London to Sydney – Which Airline Is Best?

Like nominating a favourite child, asking which airline is best when jetting between London and Sydney is bound to cause arguments. There’s no shortage of airlines plying the route. What determines which airline is “best” will depend a lot on your budget, travel preferences, time constraints, and airline preferences.

qantas employee bonus scheme
What’s the best way to travel the kangaroo route? Photo: Wikimedia Commons

But we’ll cast a net over the route and survey the lie of the land.

Flying west – just because you can

You can head west out across the Atlantic from London. Hop on Delta, American Airlines, or United from Heathrow and transit in Los Angeles and you have a one-stop (very) long haul to Australia.

Air New Zealand also flies west out of London, although flying with them will require two stops; Los Angeles and Auckland.

Or you could LATAM it through Santiago before making the before switching to the 14-hour trek across the Pacific on their new nonstop flights to Sydney.

You could, if so inclined, LATAM it to Sydney via Santiago. Tomas del Coro via Flickr.

Defaulting to Qantas

But most passengers heading to Sydney from London fly eastwards. It’s quicker. But quicker is relative. Even a fast flight takes nearly a full day to cover the nearly 17,000 kilometers between the two cities.

Qantas offers London passengers a couple of daily options. The daily A380 service, QF2, leaves Heathrow every evening at 21:05 for the 23-hour flight down to Sydney via Singapore. All Qantas A380s are being refurbished to bring the hard product up to 2019 standards. 

Or you could hop on the nonstop 787-9 service to Perth, QF10, which leaves Heathrow at 12:05 for the 17-hour nonstop run to Perth. At Perth, you need to transfer across to a Qantas domestic flight to Sydney. There is an A330-300 flight out of Perth to Sydney, QF582, about two hours after QF10 lands. 

Business Class on the Qantas 787 service out of London is excellent. Photo: Qantas

What’s best? Well, if I was flying economy I would pick QF2, the A380 flight. It’s a quicker flight and there’s room to move in the big economy cabin. If I was in business, I would go via Perth and enjoy the latest Qantas lie-flat business class suites all the way to Sydney. 

British Airways

British Airways is the only European carrier flying into Australia. It’s a far cry from a generation ago when many European carriers flew in. BA has also scaled back its services. From flying multiple services into five Australian cities, it now offers a single daily service into Sydney.

BA 777
British Airways have been pulling away from Australia. Photo: British Airways

The 777 service, BA0015, pushes back at Heathrow at 21:30 for the 23-hour flight to Sydney via Singapore.

The British Airways 777 product doesn’t always get great reviews. Seats in the business class cabin face backward and service can be a bit hit and miss. But it is one of the faster options to Sydney and the Singapore stopover is popular.  

The Middle Eastern carriers

Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar all have multiple daily services between London and Sydney. Each will involve a transit at their Gulf hubs.

It is possible to fly in The Residence all the way to Sydney on Etihad. Let’s face it. If money or points are no barrier and you can snag a booking, The Residence is the most luxurious way to fly to Sydney.

If you could, why wouldn’t you fly in The Residence all the way to Sydney? Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

I’m a big fan of Qatar’s Q Suites and consider it best business class product around. If you’re flying between London and Sydney in business class, it’s a great way to go. Their economy product is also pretty solid.

Some people love Emirates. Others are not so keen. But they offer frequency and their roomy A380s are a hit with passengers across all cabin classes. Of course, if you are in first class, you can always squeeze in a shower somewhere over the Australian desert.

These carriers do big business in and out of Australia, suggesting they do things right.

Flying the Asian carriers

Most of the Asian carriers offer competitive fares and a solid inflight product, making them popular choices when flying London to Sydney.

The best is Singapore Airlines. Singapore covers the bases across all their cabins. Their first class is sublime, their business class is excellent, and their economy product is, in my opinion, the best economy class product between London and Sydney. 

There’s a reason why Singapore fills four flights a day into Sydney. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Singapore also offers multiple daily services and makes for a great stopover location.

Other Asian carriers with good products include JAL, ANA, Cathay Pacific, and Korean.

Virgin Atlantic fly to Hong Kong and soon you’ll be able to seamlessly transfer onto Virgin Australia’s very nice A330 services down to Sydney. This is an especially good option if you are flying business class. 

Thai always has good availability for points redemptions. Malaysian Airlines offers a good product, decent frequency, and their fares are generally good.

Garuda, when it is running it’s on again off again, London services is an interesting option. Like Malaysian, it has a good product and its fares are always keen.

If your budget is a determining factor in your airline choices, you could fly to Brisbane via Brunei on Royal Brunei Airlines and transfer at Brisbane on to a domestic flight to Sydney. This is probably the cheapest way to fly between London to Sydney at the moment.

Flying the Chinese carriers

The Chinese carriers are rapidly shaking out the London – Sydney route. They offer a fast-improving product and very good fares.

If you are looking at paying cash for a business class fare, China Southern is always worth a look.

China Southern is a big presence at Sydney Airport and offers good business class fares from London. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Carriers like China Southern, Air China, China Eastern, and Hainan get mixed reviews. But they seem to be improving fast. Plus, the proffered stopovers in China can be interesting.

What they may lack in finesse, they make up for with keen pricing. The bigger carriers, like China Southern, also offer multiple daily options when flying between London and Sydney.


So what’s my pick?

If I was flying economy, Singapore Airlines.

If I was flying business, I like the fresh new business suites on Qantas and Qatar.

If I was flying first – well I don’t, but if I was it would be on Etihad or Singapore.

If I was on a budget, I’d look at Malaysian over the Chinese carriers. Thai might also be worthwhile.

These are entirely personal preferences. We’d like to hear yours.