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When I first started planning our trip to Australia Perth wasn’t a destination I had in mind, but because we were at the mercy of oneworld award availability, Perth (and the Qatar Airways flights out of Perth) soon came into the reckoning as it became increasingly obvious that getting back to Europe via Tokyo, Hong Kong or Singapore wasn’t going to be an option.
Because of how award availability panned out (there was no award availability that would allow us to fly from Sydney to Perth to Europe without a layover of over 24 hours) and because American Airlines doesn’t allow stopovers when you’re booking awards with AAdvantage miles, we had to pay for our Sydney – Perth Business Class seats separately from our Perth – Doha – Europe flights…but that didn’t really bother me too much.
The published travel time for a flight between Sydney and Perth is over 5 hours, so the 20,000 AAdvantage miles/person that it costs to book a lie-flat Business Class seat on one of Qantas’ A330 aircraft that operate on this route is one of the better value redemptions you’ll find in the American Airlines award charts.
When you consider how high one-way Business Class cash fares can be on this route and the fact that a domestic US route of similar length with an inferior product will cost 25,000 – 32,500 miles, the 20,000 miles spent for a Qantas lie-flat seat is a bargain.
The Qantas A330 Business Class Cabin
The Qantas A330 offers a very modern all-aisle-access Business Class cabin set out in a 1-2-1 layout and very similar seats to those found on the Qantas A787-9 Dreamliner.
The center seats are essentially identical across all 7 rows of the 28-seat Business Class cabin except for the fact that in rows 1, 3, 5 and 7 the right-hand seat is closer to the aisle while in rows 2, 4 and 6 the left-hand seat is closer to the aisle.
If you’re traveling as a couple this differentiation doesn’t really make a difference (one of you will be a little more exposed to the aisle than the other regardless of which row you choose) but, if you’re a solo traveler stuck with a center seat, you’ll be better off with the seat with a fixed table between it and the aisle (1E, 2F, 3E, 4F, 5E, 6F & 7E).
All seats in the middle of the cabin have a large privacy screen which can be raised and lowered by the passengers so all the center seats offer the same amount of privacy from the passenger seated right next to you.
The best seats for solo travelers (and for couples who aren’t hung up n sitting next to each other) are the single seats on either side of the Business Class cabin…
…but some of these seats are noticeably better than others.
Because of how the Qantas A330 Business Class cabin is set out, the solo seats in the odd-numbered rows have their fixed table positioned between the seat and the window while the solo seats in the even-numbered rows have the same table position between the seat and the aisle.
This makes the seats in the even-numbered rows a lot more private.
Here’s what a solo seat in an odd-numbered row looks like:
And here’s what a seat in an even-numbered row looks like when viewed from a similar vantage point:
I knew about this difference at the time of booking so I made sure I selected seats 2K and 4K for Joanna and me.
The Qantas A330 Business Class Seat
Seat 2K was my home for the 5-hour flight between Sydney and Perth and it was a very pleasant space in which to travel.
The way the seat is set up (with the fixed table between the seat and the aisle and the seat itself close to the window) makes it easy to look out of the windows to see what’s going on outside (when it’s not nighttime) and creates a cocoon-like effect that manages to give a real sense of privacy without it feeling claustrophobic.
The seatbelt is a car-style belt that goes diagonally across a passenger’s chest as well as across the waist…
….by the diagonal section of the belt in only required for take-off and landing and can be unhooked for the rest of the flight.
Directly ahead of the seat is a large inflight entertainment touchscreen, a magazine rack, and the footwell where a passenger’s legs and feet go when the seat is in lie-flat mode.
There’s no doubt that the footwell is tight when you’re lying flat and there’s not much room for a passenger to move their feet once they’re horizontal…
….and this is an issue that raises its head in a significant number of modern Business Class cabins.
This footwell isn’t as tight as, for example, the footwell you’ll find with the Qatar Airways A330 Business Class seat but it’s also nowhere near as spacious as the footwells you’ll find in the Business Class cabin on the American Airlines 777-300ER or even the Business Class cabin on the Iberia A330.
Some passengers will not like this aspect of the seat.
Between the seat and the aisle is the fixed table that gives the seat all its privacy and also pretty much all the seat’s storage space.
Storage space is a little lacking around this seat as there’s nothing resembling the cubbies that you’ll find in a lot of aircraft which offer, for example, a reverse-herringbone Business Class seat (e.g. Finnair, Qatar Airways, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, etc…) and the area above the fixed table (seen in the image above) comes with the following warning:
There’s space here to store a laptop and miscellaneous other items during the flight but it doesn’t feel as secure as the closed-off cubbies which a lot of Business Class cabins offer.
As well as offering some storage space, it’s in this area that you’ll find the noise-canceling headphones that Qantas provides in its widebody Business Class cabins…
…as well as the headphone socket, a USB port, and a universal power outlet.
The positioning of the power outlet and the USB port have been well thought through as their proximity to both the storage area (above them) and the fixed table area (ahead of them) makes it very easy to charge devices without having the charging cables getting in the way (or getting caught up in the seat mechanism).
The technology continues in this area with the seat controls…
…and a small reading light.
