Flying Business aboard the QantasLink Embraer E190 isn’t like your typical domestic flight. Not only does Qantas rely on Alliance Airlines to do the actual flying, but the aircraft isn’t your usual domestic jet. In fact, for those travelling in Business, each row comes with an individual seat: a personal throne, without a neighbour.
Normally, having both direct aisle access and a window view is something expected of International Business Class. But on selected domestic flights, you can look forward to that when travelling on the E190. Just don’t expect a flatbed – we’re still talking about quick domestic hops.
Here’s what it’s like to fly aboard the QantasLink/Alliance Airlines Embraer E190 jet in Business. This journey takes me from Brisbane to Adelaide bright and early, stepping out for boarding before the sun is up – and before the clock strikes 6 am. I’m not usually a morning person, but my ticket in Business makes the morning brighter.
Check-in, lounge and boarding
With just a cabin bag for a quick domestic overnighter, mobile check-in is quick and easy for this QantasLink Embraer E190 Business flight to Adelaide. Although it’s operated by Alliance Airlines, everything takes place with Qantas. This means using the Qantas app to manage and board the flight. And, of course, with access to the Qantas lounges.
In Brisbane, a ticket in Business provides entry to the Qantas Domestic Business Lounge. This flight is an early start and I know there’ll be a meal on board, so I avoid arriving with too much time to spare. I have time for a quick coffee and a chia seed pudding, and then it’s off to board.
Curiously, there are two lanes at the boarding gate. One is signed ‘Economy’, as you’d expect. The second lane has no signage – the bollard for Business appears to have gone walkabout. But Business is called forward first, and we’re on our way.
Gate 16, as we’re using this morning, uses stairs to get to the aircraft. It’s a chilly morning – especially before the sun is even up – but it’s a brisk and brief walk.
QantasLink/Alliance Embraer E190 Business seating
The QantasLink Embraer E190 is great for solo travellers in Business. That’s because the seating layout is 1-2. For every pair of seats, there’s a solo throne on the other side of the aisle. I stake my claim to 2A at the time of booking. This gives me a seat to myself, sure. But it’s also a seat where I can keep my laptop bag within easy reach by storing it beneath the seat in front.
In general, these seats are comfortable. I even manage a little nap after breakfast. But they’re not as functional as on some other aircraft in the Qantas domestic fleet. For instance, there’s no leg rest. There’s also no power outlet – AC or USB. When you’re on a Boeing 737 instead, even Economy has that.
Overhead locker space isn’t huge on this aircraft. A bit of Tetris takes place before take-off to get everybody’s bags in. Crew move a few bags to the closet to help ease the squeeze. So if you’re travelling to the baggage limit, make good use of priority boarding to get in early and secure your space. It’s much easier that way.
Food and beverage in QantasLink/Alliance Embraer E190 Business
This journey in QantasLink Embraer E190 Business begins unexpectedly, with a drink before take-off. It’s just a simple bottle of water, but it’s also chilled – brownie points for the crew. I must say, it’s a step above the absence of any pre-departure beverage on mainline Qantas domestic flights. This is one thing that the airline hasn’t brought back post-pandemic, even though Virgin Australia and Rex both serve drinks in Business during boarding.
Following take-off, another round of beverages keeps things going before the meal service begins. I order a coffee with milk. I’d been hoping for a strong filtered brew, but the crew prepare a packet mix. It’s not quite as caffeinated but does come with crema and hints of chocolate. As far as ‘plane coffee’ goes, it’s not bad.
For the meal itself, there’s a choice between a more substantial hot dish and a lighter chilled meal. Given I’ve skipped the food in the lounge, the hot choice it is.
Breakfast today is an omelette served with spinach, sausage and baked beans. There’s also a yoghurt pot, bread from the basket and a muesli bar (handy to pack for later). The omelette is about what you’d expect. Pleasingly too, it’s light and fluffy, not rubbery. There’s an offer of more tea and coffee after the meal, but I’m holding out for a latte in the lounge when we land – more on that below.
Service and entertainment
We noted in our earlier E190 Economy review that while inflight entertainment had been touted for every QantasLink Embraer E190 by the end of 2022, it still isn’t available on every flight. Unfortunately, that’s true of this trip. There’s no streaming entertainment – and for that matter, no inflight internet either.
With nothing to watch, no communications and no inflight power, your entertainment is whatever you bring along with you… for however long it lasts. After the meal and before landing, I take the chance to nap instead. This is another time where the solo seat comes into play. With nobody beside me, there’s no one to disturb my rest during the journey.
This is also a great flight for the window seat. There’s a colourful sunrise as we’re travelling over Brisbane. Closer to Adelaide, views change to brighter blues and a beach view. Again, a solo seat for the win – as you get aisle access and a seat with a view.
Service-wise, the crew on this QantasLink Embraer E190 flight tick the usual boxes for Qantas Business. Passengers are addressed by name and interactions are much as you’d expect on a regular Qantas domestic flight.
An extra perk for eligible frequent flyers: lounge access on arrival
For those with a Qantas Platinum or Platinum One frequent flyer card, there’s an extra perk ready and waiting for you. That’s access to the lounge on arrival from your QantasLink Embraer E190 Business flight. In fact, it works when flying Economy too. For clarity, this isn’t included when booking a Business ticket alone. It’s an extra benefit of status over and above what money can buy.
I have a couple of hours until my first meeting, so I call into Adelaide’s Qantas Club. I find that stronger coffee I was looking for, as well as a place to catch up on some work. It’s an interesting lounge because it’s been designed as something of a ‘Qantas Club plus’, given there isn’t a Qantas Business Lounge here (yet). I quite like the front room, which used to be a computer lab. Now it feels more like an office – the perfect spot for pre- or post-flight productivity.
Adelaide’s Qantas Club lives within the secure areas of the terminal. This makes it most practical to visit on arrival for those with only carry-on baggage. Travellers with a suitcase might squeeze time for a takeaway coffee, but not much else. It’s still a nice benefit to have, especially when your day is running ahead of schedule.
There’s a lot to like about QantasLink Embraer E190 Business. The lounge access to match ‘regular’ Qantas Business gets things off to a good start. There’s also the option of individual seats for solo flyers that provide the best of both worlds with a window view and direct aisle access.
On the downside, though, the seat itself isn’t as sophisticated as on other Qantas flights. There’s also no inflight USB or AC port to keep devices juiced up, and there’s no inflight Wi-Fi to keep in touch with the ground. As can happen when streaming entertainment is the only option, you may end up with nothing to watch. And when that happens, you’re left without much to do unless you’ve come prepared.
Personally, I’m a big fan of the solo seat. When booking Business, this would sway me across from competing airlines any day of the week. Provided I came prepared with a charged phone and laptop and things to do along the way, of course. But I also really appreciate having Wi-Fi. As it happens, I’m filing this very story from 35,000 feet on a different flight. And being connected allows me to get things done without landing with a to-do pile still to tackle.
Whether this product suits will come down to the individual traveller and the needs placed on each journey. But for flights between Brisbane and Adelaide, many will appreciate what’s on offer in QantasLink Embraer E190 Business.
Photography by Chris Chamberlin, who travelled at Point Hacks’ expense.
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