The partnership between Qantas and Alliance Airlines is well underway, with Embraer E190 jets opening up several new regional routes under the QantasLink brand. I was able to put the newest member of the Qantas fleet to the test back in September, onboard the first service from Hobart to Adelaide. This article shares my experience.
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Alliance E190 flights for QantasLink
Alliance Airlines has joined the QantasLink network with its recently acquired Embraer E190 aircraft, a mid-sized regional jet. With improved range over QantasLink 717s and around half the seating capacity of 737 aircraft, the E190s economics are well suited to linking regional centres with smaller capital cities.
Brisbane-based Alliance Airlines currently operates seven E190s in Australia, with another 25 due to enter service by June 2022. These aircraft have previously been operated by Copa Airlines, American Airlines and Helvetic Airways. As such, seat types and cabin layout may differ between aircraft.
The three-year deal gives Qantas access to three jets based in Darwin and Adelaide, with flexibility to switch on and off an additional 11 E190s depending on market conditions. Right now, you can find Alliance E190 jets on selected QantasLink services across the Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.
Check-in & Lounge
Customer service staff at Hobart Airport were fantastic, with prompt check-in via the dedicated priority line.
Business passengers have access to the dated Qantas Club, which is small and basic but offers seating far more comfortable than the wooden benches found in the terminal. The food selection is basic with options of fruit salad, yogurt, cereal and toast available for my morning visit. There is also a sandwich press and various fillings available. The drinks selection is pretty good for a regional lounge, with alcoholic beverages unlocked at 12pm.
Qantas does many things well, but priority boarding domestic flights is certainly not one of them. Most frequent flyers will agree it is poorly organised, rarely enforced and presents little to no advantage over the standard boarding queue. My flight was no exception.
Cabin & Seat
The Business Class cabin is arranged in a 1-2 layout with a total of 10 seats. The leather recliners are well padded and feature fully adjustable headrests, making for a very comfortable flight.
As I was seated in row two, a bulkhead seat, there was plenty of legroom on offer.
My only criticism of this seat is the tray table, which folds out from the armrest and buckles in the middle. While strong enough to support either a meal or laptop, the table is not as solid as found on other aircraft.
With three seats across in business, those on the ‘A’ side are best for solo travellers, while ‘C’ and ‘D’ seats are best for pairs.
Food & Beverage
As with most QantasLink business flights, there was an option for beer and wine alongside tea, coffee, juice and soft drinks. My drink of choice was the McLaren Vale Chardonnay.
On the menu was vegetable lasagna or beef brisket, both served with bread and butter plus a Lindt chocolate. I went for the beef option which was surprisingly tasty, with a small snack of rice crackers offered after the main meal.
Qantas has said their jet fleet would be fitted with wireless inflight entertainment by the end of September, but my aircraft was yet to receive the upgrade. This meant there was no WiFi connectivity, Q-streaming, or inflight power.
On QantasLink E190 flights, crew are employed by Alliance Airlines but wear Qantas uniforms. The cabin manager on board my flight, Lewis, was incredibly friendly and hospitable, going the extra mile to ensure everyone was well catered for.
QantasLink Embraer E190 Business: my take
Overall the flight was great. The Embraer E190 is one of my favourite narrowbody aircraft, and for good reason – no middle seat! My seat was perfectly comfortable for the nearly 2-hour journey, and with Q-streaming set to roll out soon, the experience should only improve.