Review

Qantas 747 Business Class review (with children) – QF127 Sydney to Hong Kong – on the 747 Upper Deck with two kids

I’ve flown Qantas QF127 to Hong Kong for work several times over the last couple of years, but travelling with my other half, new baby and 3-year-old was quite a different experience – I was still working on the flight, but in a completely different way – and far more intense!

Reviews of QF127 flying solo are here (A380 Business Class) and here (747 Premium Economy).

But booking and flying with kids is a whole different ballgame.

Booking and Seat Allocation

This Sydney to Hong Kong leg was booked with Qantas points on Qantas.com – a Classic Award for my other half and two daughters, and an Any Seat Award for me. The total cost was 180,000 points – 60,000 points per person and only taxes charged for the infant. Points were accrued roughly equally from credit card spend, a couple of sign-up bonuses over the previous year and from flights.

Once the booking was made, I got onto seat allocations which involved linking our bookings. This flight was on the twice-a-week 747 service, in which the Business Class cabin has bassinets at the front of both the upper and lower deck cabins.

Having flown on the upper deck a few years ago with our eldest daughter from Frankfurt to Singapore, I knew what to expect and on phoning Qantas I was pleased to be offered the Upper Deck again. Given this was around 6 months before the flight, I assume they allocate this upstairs bassinet first and the downstairs after – downstairs is closer to First Class with greater risk of disturbing those passengers, but in my opinion the upstairs is a better position for the traveller.

Upper deck passengers are allowed to roam both upstairs and downstairs, while lower deck passengers have no excuse to go upstairs. It gives those travelling with children a little more scope to move around the plane, especially if the kids are acting up – you can explore downstairs, including the galley with some snacks laid out and some windows to look out, before heading back up.

With that sorted, the wait for the trip began…

The Lounge

After an absolute nightmare of transport logistic problems getting us to the airport, we rocked up at the Qantas International Business Lounge in pretty good time, with just 1/2 hour or so before we should be heading to the gate.

Lounge access is, as you can imagine, very helpful when travelling with kids. When you’re pushing/carrying/dragging them along and all the stuff you inevitably carry for them, it’s a godsend to have comfortable seating you don’t have to fight for, a choice of food and drink that you don’t have to queue (or pay) for and clean bathrooms… all these conveniences take on extra value when you’re juggling children.

Not having needed it before, I vaguely remembered there was a kids area up in the far left hand corner of the lounge, so we wandered up to see if the four of us could make ourselves at home.

2-Qantas-Lounge-kids-area.jpg

The Sydney Qantas Lounge kids play area

It’s definitely helpful to give some delineated space where kids are welcome – although the furniture and toys on offer were nothing special, and the low level iMacs that could be set to blare out YouTube videos for kids (yes, other parents did this) were annoying. However, it’s worth parking yourself there if you’re travelling with kids under 5 or 6 years old.

At this point I checked in on our booking again with the lounge staff – when looking online the day before, the 4th seat in the front row (11A) of the Upper Deck was showing as empty and remained so through check in and in the lounge. We were hoping for a less than full flight, giving four seats for the four of us and not having to annoy someone else sitting next to us. Turned out we got lucky!

The Flight

Our seating choice was definitely the right one, as we boarded and indeed did have the whole of the Upper Deck row 11 to the four of us.

Getting settled in row 11, at the front of Qantas’ 747 upper deck

I felt that the food and service were as I’d expect from Qantas, just friendly and attentive enough, without being over the top. When travelling with family and infants/kids in tow, I’ve experienced two kinds of Qantas crew – those who are nice but don’t really acknowledge in any particular way that you’re travelling with kids, who just get on with their usual job, and then those who will go a bit out of their way to help further than usual, understanding that parents have a bit more on their plates than the solo traveller. This flight had more of the former than the latter, but I think as long as there are one or two sympathetic crew around it goes a long way to helping the flight go more easily.

Seating

The bassinet location at the front of the Upper Deck cabin is in a good spot, although on these ageing, non-refurbished 747’s the bassinet itself was getting a bit long in the tooth. Proximity to a bathroom can be such a headache with a baby – firstly because the foot traffic going past as well as the bright light can be disturbing and secondly if the bassinet is attached to a wall panel that’s shared with the bathroom then every flush and door bang shakes the bassinet… not the best for a sleeping baby. The single upstairs bathroom was not used much, and when used didn’t impact on the sleeping baby – and given that there’s little need for anyone to go up past your seat other than to the flight deck, it’s a fairly quiet spot – definitely more so than downstairs.

The seat, the Skybed Mk1, is also not the best and not competitive on the overnight flight returning from Hong Kong to Sydney, but during the day on QF127, is passable. The best thing about the Skybed layout (Mk1 or the new lie-flat Mk2 seats on the A380 and refurbished 747’s) is the fact they are side by side – solo travellers would prefer the newer herringbone or staggered layouts, but for a family travelling in Business Class side by side is ideal – no. 1 daughter was easily in arm’s reach.

