I’m the first to admit I’m not a fan of the national carrier of Australia, Qantas. But then again if I lived in the U.K I wouldn’t be too happy with British Airways as my national carrier also (their domestic Business class product is just woeful).
But I was excited this time. Always happy to give an airline a second (or third) chance, plus I was hoping to get the new Business Class configuration on the A330 from Melbourne to Perth.
Well I clearly shouldn’t have bothered to get my hopes up. Not only did I not get the new configuration, but I ended up on an old plane Jetstar (the LCC of Qantas) used to own, meaning it was the black leather seat style of seating. Boring.
This trip was booked using a total of 120,000 US Airways Miles prior to the full merger with American Airlines. It is becoming increasingly difficult to fly out of Australia with AA miles (especially to Hong Kong) so award availability was taking me to Hong Kong via Perth and onwards to Europe with a combination of Cathay Pacific and British Airways.
Checking in was via the Business class check-in at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Normally Qantas have very friendly staff, however I had a grumpy and rude agent who questioned my routing, had to make calls to see where she could check my bags through to (It was a complete oneworld booking so I knew there should be no issues checking all the way through to London) and also had the nerve to ask me if I was a travel agent just because I used the words “PNR”. When I said no, she rudely said “Well no-one except travel agents use that ridiculous term”. What was “ridiculous” was how abrupt she was during the whole process, not a relaxing way to start a 50 hour journey!
Bags were checked through to London Heathrow as I expected, but no boarding passes issued for Hong Kong onwards, which were easy to collect upon arrival in Hong Kong.
A quick visit to the very ordinary Qantas Domestic Business Class Lounge before the flight and it was time to board.
QF773: Airbus A330-200 Flight Time: 5pm
Actual Time: 4:58pm Arrival Time: 7:18pm
I always choose seats online these days prior to any flight and had. The cabin was completely full and I heard quite a few people complain that “this isn’t the new seating”. Qantas really need to make a disclaimer when people are either booking flights with $$$ or using Points, as when they have done such heavy advertising for a new product, people expect it. I had known days prior it was not the new fit-out but as was unable to change to any other flights due to availability. I would think that anyone that uses Qantas points should be getting a discounted rate for this product. My seat-mate certainly thought so. She had used points for the very first time to treat herself going home to Perth after a shopping weekend in Melbourne. I am not sure why the Flight Attendant’s allowed her to bring on her roller board, 3 Crown Casino pillows, and 2 huge shopping bags into the cabin (or perhaps they chose to ignore it as the cabin was completely full and many people were unhappy with their seating arrangements).
The crew in Business on this flight however were lovely. Qantas do have quite a few older F.A’s and I’ve always found them to be professional, informative and fun. Juice and Water were offered when seated.
So, onto the seat. This is what I was hoping for
Looks good doesn’t it?!
And this what I got.
It’s black. It was ok IF I was travelling Jetstar. I wasn’t. This is Qantas, my national carrier; who shout to anyone that will listen on how great their on board product and services are. I can’t remember if it had a small leg rest or not, but I tried to get comfortable and looked for the T.V.
Oh wait. There was no T.V. It was an iPad (more Jetstar similarities) and to put it in front of you of the seat it had to sort of velcro it’s way into a pouch. More annoyance as it wouldn’t tilt properly. It didn’t really have too much to choose from (a couple of old episodes of Australia’s Next Top Model and Keeping up with the Kardashians!).
Food and drink service was VERY slow on this flight. No other drinks were offered until around 90 minutes into the flight (along with the peanuts) and the entire meal service took around 2 1/2 hours which I think is just too long for a flight on this length.
The menu looked like this.
I was surprised for a 5pm flight departure time that this was such a limited menu for what I assumed would be a full dinner service by Celebrity Chef Neil Perry (I often expect him to pop out from behind the curtain in an apron dishing up the delicious food he’s made for Qantas). NOT. Neil Perry must be one of the most over-rated chef’s there are in Australia (Yes, even I think Rockpool is average). There is nothing special about anything on this menu. Even the lamington was dry.
I chose the Wagyu and then the Pasta salad for main. More suitable for a lunch menu but edible enough. My seat mate chose the Meatball sandwich of which looked quite messy and she didn’t look too impressed. I still don’t understand why they offered the soup twice? Overstock in the freezers perhaps?
The Customer Service Manager was lovely and was happy to keep topping up drinks and offering extra snacks.
The flight itself was fairly uneventful. A small amount of turbulence around 30 mins prior to landing as it was raining heavily in Perth. Arrived at the gate only 3 minutes late and was fortunate enough to be met at Domestic to make the drive to the International terminal which is around 10 minutes away.
If I was paying $2000 one way for this flight or had saved points for a long time to redeem on this service I’d be bitterly disappointed. Compared to Virgin Australia’s flat bed offering on their A330’s or even the new product that Qantas has on only a few of their plane’s, then it’s a massive let down.
If you’re looking for a way to get to Hong Kong from Australia with AA miles, then there is often availability from Melbourne/Brisbane/Sydney to Perth and then onwards to Hong Kong. Just make sure you try and pick one of the planes (normally the seat map’s will give you the indication. You want 1, 2, 1) that have been updated.
You can book flights here