Review: Qantas Business Class 787 San Francisco To Melbourne

Filed Under: Airline Reviews, Qantas

Introduction: A Detour Across The Pacific
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Airline Reviews Art

I had spent most of the day in the United Polaris Lounge prior to this flight (I had access because my flight from Tahiti landed the same morning). At around 6:30PM I headed from the G gates to the A gates in the International Terminal, which required clearing security again.

As a Qantas business class passenger I could have used the Cathay Pacific Lounge, though I decided not to check it out this time. My flight was departing from gate A11, at the very end of the terminal on the left.

SFO International Terminal

Leaving from gate A12 was the LEVEL flight to Barcelona, and just about everyone lined up for that when boarding started, and the line snaked around to the Qantas gate.

The flight attendants boarded about 65 minutes before departure, and then 50 minutes before departure five(!!!) pilots boarded (one seemed to be very junior, and spent most of the flight in a business class seat).

Then boarding began at 7:30PM, 40 minutes before departure, with business class and oneworld elite members being called first.

Qantas departure gate SFO

Qantas 50
San Francisco (SFO) – Melbourne (MEL)
Wednesday, December 12
Depart: 8:10PM
Arrive: 6:45AM (+2 days)
Duration: 15hr35min
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9
Seat: 12K (Business Class)

I was so excited to finally fly the Qantas 787-9 that I had heard so much about (or maybe the airline just really hyped the plane a lot).

Qantas’ 787-9 has a total of 42 business class seats, based on Thompson Aero’s Vantage XL seat. The forward cabin (between doors one and two) consists of 30 seats, while the rear cabin (where I was seated) consists of just 12 seats.

I chose a seat in the last row, since I figured it would be the quietest and would have the least foot traffic. It didn’t disappoint, for the most part.

Qantas 787 business class cabin


Qantas 787 business class cabin

As I walked back I also had a look at Qantas’ premium economy cabin, consisting of 28 seats in a 2-3-2 configuration


Qantas 787 premium economy cabin


Qantas 787 premium economy seats

In this staggered configuration, the seats are fully flat and in every row are in a different position. This is because the area for your feet is essentially underneath the seat in front of you.

Qantas business class seats 787

When it comes to the solo window seats, there are two types of seats. You have the seats that are closer to the aisle, which would be every other row. Personally I’d avoid these seats if possible, since you’ll feel a bit “exposed” to the aisle, and it also makes it tough to look out the window (not that there’s much to see on these overnight flights to Australia).

Qantas business class seat 787


Qantas business class seat 787


Qantas business class seat 787

Then my preferred seat is a “true” window seat like 12K, where you’re closer to the window. While there are a lot of airlines with staggered seats, Qantas’ seat has quite a few advantages, in my opinion:

  • Qantas makes these seats feel incredibly private thanks to the privacy shield they install
  • The seats generally feel more spacious than some other staggered products out there
  • Qantas chose incredibly sleek finishes; parts of the cabin almost feel like you’re in a luxury car, rather than an airplane


Qantas 787 business class seat

Note that the Qantas 787 business class seat and the Delta One Suite (which features a door) are based on the same concept. The primary difference is that Delta added a door.

Personally I think I almost prefer the amount of privacy offered by this seat without having to deal with the complexity of the door, mainly because I find Delta’s door to be poorly designed.


Qantas 787 business class seat


Qantas 787 business class seat

At the side of the seat, the privacy partition doubled as a storage compartment. Unfortunately this is just about the only storage at the seat, meaning there’s no enclosed storage. The good news is that between the counter and the storage next to it there’s a lot of space to place things.


Qantas business class seat storage

Along this were the easy to use seat controls, as well as a 110v outlet, USB outlet, and headphone jack.


Qantas business class seat controls


Qantas business class seat power outlets

The entertainment controller and a small vanity were located to the left of the seat.


Qantas business class seat entertainment controller

This is also where the tray table folded out from. Personally I didn’t love the tray table, as there was no way to fold it over in half or move it significantly, in the event you wanted to get up during the meal.


