Review: Qantas Business Class 737 Sydney To Auckland

Filed Under: Qantas

After a rainy day in Sydney, we headed to Sydney Airport at around 3PM, plenty early for our 6:35PM flight to Auckland.

Perhaps the best part of flying to Auckland on Qantas as a oneworld Emerald is that you can use the excellent Qantas First Class Lounge, which is one of my favorite airline lounges in the world. I won’t be reviewing it again this time around, given that I’ve reviewed it before.

Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney

Our flight departed from gate 60, which was about a five minute walk from the Qantas First Class Lounge.

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Qantas 737 Sydney Airport

While boarding was scheduled to commence at 6:05PM for our 6:35PM departure, boarding was delayed by about 25 minutes due to the plane having a late inbound arrival. So we only boarded at 6:30PM.

Boarding began with business class, so we were among the first people aboard.

Qantas 149
Sydney (SYD) – Auckland (AKL)
Wednesday, January 6
Depart: 6:35PM
Arrive: 11:45PM
Duration: 3hr10min
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Seat: 2D (Business Class)

At the door we were welcomed aboard by the customer service manager, Andrew, and pointed towards our seats.

Qantas’ 737s feature a total of 12 business class seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2 configuration. In terms of seat pitch, the seats are almost identical to what you’d find in domestic first class in the US (37″ of pitch).

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Qantas 737 business class seat

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Qantas 737 business class seat

However, I’d note that legroom was a bit worse than what you’d find in domestic first class in the US, given that the seats are “thicker,” and also have footrests, which takes up legroom and also limit how much you can store under your seat.

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Qantas business class legroom 737

Seat controls were located on the center armrest, and were manual. On top of the footrest there was a legrest, which seemed like an overkill, since there wasn’t really enough room for the legrest to be extended.

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Qantas business class seat controls 737

On the plus side, waiting at each seat was a comfortable pillow and blanket, as well as the menu for the flight.

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Qantas business class pillow & blanket

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Qantas 737 business class cabin

There was a good size console between seats, which also housed the personal televisions.

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Qantas business class seat center armrest

The entertainment controller was located in the center armrest.

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Qantas business class seat controls 737

The tray table for the aisle seat folded out from the aisle-side armrest.

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Qantas business class seat tray table

Once settled in, Andrew came by with pre-departure beverages. I just had a glass of water. I was impressed that they at least served pre-departure drinks in proper glassware.

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Qantas business class pre-departure water

By 6:50PM boarding was complete, with just about every seat on the plane taken, best I could tell. The captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 2hr34min. Despite the late departure, he was confident we’d still arrive on time.

At 7PM we began our pushback, at which point the safety video began to play.

This might be a good time to mention that this wasn’t actually a Qantas flight, but rather a JetConnect flight. I only mention this because it’s a fairly controversial topic among Australians. Basically Qantas’ flights between Australia and New Zealand are operated by a subsidiary with New Zealand based employees who are paid significantly less. It’s no different than how the big US carriers use regional airlines for cost savings, as their employees are paid significantly less.

Here’s a parody ad about JetConnect, to give a bit more context:


Our taxi to our departure runway took about 15 minutes, and during our taxi we saw the Etihad A380 taxiing in upon arrival from Abu Dhabi, the exact flight we had taken the day prior. Isn’t she pretty?

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Etihad A380 arriving at Sydney Airport

By 7:15PM we made it to runway 34L, where we were immediately cleared for takeoff.

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Queuing for takeoff Sydney Airport

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Taxiing into position for takeoff Sydney Airport

Our initial climb out was quite bumpy, due to a pretty thick cloud layer.

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View after takeoff from Sydney

It wasn’t until we passed about 20,000 feet that the weather got nicer.

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View after takeoff from Sydney

About 25 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off, at which point the meal service began.

The menu read as follows:

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And the beverage list read as follows:

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To start, Andrew offered us drinks. I had a gin & tonic, which was served with snack mix consisting of nuts and pretzels.

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Qantas business class gin & tonic with snacks

For the main, Ford had the chicken salad, which he said was pretty good.

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Qantas business class dinner — chicken salad

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Qantas business class dinner — chicken salad

I had the pan fried snapper, which was excellent. It was accompanied by fennel, garlic potatoes, and green peas.

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Qantas business class dinner — pan fried snapper

It was also served with a roasted carrot and thyme soup, which was excellent.

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Qantas business class dinner — roasted carrot and thyme soup

Personally I’ve never really liked Qantas’ bread selection, which seems to be the same in international first class as regional business class. That’s probably a good thing, since it means I don’t end up consuming unnecessary carbs.

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Qantas business class dinner — bread

For dessert we were offered vanilla bean ice cream with a biscotti.

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Qantas business class dinner — Maggie Beer ice cream

Lastly, to finish off the meal we were offered orange Lindt chocolates.

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Qantas business class dinner — Lindt chocolates

The two flight attendants working business class did a great job throughout the meal service, and constantly offered refills and paced the meal to each person’s preference. They also referred to each passenger by name at almost every interaction, from memory. I was impressed.

The meal was done about 90 minutes into the flight, at which point I turned on the entertainment system.

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Qantas business class entertainment system

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Qantas business class entertainment system

The selection was fairly good, though given what a short flight it was, I decided just to watch a couple of sitcoms.

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Qantas business class entertainment system

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Qantas business class entertainment system

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Qantas business class entertainment system

I also appreciate that Qantas has an airshow feature on their 737s. That’s possibly my favorite part of having a personal television screen, since it’s nice to be able to track your progress.

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Airshow enroute to Auckland

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Airshow enroute to Auckland

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Airshow enroute to Auckland

About 30 minutes before landing the captain came on the PA to provide updated arrival information, and shortly after that the seatbelt sign was turned on.