The IFE controller (which also controls the overhead lights and the flight attendant call button) is neatly stowed under one of the seat’s armrests…
…and if you look above the seat you’ll find more lighting and two air vents that are passenger-controlled (no need to rely on the crew to keep the seat area at a temperature that’s comfortable for you).
Lastly, as far as the seat itself goes, we come to the tray table…which is stored in the fixed table area next to the seat…
…and which creates a good-size work/dining area once deployed.
The table is reasonably rigid (despite being hinged on one side) so there’s no annoying flex when you rest your hands and using a laptop – a big positive that a few other airlines could learn from.
Qantas A330 Business Class Amenities (Domestic)
This may have been a widebody aircraft with an international long-haul Business Class cabin but it was still a domestic flight so no amenity kit was offered.
There was a good-sized pillow and blanket on the seat when we boarded but the only toiletries on offer where those found in the aircraft lavatories.
Qantas A330 Business Class Inflight Entertainment
The Qantas A330 Business Class seat comes equipped with a very good touchscreen which responded swiftly and accurately to my every touch – there was no need to use the accompanying remote control (mentioned earlier).
The noise-canceling headphones that the airline provides are pretty basic…
…but, on a positive note and despite the headphones being twin-pinned, a passenger will still get stereo sound when they use their personal single-pinned headphones.
The inflight entertainment on offer on this flight was impressive with a wide array of genres…
…and a pretty good selection of TV programs and movies (click thumbnails to enlarge).
A significant positive aspect of Qantas’ IFE (at least on this flight) is that it was available gate-to-gate and the cabin crew didn’t come around to collect the headsets before we landed.
Qantas A330 Business Class Domestic Wi-Fi
The Qantas A330 comes equipped with wi-fi and, more surprisingly, the wi-fi onboard this flight was free for Business Class passengers.
Connecting to the onboard wi-fi was simple enough (as the instructions above show) and the speed was consistently good throughout the flight.
Qantas A330 Business Class Service & Dining
Ok, let’s get one very important aspect of this flight out of the way before I continue – the service was superb.
The cabin crew were welcoming, friendly, personable and simply very nice to interact with.
They seemed intent on making sure that all the passengers in the Business Class cabin had as good a flight as possible and there’s not really much more anyone can expect out of a cabin crew – I couldn’t find a single fault with them.
A menu was handed out shortly after we boarded…
…and we were offered a choice of sparkling water of a guava juice 10 minutes after boarding.
Boarding took just 20 minutes to complete and our flying time was announced at 4 hours and 15 minutes (the scheduled flying time was 5 hours 5 minutes).
We pushed back 5 minutes after boarding was completed and 15 minutes after that we were in the air.
TAKE OFF 20:35
10 minutes after take-off an incredibly friendly flight attendant took my meal order and 25 minutes after take-off the flight attendants came through the cabin with a drinks trolley and roasted almonds – I chose the Oakridge Chardonnay which was ok but nothing special.
The main meal service started 50 minutes after take-off (21:25 Sydney time) with a starter (sesame and soy pached chicken with soba noodles, cucumber, pickled chili, and ginger dressing), a small green salad and bread offered from a bread basket.
The bread was warm and fresh and the starter tasted as healthy as I wanted it to be.
Next up was my main course – Tandoori grilled lamb with mustard seed carrots, basmati rice, and spiced coriander yogurt.
The lamb was slightly overdone but the spices and the yogurt worked well together and the meal ended up being surprisingly flavorful and enjoyable.
To end the meal the flight attendants came through the cabin with a trolley carrying a selection of cheeses, apples, and desserts…
…of which I just had the vanilla crème with almond praline and raspberries.
It was delicious and one of the best desserts I’ve had in the sky for a while.
From start to finish the meal service took almost exactly an hour and on a flight that’s only taking a little over 4 hours, that’s a very good length of service to offer.
The cabin lights were dimmed 20 minutes after dinner was concluded and they stayed dimmed for the next 2 hours (they came back up 20 minutes before we landed in Perth).
- A lot of passengers will feel that the footwell is a little tight when the seat is in lie-flat mode.
- The amount of storage space is just about adequate but it doesn’t feel particularly secure.
- The members of the cabin crew were fantastic.
- In upright mode the seat is very comfortable
- In lie-flat more the seat makes for a very comfortable (and seemingly well-padded) mattress.
- The IFE screen worked very well and the programming on offer was pretty good.
- Free wi-fi that was offered at a good speed was a very nice touch.
- The dessert was delicious.
I don’t fly with Qantas very often but when I do I always seem to get really nice crews…and it doesn’t matter if I’m in Economy Class or Business Class – this makes it all the more likely that I’ll choose Qantas over a competitor even if the Qantas fare is slightly more expensive.
The A330 Business Class cabin is far from perfect but it’s still a very nice place to pass a flight and if you can find a position in which your feet are comfortable in the footwell (as I did) you can get a restful sleep too.
Between the free (and good) wi-fi, the good IFE selection, the comfortable seat and a crew who seemed to genuinely care about our wellbeing this was a very positive flight experience and I wouldn’t hesitate to book this same flight all over again.