Qantas business class seat tray table

One of the major challenges  I have with staggered seats is that the footwells are often quite small. Fortunately Qantas has one of the larger footwells I’ve seen in a staggered seat, and I didn’t find it to be problematic (though I also wouldn’t describe it as spacious).


Qantas business class seat footwell

One last hard product note — Qantas has air nozzles at each seat, which is much appreciated.

Qantas business class seat air nozzle

So yeah, overall this is an excellent hard product. Is it my favorite business class seat in the world? No, it’s not quite to the level of Qsuites or Apex Suites, but it’s up there. And it really is a gorgeous cabin.

Qantas 787 business class cabin

Waiting at my seat upon boarding was the bedding for the flight, which was solid. This included a blanket, pillow, and mattress pad.

Qantas business class bedding

There were also headphones.


Qantas business class headphones

The menu and breakfast card, along with a pen, were also waiting at my seat. I loved the design.


Qantas business class menu & pen

15 minutes after settling in, I was offered pajamas and amenity kits. Qantas is one of the (relatively) few airlines to offer pajamas in business class, and I really love the ones they offer, since they have a huge kangaroo logo on them.


Qantas business class pajamas & amenity kit

Qantas business class pajamas

The amenity kit consisted of eyeshades, socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, hand cream, and facial moisturizer.


Qantas business class amenity kit contents

Five minutes after amenity kits and pajamas were distributed, pre-departure drinks were served. I was offered still or sparkling water or champagne, and went with champagne, served in proper glassware.

Qantas business class pre-departure champagne

At 8PM the main cabin door closed. There were eight empty seats in business class, including the two seats in front of me. In addition to less foot traffic, one other benefit of the rear cabin is that typically people choose seats front to back, so most of the empty seats were in the rear cabin.

Qantas has breakfast cards (so you can place your order before going to sleep), and at 8:10PM the flight attendant collected my card, around the same time we started our pushback.

At around 8:15PM the safety video was screened:

Our flight time to Australia was 14hr45min (the below screen isn’t correct). I knew it was a long flight, but didn’t realize it was quite that long.

At this point it occurred to me I’ve never actually flown nonstop from the US to Australia. I’ve been to Australia at least a dozen times, but oddly I’ve never flown from the US. I’ve flown from Australia to the US many times (including in Qantas first class, American first class, and Virgin Australia business class), but I’ve always gone to Australia via another country.

Map from San Francisco to Melbourne


Map from San Francisco to Melbourne

At 8:35PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 28R. It was a smooth climb out, and five minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off.

As we climbed out I browsed the entertainment selection. Unfortunately Qantas doesn’t have wifi on their 787s, so unless you bring your own entertainment, you’re reliant on what they have.

First let me note that Qantas’ entertainment system is incredibly crisp/high definition, and the system is very responsive.

Beyond that, the variety of movies and TV shows is exceptional, with a seemingly endless selection. So while Qantas loses points for wifi, they win points for their entertainment.

Qantas entertainment system


Qantas entertainment system


Qantas entertainment system


Qantas entertainment system


Qantas entertainment system

I ended up watching “Swiped: Hooking Up in the Digital Age,” which was… enlightening?

As far as the lavatories go, there are two between the business class cabins, and one at the very front of the cabin. They’re standard Dreamliner lavatories, and have amenities from ASPAR.

Qantas 787 lavatory


Qantas 787 lavatory toiletries

While up I also took a quick peek at the much larger forward business class cabin.

Forward Qantas 787 business class cabin

About 15 minutes after takeoff the customer service manager, Greg, came by my seat to give me an immigration and fast track card for Australia, and to thank me for being a oneworld Emerald member.

Australia landing & fast track card

He was such a nice guy. For that matter the entire crew was lovely.

About 25 minutes after takeoff the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, on behalf of himself, the first officer, and the three second officers. He informed us we were cruising initially at 34,000 feet, that we were flying towards the Hawaiian islands, and that we should be landing around 6:30AM.

In the cabin the meal service was slow to get started. 30 minutes after takeoff a flight attendant took my meal order. I asked for the salmon, and she commented that “the salmon is popular tonight.”

The menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

The first service began 75 minutes after takeoff. At that point drinks were served, and they weren’t even accompanied by nuts or anything. Then it was another 15 minutes until the starter was served.

I had a tasty Australian sauvignon blanc, and spiced carrot soup with chive sour cream. The soup was excellent. I was also offered a selection of bread. While minor, I found the plastic salt & pepper container Qantas uses to be quite cheap-looking.

Qantas business class dinner — starter

A full 1hr45min after takeoff my main was served. They were out of salmon, so I had to switch my selection. The other options were turkey, chicken kiev, and pulled pork, so between those options I selected the turkey.

This was a harissa turkey fillet with saffron rice, quinoa and lentil pilaf, citrus, and pistachio. One thing the picture doesn’t do justice to is that Qantas uses very small plates. Like this is more of an appetizer plate than a main course plate, so it was quite a small dish. The dish looked better than it tasted.


Qantas business class dinner — main course

Dessert was served 2hr5min after takeoff, and the choices were fruit, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, or a strawberry and white chocolate tartlet. I chose the tartlet, which was tiny (I guess as you’d expect from something described as a “tartlet”).


Qantas business class dinner — dessert

I was still hungry at this point, so asked if I could also have a cheese plate.


Qantas business class dinner — cheese plate

The meal service was done over 2hr30min into the flight. Okay, so let me start with the positive — the crew was delightful. Every single flight attendant was engaging, charming, and seemed to enjoy their job. I also love that Qantas has such a focus on Australian wines, and their flight attendants are also very knowledgable about them.

However, just about every other aspect of the meal and service flow was either confusing or disappointing. Qantas claims that they have a focus on serving healthy cuisine, but this seems to be code for not serving a lot of food. You should still give people more options, in my opinion.

A few observations:

  • The same flight attendants who serve business class also serve premium economy, so the cart is always being rolled back and forth between cabins; similarly, since there’s no dedicated premium economy lavatory, some premium economy passengers kept coming up to use the business class lavatory
  • The meal service was so slow to get started, and it shouldn’t be 75 minutes after takeoff before you have your first drink; and then when they served drinks, it didn’t even come with nuts or an amuse bouche or anything
  • On a 15 hour flight, a premium airline shouldn’t have such a limited/lackluster menu; the soup was the only starter (unless you consider cheese a starter?), then there were four mains, and then there were limited dessert options

So yeah, in my opinion Qantas masters service in terms of the friendliness of their crews, but has a very long way to go with their actual meal service. I know some people absolutely love Qantas, but based on this meal service I can’t help but feel really disappointed.

Anyway, by the time my tray was cleared and I got changed we had about 12 hours remaining to Melbourne.

Progress enroute to Melbourne

The bed was comfortable, and I slept uninterrupted for over five hours, which is about as good as it gets for me on a plane.

Qantas 787 business class bed

When I woke up we had just over 6hr40min remaining inflight to Melbourne.


Progress enroute to Melbourne

Shortly thereafter we deviated a bit from course, presumably to avoid weather. I’d note that while the flight was smooth, the pilots constantly turned on the seatbelt sign when there was even the slightest bump.

Progress enroute to Melbourne

At this point I checked out the snack bar, located in the middle galley. For a nearly 15 hour flight, I wouldn’t exactly call this an impressive selection, as there was nothing more than candy bars, packaged chips and cookies, and some fresh fruit. Even British Airways has a significantly better self serve snack selection on flights half this long.

Qantas business class bar

Australia is known for its coffee culture, so I decided to work my way through their menu, starting with a flat white.

Qantas business class flat white

An hour or so later I had a long macchiato.


Qantas business class americano

Then eventually I had a cappuccino…


Qantas business class cappuccino 

As you can see, the crew always kept offering cookies and chocolate as well.

Eventually I wanted something a bit more substantial, so ordered some veggies with hummus… which still wasn’t exactly substantial.

Qantas business class snack

Anyway, I spent the next several hours of the flight watching TV shows and also working a bit on my laptop.

Most passengers seemed to be much better sleepers than I am, and slept for most of the flight. Finally about 2hr15min before landing the breakfast service began. The breakfast menu read as follows:

As I mentioned earlier in the review, breakfast orders were taken before takeoff, as they have handy breakfast cards you can fill out and hand to the crew.

