Tried & Tested

Qantas Airways A330-300 Business Class

31 Aug 2015 by Clement Huang

CHECK-IN

As I was on a connecting service from Auckland, I’d already received my boarding pass for flight QF97 – the Brisbane to Hong Kong leg of my journey. The international transfer process was quick at Brisbane airport, and I cleared the security checkpoint within five minutes. 

LOUNGE

Qantas’ international business lounge is on the fourth floor – one level up from nearby Gate 80. My initial impression of the facility was a positive one. While it certainly can’t compare to the brand new lounge at Hong Kong International Airport, the Brisbane lounge still offers all the bells and whistles, including sweeping views of the airfield, shower facilities, semi-private workstations with dual-platform iMac terminals, printing services, plenty of seats and charging ports. 

The F&B offering was fairly generous for a breakfast spread, with the fluffy pancakes being a particular highlight.

BOARDING

Boarding was scheduled to commence at 1005, but I didn’t leave the lounge until 1030, with Gate 77 being a mere two-minute walk away. My boarding pass was quickly processed and I entered the aircraft within minutes. 

Business class customers, Qantas Frequent Flyer gold (or higher) members and Oneworld Sapphire (or above) cardholders are afforded priority boarding.

THE SEAT

I was allocated seat 2K – a window seat. The aircraft featured 30 business class seats, arranged in a 2-2-2 layout over five rows. 

I was hoping to see the new Business Suites that Qantas introduced last year, but was unfortunately greeted by the older Skybed product developed by Aussie designer Marc Newson. 

Seat features include a 10-inch screen for the in-flight entertainment system (IFE), storage space for water bottles, charging port, reading light, tray table and magazine rack. 

Ultimately, I was a bit disappointed with the ageing seat. The 10-inch screen simply can’t compete with the likes of other Asian carriers such as Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways (both 15.4 inches and up), or the newer Qantas Business Suites that sport a 16-inch monitor. In addition, I found the display quality weak and prone to glare – I had to shut two windows in order to comfortably view the screen’s content. The 4:3 aspect ratio also meant widescreen programmes had to be scaled up in order to fit the screen. 

On a positive note, the angle-flat seat was quite comfortable, once a mattress and duvet had been laid out by cabin crew, and perfectly acceptable for a day flight.

THE FLIGHT

Upon being seated, I was offered a glass of Taittinger Cuvée Prestige Brut, along with a hot towel and a Jack Spade amenity kit. The inflight duty manager welcomed every passenger personally and the overall service was impeccable throughout.

We pushed back at 1055 and took off five minutes later. Service resumed at 1105 once we’d reached cruising altitude, and refreshments were provided. 

Browsing through the carrier’s entertainment system, I was slightly disappointed by the selection of movies and television shows available; the IFE system’s age means that data storage is restricted, and therefore choices are limited. However, I settled for the recent blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Lunch service began just before noon with a range of tempting Aussie-Asian fusion dishes – the signature style of Qantas’ inflight catering co-ordinator and celebrity chef Neil Perry.

I opted for San Daniele prosciutto with white bean, lemon and parsley salad as a starter, followed by a delicious Sri Lankan prawn curry with basmati rice, snake beans and coconut pol sambol, and chocolate pot de crème and cinnamon churros for dessert. 

After lunch, the cabin lights were dimmed and I slept soundly for a few hours, waking up just in time for the refreshment service at 1545. This time round, I went for the Bulgogi style beef with stir-fried vegetables and noodles. Again, the quality was top notch, and I liked that the dish was served in an oyster pail. 

ARRIVAL

Descent was announced at 1710, and the aircraft landed in Hong Kong International Airport at 1730 – half an hour ahead of schedule. We reached the arrival gate five minutes later. 

VERDICT

Overall, it was a very good flight with excellent service and meals onboard. However, the age of the seat is clearly showing and the IFE system was less than impressive. 

 

FACT FILE

  • CONFIGURATION 2-2-2
  • SEAT PITCH 60in/152.4cm
  • SEAT WIDTH 21.5in/54.6cm
  • SEAT RECLINE 150 degrees
  • PRICE Internet rate for a mid-week Brisbane–Hong Kong return flight in October starts at A$4,705 (US$3,429), including taxes and surcharges.
  • CONTACT qantas.com.au

Clement Huang 

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