REVIEW: Plane Speaking - Qantas Business Class, Sydney To Perth

Going, on what, for how long?
Sydney-Perth, Qantas A330-200, 5hr 10 mins
Flight frequency: 7 times a day (48 times weekly)

Cost?
From $305
Fully Flexible econ $586
Business $1300

Where am I?
Business, 5F

Configuration
36 business (2-2-2)
199 economy (2-4-2)

There’s plenty of leg room with the flatbed seats and storage pockets for your shoes

Baggage?
Business: 2 pieces up to 32kg each
How much for more?
For business customers, prepay $30 per additional piece (up to 32kg).
At the airport, $40 for the first piece (up to 32kg in weight)

On deck
Sydney-Perth is Australia’s hardest flight – a 5-hour uphill slog to the west coast of the island, although you can make it east in around 3.5 hours (and the overnight Perth-Sydney red-eye probably the worst Australian flight of all).

It’s a lot more civilised since Qantas upgraded the business class last year, using only wide-body A330s for weekday flights, with the 2 x 2 x 2 international configuration and most importantly, the generous 61-inch long Newsome-designed flatbed seats It’s a much classier offering.

Not a bad looking lunch

And maybe its because he spends so much time on these planes between Sydney and his Rockpool Bar & Grill in Perth, but Qantas consulting chef Neil Perry’s a la carte menu is now served in business. The trays are gone, replaced by a choice of two starters, four mains, cheese and two desserts, with a side serve of salad with Perry dressing and sourdough bread and butter.

My mid-morning flight felt like yum cha, with a sweetcorn chowder to start (the alternative, a chicken terrine). The vegetarian offering was limited, since the main was simply an upscaled version of the entree chowder. But I could have had another round of the excellent steamed pork dumplings with black vinegar for main (grilled fish with roast potatoes and green beans, a waldorf salad with chicken were the other options).

The dumplings

I skipped the buttermilk pannacotta with blood orange jelly and poached strawberries for the seasonal fruit – strawberries, melon and kiwi fruit. To be honest, it was a bit meh. Are strawberries and melons really seasonal mid-Winter, other than at Wimbledon right now?

Fruit…

Nonetheless dining experience feels a lot smarter now, the wine options excellent. The Seppeltsfield tokay was my preferred dessert (Cookoothama botrytis semillon is the alternative). The other wine options gave it a good WA feel with Margaret River’s Cullen and Juniper Estate chardonnay on the list, an Eden Valley riesling… these guys give good wine.

The crew?
Lawrence, my guy was a cracker – good-natured, tempting me with another glass of wine, keeping the water coming too, and making sure everyone in the cabin was happy.

Distractions?
I watched the sword and tsunami saga Pompeii. Kiefer Sutherland kinda plays his 24 character as a Roman Senator, while GoT’s Jon Snow (Kit Harington) channels his inner Russell Crowe as a pocket-sized gladiator. The ending could have come an hour earlier. Watch Hitchcock instead. The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth war movie, was listed under Australian. I struggled to find anything I really wanted to see.

Coming back?
There were a few engineering hiccups on the flight home, but the crew made it another good flight and despite a late departure, they made up time and we landed 5 minutes early.

Verdict?
The flatbed seats make this Australia’s best business flight, lifting the standard above something more than a little more leg room. Worth the expense.

* Simon Thomsen travelled as a guest of Qantas.

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