Qantas is in the process of updating their Airbus A330 fleet with brand new “Business Suites.” These new Qantas Business Class seats are found on their recently re-configured Airbus A330s and a modified version of this seat will be featured on their new Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Qantas new Business Class cabins feature seats in a 1 x 2 x 1 layout offering all passengers direct-aisle access and increased privacy over their current long-haul option. Qantas flies these Airbus A330s internationally on medium-haul routes and on domestic “transcon” routes within Australia.
In this flight review, I will be combining two Qantas trip reports into one. I will be reviewing my Qantas Business Class flight from Melbourne to Perth and then from Perth to Sydney, both on recently re-configured Airbus A330s. Both my flights were pretty short and uneventful and both aircraft had the new “Business Suites” installed. When I booked this trip, I actually selected one of the legs with the older Business Class configuration so I could do a comparison review between the two but due to a last minute equipment swap, my older Perth to Sydney aircraft was swapped out for one with the newly re-configured seats.
Qantas new Business Class, Melbourne to Perth
Just like in the United States, all passengers arriving into Australia must collect their bags and clear customs at their first port of entry before connecting to a domestic Australian flight. Because I flew in from Abu Dhabi on Etihad and was connecting to Perth on Qantas, I had to walk down to baggage claim, collect my checked bag and clear customs first. I then walked back up to the ticket counter to check-in, obtained my boarding pass from Qantas and dropped my checked bag off before making my way to the gate.
On this trip, I was flying Qantas Business Class so I was entitled to use the Qantas Business Class Lounge at Melbourne but I wanted to get a sim card for my phone first. And without much of a connection time, I barely had enough time to purchase a sim card at an airport shop and activate it. Instead of going to the lounge, I opted to just head over to the gate and take some pics of the bird.
Flight: QF 653
Aircraft: Airbus 330-200
Melbourne (MEL) to Perth (PER)
Depart: 8:30 PM on Thursday (8:26 PM actual), gate 11 of Terminal 1
Arrive: 10:45 PM same day (10:38 PM actual), gate 12 of Terminal 4
Duration: 4hrs 12mns
Seats: 5K Business Class
Boarding started at 8:10 PM for our 8:30 PM departure. Boarding was quick and efficient with both Business and Economy Class passengers boarding at the same time but through different queues. As I walked down to the jet, I presented my boarding pass to the flight attendant and was directed to my seat, 5K, an aisle-window seat on the right side of the plane in the forward Business Class cabin.
Qantas new Business Class A330 jets are configured with Thompson Vantage XL seats in a 1 x 2 x 1, staggered forward facing layout. Side note: these are the same seats Delta will be putting a sliding door on and calling their new Delta One Suites. Every seat has direct aisle access for all passengers. The two center seats are staggered from each other with a center console in between them (no love seats here).
The window seats are staggered between a true window seat and an aisle-window seat where the seat is adjacent to the aisle. The even numbered window seats are true window seats and the odd numbered window seats are aisle-window seats. There are six rows of center seats and five rows of window seats in the main Business Class cabin and a mini cabin of just two rows of seats behind door 2L.
My first impression of this cabin was just how sleek and modern it looked. Designed by Marc Newsom, this new cabin incorporates modern design aesthetics with classic finishes such as black leather, alloy finishes and wood trim. The black leather seats looked chic against the light wood grain and the various sources of soft ambient lighting created a warm and inviting space. The whole cabin felt bright, clean and sexy as hell.
Each seat is configured with a personal, touchscreen IFE system, two personal reading lamps, USB port, universal electrical outlet and a small vanity mirror. Waiting at our seats were a blanket, full-size pillow, supper menu and a pair of standard headphones. And by “standard,” I mean the headphones were really crappy so bring your own. The vanity mirror is hidden behind the lid for the IFE remote controller.
Storage-wise, you can store your roll-aboards and carry-on items in the overhead bins and your small personal items such as cell phone, wallet and laptops can be stored in the storage compartments at your seat.
As I settled into my seat, the flight attendant came by to offer me a pre-departure beverage of juice or water. Another flight attendant then came by to take my meal order.
After all the passengers were boarded, the Captain came on the PA system to welcome us on board and provide us with our flight path, expected turbulence and arrival time. We then pushed back from the gate and made our way to the runway for our very short 3 hour and 49 min journey to Perth.
Once we reached our cruising altitude, the flight attendants prepared for our meal service with a pre-meal drink and a ramekin of smoked almonds.
For dinner, I ordered the red curry soup as a starter. It was served with a small side salad and a bread selection from the bread basket. The salad was fine but the red curry soup was absolutely delicious. The flavors were strong but not overwhelming and it really hit the spot on a cold, rainy night.
For my main course, I went with the braised beef with rice. The beef was tender and also full of flavors but man, if I would have known how good that red curry soup was, I would have opted for the big bowl of red curry soup with prawns and noodles instead! It really was that delicious.
After I was done, my plate was cleared and the flight attendants came by with a dessert cart with a choice between a cheese plate or a berry tart. I chose the berry tart and it was nothing special. Actually, it was kind of lackluster and disappointing.
Overall, dinner service was attentive and efficient and the catering was delicious (other than the lackluster dessert option). The dishes were full of flavor and cooked perfectly. The soup had a nice kick to it and the beef was surprisingly tender and flavorful. The flight attendants were great. The meal was appropriately paced and they came around often to clear out plates and refill drinks.
