New Qantas A380 Route: Dallas DFW Airport

In February the DFW Airport board was asked to approve construction for an A380 gate, as an unnamed carrier would supposedly be launching A380 service to Dallas as of October 2014. At the time I speculated that it would be British Airways or Qantas launching the service due to their membership in oneworld, though didn’t rule out Emirates, since they’re the largest operator of the A380 in the world, and often do things “just because” they can.

In early April, Emirates announced they would be the first carrier with scheduled A380 service to Dallas. On one hand it surprised me, given that they’re upgrading the route from a 777-200LR to an A380, which is a massive capacity upgrade. On the other hand it kind of makes sense, given that Etihad and Qatar are both launching service to Dallas shortly, and Emirates wants to send them a message and remind them who’s boss.

Well, as it turns out, Emirates won’t be the first airline flying the A380 to Dallas, despite the fact that they’ll still commence service as of October 1, 2014.

Qantas will be launching A380 service to Dallas

Instead, Qantas will be launching A380 service to Dallas as of September 29, 2014. The service will be six times weekly (every day except Tuesdays), and replace the daily 747-400 service currently on the route.

This will represent a net increase in capacity of over 10%, and will be the first time Qantas will operate a first class cabin to Dallas since launching the service in 2011.

Qantas-A380-First-Class
Qantas A380 first class

This will also be the longest A380 route in the world, beating Emirates’ new Los Angeles to Dubai A380 service by about 250 miles.

Why the 747-400 isn’t good for this route

Qantas’ flight between Sydney and Dallas is the longest 747 route in the world, at over 8,500 miles. Because of how long it is, the flight actually has to make a fuel stop in Brisbane on the eastbound sector, and even so, is heavily weight restricted. Not only are they heavily restricted in terms of the amount of cargo they can carry, but in many cases they can’t even sell all of the seats, due to weight restrictions.

By placing the A380 on this route not only will they be able to eliminate the westbound stop in Brisbane, but they’ll be able to carry both some cargo and a full load of passengers consistently. Yes, even the A380 will have weight restrictions on an ultra longhaul route like this, but not nearly as severe as on the 747-400.

Qantas-Dallas

Where is Qantas getting the A380s for Dallas service?

Offering six times weekly service between Dallas and Sydney requires more than one A380, so where is Qantas getting the extra planes from?

As part of Qantas’ February restructuring announcement, Qantas said they would be retiming some A380 flights to reduce ground time. Specifically, they’re adjusting the schedule between Melbourne and London (which routes via Dubai).

The current schedule is as follows:

QF9 Melbourne to London departing 3:15PM arriving 5:40AM (+1 day)
QF10 London to Melbourne departing 10:25PM arriving 5:25AM (+2 days)

The new schedule, as of July 20, 2014, will look as follows:

QF9 Melbourne to London departing 10:55PM arriving 1:40PM (+1 day)
QF10 London to Melbourne 1:30PM arriving 8:55PM (+1 day)

Qantas presently has two A380s that sit at London Heathrow all day (one for the Sydney service and one for the Melbourne service), so they’re just about cutting ground time in half by sending the morning Sydney arrival onto the Melbourne return. Between the A380 services to London, they’re cutting daily ground time from about 30 hours to about 13 hours — brilliant.

This schedule change also impacts the US Airways award ticket I recently booked to Australia.

Beyond that, Qantas will be adjusting the number of weekly frequencies they operate to Hong Kong on the A380 in order to make this route work.

A380 reservations go on sale May 14, 2014

Next week Qantas will load the new A380 service into the schedule. Hopefully this results in some award availability, ideally in first class, given that this is a brand new cabin for the route. I’ll post an update as soon as the schedule loads.

Qantas-A380
Qantas A380

Will Emirates move up their A380 launch date?

You’ve gotta love that Middle Eastern airlines are all about pride, even if it comes at a cost. Etihad announced their new A380 “Residences” product a few days ago, and Emirates responded by pretending they’re working on a similar product, which clearly isn’t the case. But that’s the joy of Middle Eastern airlines, with bottomless pockets.

So will Emirates really let Qantas beat them to Dallas by two days? My money is on Emirates quietly updating their schedule to a September 28 A380 Dallas launch date sometime soon.

Bottom line

This is awesome news for passengers. Now the service to Sydney will be nonstop, offer a first class cabin, and ultimately be operated by a plane that offers a far superior flying experience.

(Tip of the hat to David)

Comments

  1. I’m confused about the rescheduling of QF9. I just booked a first class award flight from Melbourne to Heathrow in February 2015 and it has the “old” 4pm schedule. Hard to understand why QF wouldn’t have updated their the system that far out. If the flight does move 7 hours back, then my trip is screwed.

  2. Damn it. First TAM pulls F and ruins my reservation, and now this little gem f#$%s up my BA/QF F booking!

  3. @ Nick — For what it’s worth, while Qantas is bleeding money on the whole, they’re actually fairly profitable on their US routes, apparently.

  4. @ Josh — Agreed, does seem a bit odd they wouldn’t update the schedule earlier, since they’ve known for a while that it will happen.

  5. @ Ben — My US award ticket does not reflect this schedule change yet. When should I expect to see the schedule change loaded?

  6. So if we book the flight now on 747 we’ll be automatically swicthed to A380 later no?

  7. @ Lantean — Yes, there’s not really any award space on the 747, but you’d be switched over to it if you booked.

