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Qatar Airways: A380’s back in the air – November 2021

Qatar Airways: A380’s back in the air – November 2021

This is my double happiness. A return to international flying, on my favourite airline, in my favourite plane, in early November 2021.


The A380 like the B747 has been a victim of the pandemic. With international travel numbers plummeting, who needs a massive plane that carries over 400 passengers, when Australia will only let you bring in 25 paying flyers?

Airlines including Air France, Malaysian Airlines and others have indicated that their big birds will not return to the sky. With a flock of new more fuel-efficient, nimbler long haul planes available like the B787 and the A350 why would you fly an A380 that is unlikely to make you any money?

On the other hand – passengers love the A380.

a group of people sitting in an airplane
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class

About Face

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said that his 10 strong fleet of A380’s would never grace the Abu Dhabi skies again. He is going to have to eat his own words according to ET.

With international demand on the rebound, and 13 of his A350’s grounded due to claimed fuselage degradation – what alternative does he have? This might even mean he has to reverse his decision to retire half the fleet.

Putting the A380’s back in the air gives him 517 seats per plane – going a long way to fulfilling the seat shortfall caused by the A350 groundings.

a purple and white kitchen with a tray of fruit
Premium Lounge onboard

First Class is back!

One of the side benefits of having the A380’s back in the air, besides that bar area at the back upstairs for first and business passengers, is that these superjumbos have first class! That’s 8 seats in the nose, downstairs.

The downside – no Q-Suites on these A380’s

a bar in a plane
Onboard lounge

Which Routes?

We don’t know yet, although details are scheduled to be loaded to the booking system in early October – which could even mean next week. Qatar flights out of Australia appear a bit spartan during the next few months on Google Flights. They seem to reappear in December – although an economy return seat will set you back about AU$10,000 – which is huge. May as well add another AU3,000 and go business – in a Q-Suite.

In the meantime, there is a lot to do. The A380’s need to be de-mothballed and the pilots will need to be re-certified or recruited.

a seat with a pillow and a table in the middle of the seat
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class seat, with my stuff.

Beware Business basics

Just be aware that Qatar has gone down the route of ‘unbundling’ (ugh!) their business class fares, and that some of the fares no longer include seat selection or lounge access. You now need to select between:

  • Business Class Lite – no lounge access – seat allocation at check-in or for a fee
  • Business Class Classic – no lounge access – seat allocation at check-in or for a fee
  • Business Class Comfort – lounge access and seat allocation at booking
  • Business Class Elite – lounge access and seat allocation at booking  
a screenshot of a flight schedule

Check your points earn rate, cancellation conditions, in fact everything before you select the fare category and price you are comfortable with. On Australian routes, they don’t currently seem to be offering the ‘Lite’ and ‘Classic’ fares.

a row of bowls of food
Dips in Business Class, A380 Sydney to Doha

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

I am currently being a bit anxious about returning to the air, despite being immunised. The delights of Qatar service, on my favourite plane, could be the tipping point!

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