• Michael Knock

The best airlines to fly in economy between Australia & Europe

So, are these the best economy experiences between Australia and Europe, using Sydney and London as reference points.


Emirates Economy class
As far as economy goes, the Emirates A380 isn’t a bad option

Route: 14 hour flight from Sydney to Dubai, followed by a layover, and a 7 hour flight from Dubai to London.

Legroom (Seat Pitch): 32-34 inches.

Food and Drink: Global flavours, fresh ingredients, complimentary drinks, tends to be above average.

Price: From $1,300 return.

Aircraft: Airbus A380.

TripAdvisor Rating: 3522 passengers rated their experience on this trip excellent, 1718 rated it very good, 836 rated it average, 425 called it poor, and 577 called it terrible.

Conclusion: Not the most budget friendly option out there, but you get one of the best entertainment systems, above average legroom and the layovers tend to be quicker (and the route much more direct).


Qatar Economy class
With the best cabin crew in the middle east, and these seats, Qatar is a good choice too.

Route: 15 hour flight from Sydney to Doha, layover, 7 hour flight from Doha to London.

Legroom (Seat Pitch): 31-33 inches (depending on which model aircraft you book).

Food and Drink: Like Emirates, Qatar’s meals and desserts are prepared with a focus on quality and freshness. Yes, it’s still air plane food, but they do try to inject a bit of flavour—and there’s a wide selection of beverages.

Price: From $1,200.

Aircraft: Airbus A380 800.

TripAdvisor Rating: 98 people rated this trip excellent, 41 rated it very good, 21 called it average, 11 called it poor and 17 called it terrible.

Conclusion Their cabin crew has been voted “best in the middle east” for seven consecutive years, and their prices tend to slightly undercut Emirates, so you could do worse than to book with Qatar.


Qantas Economy class
If only economy always looked like this… In other words: watch out for code shares…

Route: Your first option is: 8 hours from Sydney to Singapore, a layover, then 14 hours from Singapore to London. Your second option is: a four hour domestic flight from Sydney to Perth, then a 17 hour mammoth (direct) flight from Perth to London.

Legroom (Seat Pitch): 31 inches.

Food and Drink: At Qantas a welcome drink is offered after take-off, as well as continuous snacks and refreshments throughout the flight. You can pre-select your meal online before takeoff, or leave your fate in the hands of the Qantas chefs.

Price: From $1,350.

Aircraft: For Sydney to Singapore routes you’ll be on an Airbus A330-300, and for the longer flight from Singapore to London, the larger Airbus A380. For the other route (via Perth) an Airbus Industrie A330-200 takes care of the domestic Sydney to Perth leg, while a Boeing 787 is used for the international Perth to London leg.

TripAdvisor Reviews: For international flights via Singapore, TripAdvisor users rated the experience as following: 316 excellent, 305 very good, 207 average, 131 poor and 110 terrible. For international flights via Perth TripAdvisor users rated the experience as follows: 151 excellent, 117 very good, 63 average, 65 poor and 62 terrible.

Conclusion With the introduction (a few years ago now) of Middle Eastern airlines like Emirates, who often provide superior (or equally good) service for a cheaper price, Qantas has declined of late as traveller’s first choice for travelling to Europe. That said, it’s still a quality airline that just needs to give its price/value offering a bit of a tweak to keep up with the competition.


Etihad Economy class
The experience is similar to Qatar – but looks a touch classier.

Route: 15-14 hours from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, a (hopefully) short layover, then a 7-8 hour flight to London.

Legroom (Seat Pitch): 31-33 inches, depending on which aircraft you’re on.

Food and Drink: If you have any special dietary needs, request your meal 24 hours in advance. Otherwise sit back and enjoy the stock standard fare, which isn’t too bad (for economy).

Price: From $1,200.

Aircraft: Either a Boeing 777 (Melbourne/Sydney), a B787 (Brisbane) or an Airbus A380 (Sydney).

TripAdvisor Reviews: TripAdvisor ratings for this route are as follows; 618: excellent, 534: very good, 363: average, 218: poor, 330: terrible.

Conclusion Similar price range and level of service to Qatar. Punch in your dates and see which of the two have a better deal.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines Economy class
Top shelf product - but you may pay for it.

Route: 8 hours from Sydney to Singapore, a layover, then 14 hours from Singapore to London. Singapore's Changi Airport is almost a destination in itself so a layover in Singapore is no hardship.

Legroom (Seat Pitch): 32-34 inches.

Food and Drink: As with Qantas, a welcome drink is offered after take-off, as well as continuous snacks and refreshments throughout the flight. You can pre-select your special meal online before takeoff, or explore some great Asian-focused meals on board.

Price: From $1,300.

Aircraft: You'll find yourself on either an Airbus A380 or Boeing 777 on the legs from Sydney and Singapore. Preferences come down to departure times and aircraft and you have a fairly wide choice of both. Flights to Adelaide or Brisbane are on Airbus A350 aircraft.

TripAdvisor Reviews: TripAdvisor users rated the experience as following: 59% excellent, 24.5% very good, 9.5% average, 3.7% poor and 3.3% terrible.

Conclusion Singapore Airlines (SIA) is a direct competitor with Qantas who also flies to London via Singapore. Singapore Airlines offers an consistent, high-quality service but you do tend to pay a bit more for it. SIA probably offers the widest choice of aircraft and locations from Australia and should be considered in any flight comparisons.

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific Economy class
Not quite as sleek as its Middle Eastern counterparts, but you skip the 14 hour slog.

Route: 9-10 hours from Sydney to Hong Kong, layover, then 12 hours from Hong Kong to London.

Legroom (Seat Pitch): 32 inches.

Food and Drink: Standard economy fare, with an Asian twist. Check out their sample menus here.

Price: From $1,200.

Aircraft: Either a Boeing 777-300ER or an Airbus Industrie A330-300.

TripAdvisor Reviews: TripAdvisor reviews of Cathay Pacific’s Sydney-London route via Hong Kong were as follows: 560 called it excellent, 588 said it was very good, 295 reckoned it was average, 122 called it poor and 121 said it was terrible.

Conclusion A great option to consider if the 14 hour slog from Sydney to Dubai fills you with dread. But remember – there’s no cute 7 hour journey to top the trip off if you go via Hong Kong—it’s another 10 hours.

British Airways

British Airways "World Traveller" Economy class
Faded premium experience for a premium price.

Route: Sydney to Singapore: 8 hours. Layover: depends. Singapore to London: 14 hours.

Legroom (Seat Pitch): 31 inches.

Food and Drink: Your British Airways experience includes complimentary drinks and an assortment of fine foods designed by world renowned chefs.

Price: From $1,400.

Aircraft: Airbus A380 (Singapore-London), then a Boeing 777 (Sydney-Singapore).

Tripadvisor Reviews: 46 passengers called it excellent, 80 called it very good, 65 called it average, 41 said it was poor and 36 said their experience was terrible.

Conclusion: Because British Airways are known for their premium service, they often receive bad reviews because people’s expectations are so high, and because cheaper airlines have been slowly catching up in terms of service. Combine that with the changes they made to their Boeing 777’s, to fit more people, in order to keep up with the high density competition, and the once-mighty BA has experienced a fall from grace. Rest assured though, they are still a good airline—you just might need a stiff G&T to cope with the price tag.


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