I’ve Booked The New Qantas 787-9 Dreamliner (and I got a small surprise in the process)

a white airplane flying in the sky

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UPDATE: I’ve now flown in the Qantas 787 Business Class cabin so here’s a link to the post where I share my thoughts on the experience.

A little under two weeks ago I wrote about Qantas scheduling its new 787-9 Dreamliner on a couple of domestic routes as the airline gets its cabin crews, ground staff and other personnel up to speed on the new aircraft (hopefully those on the flight deck are already up to speed!) I also pointed out that Business Class award inventory on these crew orientation flights was easy to find….so I decided to check the aircraft out for myself.

In one of the crazy coincidences that happen now and again I’m already booked to be in Sydney in November (when the Dreamliner is flying between Melbourne and Sydney) so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see inside the Qantas 787-9.

Although the flight between Melbourne and Sydney is nowhere near long enough to get a full feel for the aircraft this will still give me a chance to check out the cabin and, regardless of how short the flight it, I will be seeing how comfortable the seat is in lie-flat mode 🙂

a close-up of a seatThe Qantas 787-9 Dreamliner Business Class Seats

So how much is this costing?

I’m only flying the Qantas 787-9 in one direction (I’m flying to Melbourne in Economy Class on a 737 and flying back in the Qantas 787-9) but I haven’t paid with cash.

The cash cost of one-way Qantas Business Class fares between Melbourne and Sydney is nothing short of ridiculous (they start at AU$828 on the dates I’m in town)….

a screenshot of a bus schedule

…and you can double that for a roundtrip reservation so this was always going to be an Avios booking.

Avios is a pretty horrendous rewards currency if you want to fly any real distance (the surcharges are very high and you need a lot of Avios)…but it can be fantastic for true short-haul flights like this one.

Where the one-way Business Class cash fare on the Dreamliner would have cost me at least AU$828 an award was far cheaper –  I booked a Business Class seat for 9,000 Avios and $13.95 (~$AU17.35):a screenshot of a flight

I’m not about to claim that got around $0.09/Avios in value out of this redemption (although I know some would try to claim that!) but it’s still a very economical way for me to try out a product I’m not going to get all that many chances to try.

Qantas has blocked out rows 1 and 2 on my flight but I had the rest of the cabin to choose from when it came to selecting a seat….so I’ve gone for 3K.

a screenshot of a gameI’m not flying in the Dreamliner on the Sydney – Melbourne leg because the schedule didn’t work for me (it would have meant overnighting in Melbourne) so I’m stuck in a Qantas 737…which I’m told won’t be very comfortable.

I considered paying cash for this part of my trip but I ended up using Avios for this too despite it being an Economy Class reservation. Here’s why:

If I didn’t want to have a long layover in Melbourne before the Qantas 787-9 flight the best prices for each airline looked like this:

  • Scoot $59
  • Jetstar $64
  • Qantas $373 (no, that’s not a typo)

Flying Scoot or Jetstar would mean a terminal change in Melbourne (possibly annoying) and I wouldn’t have lounge access either – my oneworld status would mean nothing and Priority Pass doesn’t appear to have any lounges in Melbourne.

But there was one bigger consideration – the randomness of airlines.

Airlines can change schedules and aircraft at a moments notice so if Qantas was to suddenly pull the Dreamliner from the route my trip would be somewhat pointless……and I’d be left with a non-refundable cash fare that was now useless.

Avios bookings are changeable and refundable (for a fee) so if the Qantas 787-9 was to be moved to another flight or pulled altogether I’d have options.

An Avios booking made a lot of sense so that’s what I went with:

a screenshot of a flight

At 4,500 Avios + $13.95 in fees that takes my total outlay for this trip to 13,500 Avios and $27.90.

One Small Surprise

One of the benefits I expected to have when I booked my Qantas Economy Class award flight was the option of free seat selection at the time of booking. More importantly, I expected to be able to choose an exit row.

I have oneworld Emerald status (top-tier) and that usually gets me free seat selection on all my flights with oneworld airlines – even if I was to book American Airlines “Basic Economy” (assuming I’d gone insane) or a British Airways “hand baggage only” fare – so when this popped up on my screen when I attempted to book an exit row I thought it was a mistake:

a screenshot of a seat

It wasn’t.

It turns out that since July this year Qantas has taking to charging everyone (including its own top-tier elites as well as all other oneworld elites) for exit row seating on domestic flights (don’t forget that in Australian domestic flights can be longer than transcons in the US).

That’s just cheap and I let Qantas know via Twitter. This was the reply:

a person sitting on a chair

On the basis that the whole point of having elite status is that you get things like seat selection free of change (when others have to pay) I really don’t know where Qantas is going with this. Will elites have to pay for baggage at some point too to make things “fair”?

Qantas appears to be arguing that elite status is unfair.

Still, never mind. In the grand scheme of things it’s really not that big of a deal for me because I don’t have to fly Qantas short-haul very often at all….but I feel sorry for all the elites stuck in Oz.

Bottom Line

I’m excited to check out the latest addition to Qantas’ fleet as not only will I get a good idea of what the Qantas 787-9 will offer but I’ll also be seeing what the airline offers on its Airbus A330’s (the Dreamliner and A330 share a Business Class product)…and I’m doing it all on the cheap. That’s always good 🙂

Featured image courtesy of Qantas



  1. Welcome to Qantas mate ( Australians have a nickname for it C—Ass ).

    They are thieving bastards which is why I dumped them a few years ago now and went with QR.

    What’s the benefit of being loyal to them? They have no understanding of loyalty and the CEO is not even an Aussie, he doesn’t understand what it means to be Australian.

    [Section redacted by Ziggy: The Qantas CEO’s stance(s) on social issues have no bearing on how he runs the airline (from a frequent flyer or shareholder) perspective and so have no place in this discussion]

    I hate the airline and am ashamed to call it Australian. I used to work at the ad-agency that came up with the line “Spirit of Australia” that you will see on all their aircraft and then the next ad-agency who bought in the “I still call Australia home” campaign they had for 20 years, but then the Irishman took over and everything dinky-di Aussie was thrown out.

    And I will be voting a big fat No.

    • Imposing fees to choose exit row seats seems like an unnecessarily cheap thing to do to your FF elites and a very good way to annoy a group that you’d think the airline would like to keep on side. I can’t see how the incremental revenue the airline is raising from this will offset the lost goodwill.

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