Since they can prepare the customized meals in the galley, the trays were brought out by hand.

To start I ordered a fruit salad, muesli with milk, toast, a green juice, and coffee.

Qantas business class breakfast

For the main course I ordered the “healthy” option, which was actually good this time. I had the poached eggs with kale, quinoa grilled haloumi, sunflower seeds, and herbed tahini dressing. The portion was small (Qantas uses very small plates), but it tasted good.


Qantas business class breakfast

About 40 minutes before landing the crew already prepared the cabin for landing, which seemed awfully early. On the plus side, Qantas doesn’t require you to put your seat upright for landing, so you can still keep it reclined a bit if you’d like.

30 minutes before landing the captain announced that we’d be descending shortly. He explained that we lost some time enroute due to weather, but should still be at the terminal by 6:40AM. Sure enough a few minutes later we began our descent, and 25 minutes before landing the seatbelt sign was turned on.

The crew had dimmed the windows for the entire flight, so this was really the first daylight we got the entire flight (not that it got light that much earlier, as we flew in darkness all night).

Descending into Melbourne

Map approaching Melbourne

Starting about 10 minutes before landing we hit a bit of turbulence, including one big air pocket that got my heart racing for a second.


Descending into Melbourne


Approaching Melbourne

At 6:30AM we touched down in Melbourne, and from there we had a 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we parked a few gates down from an Etihad 787.

Taxiing Melbourne

I bid farewell to the crew, and once off the plane had my first real chance to view the plane from the outside.

Qantas 787 upon arrival in Melbourne


Qantas 787 upon arrival in Melbourne

Immigration was quick, and within about 15 minutes I was in an Uber to my hotel.

Qantas 787 business class bottom line

I’m conflicted about Qantas’ 787 business class.

The pros included exceptionally friendly service, great Australian wines and coffee, pajamas, a comfortable seat and bedding, a sleek cabin, and a top notch entertainment system.

The cons include that Qantas doesn’t have wifi, and that the meal service was extremely limited. It’s not just that the meals as such weren’t very big, but I found the overall selection to be quite limited.

It’s really weird, because usually when I review an airline I either come away being pleasantly surprised or disappointed. In the case of Qantas I think back on the flight very fondly. I think Qantas has some pizzaz to it, but I also think they have one of the most limited menus I’ve ever seen on a premium airline for a 15 hour flight.

If you’ve flown Qantas business class, what was your experience like?

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Comments

  1. “The portion was small”

    Some constructive criticism, might be better to also take a pic of the plate on the tray as a whole as well, just so we can get an idea of how small the plate is. When you zoom in onto the plate, without a sense of scale, it’s harder to get an idea of how small the plate is.

  2. Agree 100%. Flew from LHR to MEL via SIN at Christmas and was absolutely shocked at the state of the catering. On the flight from SIN to MEL there were even fewer options (a pastry and coffee for breakfast?). I won’t rush to fly them again (particularly on the A380 where the hard product is abysmal). I flew QF10 back to LHR via PER, and I must say the catering there was much better though still small plates, and no real drinks service prior to the meal. I think they’ve really declined here despite the excellent hard product on the 787. And I’m an Aussie that has flown them a lot over 20 years in premium cabins. BA gets a lot of flack but I have to say I would fly Club World over Qantas atm.

  3. Ben. It’s not a criticism, it’s just an observation 😉

    “Australia is known for its coffee culture, so I decided to work my way through their menu, starting with a flat white…An hour or so later I had a long macchiato…Then eventually I had a cappuccino…Most passengers seemed to be much better sleepers than I am…”

    Ya think?

    The happy married you is more fun to read and to tease.

  4. I have never been more hungry than when flying Dallas – Sydney a few years ago on a Qantas A380 in business class. I completely agree, the portions are outrageously small. I would describe their plates as more saucer-like. I usually find my self completely stuffed when flying business class on other airlines (which in-itself is not necessarily a good thing) but flying for 17 hours and being served probably less than 1000 calories is not really acceptable.

