Saturday, 6 August 2016

Flight Review: Qantas A330-300 International Business Suite, Sydney to Jakarta - a hard and soft product improvement.

A new addition to the team here at 2PAXfly: Mark - contributes his first flight review. Mark loves to fly, and prefers a seat towards the front if possible. Here he details his very recent trip On Qantas to Jakata, Indonesia. Mark is off to the USA later this year, and I hope he will contribute a report on that trip too.

Qantas Airlines QF41 
Sydney (SYD) – Jakarta (CGK)
Saturday, July 23, 2016 
Depart: 13:50 
Arrive: 18:00 
Duration: 7h  
Aircraft: Qantas A330-300 
Seat: 4A

Last week I had my first experience of flying the newish Qantas A330-300 International Business Suite, which has been progressively rolled out by Qantas on their A330 fleet over the past 15 months.

Lounge and Check-in

Qantas Business Class Check-in at Sydney was very smooth and friendly, no queues what so ever. In Sydney Qantas provides an Express Path voucher to painlessly whiz through immigration and security. Plenty of time for a last minute shopping and a pre-flight lounge visit. The Qantas International Business Lounge was reasonably quiet once all the QF7 passengers on the A380 to Dallas departed. The service and standard of food and beverage is still high, however some of the furnishings are looking quite tired. I did notice on this visit that Qantas has recently introduced new (cheap looking) bar stools and high tables I presume to increase the lounge capacity in peak periods.

Preflight Champagne at the Qantas International Business Club Lounge


Qantas A330-300 QF41 preparing for departure on the tarmac at Sydney Kingsford-Smith Mascot

Boarding was quick and orderly. Judging from the crowds at the gate Economy was quite full on this leg. Business Class passengers enter separately from the airbridge via the first door straight into the front of the Business Class cabin. The decor is all muted beige and greys, creating a calm dullness.

The seat layout is 7 rows of 1-2-1 staggered seating. The suites themselves are a Marc Newson collaborated version of the Thompson Vantage XL. There are two toilets one at the front near the cockpit and another at the rear right beside the galley.

Qantas A330-300 Business Class Cabin Interior with QF Kangaroo logo feature

Seat 4A welcome screen

Before take-off cabin crew offer business class passengers water, juice or champagne (on this leg it was Duval Leroy Brut). They also hand out passenger amenity kits, but no grey cotton Qantas Business pyjamas - given it is a daytime flight, however I'm told they are available on request.


Preflight Champagne and Qantas/Jack Spade branded amenity kit

The Qantas Business Jack Spade New York Mens amenity kit is pretty basic, it features socks, an eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste and some Aspar cosmetics. Ive got quite a collection of these now in different coloured bags, its not a particularly useful or impressive kit compared to Emirates or Singapore Air, I think its quite light on and overdue for a refresh. I do make use of the lip balm and socks but thats about it. 


Aspar men's lip balm, face moisturiser, and hand cream.

More about the Seat

Let's look a little more at the seat design and comfort. The A330-300 Business Cabin is laid out in 1-2-1 format meaning every passenger has direct access to the aisle. The window seats alternate with every second seat against the window with a console and storage unit shielding it from the aisle. The alternate window seats have the console and storage on the window side, and the seat is less shielded from the aisle. If like me you love to look out of the window when flying across Australia you should select seat 2A, 4A or 6A to be closer to the window. 

Seat 4A with large feather pillow and duvet 

Qantas LED in seat mood lighting and Marc Newson swivelling reading light



Qantas logo leather headrest design feature and fabric seat

QF41 Wheels up take-off from Sydney Kingsford-Smith at Mascot looking out over Botany Bay

Once we reached cruising altitude, cabin crew offered passengers pre-lunch drinks and cocktails. Qantas make a good spicy Bloody Mary with Absolut Vodka which was my choice on this flight, it was served in a generous heavy glass tumbler with lemon, ice, a Qantas swizzle stick and brazil nuts. Other business passengers were ordering more Champagne, Gin and Tonic's or Vodka and Dry Ginger.

The drink for all occasions - The Bloody Mary

The Qantas A330-300 business suite has a large adjustable high-definition touch screen. The screen is larger and clearer that those on the Qantas Business A380 or 747 SkyBeds

16 inch touchscreen.


Qantas Business A330 noise cancelling headphones

Dining - OK Neil Perry - what's for Lunch - and can I pre-order it from my phone ?

Now let's look in detail at the inflight dining. Here`s the entree (starter) and main course (entree for those in the USA) menu selections for lunch on QF41:



Qantas allows Business Class passengers to pre-select their inflight meals online up to 24hrs before the flight via its Q-Eat interface. 

Its optional as passengers can still choose from the inflight menu on the day. On this flight I took advantage of pre-ordering my meal via Q-Eat. Qantas sometimes offers on Q-Eat on-line meals that don't appear on the on-board menu. That's what I selected on this flight. When the crew came through the cabin to take passenger lunch orders from the menu, they informed me that they had already received my order online.

