At the same time, I assume there were a fair number of people originating in San Francisco, not to mention a ton of cargo.
The question is, is the new flight really any more convenient for those that are connecting? Assume you live in a city that requires a double connection to get to San Francisco on American, like Kansas City. Previously you had to fly from Kansas City to Dallas/Ft. Worth to San Francisco to Sydney, and now you have to fly from Kansas City to Dallas/Ft. Worth to Brisbane to Sydney. Is that really any more convenient? Yes, the return would now be a one-stop itinerary, though the outbound is still two stops. I assume this is largely a marketing tactic, since the Dallas/Ft. Worth to Sydney flight is considered a “direct” flight, so psychologically maybe many won’t think about the stop in Brisbane.
Furthermore, from Qantas’ perspective, the outbound segment from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Brisbane is blocked at 1hr20min longer than the San Francisco to Sydney flight, and the Sydney to Dallas/Ft. Worth is blocked at 2hr longer than the Sydney to San Francisco flight. I assume the extra fuel will come at the expense of some cargo, since Sydney flights are often weight restricted to begin with, no? Not that I’m suggesting airlines do this, but there’s a reason that several cargo airlines have a base in Anchorage — it’s expensive to carry extra fuel!
Most interesting (to me at least), is that the return flight now seems to be the world’s third longest flight in terms of distance. Sydney to Dallas/Ft. Worth clocks in at 8,578 miles, exceeded only by Singapore’s nonstop Los Angeles to Singapore and Newark to Singapore flights, as far as I know.
Then there’s also an implication here for United flyers. Expect upgrades to get just a bit tougher on the San Francisco to Sydney route, as undoubtedly some Bay Area locals will start flying United (for the convenience of the nonstop). Who knows, maybe United will add a second frequency out of San Francisco.
Anyway, I’m sure Qantas thought this one through, since it wasn’t a decision they made overnight. Apparently they’ve been considering Dallas service for about a decade now. I’m just not sure I see all that many benefits to consumers at large (I suppose with the exception of those living in Dallas/Ft. Worth) and also to Qantas… but I suppose it’s all about the marketing.