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First Impressions: Qantas A330/320 – Business Suites

First Impressions: Qantas A330/320 – Business Suites

Introduction

Last week, I completed two trans-Tasman flights Sydney – Auckland – Sydney in Business Class, on two different A330 configurations. (QF149 & QF140)

This is my first time in these Business Suites on the flying kangaroo. Introduced in late 2014 – they are beginning to show their age – with finishes a little scratched and in some cases ripped.

The cabin – between doors 1 and 2 with a 6 seat mini cabin between door 2 and economy

Suite Advantages

The main advantage of these Vantage XL platform seats from Irish company Thompson Aero Seating, and customised by Marc Newson, is they provide all aisle access, over an above the previous Skybeds.

Simple and intuitive controls – once you’ve worked out which lights those switches control.

Their simple, intuitive and motorised controls are very reactive, which was a pleasant surprise. The seat goes fully flat – like rigid horizontal. They provide a sense of privacy and enclosure.

Things I didn’t like

There is much less space – or at least that is my perception – than in the Skybeds. Sometimes that feels cosy – but sometimes it feels restricting, especially when you are slightly reclined and try to get out of your seat. Suddenly that gap to the aisle seems very slight.

You can’t maneuver these seats into a cradling ‘z’ shape, as there is no tilt on the base of the seat. This is a missed opportunity to create a great business Suite in my opinion.

That gap to the aisle gets a little tight if your seat is reclined and leg rest extended

The angularity of the seats, rather than the egg-shaped curves of the Skybed, means that there is more contact with the seat, and that results in dings and scratches, and all-around wear and tear. These seats were in worse condition than the much older Skybed II’s in the 747 I travelled into South America recently.

No amenity pack – no socks or earplugs or anything. No hot or cold towels.

Pastry never reheats well in a steam oven. Crispness – gone.

Overall

These are good seats. I liked the convenience of direct aisle access and the good placement of most amenities for the seat. I loved the seat controls, and the at-hand storage, even though there could be more of it. The lack of ability to tilt the base of the seat and create a ‘z’ cradle is a missed opportunity.

Cabins and seats are not ageing well – or are not well maintained.

Take Out

These are a good evolution of the Qantas business product, but they miss some of the revolution that those Marc Newson Skybeds provided. The biggest is space. These Business Suites make you feel like well heeled sardines. You are very comfortable, but a little short of the space that says ‘luxury’ to me.

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