I had already reviewed this hotel back when I stayed in early 2019, so won’t be reviewing it again, although I did have the pleasure of staying in their highest-tier Executive Suite this time around.
We’ll pick up the trip report series the next day, when I was scheduled to fly to Melbourne on Qantas A330 business class in the afternoon. I had booked this flight for only 22,000 British Airways Avios plus about $20 in taxes and fees, and was very curious to see how the business class experience onboard an intra-Australia domestic flight would turn out.
I completed a very quick check-in procedure at Perth Airport after being dropped off by my friend Immanuel from Flight Hacks, and then I breezed through the priority security line and headed to the Qantas Club Perth with another hour to go until boarding time.
The airline’s domestic lounge in Perth is a nice enough space, with a variety of different seating zones like shared dining tables and a TV lounge area, although it was nearing capacity when I visited.
The most impressive parts of the lounge were probably the fully-staffed bar, which also serves barista coffee, as well as the pizza oven, where a chef serves up freshly baked pies throughout the day.
Overall, it was a relaxing and aesthetically pleasing place to spend time before my Qantas flight, and I headed for my boarding gate feeling pretty satisfied with some pizza and a few glasses of wine under my belt.
Qantas | QF768
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Cabin: Business class
Route: Perth (PER) to Melbourne (MEL)
Date: Friday, November 15, 2019
Time: Departing 3:15pm and arriving 9:50pm
Duration: 3 hours 35 minutes
I was among the first business class passengers to board, and turned right at the second aisle into the cabin. The cabin finishes of beige and orange with sharp black accents were very easy on the eye, drawing upon the colour scheme of the vast Australian outback.
Qantas uses a mix of Boeing 737s and Airbus A330s on their intra-Australia flights, and ideally you want to book the Airbus A330s, which feature lie-flat seats in business class. This flight from Perth to Melbourne was operated by an Airbus A330-200, which features 28 seats arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, all with direct aisle access.
The staggered seating arrangement is commonly found on many airlines these days. The window seats alternate between being closer to the aisle and closer to the window, while the middle seats are positioned such that each seat’s footwell goes underneath the console table of the seat in front of it.
When travelling solo on this business class configuration, I prefer to sit in one of the window seats that’s closer to the window, since it’s much more private than any other seat in the cabin. I had therefore chosen Seat 4K for this flight, the window seat on the right-hand side in the penultimate row.
Waiting at my seat were the pillow, blanket, menu, and headphones. I swiftly settled in and began taking a look around at my surroundings.
The entertainment monitor is mounted against the seat back in front of you. It had a respectable screen resolution, although I found it difficult to see past the glare on the screen at times. Adjacent to the screen is a large literature pocket, as well as what seems like a handlebar at the top of the seat in front of you, if you needed to pull yourself up from your seat.
I was quite pleased with the amount of surface space that’s available on the seat console next to you, as well as the elevated racks that allowed you to store any loose items throughout the flight. This area also played host to the reading light, USB and power outlets, headphone jack, and seat controls.
There’s a hook for stowing the in-flight headphones, and I even used the storage rack as a very ergonomic spot to keep my laptop throughout the flight later.
The tray table pops out of the side with the push of a button, and slides along an arced path into its position in front of you. I found it pretty comfortable to use, although one downside to these window seats that are closer to the windows was that it was far more challenging to leave your seat when your tray table was extended.
While pillows and blankets were provided on this relatively short domestic flight of three and a half hours, there was no amenity kit forthcoming.
The Qantas A330 business class seat looks quite modern on the surface; however, a closer inspection reveals that the hard product is pretty old, as there are a fair number of scratches and imperfections.
Overall, though, the product is decently competitive for a domestic flight, since it offers the key elements of a lie-flat bed and all-aisle access; compared to the North American Airlines, it’s perhaps not as strong as the Air Canada 787s that we have in Canada, but certainly better than the standard recliner seats that you’ll find shuttling around the United States.
Boarding was completed very efficiently, in about 10 minutes after I had boarded. A few cabin crew members stopped by to welcome me to the flight, and offered me a summery fruit punch drink to sip on as we waited to push back from the gate.
