Qantas recently commenced flights out of Melbourne to Los Angeles as well as Perth to London on their new aircraft, the Dreamliner. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is the most advanced long-haul aircraft of its type fitted with state-of-the-art technology to reduce turbulence, improve noise quality and reduce aircraft vibrations for a smoother flight. Karen Cooke, Global Marketing Manager for FCM Travel Solutions travelled on the new Qantas aircraft on a recent business trip to the United States and provides an overview of her experience in both Business Class and Premium Economy.
A smooth connection into Melbourne
Starting out from Brisbane added an extra few hours to my trip however it all transitioned quite seamlessly. First up was a quick check in for my international flight at the Premium Entry of the Qantas terminal followed by a visit to the Brisbane Business Class Domestic Lounge just upstairs. Coffee was a welcome sight after my 5 am start, which was made to order by the barista using a Vittoria blend.
Breakfast options were plentiful including a hot food selection with boiled and scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms, toast, pancakes and fresh fruit salad and yoghurts. Speciality teas, and a juicing station to complete the experience.
The lounge has a variety of seating options from armchairs, stools and counters to tables and chairs allowing the visitor to eat comfortably or check some emails with the free WiFi before departing on their flight.
On the Brisbane to Melbourne flight, in business class, I enjoyed priority boarding and ordered a breakfast of egg white omelette with feta, leek and roma tomatoes, Greek yoghurt and sourdough. After catching up on some work using my laptop during the flight, before I knew it I was touching down in Melbourne for the next sector of my trip.
A short walk to the terminal next door and I’m in the international terminal ready to go through security and immigration. After 15 minutes I was through and ready to browse duty-free and make a stop to the First Class lounge, specially arranged for my visit.
A visit to the Aurora spa was first on the agenda with a 20-minute hydration facial to ready myself for the long-haul flight ahead.
Arriving at lunchtime I took the opportunity to try a few items on the a la carte menu including the renowned salt and pepper calamari and a chilli pork steamed bun accompanied with a glass of Mumm sparkling rose. Service was attentive and thoughtful, finished with a personal escort to the gate upon boarding.
Business Class into Los Angeles
Taking my seat in 5A I was warmly greeted and promptly given a pre-takeoff drink of champagne or water. As other passengers were boarding I organised myself and my cabin baggage, checking out the menu and filling out my arrival card. Meal orders were taken and the breakfast card filled out for later in the flight. NB. 5A is listed as a ‘bad seat’ on seat guru. The only difference to others seats in the cabin is that there is one window (in front) not two windows. I did not find this to be a disadvantage and could be helpful to avoid full sun glaring on to the laptop or screen.
On the Dreamliner, the seats are in a 1-2-1 configuration which allows every passenger easy aisle access. The business class seat is spacious with a 46-inch seat pitch and 24-inch seat width, it also features a generous side table to allow extra room for drinks, books or magazines, laptops, iPads, phones etc. The large tray table is wide and sturdy enough to support a laptop.
I change into the Qantas pyjamas and immediately recline the leg rest upon cruising altitude to set in for an afternoon of work catch up. A power outlet and USB charging port ensure my battery goes the distance.
As I start tapping away the drink service commences and I’m asked to try the Dreamweaver cocktail made with fresh lemonade, tequila and agave!
Approximately two and half hours into the flight the dinner service commences. From the Neil Perry constructed menu I selected a salad of roast eggplant with halloumi, buckwheat, pomegranate and palm sugar vinaigrette to start, followed by a lighter vegetarian main meal of conchiglie pasta with braised zucchini, peas, ricotta and cherry tomatoes. It is all delicious! To accompany the meal I have chosen a Voyager Estate Chardonnay which is oakey but easy drinking.
The dessert menu features two sweet options (vanilla pannacotta with strawberry salsa and pistachio wafers or an ice cream sandwich) and a cheese or fruit plate. I choose the ice cream sandwich which is light but satisfying. There’s no dessert trolley in sight, for those who are familiar with the A380 service.
A selection of snacks are offered anytime mid-flight for anyone feeling peckish in between meals. These range from a simple packet of chips to a beef brisket sandwich with cheese and sauerkraut.
The entertainment spans the latest releases including The Shape of Water, The Darkest Hour, Coco, Justice League and Murder on the Orient Express plus a selection of classics, TV shows, box sets and music.
After watching a movie I’m feeling tired and fully recline the lie-flat bed to get some shut-eye. The seat is very comfortable and the seat belt doesn’t restrict when turning from side to side (similar to a car style).
About two hours before landing the breakfast service commences. Both hot and cold options are available to cater for different tastes and appetites. My selection included fried egg and bacon, spinach and tomato relish on sourdough, fruit salad and yoghurt, cold-pressed green juice plus English breakfast tea. The cabin lights were kept dimmed throughout breakfast using your personal light to avoid disrupting sleeping passengers.
Soon we are landing at LAX airport and the staff are thanking us for flying with them and saying their goodbyes. I’ve arrived feeling refreshed and ready to continue on with my next connection.
Premium Economy Return to Melbourne
My flight back to Australia started with a very late incoming connection from Seattle which was delayed due to bad weather in Los Angeles. This made for a busy airport and flight backlog, unsure I would make my international flight I was more than relieved when I arrived at the Qantas check-in counter to find the flight was delayed. My late arrival was still a close call and I was accompanied by a Qantas employee and escorted through security and right to the gate for boarding!
After a short shuttle ride out to the plane on the tarmac, I boarded and took my window seat in Premium Economy. The Premium Economy cabin is in a 2-3-2 configuration. The seat is 20.5 inches wide with comfortable padded cushion, features extra storage space, a personal LED light and has a hammocked footrest for added recline. I easily fit my laptop in the back-seat compartment with plenty of room to spare. A Country Road branded amenity kit is also provided.
The tray table is larger than I expected and is wide enough to fit a laptop with additional space for a drink, snack or paperwork – handy for those juggling acts of combining a bit of work in flight during the meal or drink service!
Meals are served about an hour after take-off. There are three main courses to select from - a chicken, pasta or salmon option. I select the salad of grilled chicken with pumpkin, quinoa, cranberries and tomato. It is served on a clothed tray with a garden leaf salad dressed in balsamic vinaigrette, a bread roll and a white chocolate and lemon cheesecake. Served all at once along with beverages, the quick service is perfectly timed and appreciated at the late hour.
The lights are dimmed and I settle in to catch some sleep on the remainder of the 15-hour flight.
The seats recline 9.5 inches which make for a comfortable sleeping position, although is a little tight to get in and out of your seat when the passenger in front is also reclined. The ergonomically designed and detachable pillow which fits in the headrest and the quality lined generously sized Caon blanket create a relaxing environment for maximum comfort.
With two and a half hours left of the flight, breakfast is offered with hot and cold options available. I choose the hot breakfast which is scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, mushrooms, hash brown and bell pepper relish, served with fruit salad and a muffin.
The crew come around for a final chat before landing procedures commence and soon we have arrived in Melbourne on a rainy morning ready to clear customs and board my final connection back to Brisbane.