  5. @Aaron – how is he going to do that? QF dont serve meals on trays in international business class (as you can tell from the pictures above) so that’s a moot point.

  6. @DC by tray I meant the tray table. We could have compared the size of the plate reative to the glassware, the bread plate, etc. so not that moot a point.

  7. That cabin is beautiful. Interesting that the food disappoints, same as F. I’m hoping to score QF first class next year, and I hope they improve the catering by then.

  8. No wonder seeing BA used as the buttom comparsion…
    Also am I the only one actually prefer smaller portion on plane?

  9. @ Ethan — I don’t necessarily take an issue with small portions, but rather I take issue with the lack of selection. It’s great to serve small portions, but then let people at least order multiple things (maybe have a few appetizer choices, etc.). Qantas isn’t offering choice. That’s the problem.

  10. @ Aaron — Fair point. The main course plate was the same size as the plate underneath the soup.

  11. I am interested that they serve muesli with milk. That doesn’t sound particularly good. I’ve always thought muesli is meant to go with yoghurt.

  12. I had the same feelings after LHR-PER and back. Food portions were disappointingly small, and the choice was poor.

    @Ethan
    Great that you love smaller portions. But if you get portions that are too large for you, you can just leave some. But if the portion is not enough…

  13. @Laszlo
    “And I’m an Aussie ” I thought you were Hungarian…

    Btw I also would like to mention the amenity kit, which is mediocre at best. Even USB3 have better amenity kits. The real competitors of QF shall be the higher-standard Asian carriers.

    On the plus side, if you ever fly QF in Y. They have the best hard product there. Both in A380 and 787. Great recline, huge pitch, and the seats are wider than on any other airline. Especially the shoulder space is wide.

  14. Slow meal service i’ve noticed is a common theme with Qantas. On late night flights, food should be served and cleared ASAP to maximize sleep time. When you’re leaving close to midnight, you probably want to sleep and not spend 3 hours eating a meal. Another reason i always pick AA to australia, they seem to get this.

  15. I agree that the Qantas portions are small, but I find they have one of the best midflight snack menus in the industry. Several options there and you can have as many of those as you want.

  16. I have flown QF several times in business from the USA to Australia and back. I usually just order 2-3 small plates (e.g., a soup and 2 of the mains), and the FAs have always been happy to oblige. I do think QF does breakfast better than any other airline I’ve flown.

  17. Wait… you were hungry but didn’t order anything from the mid flight menu (schnitzel sandwich or the tart) then complained the snack bar was limited?

    While the meal plates are small, as noted above, most qantas crew are obliging in bringing you another plate.

  18. Nice review. Wow your first nonstop from USA to Oz. Eager to hear your impression of service out of LAX, done that twice. And where were the Tim Tams on the snack bar? What, no Tim Tams?

  19. @Lucky – if you didn’t opt to include Vegemite on a flight offering it, then you have committed an egregious act against the people of Australia and will be subjected to drinking Victoria Bitter and Fosters by the nearest bogan who finds out.

    Please tell us you had the Vegemite?

  20. Totally agree, just did QF9 – Melbourne to London and the food was dreadful. Poor choice and quality is just not there. Amenity kits are a total waste….pity they can’t get that sorted because the crew are always outstanding.

  21. A lot of the issues of food on this flight can be noticed due to multiple reasons
    A) Qantas has much better catering when flying outbound from Australia, as they have a large catering hub at all their airports
    B) it is a relatively new route so perhaps they are still working on the service flow and other things
    C) Americans often consume larger portion sizes than Australians, and since Qantas is more about transporting Australians than Americans the problem may lie there

  22. One interesting thing about the Qantas amenity kit designs. The artwork on the bag and eyeshades changes each month. Each item of artwork is commissioned from local Australian artists and each design is exclusive to Qantas, so will see it nowhere else. That makes their amenity kits wonderful to collect. It’s an idea similar to KLM’s canal houses.

