If you book Qantas Business Class within Asia, chances are you’ll be on an Airbus A330-300. It might not be Qantas’ latest and greatest jet, but you’ll still be able to sprawl over a fully lie-flat bed.
Before a last-minute work trip to London via Japan, I fire up the Qantas website to check my options. Luckily, there’s a solitary Business Reward seat from Tokyo to Melbourne to Perth on the day I need to travel home.
The cost? 94,900 Qantas Points + a few hundred dollars in fees and taxes for both flights. The Tokyo-Melbourne leg on its own is 82,000 points + fees and taxes.
If you’re able to plan further in advance, Qantas does periodically release a decent number of Business reward seats on its Tokyo routes – sometimes with four or more seats available. Keep an eye out for those.
Transfer, lounge and boarding
I land in Tokyo (Haneda) airport on an ANA flight from London. Somewhat riskily, I book a separate connection from Tokyo back to Perth with only about four hours of buffer. But a small delay in London doesn’t deter my plans, and we land in Tokyo as planned.
I’m travelling with hand luggage only as this is a short work trip. Throwing caution to the wind a second time, I attempt to save time by transiting airside rather than going through the whole rigmarole of customs and security again. It pays off, though. I’ve already completed online check-in – after a glimpse of my electronic boarding pass, I’m waved through transfer security and head back up to the departures concourse. So far, so good.
Qantas Business Class passengers can unwind in the Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge. But for anyone with oneworld Emerald or Qantas Platinum status or higher, the Japan Airlines First Class Lounge awaits. I happen to be eligible, so I hope you’ll forgive me for reviewing the First Class lounge instead.
The flight ends up being delayed by an hour and a bit, but we make up for lost time en-route. Net result: more time in the First Class lounge and to browse the duty-free, which I’m not complaining about.
The Japan Airlines ground crew manage boarding efficiently, starting with Business Class passengers, Platinum frequent flyers and higher.
You hear people say that boarding a Qantas flight overseas is like being home already. I fully concur, especially when, during a delay in taxiing, the passenger in front goes on a somewhat light-hearted rant about how she’s been waiting around the airport for hours.
“The tram in Melbourne would be quicker than this”, she quips, which sends the Business cabin into a giggle.
Qantas Airbus A330 Business Class cabin and seating
Qantas Airbus A330-300s have 28 Business Class seats in seven rows of 1-2-1. Each seat offers the essentials: direct-aisle access and fully flat beds. Want maximum privacy? Choose seats ‘A’ or ‘K’ in rows 2, 4 and 6. These seats are close to the window, so you’ll feel cocooned.
As I’m booking last minute, the only window seat left is 7A, which is on the aisle. It might not look great on paper, being close to the galley. But it’s not in front of a lavatory, such as 7K. And with an eye mask on and ear plugs in, I still have a solid sleep in the skies.
Seat width is around 23″ (58.4 cm), and the bed stretches out up to 80″ (203 cm), which is more than enough for most. Business Class passengers must wear a sash belt at the start and the end of the flight, but this can be detached during cruising. Seats can be pre-reclined to an approved position during take-off and landing – handy if you need a snooze (not me though, I’ll always be staring out the window…).
For entertainment, each seat has a 16″ (43 cm) touchscreen, although these are not working at the start of the flight. A system restart after take-off fixes it and afterwards, it works just fine.
Each seat has a range of goodies during boarding, starting with a thick pillow, blanket and mattress pad. I’ve always been fond of the Qantas bedding. An amenity kit, menu and the iconic Qantas pyjamas complete the set.
Of course, I don’t refuse a glass of Champagne (Jacquart Brut Mosaique on this flight), the perfect accompaniment as I choose what to order on the breakfast card.
Qantas Airbus A330 Business Class food and beverage
As an overnight flight, Qantas serves its customary two-course supper after take-off and the café-style breakfast before landing. The supper choices are:
- Roasted pumpkin soup with croutons
- Tagliatelle pasta with spinach, mushrooms and herb pangrattato
- Toasted brioche sandwich with fried chicken, dill pickles and chipotle aioli
- Teriyaki salmon with baby corn, sugar snaps, broccoli and rice
All dishes are served with a typical green leaf salad with Neil’s vinaigrette. To finish things off, there’s:
- Selection of cheese with accompaniments
- Mont blanc with vanilla sponge, toasted chestnut, and cream
- Ice cream, seasonal fruit and/or Valrhona chocolates
But for Japanese routes, there’s another option – a set menu with three courses. And when the words ‘bento box’ catch my eye, there’s no turning back. I can’t tell you what every component in the bento box is, but I devour it all the same. As a seafood lover, I particularly enjoy the sashimi and simmered prawns.
That’s followed by Dainomono, the main course of grilled teriyaki salmon, rice and miso soup. As a testament to the caterers in Tokyo, the rice is a fluffy, fragrant delight – a feat notoriously hard to achieve in flight. Dessert is a bit too simple for my liking – a single mochi with green tea. It’s still delightful, though.
For breakfast, I revert back to Western fare and devour my tray of avo on toast (goodbye, house deposit!) with a soft-boiled egg, fruit, a croissant, a smoothie and an espresso coffee. I can’t fault this café-style breakfast – it hits the spot with plenty of variety and flavours without being too heavy.
Qantas puts on a big range of beverages in Business Class, ranging from Australian wines to Japanese sake. The sake is served chilled, and as an individual bottle, so there’s plenty to sip on. Peruse the menu below for the other options – just note that Qantas doesn’t list wines individually, so you’ll need to ask onboard.
Qantas Airbus A330 Business Class amenities
The Red Roo offers plenty of amenities to keep you comfortable, including the iconic PJs and amenity kit, which are yours to keep. In comparison, Japan Airlines and ANA have pyjama sets that you can loan for the flight, but not take home. (There are pros and cons to both, so I’ll just leave the facts here).
Qantas’ inflight entertainment system is loaded with new-release movies and TV box sets, so there’s plenty to watch. I sit back and enjoy the soothing songs of La La Land over dinner. Noise-cancelling headphones can be found on the side console, in case you don’t bring your own.
I’ve always found that the service by Qantas international cabin crew is very good, and this flight is no exception. The CSM, Scot, wanders over to chat with me after breakfast. It turns out that he remembers me from when I was on the inaugural Perth-Rome flight – he was travelling as a passenger!
Qantas remains a polarising subject in the media. But objectively, I’ve found Qantas international Business Class flights are all of a similar standard (I’ve never had a bad one). This one doesn’t break the status quo greatly – the seat, the service and the entertainment are all as I expect.
I do enjoy the Japanese set menu as it’s a welcome change away from the traditional Qantas in-flight dining, which is an area that can sometimes deliver hits and misses. For this flight, the bento box, grilled fish, sake and café-style breakfast are all hits. Add a solid 6-hour sleep, and I step off in Melbourne as a satisfied passenger.
Photography by Brandon Loo, who travelled at Point Hacks’ expense.