Last week Qantas announced that they will be launching A380 service to Dallas starting later this year. Qantas isn’t taking delivery of anymore A380 aircraft, so they were able to make this work by strategically retiming some of their current A380 flights and reducing A380 service to Hong Kong. This will be the furthest A380 flight in the world, so it will take two aircraft to operate the daily service.
While the change in equipment on the route was announced last week, they said that the schedule would only be updated as of May 14, 2014. By the miracles of timezones it’s already May 14, 2014, and Qantas has updated their schedule to reflect the A380 service.
Why is this potentially exciting/why should you care?
- Qantas is historically really stingy with premium cabin award space to/from the US, so the hope was that this would translate into some additional premium cabin award seats as soon as the schedule was loaded.
- Since they’re changing the route from a 747-400 to an A380, that means the route will now feature first class, which it previously didn’t. The hope of course is that they make some A380 first class award space available, as it’s so tough to come by to/from the US that it almost seems impossible.
Qantas A380 first class
I promised I’d stay on top of this and provide an update as soon as I saw something. And Qantas did indeed update the schedule to reflect the A380 just a few hours ago. The 747-400 had to stop in Brisbane on the westbound flights, and the schedule no longer shows that, as the flight will now be nonstop in both directions.
Interestingly Qantas shows the A380 loaded, but doesn’t actually show first class inventory. As of now business class is the highest cabin offered.
If you look at the seatmap you’ll see the first class seats on there, though they’re all blocked off.
So this leads to two possible conclusions:
- Qantas hasn’t yet gotten around to adding first class inventory. That’s the most likely explanation. They may not have decided how they want to price the cabin yet or what fare classes they want to load inventory in (only full fare first class, discounted first class, etc.). After all, they literally just updated the aircraft on this route.
- Qantas doesn’t plan on selling first class on the route. This is highly unlikely though theoretically possible, I suppose. Back when they first started 747-400 service on the route they actually had a first class cabin, but they didn’t sell it (it was as they began reconfiguring their 747-400s without first class). Then they just sat elite passengers in the first class cabin. So theoretically it’s possible they plan on doing that here, though I highly doubt it. The marginal cost to operate a first class cabin is really low, and even if you just have people upgrading from business class, you’d still come out ahead.
And really “big picture” the bad news is that Qantas doesn’t seem to have opened up much additional business class award availability on the route.
My hope, of course, was that as soon as the schedule was loaded we would see a couple of first and business class award seats per flight. That was my hope, not what I was realistically expecting.
Pessimistically I think it’s worth noting that Qantas doesn’t take a very active approach to award inventory management. They don’t seem to actively add premium cabin award space, and even if not a single seat is sold in first class a day before departure, you’ll rarely see them load more space.
Optimistically, however, I would note that airlines loading award inventory due to schedule/aircraft changes often isn’t “live.” So it could very well be that it will be loaded in an hour, a day, a week, or… never.
I’ll keep monitoring, and if I notice any major developments I’ll be sure to post again.