During dinner, I browsed the entertainment library and settled on The Martian. The Panasonic entertainment system was crisp, responsive to the touch and intuitive to use. However, the entertainment selection itself was not all that great. With a selection of approximately 20 movies, plus another handful of TV shows, some video games and a moving map, it would be hard to entertain yourself on any flight longer than six hours. It was perfectly fine for this short flight to Perth, but anything longer than that, you will get pretty bored really quick.
On this trip, I didn’t do much sleeping as I wanted to get a good night’s rest upon arriving into Perth. I stayed up the whole flight, entertained myself with a movie and got some work done. The flight attendants were all very personable and walked the cabin frequently during our flight to check on the passengers. They proactively refilled our drinks, brought out waters and genuinely cared about our comfort. I have always had great experiences flying Qantas and this short hop across Australia was no different.
Qantas new Business Class, Perth to Sydney
After a visit to the Qantas Domestic Business Class Lounge, I left approximately 10 minutes prior to boarding time and made my way to gate 13 where my bird was waiting. I arrived with plenty of time to spare and took some pictures of the bird. The flight ended up being delayed 50 mins due to a mechanical issue and eventually needed to be swapped. The new bird was brought in next door to gate 14 and boarding started at approximately 12:00 AM.
Flight: QF 568
Aircraft: Airbus 330-200
Perth (PER) to Sydney (SYD)
Depart: 11:55 PM on Sunday (12:45 AM actual), gate 14 of Terminal 4
Arrive: 6:05 AM next day (6:35 AM actual)
Duration: 5hrs 50mns
Seats: 5K Business Class
Boarding started with Business Class passengers and oneworld elite members followed by Economy Class passengers. Everyone boarded through door 2L. On this flight, I was seated in the same seat as on my previous flight, seat 5K, an aisle-window seat on the right side of the aircraft. If I would have known we were getting swapped out for one of the newer A330s, I would have switched to a true window seat as I think they provide a bit more privacy for sleeping. Note: the foot well of the true window seats are slightly smaller than the aisle-window seats and the armrests do not lower in bed mode.
Just like on my last flight, a pillow, blanket, menu and a set of headphones were waiting at our seats. As I settled into my seat, one of the flight attendants came by with bottles of water for everyone. However, no pre-departure drinks were provided. I don’t know if this was standard for a red-eye flight or if it was just because of our delayed departure. I’m guessing it was because of our delayed departure as a bunch of the flight attendants were running around preparing for our flight to take off as the passengers were still boarding.
After all the passengers were boarded, the captain came on the PA and apologized for our delayed departure. We then pushed back from the gate and made our way to the runway. Once we reached our cruising altitude, the flight attendants came by to take our supper order and asked if we wanted to be woken up for breakfast. Because this was such a late flight, a lot of the passengers reclined their seats and went to sleep right away. No amenity kits were provided on this flight but the flight attendants did hand out eye masks for everyone.
Here’s the menu. It was rather limited.
For supper, it was a small BBQ pork bun, bowl of zucchini soup and garlic bread. Unfortunately, this meal was not as good as my previous flight.
Also unlike my last flight, this crew just seemed a little “off.” They were slow to start our supper service, slow to remove plates and not as proactive as I would like them to be. After I was done with my meal, my bowl sat on my table for a little while. Because I wanted to get some sleep, I just set it aside on my side table and reclined my seat for some shuteye.
As a bed, these Thompson Vantage XL seats are not bad with 21.5 inches of width. When reclined, the bed measures up to 6 feet long and the outside armrest (on seats directly adjacent to the aisles) can be lowered to give you some additional shoulder room. The one negative about these seats is that your legs do go into a small foot well in bed mode and some people may find that restrictive. It wasn’t too bad for me.
On this flight, I didn’t watch any movie but the IFE selection was exactly the same as my last flight. If you want to watch TV in bed, the IFE monitor can be tilted down to provide a better viewing angle in bed. I skipped on the entertainment and went to bed right away. I got under two hours of sleep before I was woken up for breakfast. Breakfast consisted of a smoothie, fruit and yogurt and a warm blueberry and banana muffin. I really should have skipped breakfast and got some more sleep but I wanted to take a picture for you guys.
Qantas new Business Class overall thoughts
Despite my sub-par experience on this one flight, I did enjoy my overall experience with the new Qantas Business Class product. For a “domestic business class,” these Thompson Vantage XL seats are pretty good. They offer plenty of space, go fully flat and provide a decent amount of privacy. Now I would have preferred Qantas followed Virgin Australia’s lead and outfitted their business class cabins with reverse herringbone seats but my complaint aside, I would take these seats over an off-set, forward facing seat or angled-recliner any day.
Have you flown the new Qantas Business Class seats yet? If so, please let me know your thoughts below.
Other trip reports in this series include:
- Qantas oneworld Business Class Lounge
- American Airlines A321T Business Class, Los Angeles to New York
- Etihad Lounge at New York JFK
- Etihad A380 Business Class, New York to Abu Dhabi
- Etihad Arrivals Lounge at Abu Dhabi
- Hilton Abu Dhabi
- Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa
- Etihad A380 First Class Apartment, Abu Dhabi to Melbourne
- Qantas A330 Business Class, Melbourne to Perth to Sydney
- Qantas Business Class Lounge at Perth
- Qantas First Class Lounge and Spa at Sydney
- Qantas A380 First Class, Sydney to Los Angeles