We had a smooth descent, and touched down in Auckland at 11:40PM. From there it was a 10 minute taxi to the gate, so we arrived at 11:50PM, just five minutes behind schedule.

Qantas 737 business class bottom line

Overall this was a perfectly nice product for a three hour flight.

I didn’t love the seats as such. Each seat has the same footprint as a US domestic first class seat, but Qantas tries too hard. A legrest and footrest in such limited space is far too restrictive, in my opinion. The seats also weren’t in very good shape, with a lot of wear and tear.

However, the service on the flight was excellent, and the food was above average, certainly better than what you’d get in the US.

Do keep in mind that Emirates operates an A380 between Sydney and Auckland, and LAN Chile operates a 787 between Sydney and Auckland as well, which offer fully flat beds in business class. So for this trip the Qantas flight worked out perfectly due to the timing and award availability, but in the future I’d make an effort to try one of the above flights.

If you’ve flown Qantas 737 business class, what was your experience like?

  1. I flew Qantas business class on the 737 from SYD-BNE last Thanksgiving. My experience was very similar to yours. Excellent service, passable hard product. What impressed me most about the 2 short QF flight (wheels up to wheels down is around 60 minutes) is that they still managed to provide us a full meal service. In my case, it was breakfast going up and lunch coming back. Both meals were quite good, and certainly better than anything I’ve ever had in domestic F on a US carrier.

  2. Lan Chile changed its name a few months ago when they merged with TAM, now the airline is called Latam

  3. @ Guilherme –
    Not necessarily. Some do say “I’m flying LATAM”, but just like IAG, most people refer to the airline by their individual name (not many people say ” I’m flying IAG between LHR and JFK”: most say “I’m flying British Airways…”.

  4. How do you enjoy a fully flat bed on a three hour flight?

    I guess what I want to know is if FFs on this blog and @Lucky would prioritize hard product over soft product for this journey?

  5. @Anonymous Guilherme is right, While IAG keep their brands (British and Iberia), the airlines extinguished their LAN and TAM brands in favor of LATAM.

  6. The LATAM and EK flights are earlier in the day. If you want a later afternoon or evening, QF or ANZ are your only options. Coming from AKL to SYD, the LATAM flight is a very early morning departure and is delay prone. Not bad for some, but it would not be my preference.

  7. I’ve flown QANTAS’ 737 business class a few times as well as the same seat style on their A330s before they started refitting them. Alot of your points in the review are pretty much on the mark – the seat isn’t anything to cheer about, but the service and catering has always been of pretty high quality I found (the catering has always been above and beyond what I’ve experienced on the US carriers I’ve experienced). The comparsion to US carriers’ first class seats was funny cause I thought the same thing the first time I flew first class in the US (“hey this seems familar….”).

    Lucky – I had a quick look over your previous QANTAS related reviews/articles, is there any plans to review the new business suite on their A330s? Thanks

  8. You should probably also mention that Air New Zealand also operates 777 and 787 with lie flat business class on that route.

  9. I’d agree with you Lucky – Jetconnect crews consistently provide great service (friendly, professional, constant refills and referring to pax by name) in Business. Food has recently been improved on trans-tasman QF J flights – especially the evening meals. IFE selection and hard seat product are worse than NZ/EK/LA widebody trans-tasman, but fine for a trans-tasman or short domestic Australia hop. However, as others have said, QF have regular flights throughout the day between various Australian and New Zealand cities and the timing is often better.

  10. There are no separate footrests on Jetconnect’s 73Hs (unless you mean the footrest that folds out of the legrest)?

  11. Ford’s chicken looks really strange, like processed strange.

    But other than that, great TR

  12. What is “hot and numbing dressing”? Sounds like something you’d put on a wound, not on salad.

  13. The Etihad A 380 is definitely the nicest looking one. But then, its a case of putting lipstick on a pig. The A380 might be great when your flying business or first, but damn, that thing is an eyesore. It looks like someone used compressed air to inflate an A 320.

  14. @Craig TPA, the “hot and numbing dressing” is used at one of Neil Perry’s restaurants called Spice Temple. So for foodies who make the connection it would make them feel ooh la la fancy.

  15. Like in Canada, bashing the flag carrier is a national pastime. When I told a friend (who works in the industry) that I actually enjoyed QF Y Class from AKL to SYD, he told me… “Ahhhhh mate. That’s because you were flying JetConnect. Qantas mainline is just bloody awful.”

  16. A few of the Jetconnect 737s have newer business class seats with leather and seatback entertainment instead of in-arm screens. Pretty much the same hard product as long-haul premium economy.

    I’ve got an AAdvantage award booked from my home through DFW-SYD-AKL, and found out that I can’t get the LATAM flight SYD-AKL. I’ve hung up and called again a number of times. Apparently Qantas publishes the fare from home to AKL, but LATAM doesn’t, and the Qantas fare rule doesn’t allow travel on LATAM… It’s a subtle nuance to the AAdvantage requirement of having a published fare by the overwater carrier. If I want to book it, American wants to charge two awards – North America –> Australia, and Australia –> New Zealand. Bummed I can’t get a ride on the nice 787-9 with lie-flat seating, but it sure isn’t worth the extra mileage….

  17. “Isn’t she pretty?”

    Um, no. Nice paint job on an otherwise ugly aircraft. The A380 is the perfect successor for the nickname they gave the B-52 – BUFF.

  18. Who cares what a aircraft looks like, Emirates upper deck business class on their 380 is delightful, and in my view the best especially given their low prices. Nice review I am going on from Melbourne to Auckland and Emirates book you on the Qantas flight (at no extra charge I might add on a return business flight from London there is no charge for the Melbourne Auckland sector), so I know what to expect.

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