Frequent flyers in Australia are blessed with access to some of the best premium cabin products in the world. So which ones are the best?
In this guide, I take a look at the top ten Business Class products flying from Australian airports and, crucially, how to book an award seat using frequent flyer points.
What makes for a good Business Class product?
I’ve judged these products based on the:
- comfort of the seat
- privacy of the seat
- food and drinks you’ll enjoy onboard
- service you are likely to receive
I’ve narrowed the list by only including seats that go lie-flat and provide direct aisle access to all passengers. This is especially important for travellers in Australia, who tend to endure long flight times to get to other countries.
A ranking of the top 10 Business Class products flying from Australia
In 2019, China’s second-largest airline has upgraded some of its Sydney and Melbourne to Shanghai flights to its latest product, featuring sliding privacy doors.
Whilst the hard product (the seat) is good, the lacklustre food and inconsistent customer service let it down.
The good news is that award availability is generous and you can use your Qantas Points to fly this product.
Qantas‘ flagship Business Class product can be found on a good chunk of its international flights. That includes to places like Auckland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Los Angeles, New York and London. It can also be found on coast-to-coast flights within Australia.
You’ll enjoy modern finishes and friendly customer service, with comfortable pyjamas provided.
The food can be a bit hit-or-miss, though.
This product flies from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth to Dubai and onwards to many destinations throughout Emirates’ network. It’s also available on their fifth-freedom flight from Sydney to Christchurch.
Emirates’ onboard experience tends to be very consistent, with well-trained crews and excellent dining options. You’ll get a comfortable, lie-flat seat with beautiful finishes and arguably the best inflight entertainment system of any airline.
Plus, you can head to the back of the plane for a drink at the onboard bar, reserved exclusively for Business and First Class passengers.
The most accessible way for travellers in Australia to access these seats is by using Qantas Points, but Emirates Skywards miles (an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner) can also be redeemed.
This upgraded product started flying from Sydney to Los Angeles (Delta’s only Australian route) in March 2019. Whilst you’ll get a sliding door:
as you can see in the photos below (and as many travellers have experienced), the space is tight, which can make it difficult for sleeping.
Velocity Points can be used for redemption flights with Delta. However, given that award availability is almost non-existent on these flights, the likelihood of that happening is low.
Singapore’s flag carrier operates a myriad of seat types on its Australian flights. The flagship version is on A380 flights to Sydney (and soon to Melbourne).
This product is a huge improvement over its older A380, A350 and 777-300ER seats. You’ll find more flexibility for centre-seat passengers, extra privacy and storage, and beautiful styling. Plus, you can convert two centre seats into a double bed.
You’ll also enjoy Singapore Airlines’ renowned customer service, which is consistently excellent. The dining and drink options are top-notch too.
However, unless you have a bulkhead seat, you may find the sleeping space to be cramped, hence why this product is not rated more highly.
This is an often-overlooked option that you can find on flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Abu Dhabi. (Note the 777 flight from Melbourne has an older product.)
This cabin is elegant, with lamps at every seat and faux-gold finishes.
Seat choice is important and will vary whether you are travelling by yourself or with other people—this review can help you decide.
As opposed to Emirates, you’ll get to eat whenever you want, not when the crew decides. (Qatar Airways also has dine-on-demand.)
On the A380 Sydney flight, you can stretch your legs and head to the onboard bar.
You can use Velocity Points for an award flight, but you’ll get slugged with a hefty cash co-payment. If you have access to Etihad Guest or AAdvantage miles, you’ll save on taxes and surcharges.
Australia’s second-largest carrier flies its flagship premium cabin product from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Los Angeles. You’ll get an extremely cushy reverse herringbone seat:
and exceptional food (something that I think Virgin Australia beats Qantas at).
On these long Transpacific flights, you can enjoy a drink at the sit-down bar, with a dedicated bartender serving you.
You can also enjoy the same seat on Airbus A330 flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Perth, Fiji and Hong Kong. These planes just don’t have an onboard bar.
You can find a similar seat on:
- American Airlines from Sydney to Los Angeles (a good low-surcharge option using Qantas Points)
- Air Canada from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Vancouver
- Vietnam Airlines from Sydney and Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi
This is an underrated product and one that should be on your radar, given that it flies from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Taipei. (From there, you can enjoy Taiwan or connect onto North Asia, Europe or North America.)
The Business Class cabin is just beautiful, with comfortable seats featuring wood-centric finishes.
The customer service is generally really good. However, food options can be limited, so make sure to take advantage of eating in the lounge before your flight.
Whilst the aesthetics of this product are getting dated, it receives such high marks as all passengers enjoy great privacy and a lot of space. Whilst set up in a 2-2-2 configuration, these Sky Suites have been cleverly designed to allow window passengers to slip in and out without impeding aisle guests.
You’ll also get superb customer service and delicious Japanese food onboard your flight.
You can find this product flying from Sydney and Melbourne to Tokyo and you can use your Qantas Points or Asia Miles to book an award seat. You’ll want to get in early as award space is snapped up quickly.
Korean Air also flies a version of this product (Apex Suites) from Sydney and Brisbane to Seoul when the 747-8i and 787 are operating, respectively.
This is arguably the world’s best Business Class product and we’re lucky to see it on flights from Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra to Doha.
As a solo traveller, you’ll enjoy a high degree of privacy with a sliding door.
However, if you are travelling with a partner, you can convert two centre seats into a double bed.
Or if you are travelling as a group, you can convert four centre seats into a family room.
You can use your Qantas Points or Asia Miles to book an award flight, with the best availability usually found on Adelaide flights.
You’ll see that some notable products are missing from this list. Cathay Pacific does not make the cut as their food can be disappointing, they haven’t innovated with their seat offering and the customer service is not proactive.
United has the best Business Class redemption availability of any airline flying nonstop between Australia and the US. However, until they upgrade their Dreamliners flying these routes, their outdated product will continue to rank poorly. Note that this guide was created prior to United announcing in late September 2019 that they would upgrade their Sydney – San Francisco route to a Boeing 777-300ER with their latest Business Class product this summer.
Whichever flight you book, make sure to check the aircraft type and seatmap to make sure it matches the one you had in mind. Note that equipment swaps can happen in the leadup to departure, so it helps to check your booking every so often before your trip.
You can check out all of our Business Class reviews here and the top 10 First Class products flying to and from Australia here.
I would love to hear from you. Do you agree with my rankings? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
This article was co-written with Evin Tan Khiew and Daniel Pillar.