  23. We flew Australia to USA six times last year in Business, and across UA, NZ, and VA, QF rates a distant last. While the crew are generally good, NZ and VA crew are generally EXCELLENT. But the food and beverages on QF set it apart. In a negative way. Everything you said we experienced. Waiting 75 minutes for a drink after takeoff is approximately twice as long as the others. Slow service – normal. Our LAX – Sydney flight featured a wide difference in service times between aisles – like they were two teams that didn’t talk. It meant my wife and I ate at different times. Mingy little dishes, dreary choices, no choice of starter, and usually no choice of bread types. On our LAX – JFK the choice was soup or chicken salad and the salad was super dreary. Even UA food is better! Overall, I slept well on all of them, but prefer VA or NZ.

  24. I too have taken QF49/50 and found the meal service disappointing. QF is well known for considering a drink run too much trouble before meal service…this has been going on for years now and it’s incredibly lazy, but this is what the crew service manual instructs them to do. Regarding the meals themselves, yes they are deliberately branded as ‘small plates’ but I also found that the meals are just not that tasty…a subjective opinion obviously. Their focus on healthy is really just an unimaginative mish mash of what is on trend. Quinoa…check. Kale…check. Pomegranate…check. Virgin Australia does the celebrity chef menu so much better than this as well as the frequency of service you would expect in business class.

  25. What is done with the bedding that is on the seats from when you sit to when you make the bed? Is it all just stuffed wherever?

  26. I’m a big guy and my food intake is proportional. BMI still 24.5 so no worries yet.
    I’m on QF LHRPER next month and just spent my own money to upgrade to business. Company only pays for PE.
    This sounded a little concerning. I thought most Aussies were fairly large in stature also.

  27. I agree with most of the comments here. Recent A330 business suite red eye from asia to Sydney. No proper drinks service after takeoff. A request for nuts was met with a horrible little pretzel and almond (more pretzles) packet. Flight was delayed 1.5 hours before takeoff at the gate – no second round pre flight drinks were offered. When I requested a champagne refill it was met with a brash huff and puff. Compared to a recent Singapore airlines business experience to Asia – night and day.

  28. Americans eat larger portion sizes. Probably for Europeans and Australians the Qantas portion size is normal.

  29. Not surprised. We flew AA J to SYD and QF J back home a few years ago, and AA was actually better in every aspect. Our QF crew was also quite friendly (compared to AA) but QF’s J seat on the A380 is horribly outdated, and the catering for us also left a bit to be desired.

  30. Just FYI: As I walked back I also had a look at Qantas’ premium (cabin) cabin, consisting of 28 seats in a 2-3-2 configuration——“economy.

  31. @Lucky – Regarding your comment about Qantas and turbulence. Qantas has a MASSIVE turbulence incident in 2008 which injured 74 people. After that, Qantas introduced strict seatbelt procedures. They turned the seatbelt sign on for the entire flight and passengers were checked by the crew multiple times during the flight. They discouraged people from walking around around and people had to return to their seats the second the sign was turned on. They have now relaxed those rules but the pilots are very cautious when it comes to using the seatbelt sign.
    Great review

  32. I too questioned why you didn’t order something from mid-flight menu.

    But to be fair, I just experienced the same thing on UA Polaris IAH-SYD. I finally asked the FA about mid-flight choices other than packaged snacks, and she sent me back to the menu. UA’s menu, unlike QF’s, tells you to ask the FA, so we were in a bit of a catch-22 like FF programs and CC companies for your points. At least yours had defined choices. Our FA said we have tomato soup. When asked about sandwiches, she said “oh yeah, we have grilled cheese.” So I guess that’s it.

    Did the amenity kits include the same brand as the lavs? They often highlight national producers.

  33. @ colleen — The only substantial midflight snacks where a chicken schnitzel sandwich and a bacon tart. I don’t eat pork products. I guess I could have had the chicken schnitzel, but I went with the veggies instead. And yep, the amenity kit had ASPAR products.

  34. @ CM — Personally I like to use the blanket and pillow even when not sleeping, so the only thing I had to put anywhere is the mattress pad, which I placed next to the seat on the floor.

  35. @ Alex — I don’t eat pork, though could have ordered the chicken schnitzel. A total of two options just seems like a really limited midflight menu.