Q-Eat mobile interface


My Q-Eat lunch entree selection was the Queensland spanner crab okonomiyaki pancake. It took me back to my recent visit to Osaka where this was the most popular street food.

Japanese street food: Okonomiyaki - savoury pancake - 'Packet Shot'.


And here`s what the real thing looked like onboard when it was served (product versus packetshot). It was delicious, the bonito flakes waved around as they should, however it appears that the gallery crew got a bit carried away with the Japanese mayonnaise! 

Also served with the entree was warm sourdough bread with Pepe Saya cultured butter and a mixed green leaf salad with palm sugar dressing. Qantas offered a selection of different white and read wines from its cellar, I took the 2013 SA McLaren Vale Shiraz and mineral water. 

Japanese street food: Okonomiyaki - savoury pancake - 'Product Shot'.
For my Q-Eat lunch main course selection i chose the Confit Petuna Ocean Trout with various pickles and herbs. This was an online exclusive meal and did not appear on the onboard printed menu.

Packet shot

And here`s what the real thing looked like when it was served... It was probably one of the better inflight meals I have eaten in recent years. The ocean trout had been gently poached in olive oil (confit'd) with added butter keeping it very succulent. It was served with capers, mustard and cucumber pickles, radish, chervil and parsley. It did remind me somewhat of Tetsuya`s signature Confit of Ocean Trout but didn't quite reach those lofty heights.

Product shot

QF41 Dessert Menu

I chose the fruit selection with a chocolate truffle and a fine Cognac, quite a few other passengers were having the chocolate tart with a glass of sticky. Maggie Beer ice-cream was on offer as well.

Fresh fruit, with a chocolate truffle, and a slug of Cognac on the side


Coffee and Valrhona Chocolates to finish.

The Suite Seat in recline

Qantas provide a light mattress cover to their seats once you decide to nap. Let the flight attendants do it for you. They have experience, and tend to fit it better than us amateurs.

Time for a nap, A330 Business Suite with sleeping mattress fitted.

Business Suite fully flat sleeping position for a post lunch snooze - Coffin Class!

That's Entertainment Time

After a relaxing nap it was time to check out some of the inflight entertainment system. 

Qantas had a great selection of films, television programs and music on this flight. 

Of particular interest to me, they offer a choice of Australian Films, Arthouse films and World films,

The selection was more extensive, and more to my taste than my recent experiencs on JAL, Emirates or Garuda. Some of the features were offered in HD. Sound and picture quality was much better than that offered on the Qantas A380 Business SkyBed.

Screen grab of the Arthouse selection.

Qantas A330 Business Noise Cancelling Headphones.



The crew dropped by with some biscuits (cookies) and water while I was watching my film
An inflight view of the Mount Bromo volcano near Surabaya as we flew across Java

Snack Attack

About an hour before landing the crew moved through the cabin and asked any passengers who were awake if they would like a pre-arrival snack from the kitchen: Falafel, Rice or Noodles

Pre-landing snacks
With a surge in my appetite after finishing the film, I chose the Angus Beef Blackbean and Tofu Noodles with a freshly squeezed orange juice. 

Pre-landing snack and orange juice.

We descended through a beautiful sunset on the approach to Jakarta.

The flight attendants circulated with moist refresher towels and more water as the cabin was prepared for landing.

Arrival

QF41 arrived on time at Terminal 2 Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, I was the second passenger to exit the aircraft and my luggage was almost the first bag out on the carousel.

2PAXfly Wisdom

This was a superior business class experience. The Qantas A330 Business Suite is very private and comfortable, so much so that I prefer it over the MKII SkyBeds currently on the Qantas A380 and refurbished 747 flights to the US, Dubai, Hong Kong, Africa, South America and London. 

The catering, service and entertainment out of Sydney were of a high standard on this route. Lets hope this is the business seat we will see on Qantas new 787-9 Dreamliners when these start service in 2017. 

Qantas main competitor on this route is Garuda who have recently revamped their inflight experience and service and just won the accolade of World`s Best Cabin Crew 2016. (Watch out for a review of Garuda's business class offering between Denpasar and Sydney in September - Ed) The Qantas crew working this leg were quite senior to say the least! 

Unfortunately QF42 from Jakarta back to Sydney was not as great as QF41, the on ground experience was a let down with slow check in, grotty lounge and a slight departure delay. The catering out of Jakarta was a much lower standard and there were problems with the inflight entertainment system for the first hour of the flight. 

The new A330 Business Suite however is a real winner and is a big plus for Qantas.

This week the sparkling brand new Terminal 3 Ultimate has opened at Jakarta Airport and Garuda will be progressively moving their International flights to that Terminal. It will be interesting to see how Qantas holds up against them on this leg both in the air and on the ground.

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