Food

The food was pretty decent, but actually almost exactly the same menu as I’d had a couple of months prior. We were offered online meal selection before departure which worked well with our hands full, and relieved of us of one thing to think about. The crew were perfectly happy to stagger our meals as required too.

Entertainment

As I’ve mentioned, this flight was operated using an old Qantas 747 so the in-flight entertainment system was fairly average. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, the availability of local children’s TV / movie programming is a small blessing compared to foreign carriers – travelling with Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airlines later in the trip we had fewer English selections and unfamiliar kids programs, making an easy selection a bit trickier.

The Qantas kids activity pack contained with a luggage tag, colouring book, coloured pencils, pencil sharpener and small magnet drawing board. It didn’t hold our 3 year old’s attention that long, but was fine.

Conclusion

I had selected this flight carefully from a few options (Cathay, Virgin Atlantic and Qantas were all available on points), due to the specific timing, service and seating factors I knew would work well for us – so it was satisfying that this flight went off without a hitch.

Factors out of our control – delays, the attitude of other passengers, no. 2 daughter’s reaction to her first flight at 3 months old, etc – weren’t an issue on the day. I’ve always found other passengers flying Qantas, including those in Business Class, to be sympathetic to parents travelling with children, and Qantas crew to be pleasant enough to deal with in the same instance too. Kudos to my fellow Australians, I hope I’m not alone in my experiences here!

Comments Expand Comments

  1. Natasha

    Welcome home, Keith! Thanks for the review! Burning question – why you chose QF vs CX? I picked CX for my last travel (family of 4 with 2 small kids too), loved it and thinking about our next trip on CX with Alaskan miles. Can burn QFF points too. Maybe I should consider QF instead?.. Thanks.

    • Keith Author

      Well, the main reason I booked QF was the ability to get Status Credits by booking as an Any Seat Award – it tipped me over my Qantas Gold status renewal easily and I still have 8 months to go for the rest of my membership year. In hindsight though, we travelled on CX to London and I found the seating in CX Business stressful when travelling with a 3 year old – there was a lot of being unable to reach her which was tricky for both of us. The CX seats are just too spacious! With an older kid CX would be pretty good though. I’ll try and cover that in a bit more detail when I come to review the CX flight.

  2. Oliver Huang

    Hi Keith. Thanks for posting! How much did you pay for the fuel surcharge? I took a zigzag biz flight as well to places like Japan, Guam, Taipei, Singapore and Melbourne using United miles with family. Happy to share my experience!

  3. Nelson

    Hi keith. Its good to read a review of parents travelling with children in J class. I think you are right about the seating arrangements. Virgin Atlantic would be difficult to travel with young children because of the seat layout.

    • Keith Author

      Not just difficult, an absolute nightmare. Cathay was doable as you could see the kids, but herringbone with walls would be hard. Makes it an easier decision for those who want to avoid kids too.

  4. John

    Hi Keith, great to read about how you booked this trip and your on board experience. I’ve just booked a similar trip to London ( before coming across your site) and used Avios to go JAL business to Tokyo, Hyatt C&P for 3 nights at the GH, Avios again on BA Club World to London. This will be with a5 and 1 yr old so hope we will survive! I haven’t booked the return yet as work are paying for that but hope to do CX in PE. May use SPG points to stay at the Sheraton unless I can find some more Hyatt points. The Malaysia Airlines FF scheme sounds like a bargain though! Look forward to hearing what that was like.

      • John

        Yes on the 787 – angled flat seats but it’s a day flight so should be OK. I understand what you mean about the BA experience as we had a similar one on a HKG-LHR flight when our oldest was 9 months old, the midnight flight time and ridiculously small bassinet didn’t help…I have a feeling the JAL one will be just as useless but at least we are in bulkhead seats.

        • Keith Author

          In the few flights I’ve done with kids, long haul bassinets did seem redundant for any kid over 6 months old, other than a place to dump stuff/them for short periods of time.

  5. Tom

    Hi Keith – digging up an extremely old thread here but had a question about the family booking. How did you go about finding seats for the whole family in business class on the same flight – the way you described it made it sound like you just did them one at a time and then ‘linked’ them after so that you could get the seats near each other? As opposed to entering ‘4 seats’ in your search?

    • Keith Author

      No worries 🙂
      In this case I found a flight with four Classic Award seats – I think it would be harder to find that now. I booked them using a slightly different way – 3 Classic Awards, and one Any Seat Award for myself which at the time was a hack to earn points and status by paying slightly higher taxes and fees, but the same amount in points. Then I linked the two reservations together.
      So nothing too tricky, I still had to search for four people on the same flight. Now I usually search for 2 to start with, and if I see two dates close together with 2 on each flight then that’s at least an option to travel close to each other. I then look and see if there are 3 or even, the holy grail, 4 seats all on the same flight and decide from there how I’ll book it / which points I’ll use.

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