I watched yesterday’s live announcement of the Qantas’ tie up with Emirates with a tinge of sadness. I cannot knock what appears to be a sound business decision, but it does signal the end of Qantas flights to Europe via an Asian transit. Earlier this year Qantas stopped its London flights through Bangkok and Hong Kong. In April 2013 Qantas will drop Singapore as a stopover for London and Frankfurt and instead divert to Dubai, as well as codesharing many destinations with Emirates. You can still transit in Asia, as Qantas continues to serve each stopover destination, but you will need to change airlines.
I’m interested in visiting Dubai one day as it seems to be quite an amazing place, but I doubt that I will feel the same connection that I do with many Asian stopovers, thanks to my wife’s Malaysian-Chinese heritage.
I’ve done all of Qantas’ Asian transits to and from London in the past decade and, after flying on a few other airlines to Europe, nothing has compared to the quality of those Qantas flights. There was the late night transit in Bangkok on our honeymoon, descending over still bustling streets into the old Don Muang airport, a little old but exotic with stalls of shining yellow gold and colourful silks.
In 2005 we flew to London via Singapore and back through Tokyo, but the Asia-Europe legs were on British Airways, which just couldn’t match Qantas.
Then in 2009 I flew alone to Singapore in a Qantas A380, then rediscovered my love of long haul flying on Qantas 747s to London and back to Sydney via Hong Kong. Even though I only spent a night in Singapore and a day in Hong Kong, that was enough to eat a lot of wonderful local food and fill bags with cheap goods. There’s something about arriving into Asia in the evening with enough time to eat something, then continue on to the much longer stretch to Europe. With Qantas I was almost sad to arrive. Not so with some other airlines.
I guess the upside of the announcement is that if we can ever afford to fly to Europe again over the next few years I might get to try some different airlines for half the trip.