One of the common and often justified complaints in North American air travel is that domestic Business Class just doesn’t deliver on its promise of luxurious travel. This is why I prefer to travel in Economy domestically as the longest flight from Calgary to anywhere in North America is about 5 hours or so. With the relatively short flight time and the lack of any real benefit of flying Business Class, it’s hard to justify spending twice the amount of points required compared to Economy Class.
When I booked our Luxury Round-the-World trip, our flights were all in First Class and Business Class, including our intra-Australia flights with Qantas. We flew Qantas from SYD-MEL, CNS-BNE, and BNE-SYD and while these were relatively short flights, I wanted to experience Australia’s Flagship Carrier and her Business Class to see if they were different from what we see here in North America.
As these flights were short, I won’t bore you with individual reviews but rather, I’ll compile them into this post so you get a sense of what it’s like.
Qantas is Australia’s mainline carrier and is one of the oldest airlines in the world with a legacy almost spanning 100 years. Given Australia’s geographical separation with other countries, Qantas’ fleet is made up mostly of 737-8 (narrowbody) and widebody planes such as the A380, 787-9 and even some 747s. Smaller regional planes like the Q400 and Dash 8’s belonging to a subsidiary, QantasLink.
Qantas operates to 87 destinations around the world with Asia and North America being the primary destinations.
While Air Canada has a much larger fleet and services more destinations, the parallels between the two airlines are certainly there. Both are flag carrier airlines for their respective countries, both service large geographical home countries and both have a wide and varied fleet of aircraft.
The reason I am drawing these comparisons is hopefully clear later in the review.
SYD-MEL on the A330 (Widebody)
I LOVED my experience on this flight and it largely had to do with the hard product available on Qantas’ A330. Both the A330 and Qantas’ 787 are equipped with Vantage XL Seats in Business Class. If you haven’t heard about these seats before, don’t feel bad because they haven’t been installed in many fleets but the always win high praise from bloggers and passengers, because they are well styled and offer direct aisle access for all passengers.
The A330 is set up in a 1-2-1 configuration so you have a true “throne” seat at either window whereas the middle two seats allow for partners to travel together. For this flight, I placed the three of us in consecutive throne seats.
What I loved about these seats is that they are incredibly private, comfortable and functional. Storage is also a nice bright spot for these seats as I distinctly thinking that there was ample space for all of my electronics and camera equipment, not something I can say about all Business Class Seats. Functionally, I absolutely adored the counter space by the armrest as it kept my electronics out of the way but within very easy reach.
Some people don’t mind their feet enclosed in a cubby, myself included, but for those that are a little claustrophobic, this may not be your ideal setup. I placed the seat in a lie-flat position just to see what it was like and it was very comfortable.
Headphones and your seat controls are all within easy reach as are the power outlets.
This was the first time that I had a shoulder belt on a flight. I quite liked it, though you could tell the mechanism had been well used as it didn’t retract as tightly as I would have liked.
As this wasn’t a long flight at all (1.5 hours), I wasn’t expecting anything special in terms of food but I was pleasantly surprised. I wouldn’t call it the prettiest food in the world but the sausage and sauerkraut on toasted rye bread was absolutely delicious.
As an added bonus, the flight attendant on this short flight was a very nice person and chatted up our family for a few minutes.
CNE-BNE – 737-8 (Narrowbody) and BNE-SYD – 737-8 (Narrowbody)
I’ll spare you the details here because these flights were absolutely nothing to write home about. The flight from CNE-BNE only spans 2:10 and the BNE-SYD flight lasts 1:35 so I can’t really fault Qantas for using narrowbody jets on these routes, though I am puzzled why a similarly timed flight (SYD-MEL) required a widebody jet.
As you can see from the pictures, there’s not much to these seats and the flight from SYD-MEL is as about as bare bones as you get. No IFE, no footrest … no thanks. At least the CNS-BNE flight had in-flight entertainment.
Both seats on these flights were only slightly larger than the economy seats behind them and while you did get food, it was once again sandwiches. Tasty but simple.
Earlier in the post, I drew some comparisons between Qantas and Air Canada and that’s largely due to something that I find to be a fairly large negative – inconsistency. As with many airlines with a mixed and varied fleet, you are often times at the mercy of the aircraft assigned to the route when it comes to determining if you are in for a good or mediocre experience.
I was holding out hope that Australia would have better domestic Business Class travel than what we see in North America but it seems to be more of the same. Based on my experience flying around Australia, I would in all likelihood choose to fly Economy Class for intra-Australia flights for half the miles that would be required for Business Class.
I wouldn’t say that I had a bad experience by any means, but I also find it difficult to find recommend to those that are looking to get good value out of their points. Hopefully this helps you decide whether Qantas Business Class is right for you on intra-Australia flights.