With no Business Class award space leaving Sydney en route to Singapore (chosen for its direct access to Da Nang with Jetstar), I opted for a route via Melbourne and in doing so scored a rare seat in the Qantas A330 Business Class cabin, running the carrier’s Business Suite product that was updated in 2014.
Sydney (SYD) to Melbourne (MEL)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
AMENDED: This article was originally published on March 23, 2019, but was updated on May 17, 2019, to include our most recent experience flying the product.
Points And Cost?
Points: 60,000 Qantas Points
Hong Kong and Singapore both require 60,000 points for a Business Class redemption from Sydney. I cancelled a future trip to Hong Kong (at a cost of 6,000 points) and attributed the remainder straight towards this flight to Singapore. While the leg was included in my onward award booking to Singapore, personally, I think it’s a great splash of 5,000 points from a flexible Economy ticket between Sydney and Melbourne. It’s not something I’d usually recommend on such a short leg, especially not on the 737 but it’s a different story and experience on the far grander A330.
(16/05/2019)* I used 5,000 points yesterday to upgrade between Sydney and Melbourne after discovering I was on the A330 when I went to select my seat. It’s a complete indulgence but the spend seems paltry when you consider the benefits of being able to rest, read a broadsheet newspaper, have a full meal and do some proper work. We were also on the tarmac for 50mins, which justified the upgrade even further.
Seat Selection And Seat
I chose to sit in the forward Qantas A330 Business Class cabin in seat 2A, which has to be one of the most desirable options unless you enjoy a bulkhead for a longer flight. The cabin is set up in a 1-2-1 formation and the window suites in rows 2 and 4 offer more privacy than rows 1,3 and 5 where the seats are located directly next to the aisle. See the annotated seat map below from SeatGuru.
To be honest, my first experience flying the Qantas A330 Business Class product wasn’t great. The seat is definitely showing its age and I hate the sash seatbelt, there’s no need for it whatsoever. Secondly, my seatbelt was faulty. I got it over me for takeoff but it jammed before landing so I was told I had to move seats which was a nuisance.
The suite itself is comfortable and functional but it’s not an overly memorable offering. There’s a lot of flexibility in the seat positioning but it feels cramped – your knees are too close to the protruding screen and underside of the seat in front. I tested the bed, which flattens completely and, for the 30 seconds I lay there, provided a good amount of space with a moderately sized footwell.
I found the stowable table fairly flimsy and the screen, which appeared to be adjustable but wasn’t, was tilted towards the floor just enough to infuriate me. There’s a range of seat controls, device inputs, storage options and a concealed remote with vanity mirror built into the table area.
(16/05/2019)* I sat in 2E yesterday and my seatbelt was fine. My table was sturdier this time but my screen was still tilted downwards. I realised that, unknowingly, I may have had the seat slid forwards in my previous flight which could have been the reason I felt so close to the seat in front while lounging.
Entertainment And Wifi
I rate the UX and the selection on the Qantas inflight entertainment system. I also like how responsive the screen is to touches, reacting instantly and working exactly as it should. I watched an episode of the Sopranos until we landed, screen contrast was good and so was the sound volume. No wifi was offered.
(16/05/2019)* In seat 2E there is less glare on the screen which is nice if you get delayed (as we did yesterday) and want to dive into some entertainment. I left my noise cancelling headphones at home this time and the supplied ones are pretty garbage, as was the connecting headphone jack which I was constantly moving to get sound out of both earphones.
Food And Drink
I only had time to grab a coffee in the Business Class Lounge as I left my run to the airport a little late, so I indulged in a Rueben sandwich on the flight. It was tasty, albeit a little soggy once it arrived at my seat. I was welcomed with a glass of Sparkling water upon arrival and also offered additional bread and muffins during the breakfast service.
(16/05/2019)* Yesterday I was offered sparkling water or Apple juice on arrival, then bircher muesli or an egg white omelette, to which I opted for the later. It was surprisingly good. Again I was offered additional bread or a muffin.
Generally, I don’t consider the service on Qantas to be very good or that friendly, and this flight was no different, with the staff member who dealt with my seatbelt issue appearing to be slightly perturbed by it, almost as if it was my fault. To be fair it’s not a lot of time to really get a feel for the service so I won’t be too judgey.
(16/05/2019)* Yesterday’s service was much friendlier than my previous experience. We got delayed on the tarmac and the staff went to fetch us newspapers upon my request. I was addressed as Mr Want consistently and warmly, with a smile, and was asked if I’d like refills on coffee and sparkling water.
Ambience And Amenities
There’s no doubt that turning left on the A330 is a nice feeling. The Qantas A330 Business Class cabin is pleasant, contemporary and comfortable, despite feeling a tad cramped in my seat. However, I think the staff attitude has a big impact on general ambience and the seat belt experience tarnished that a bit. No amenity kit was offered.
(16/05/2019)* I couldn’t fault yesterday’s trip in regards to the ambience. Even in the galley waiting for the toilet, the staff had an obvious energy that flowed through the cabin during the flight.
I enjoyed my first experience flying the Qantas A330 Business Class product but I didn’t love it. It’s not something I’d ever stump up the cash for but as the first leg of an international journey, or as an upgrade it’s an indulgent and rewarding use of points.
(16/05/2019)* I couldn’t fault my flight yesterday. I still don’t consider it to be a very memorable experience, in fact I think Virgin’s The Business trumps it domestically, but that may be my preference for Herringbone seating.