Early last week I received an email from Qantas re-ticketing an Emirates flight I’d booked using Qantas Points. It wasn’t clear from the email what had changed, but upon logging into my account to check the booking and all-important seat selection, I saw that the aircraft had been downgraded from an A380 to an inferior Boeing 777.

Instead of enjoying my upcoming Sydney to Bangkok flight in fully-flat business class seats arranged in 1-2-1 layout, with an onboard lounge bar to kick back in, I’ll now be flying in angled-flat seats arranged in a less-than-desirable 2-3-2 layout, and with no onboard bar. The 777 is also a louder aircraft and not as comfortable for flying in.

Fortunately, I wasn’t planning to sleep on my flight and it’s ‘only’ 9 hours long, and my partner and I were able to nab adjacent window seats, so the changes aren’t bad enough to warrant changing our travel plans. But I’m not sure I’d be as keen to fly longer or overnight this way, especially if I was travelling solo.

A few days after my ticket was reissued, Emirates confirmed that a number of its Australian flights had been downgraded this way. This includes:

  • the daily Sydney-Bangkok-Dubai flight, which will be operated by a 777 from 15 January 2019 onwards – passengers lose the A380 bar and first class shower, and the business class seats are inferior
  • the daily Melbourne-Singapore-Dubai flight has also been swapped from an A380 to a 777 from 2 to 20 November 2018 and 15 January to 30 March 2019 – the changes are the same as with the Sydney flight above
  • the daily Adelaide-Dubai flight goes from a 777-300ER to a 777-200LR from 28 October to 30 November 2018 and 1 February to 15 April 2019 – that means no more first class seats, but in business class passengers will get an improved seat – so a win for them.

None of the 777s scheduled to fly to Australia have Emirates’ swanky new first class suites on board.

There are no changes to the aircraft flying to Perth and Brisbane, but the frequency of Perth flights has been reduced.

If you’re on one of the affected flights and you’re not satisfied with the changes, you may be able to convince the airline to give you a penalty-free cancellation or re-booking onto a different flight.

Simply call the airline you’ve booked through (Qantas in the case of Qantas Points or codeshare bookings) to check what your options are. I’ve never had a problem with getting a refund or a re-booking in a situation like this, so be persistent if necessary.

To get tips like this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter:

We'll never spam you or share your email!