- Route: Melbourne – Perth
- Airline: Qantas Airways
- Cabin: Business Class (Refurbished Cabin)
- Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
- Points Used: 30,000 Asia Miles + $32.61 tax (one way)
- Points required can be earned easily by taking advantage of the Amex Ultimate 50,000 Qantas points sign up offer.
Ever since Qantas launched their newly refurbished A330-200, I’ve wanted to try out their new business class suite. Thanks to some bad luck however, it never happened as the Qantas seemed to magically downgrade every flight with a 737!
In the meantime, I’ve flown the new Virgin A330 “The Business” 8 or so times since it launched and I love it. A year later I finally had the chance to compare the Qantas business class product from East to West with that of Virgin.
Since I flew back to Australia on Singapore Airlines 777 first class, which only flies to Sydney and Melbourne, I had to find a suitable way to get me back to Perth. Considering I have been flying Virgin business a lot of over the past year, I figured this was the perfect time to try Qantas.
For this booking, I decided to use Asia Miles to book a seat in business. Sine Asia Miles by Cathay Pacific is a One World reward program it’s very easy and cheaper to redeem a flight on Qantas as opposed to booking it using your Qantas frequent flyer points.
It only costs 30,000 Asia Miles (Easily transferred over from your American Express card at a 1:1 ratio) while Qantas charges 36,000 Qantas frequent flyer points. Taxes on Asia Miles were $32.61 while Qantas charges $36.51.
When it comes to frequent flyer points, always go where you’re treated best!
Best card to earn Asia Miles?
My personal favourite is the American Express Explorer or Business Explorer (a must if you’re a small business owner!). You can easily and quickly rack up points since the effective earn rate is 1.5 frequent flyer points for most redemption partners.
I tried to pre-select a window seat online, but Qantas had blocked out all window seats for its Gold and Platinum status holders…
When I checked in at the airport, the Qantas staff were able to switch my assigned seat to a window one. 7K was my new seat, arguably the best if you’re after great storage since it’s in the little mini-cabin with 6 seats, located in between economy and the main business class section with the galley in the middle.
Qantas Business Class Lounge Melbourne
By the time I got to the Qantas business class lounge, it was already packed with early morning business travellers. The business class lounge is located within the Qantas club and nothing too exciting. This is all changing as we speak with a major refurbishment on the way to bring the lounge in line with the newer Qantas lounges around Australia.
Boarding Qantas A330 Melbourne – Perth
This seems to be a common complaint from all Qantas frequent flyers (especially those in business); Qantas does not enforce priority boarding. To be frank, the whole procedure is a failure even if they were to enforce it.
It goes like this: 2 lines, one is for economy passengers, and one is for silver, gold, platinum and business class passengers. Since every man and his dog has at least gold status, the economy line is usually smaller and faster.
The second problem is that Qantas crew board both lines at the same time, so it’s just a matter of picking the faster moving line.
Virgin on the other hand strictly enforces priority boarding and will always board this queue first before starting with the economy line. You might think, why the hell would anyone want to get on the plane first?
In economy, you might want to be first because it allows you to put your bag in the overhead compartment before the person with oversized luggage and extra shopping hogs your space. In business, space isn’t an issue, but one might like to get comfortable, have a glass of champagne and relax instead of standing in line.
My personal strategy is to wait in the lounge as long as possible to avoid standing in a pointless queue.
Once boarded, the friendly crew offered some drinks before takeoff. Thanks to some serious headwind our flight stretched out to more than 4h, which is great when you get to enjoy business class.
The Qantas A330-200 Business Class Seat
I’ve wanted to test out this seat for some time now and have built up an extensive account of comparison testing with Virgin in the meantime…
Although my initial response was positive, this changed as the flight got underway. I found that the seat is terrible for lounging and somehow I couldn’t get it in a comfortable angle. I think it’s because when you move one part of the seat, another part will move as well.