Qantas’s safety video showcases the many global destinations that the airline serves, and we were encouraged by the cabin crew to “pay attention even if you fly with us often”; moreover, the safety warnings over the PA also included the rather bizarre caution that “due to safety reasons, children may not sleep on the floor”.
The captain then came on the PA to announce our flying time of three hours to Melbourne, and pretty soon after that, we were taking off into a slowly approaching Western Australian sunset.
Business class meal orders on this flight were only taken when we had completed our takeoff and reached cruising altitude. Similar to what you’ll find on Air Canada, the Qantas crew made their way around the cabin taking passengers’ meal preferences in a very specific order, presumably to serve Qantas’s frequent flyer members in the order of their elite status.
As someone who had redeemed Avios for my flight, I was naturally going to be near the bottom of the pecking order, although fortunately my preferred meal selections were still available by the time I was being helped. The menu for this flight, which was a rather simple one-page affair, read as follows:
I chose the roasted red capsicum soup as my appetizer, and the pork pithivier (a type of meat pie) as my main course.
I briefly browsed through Qantas’s entertainment selection as I waited for my meal to be prepared. There’s a varied collection of movies available, as well as entire seasons’ worth of TV box sets, which would certainly be appreciated if I were flying on one of Qantas’s long-haul services.
Meanwhile, the airshow was the type that cycled through a variety of different viewpoints on its own, which relegated our Perth–Melbourne flight path into the very corner of the screen most of the time. It wasn’t all that exciting.
The drink service began very soon after my meal order had been taken, with a glass of Shiraz red wine and some almonds – but not the premium toasted kind; in fact, they were rather cold!
As I sipped on my wine, I worked on my laptop for a little while, albeit offline – while Qantas is progressively rolling out in-flight wifi to its domestic fleet, this particular A330-200 did not feature it.
The appetizer course was served about 30 minutes later. I put my laptop away, as my tray table was set with a tablecloth, and the individual plates for the soup and salad laid out. Presentation-wise, Qantas definitely earns high marks for bringing individual serving plates over to the table rather than a single tray.
The roasted red pepper and tomato soup was delicious, although I can’t really say the same about the salad, which was a very plain bowl of just a few green leaves.
I finished my soup rather quickly, and the crew member was on hand to replace it with my main course right away. I found the pork pie, and especially the cider-braised Tuscan cabbage on the side, to be a pretty unorthodox mix of flavours, although it was still quite appetizing on the whole.
The rest of the meal service also included a cheese plate, ice cream, and dessert wine, all of which were wheeled down the aisle on a cart, allowing passengers to pick and choose which portions they wanted.
I was already very full from the soup, the meat pie, and the pizza in the lounge, so I decided to try out a few bites of the cheese plate but say no to the ice cream, instead ordering a cup of black coffee to finish off the meal.
We were treated to a delightful sunset view out of our windows as we raced across the Australian mainland. I continued working on my laptop for a while until there was about an hour left of the flight, at which point I decided to put the seat into lie-flat mode and take a brief nap.
The bathrooms on Qantas’s A330-200 are pretty tight and feature a limited number of amenities, with a changing table, hand sanitizer, and hand creams being the only noteworthy items.
As I returned to my seat, I found that the cabin lights were the process of being dimmed, coinciding with the sun dipping below the horizon outside. I put my seat into lie-flat mode and proceeded to nap for about 30 minutes.
The amount of space in the footwell was neither great nor terrible, but it wasn’t a big deal either way since I’d already consider it something of a luxury to have a lie-flat bed on a three-hour domestic flight.
About 15 minutes before landing, the crew came through the cabin to wake me up and remind me to put on my seat belt, and we eventually made a swift nighttime landing in Melbourne Tullamarine Airport.
Domestic business class on the Qantas A330-200 was comfortable, methodical, and arguably a little forgettable, which was entirely on par with my expectations from the outset. Despite a few imperfections, the hard product is above average for the limited-duration flights that these planes operate, whereas the food left me with positive impressions and the service was friendly across the board, if somewhat perfunctory at times.
I have no qualms recommending the Qantas business class for any of your upcoming intra-Australia journeys, although I also wasn’t left with particularly any strong feelings about it.
Note that I’d be flying with Qantas’s biggest competitor, Virgin Australia, in a few days’ time on the return route from Melbourne to Perth, so look out for that instalment to see how the two experiences compared.