  8. That’s really interesting. I wonder why QF didn’t think of this before! Those are long ground times.
    I noticed the EK flight MEL-DXB departs at 10:25pm daily, which means there are 2 huge planes flying the kangaroo route from MEL thirty minutes apart.

  9. As a DFW resident, I could not be more excited about the increased A380 traffic. Dfw is definitely not standing still these days. Though I still think a 6th terminal would be a bit of overkill.

  10. @Joey: I’m sure they did think of this before. The problem is that LHR is a big business destination, and it’s hard to craft a schedule which is optimized for both business travellers and the airline.

    Under the old timings, you arrived at Heathrow early in the morning, allowing you to make 9:00 meetings and do a full day’s work in London. On the return, you left late at night and again arrived early in the morning, allowing a full day of work on both ends.

    With the new schedule, you land in London mid-afternoon, meaning the first day is pooched (although this is balanced out somewhat by departing MEL in the evening). The mid-afternoon return departure has the same issue. Furthermore, anyone wanting to connect beyond LHR or MEL will have far fewer options compared to the previous early morning arrivals.

    Presumably Qantas has crunched the numbers and decided the extra money they’ll make using the A380 to DFW will outweigh any lost revenue on MEL-LHR. From what I understand, their European routes are still losing money, and many of their passengers have jumped ship to Emirates since their alliance.

  11. I’m excited by the delayed timing for MEL-LHR as I was just looking at a trip and was worried about going straight from that to 11 hr LHR-US flight.

    Now I just need to decide if I want to pull the trigger since I’m starting with zero US Airways miles. Most people will think I’m crazy, but I don’t play the credit card game and just buy miles when taking a trip. Have done it for two trips in Cathay first class and one in Emirates first class. Doing this trip would be about $3K – buy the bonus miles for 100K US Airways miles, 20K SPG on sale which equals 25K on US Airways, and then 15K in an expensive way (outright purchase or purchase into family member account and non-bonus transfer to my acct) to get to the needed 140K. I really do think the generous routing will go away soon, so this is the best chance to get so many hours in first class on an around the world trip.

  12. When you say that the schedule (and hence award seats?) will be loaded next week, does that mean I will be able to see it via AA? Or is it being opened to Qantas frequent flyers and then ~30 days later will be able to be booked with AA miles?

  13. @Ben L, not to jump on Lucky’s toes, but if there is newly loaded award availability, AA will be able to see it up until ~330 days out. In other words, you’ll be able to use AA miles to book the new availability, if it happens, for flights departing September 2014 through March-ish 2015 (because it’s within 330 days).

    The only time AA can’t see it is when QF has availability >330 or so days out.

  14. @ Ben L — AJK is exactly right. As long as it’s for travel within 11 months, American should immediately have access to the award space.

  15. Great thanks @lucky @AJK

    I was concerned that they would only open it up to Qantas ff’s at first. Would love to jump on a biz ticket to SYD!

  16. Lucky,
    Following up on Ben L.’s comment when next week do you expect the schedule to be loaded? And any guesses what award availability will be like for F and J?

  17. @ Lucky — are there any downsides to this (if you are just traveling US-Australia/NZ)? On a surface looks like great news – presumably, more award availability (esp. in F because old flight only had J). Pretty excited about this since instead of doing IAH-LAX-SYD, could do IAH-DFW (a million different ways) and DFW-SYD 🙂

  18. @ Alex — I believe the flight will be loaded on the 14th, though it may be a bit longer than that till award space is opened up. As far as what they’ll release, no clue! Hopefully some first class space, though wouldn’t count on it.

  19. @ Ivan Y — No downside, other than an aircraft downgrade on the SYD-HKG flight and the retiming of the MEL to LHR flight, depending on how you look at it.

  20. Uhh.. SYD-DFW has a 747 first class. I saw it enviously from my biz seat last year. 🙂

  21. @ afterbang — They haven’t sold it. They did have a four class 747 on the route for a while, though they’ve always sold it as three cabins (economy, premium economy, and business).

  22. @ Lucky – thank you! Seems like a nice thing then if you don’t care about the other routes 🙂

    @ Afterbang – reconfigured Boeing 747-400 that’s currently flying the route has 58 J, 36 Y+, and 270 Y seats.

  23. Thanks Lucky.

    One more question: if I already have an existing ticket using AA miles on QF in J and I switch to this route, if it’s on the same date with the same originating and destination city but a different routing, will I be charged any fee’s?

  24. I’ve been hoping/expecting them to do this for a while – that route serves a lot of people that LAX is inconvenient for. One thing that DFW doesn’t have are good First ground facilities. Qantas has been doing chauffer service in SYD, MEL, London and LAX since their tie-up with Emirates; I wonder if they’ll have that in DFW.

    There’s also nothing close to a First class lounge on the ground, and that’s a big piece of the experience for them. The best they could do is get access to the American Express Centurian Lounge for their First passengers. Maybe American, Qantas, and British Airways have enough F traffic in DFW to justify building a F lounge, which could also service Emirates. That won’t happen overnight though 🙁

    Exciting news – I’m pumped! Now I’m one-stop from Sydney!

  25. As predicted Emiroo now has 3RTW A380 routes. Oh who will be first to DFW well let’s just say, “there the best of mates” so it will be on the same day and only one gate you say, they will toss a coin for the time.

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