It’s not a problem when you want a flatbed, but when you just want to lounge, I would prefer the Virgin A330 business class seat anytime. The seat also goes super low to the ground when you start reclining which to me didn’t feel as comfortable as it could be.
On the positive side, the seat looks great and has premium finishes, plenty of storage and nice LED illumination strips which brings the whole package together. A great feature of this business class seat is that it allows a pre-takeoff recline which is generally more comfortable that the uber-straight position required for taking off on most carriers.
The Qantas A330-200 seats come fully equipped with all the power supplies and USB ports one might need. Power supply is conveniently positioned chest hight, so it’s easy to charge your laptop or phone even when you’re in bed mode.
The oversized side table which is either on the left or right (it alternates with each seat) is perfectly sized for a small laptop, reading material or anything you’re looking to put aside when getting out of your seat. It’s interesting to note that if your armrest is located on the isle side, it will move all the way down offering a wider seat whereas if your armrest is located at the window side of the plane, it’s fixed.
All seats are equipped with a 16-inch touchscreen and easy to use navigation system. The screens were responsive, but I found the selection of entertainment at the time lacking. However, I think that’s due to the shorter flight time which is served a reduced version to what is offered to international travellers. Unlike the Virgin touch screen, Qantas offers a degree of tilt which is great when you want a clear view when reclined.
The headphones on offer were light and comfortable and did an alright job at keeping engine noise at bay.
Qantas A330-200 Best Business Class Seat
The Qantas A330-200 business class cabin contains 28 seats which are arranged in a 1-2-1 layout with each single seat having access to a window. Like any modern business class cabin, all seats have direct aisle access.
- For those that want to sit directly next to the window to enjoy the best views go for:
2A, 2K, 4A or 4K.
- If you’re looking for seats with the best aisle access (no console in the way) go for:
1A, 1K, 3A, 3K, 5A, 5K, 7A and 7K
- If you’re looking to sit in the middle section and want the best aisle access go for seats:
1E, 2F, 3E, 4F, 5E, 6F, 7E and 8F
- If you prefer the added privacy the console ads go for seats:
1F, 2E, 3F, 4E, 5F, 6E, 7F and 8E.
- Seats with the best storage are:
1A, 1K and 7A & 7K (these are all bulkhead seats).
I was seated in the small mini section behind the galley; some might say these are the least popular seats due to the proximity to the economy class section. It’s all good and offers more privacy until you get a screaming child in the bassinet behind your head. Luckily this did not happen on my flight 😉
Qantas Business Class Food
Food has never been a redeeming factor for Qantas, and although everything was tasty, it lacked the wow factor when compared to Virgin on the same route. Since I was on the morning flight, we were served a breakfast/brunch menu. I opted for the yoghurt to start and the roast chicken and romesco toasted sourdough sandwich. I had zero complaints about my choice of food and everything tasted great (even the toasty was crunchy) but when compared to other business class products it’s a premium economy meal at the most.
Qantas Amenity Kit
I’m surprised to see Qantas is offering amenity kits even on morning flights and I think it’s a nice touch. This time the pouch was a limited edition design in collaboration with a local artist. The initiative, called Qantas Curates, aims to take local art to the skies features the work of 16 artists, photographers and digital influencers.
Qantas Business Class In Conclusion
Overall I had a great flight and enjoyed the “new” Qantas suite which is definitely a huge upgrade from the old recliners. It’s an absolute luxury to be able to fly these kinda products on such a relatively short routes, in fact, I might conclude that it’s world leading!
No chance you would get a similar product in Europe or the US. It’s the perfect way to use your Qantas points or Asia miles and redeem a little bit of luxury. Overall I still prefer Virgin’s A330-200 business class seats and service, but those jets are rapidly being repurposed for flights to and from Asia, so I’m looking forward what Virgin will come up with for their 737 fleets regarding business class seating which will surely prompt Qantas to innovate also? Who knows!
Until next time, happy flying!