This January my family and I are returning to the UK from a holiday in Australia. The ticket is booked from Canberra to LHR via Sydney and Doha with Qatar, flight 907 I believe.

Because we're finishing our holiday in Sydney (we start in Canberra), we were hoping to simply join the flight in Sydney, and avoid a 3 hour drive to Canberra, followed by an extra leg back to Sydney.

We contacted the travel agent (Expedia) to confirm if this was possible, and they said the Sydney stop is refuelling only, and we can't board there. Is that really the case? Would it be worth contacting the airline directly to confirm one way or the other?

  • 7
    If you don't change your reservation, and don't board in Canberra, you would be a no-show, and the following flights would be cancelled. Call the airline; Expedia is a third party seller.
    – Giorgio
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 15:07
  • Good spot on the duplicate - I've edited the question to focus on the curious nature of Canberra to Doha via Sydney - a long way around - if noone can board.
    – Andrew M
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 15:14
  • Airlines employ sometimes-curious routings to move aircraft from one place to another and have specific aircraft available at specific places and times. If the airline offers a Sydney > Doha ticket, then a passenger may begin the journey in Sydney. Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 15:26
  • 1
    Expedia is incorrect. CBR-SYD exists only for the purpose of satisfying an Australian government rule about carriers serving second tier cities if they want more slots at major airports. The flight is load limited to about 50 pax out of CBR in order to minimise ground handling costs at CBR. Most people get on and off in SYD. All pax need to deplane while they refuel, it takes about 60 minutes (and they only clean the forward third of the plane in CBR, so this is where they clean the rest of the economy seats).
    – Calchas
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 18:01
  • 2
    I rolled back your edits, which significantly changed the question after it had already received answers. If you want to ask a new question, please ask it as a new question. Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 20:50

4 Answers 4


Very few people get on the plane in Canberra. When I flew it they were load limited to fifty passengers for the Canberra-Sydney leg, of which forty-eight seats had been sold. My friend and I were the only ones in business class from Canberra. It was very enjoyable as there is a crew change in Sydney so the crew had a very easy day of 45 minutes flying and were happy to chat to us for the whole leg.

Most passengers board in Sydney. Qantas perform the ground handling (albeit in Qatar uniforms) in both Canberra and Sydney and they are very well acquainted with the rules.

You will be denied boarding in Sydney as your ticket is not valid for travel from this airport.

The Canberra tickets are deeply discounted because the Doha-Canberra route is not commercially viable and the demand is low. The only purpose of the tag-on from Sydney is to allow Qatar to operate another flight each day to Sydney, and to do that they have to serve a second tier destination within Australia. By attempting to miss the first leg, you are bypassing the pricing strategy (and weakening the numbers for Canberra) and Qatar will not be happy with that.


Answering the question of Why Canberra?

According to Qatar Airways announces Canberra to Doha flight to start next year

Qatar Airways currently only has direct rights for one Sydney flight a day, but this move is seen as a backdoor method to double that.

  • Interesting - and the quote "The Middle Eastern airline will not be able to sell tickets for the domestic leg between Sydney and Canberra" implies that they can sell tickets for the Sydney - Doha leg. I'll report back if I get info from the airline.
    – Andrew M
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 15:38
  • 2
    It's not enough of a change for me to put an edit through, but code blocks are not for emphasis, and using them as such is detrimental to the Stack Exchange experience, especially for users of assistive technologies like screen readers. The backticks (`) should be replaced with single (') or double (") quotes.
    – T.J.L.
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 20:40
  • @T.J.L. Point taken. I asked about this on meta and was educated.
    – Peter M
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 2:20

So we checked with Qatar airlines directly.

  1. Do people board that Canberra to Doha flight in Sydney? Yes.
  2. Can we do that with our existing Canberra to Doha tickets? Not at this point without cancelling and re-booking, at considerable extra cost (it would nearly double the original cost of the flights!)

So the mystery of why they would route via Sydney airport is solved - they can and do sell tickets from Sydney to Doha, even though they are not allowed to sell domestic tickets from Canberra to Sydney.

We have been advised that at 96 hours before the flight it is worth phoning the airline again, and asking again. But not until then.


EDIT: The original question had been edited when I responded with this. The question I was answering was "Why would Qatar route a flight via Syndey, which is a slightly greater distance from Doha?". It has since been reverted.

Sydney Airport is the busiest airport in Australia, with over 44 million passenger movements, over a third of which were for international flights.

Canberra, on the other hand, sits in 8th with a hair over 3 million passenger movements last year. Only about 3% of these were for international flights.

There are about 300,000 people living in Canberra, compared to over 4 million in Sydney.

Based on these statistics, it is unlikely that a significant number of people are flying from Canberra to Doha, and far more likely that more people will be flying from Sydney to Doha. While it's a tiny bit closer (~1%) to go from Canberra, the cost of transporting the majority of passengers from Sydney to Canberra is extremely prohibitive. It is significantly cheaper to transport the minority of the passengers from Canberra to Sydney. It is unlikely that no-one will be boarding in Sydney, and may be incorrect information from the third party ticket seller.

Source: https://bitre.gov.au/publications/ongoing/airport_traffic_data.aspx

  • Not sure where you're getting 161m from: SYD had 42.6m pax during 2016-17. Also, while demand for O&D traffic between CBR and DOH is indeed minimal, QR is counting on transit pax to/from EMEA. Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 22:18
  • @jpatokal I seem to have read from the Australia total instead of Sydney. Fixed. Could you please explain your acronyms? Unsure of all except the airport codes Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 22:48
  • O&D = origin & destination (not connecting) passengers, QR = Qatar Airways, EMEA = Europe Middle East Africa. Sorry TDM TLA :) Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 3:22

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .