Qatar Airways A380 Service To London Heathrow Starting June 17, 2014

Qatar Airways will be one of the next major carriers to take delivery of the A380, and for a while I’ve been speculating about which route they’ll launch them on. Qatar Airways will be taking delivery of their first three of thirteen A380s this summer. They were supposed to take delivery of their A380s earlier, but due to the delayed opening of the Hamad International Airport they had the delivery dates delayed by a bit.

Back in February Qatar Airways announced that they planned on launching longhaul A380 service to Europe by the third quarter of 2014.

They quickly followed that up by revealing what their new A380 first class product would look like. While their first class won’t consist of fully enclosed suites, it does look really sleek and comfortable, especially since it won’t be operating ultra longhaul flights, due to the fact that they primarily plan on flying them to Europe.

Qatar-Airways-First-Class-1
Qatar Airways A380 first class cabin

Anyway, today Qatar Airways has finally published their A380 plans. As of June 17, Qatar Airways will begin once daily A380 service to London Heathrow.

The A380 will operate the QR3/4 service, with the following schedule:

Qatar 3 Doha to London departing 7:55AM arriving 1:15PM
Qatar 4 London to Doha departing 3:05PM arriving 11:50PM

The A380 actually replaces one of their daily 777-300ER services, which didn’t previously have a first class cabin. So this represents a nice increase in first class capacity on the route. Previously three of the six daily flights featured a first class cabin, while as of June 17 four of the six daily flights will feature a first class cabin.

Unfortunately I’m not seeing any award availability whatsoever on the new A380. Not just in first and business class, but even in economy class.

And beyond that, they’re actually not releasing the “lower” revenue fare classes either. I can understand that being the case for the inaugural flight or even for the first week or month of service, but here are the fare buckets for a random date next year:

Qatar-Airways-A380-Availability

As you can see, Qatar Airways has two flights to London which are 20 minutes apart, with the first being operated by an A340 and the second being operated by an A380.

The A340 has all three types of first class fare classes available (F, P, and A), while the A380 only has the F fare class available.

In business class the A340 has all four types of business class fare classes available (J, C, D, and I), while the A380 only has the full fare J and C classes available.

Even in economy they’re not releasing space in the lower fare buckets.

Now admittedly loads do vary day-to-day, though this is consistently the case. Given everything we know about Qatar Airways and how great they think they are, I wouldn’t be surprised if they actually think they can sell seats on the flight at a premium. I’m sure very quickly they’ll start releasing availability in the lower fare buckets, and I’m sure award availability will quickly follow as well. I guess we should just hope that they won’t block first class award redemptions across the board on that route.

If anyone finds any award availability on the new service I’d love to hear about it! Anyone book the new aircraft yet, if only by coincidence from being previously booked on the 777-300ER?

Comments

  1. For the record, I recently flew a couple of long-hauls with QR and was somewhat disappointed. Perhaps my expectations were very high from all the “5 Star” talk, but I don’t think so. From broken hardware, to staff that was more confused than I was, to lost luggage and indifferent agents — my experience was quite off-putting. I think the problem is that the company spares no expense when it comes to hard product and advertising, but the soft product (especially training) is quite lacking. Some agents were truly indifferent, but most were just ill-informed (i.e., untrained). And despite all the goodwill that a person can have, they’re still pretty useless if they don’t know what they’re doing. Plus, onboard service was in no way refined.

  2. @ choi — Given that all of their USA frequencies are once daily I highly doubt it. They presently only offer a first class cabin to Paris and London, so my guess is that Paris is next, and then maybe somewhere else in Europe or maybe somewhere in Asia. Doubt we’ll see A380 service to the US anytime soon.

  3. I don’t think they will operate any jumbo jet like A380 on US routes. I also don’t think they will release lots of award seats on A380 route.Qatar rather give their elite members upgrades than open it for redemption for people in other programs.

  4. Why would they operate 2 planes with so much capacity so close together? Is demand between the cities so great for a mid-day arrival?

  5. @ Neal — Ultimately it’s not a function of the demand between Doha and London, but rather a function of demand between the rest of the world and London. Qatar Airways has tons of flights arriving in Doha in the early morning hours, so those two flights connect many of those passengers to London. That is a crazy amount of capacity between two cities in a 20 minute period, though.

  6. Lucky, sorry for asking this question, but what did you use to search the revenue fare classes? Thank you!

  7. Ultimately those two departures will most likely be combined into one – the 380. Two flights departing within less than an hour of each other, with that much capacity, won’t remain on the schedule for long.
    And as unpopular as some might find it: not releasing premium space on the 380’s for free award travelers (other than their own members) is a sound business decision (ie: Swiss first class award space). This allows QR the option to upgrade loyal paying psgrs who will be more inclined/incentivized to buy a seat for their next trip versus carrying folks who’ve not previously been, nor ever will be, a paying customer.

  8. I was looking in September and the difference in departures DOH-LHR between the A380 flight QR 3 and the previous flight was 1h10m (on a 787). Perhaps CT is right on then that QR may combine both flights later on in the year or next year. We’ll see!
    I would have thought QR would have used QR1 for its A380 flight given the flight number but I was wrong.

  9. Yes. We have the 777-300ER booked for later in the year and I just checked up cos had a funny feeling we had a more than average chance that we would be moved to an A380. This happened last year for me when I flew back from HKG. It was supposed to be a 777-200 but then upgraded to an A380 a month or two before my flights. Got to fly on the upper deck on BA’s (then latest) A380 – G-XLEC. Now we’ve been upgraded for later in the year onto the A380. We had seats booked on the 777-300ER but when trying online to book seats on the A380 the system is currently not allowing us to book any seat. This could of course be because they wish to let premium customers have the choice of seat selection first or it’s just too close to the announcement and haven’t updated their seat selection screens yet to accomodate….

  10. We are booked onto the A380 for later in the year (just by accident as we were originally on the 777-300ER). Matt we have had problems with Qatar’s website for about a month now (in regards to changing seats). We called Qatar and they happily changed our seats for us (we have moved up onto the upper deck of economy with only 7 rows in the cabin). You should be able to view the seat selection, it will just come up with error codes when you try to book the seats. The upper deck has a configuration of 2-4-2 compared to the lower deck of 3-4-3.

  11. I would expect Paris and London +1 to follow, I hope it is QR2 as I have First Class award seats booked for Oct.

  12. Jacinta… Funnily enough that’s exactly what we did yesterday and, like you, have booked the limited economy seating by phone talking to Qatar Airways – on the upper deck. Hopefully they will have those really cool seat lockers under the window like BA had on the upper deck which are REALLY handy.
    A380 to Doha and 787 on the way back….as Mc Donalds would say …. I’m loving it!!

  13. There is already availability on QR’s 3 and 4 on economy. I hope they will load business and first, also.

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