  36. Even if you paid cash (which idk if you did for this flight), it would be helpful to talk about the best way to book this flight with miles.

  37. Lucky, I am a QF elite and also fly a lot between MEL and LHR (usually via PER). I have spoken to the Platinum One team (top tier status you can earn via flying) and the complaint/criticism they most receive about the QF9/10 is the very limited catering options. The reasons for the smaller plates are that they intend for J class Pax to eat in the lounge before the flight.

    As for the amuse buche/ nuts they usually serve a pack of pretzels & almonds and/or a amuse buche with the drink cart so strange that it didn’t happen on your flight.

    Overall I usually disagree with your reviews of Australian based airlines/ airports as you seem to compare it to the US, this I do agree with. The crews are normally incredibly friendly however the food on the long flights are terrible, there is the same meal for the 12 hour flight SIN-LHR as the 17 hour flight PER-LHR

  38. Just flew QF from JFK-SYD in Business and MEL-JFK in First (with LAX-JFK on the 787 Business top class).

    I am not a fan of the 787-900, compared to the A380. I sat in seat 2A on the 787 and 2A on the A380 in F, and 12B on the A380 in J.

    1. The 787 is much noisier in J than the A380 J upper deck or F lower deck.

    2. The 787 J seat is too confining. Too much of your body in the hole. On the old A380 J – no hole and entire body is open – just seems roomier. If fine if you are traveling with a companion. If traveling alone then get on the two middle seats.

    3. Agree – meals are minimal – but I guess QF feels they server food in the lounges so you don’t need as much on the flight. But in F – you can get the sampler which gives you about 7 courses.

    4. The wines are good on QF. Great Champagne in F. Comtes de Champangne Blanc de Blances 2006 (Taittinger).

    5. Food is served on the JFK-LAX flight – both directions. So with dinner in the AA Flagship lounge in JFK, then dinner on the JFK-LAX, you really don’t need much food on the LAX-SYD.

    I still like QF – great friendly staff. But A380 if by far the best and quietest aircraft out there.

  39. @Oliver – on 4 recent flights – the seat belt sign went off almost right after takeoff. And remained off for most of the flight. HOWEVER, when there was some more significant turbulence – the pilot turn on the seat belt and everyone (crew included) was required to remain seated. If you tried to get up to go to the bathroom – they made you go back – no mater.

    QF seems real serious now when they turn on the seat belt sign. No exceptions.

  40. Great review Ben. I travel very frequently on the 787 in J and agree completely with your sentiments. I’m also confused why it always takes QF so long to get the first drink service started as I’m now flying a lot on SQ and the champagne bottle usually arrives at my seat within 5 minutes of the seatbelt sign being switched off. Magic.

    I don’t know what’s happened to the catering in the last couple of years – it’s disgusting – and consistently so. I’ve written in more times than I care to remember, but no improvement. One CSM told me it had deteriorated after Qantas sold their catering arm to dnata but I’m not sure that’s a good enough excuse frankly.

    It’s a shame really, because overall Qantas is still one of my favourites. The 787 J is supremely comfortable, IFE is great, crews are generally very good, wine is always excellent. And the First lounges are of course a highlight. But on the long hauls, the lousy catering really takes the shine off the experience in a big way.

  41. Agree. I flew from SYD-PEK last month. The meal service was terrible. They ran out of everything when came to me. I’m in the middle of the cabin and the flight was not even full. It was such a shame. More surprisingly, the meal quality is inferior. I had the worst meal on business class. The presentation is way off and the taste is really bad. I ordered chicken rice for my dinner. It was bland and dry.

  42. I concur with the observations, especially flying QF straight after a QR flight. There is nothing on QF that I like more than QR, everything including the service pales in comparison. I feel they are even behind BA in that aspect. Rank them pretty near MH if not slightly better.

  43. I know you prefer the inner window seats in the Vantage XL configuration. I flew a similar product on SAA A330-300 from IAD to JNB and followed your advice when selecting a seat. I got to my seat and noticed it felt like a coffin in bed mode. It really is confined and I think you should mention that as a caveat when recommending the seats closer to the window in this configuration. I ended up switching to a seat closer to the aisle because of the claustrophobic feel of the window seat.

