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Qantas has now launched the newest iteration of the Kangaroo Route, representing the first commercial non-stop flight between Australia and the United Kingdom. Starting 24th March 2018, QF9 will depart from Melbourne (at 15:10) and stop in Perth, before taking the cross-global leap across to London Heathrow (arriving 05:10 the next day), and will be operated by the B787-9. Tickets are now on sale.

This flight will replace the existing A380 operated Melbourne-Dubai-London, which will end with the final flight on 23rd March 2018.

Whilst this is certainly great news for Business Class, and similar in Premium Economy, First Class will not be available on the B787. Finally, this represents a significant downgrade in comfort in Economy Class.

At a maximum width of 17″, Qantas’ B787s have been outfitted in the 3-3-3 super-dense layout also seen on its low-cost brand Jetstar, and will have the narrowest seats in its fleet, both domestic and international. Crucially, they will be the narrowest seats on the Kangaroo Route – below the 18″ average and far short of the 19″ offered on route-leader Singapore Airlines.

Qantas B787 Economy

Qantas B787 Economy Class. Credit: Qantas

If you are based in Melbourne?

If you are Melbourne-based, and primarily travel in Premium Economy or Business Class, this represents an improvement in the on-board experience and should be welcomed. Business Class will be upgraded from the (now outdated) 2-2-2 layout to the industry-standard 1-2-1 (although the toilet count per person is very low), whilst Premium Economy has been refreshed and sports a 2-3-2 layout.

Qantas Premium B787

Qantas B787 Business and Premium Economy. Credit: Qantas

If First Class is your usual bag, this will no longer be offered, and you will have to either switch to another carrier or route via Sydney.

Importantly, if you find yourself primarily in Economy Class for these long-haul odysseys, this is not good news. I’ve gone through a few alternatives in below. In summary, however, consider other carriers such as Singapore Airlines or Emirates well before heading to the Qantas website – your hips will thank you.


Your choices:

If you are not constrained by loyalty, you have much better options at your disposal.

Star Alliance | Singapore Airlines:

Singapore Airlines operates the A350, A380 and B777 between Melbourne and London. They are the market leaders, and a great alternative.

Qantas Partner | Emirates:

Emirates has a consistent product between Melbourne and London, with the A380 the sole aircraft flying this route. Given they are partners with Qantas, you will still be able to scratch your Oneworld itch.

Other | Etihad:

Etihad is removing its A380s from the Melbourne service, and will be using the B787 and B777 in its stead. These are both in very dense layouts, and don’t represent any improvement on Qantas’ B787.

If you are beholden to the Oneworld alliance, you have a couple of choices:

Oneworld | Cathay Pacific:

Cathay Pacific uses a combination of the B777, A330 and A350 between Melbourne and London. For now, all three of these planes are world-beating products, and Cathay Pacific is a fantastic alternative. However, this will all change next year.

Oneworld | Qatar Airways:

Qatar uses a combination of the B777, A350 and A380 between Melbourne and London. Whilst the B777 is decked out in a very dense format (10-abreast in Economy Class), all three aircraft offer vastly better comfort than the B787 in the Qantas layout.

Oneworld | Malaysia Airlines:

Lastly, Malaysia Airlines completes the Oneworld line-up with an acceptable on-board experience. Malaysia uses the A330 and A380 between Melbourne and London and are more spacious than the quarters on Qantas. Their service can be hit and miss, however.


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Posted by Tom

Tom is a consultant and founder of, the online travel tool that rates, ranks and dissects every facet of in-flight passenger experience. All views expressed are his own.

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