  44. On my few trips to the U.S, Being Australian I find there is a huge difference in portion sizes, as in an entree in America is probably bigger than a main in Australia.
    Most Australians and Americans who have visited vice versa probably have observed this??

  45. We flew YVR-SYD in December upper deck 747. Had heard good things about QA

    I have to agree with everything you said and more. Unfortunately the entertainment on 747 is ancient with crappy display and limited selection.

    Food was abysmal and quantity measly. For a 15 hour flight it was inadequate.

    In Australia meals are gigantic so I just don’t understand how they think this is OK.

    Flew MEL-AKL and they switched planes on us. The RedEye was supposed to be an A330 with beds but morphed into a 737 with piss-poor tiny recliners. And even worse crap for food.

    First and probably last flights on QA.

    MUCH BETTER EXPERIENCE ON CONDOR even with 767 tilt beds. Food and beverage superior in all respects.

  46. This is exactly why I have a full meal at the LAX first lounge before boarding. Once on board, I like many just go to sleep and wake up to a full breakfast (including vegemite). I prefer to eat BEFORE boarding anyway.

  47. I flew Qantas A330-300 from SYD-PEK last month. The meal was terrible. The worst meal I’ve ever had in business class. They ran out of everything went the flight attendant came to me. And I sat in the middle of the cabin, and the flight was not full. What a shame! I ordered a chicken rice for dinner. It tastes bland and dry. The service is friendly but not exceptional. I’m really disappointed by Qantas given it has a nice cabin.

  48. QF are notorious for cutting costs on things, giving you the bare minimum, then putting excellent marketing spin on it to make it sound like they’re meeting customer demand. Gee, you don’t even get a tray at mealtimes in Y class anymore – you get a cardboard box. No salad, no dessert. J Class meals are generally not great and very small. I know QF would like us to eat in the lounge, but if I’m paying big money for J Class in particular, I should be able to have choices that don’t discriminate either way.

  49. This review made me want to try Quantas premium economy. Seats look nice, and they get J FA and J lavs. All looks pretty good to me there.

  50. @LB You still get a tray on international economy. It’s only domestically they got rid of it. You also still get the full 3 courses as well.

    @HiAperture I recommend you read the reviews of the 787 seat first. They don’t leave much legroom when the person in front has reclined knees touching the back of the seat in front)

  51. I must say I flew United economy last year LA to Melbourne, wine in plastic cups (half full no refill) miserable portions and the half way snack on a 14 hour flight was half a sandwich (a bit like Oliver Twist please can I have more). Qantas know how to do long distance and the smaller portions reflect you have eaten in the lounge and the mid-flight options are very good indeed. No wi-fi is due to long ocean routes with no ground stations.

  52. Hmmm, my experience with food portions in the US is that one would feed two Aussies or a small African tribe. You guys are overeaters and I suspect this is why QF meals look small. I have never felt underfed and I’m not a bird-like eater. Besides that, you’re doing virtually nothing on a 14 hour flight to utilise the excess calories.

  53. Callum, ahh I see, good point. From the design I had assumed it was a fixed shell design like JAL, which I prefer for just that reason, maintaining space when the passenger in front is reclined.

  54. Ben. I just flew Qatar old hard product on the 777, great pyjamas from the white company and spectacular food, however I would have killed for that mattress pad. Also I was in the rear business cabin and also felt the displeasure of my first choice food being unavailable. Wonder if airlines should start at the back of J sometimes to mix it up.

  55. It has been half a year since my last flight on Qantas on HKG-BNE QF98. I have to admit that Qantas offers quite a decent and solid hard product in terms of their A330s fleet, while the meal is well below the average offering among multiple providers on Chinese – Australian routes, especially when I was served a plate of tasteless water-cooked-like and thick beef slices with quite plain rice as a Chinese dish option on that flight.

  56. Even if portions are larger in the U.S. than Australia, Qantas should be more culturally aware and offer larger portions on its U.S. flights. No different, IMO, than being culturally aware enough to offer Halal meals on ME flights and Indian vegetarian options on South Asia flights.

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