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TRIP REPORT: Qantas 737 Business Class from Sydney to Wellington, New Zealand

TRIP REPORT: Qantas 737 Business Class from Sydney to Wellington, New Zealand
Series: Trip: New Zealand 2022

a person standing in a doorway


This trip was 18 months in the making and delayed twice due to pandemic related border closures. Finally on 1 July 2022, we were to board our plane off to Wellington, New Zealand for just over 2 weeks of touring the North Island.

No strangers to the land of the long white cloud, this was to be our first time in Wellington and to most places in the North Island, with the exception of Auckland.

Flight Details

Flight: QF161
Route: Sydney (SYD) – Wellington, New Zealand (WLG)
Date: Friday, 1 July 2022
Depart: 09:40 AEST
Arrive: 14:50 NZST
Duration: 3 hr 10 min
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Seat: 1 A & C (Business Class)
Cost: AU$1,685 Business Class (return fare – arrive in WLG, depart from AKL).

a pair of black headphones with a black cord in a pocket
The seat pocket in from on seat 1C featuring Qantas branded headphones

At the Airport

After we recovered from the shock of the First Class check-in not being open, we queued for about 20 minutes in the Premium Economy and Business Class check-in line. Once reaching the head of the queue we were processed and our bags tagged and checked in within minutes. We were not travelling light, with three suit cases – one each and and extra one with hiking gear and boots – plus hand luggage.

We had completed online check-in the previous day, so vaccination documents had already been uploaded. All Qantas needed to see other than our passports was our New Zealand Travel Declaration – also completed online, but with a printed copy and QR code in hand.

We whiled away an hour or so, consuming a delicious breakfast in the Qantas First Class Lounge before boarding was called at 9:25 – a half-hour after its scheduled time of 8:55. We headed across the airport to gate 55, where boarding had already commenced. No surprise since its a 10 to 15 minute trudge from the lounge.

a white panel with round holes and a speaker
Lights, air vents above the seat.


Other than being late, the operation was pretty smooth ably supervised by the New Zealand cabin crew. We needn’t have rushed to the gate, since the plane was still boarding at 10am, a good 20 minutes after our scheduled departure time of 9:40.

At 10:05 the captain announced that the flight was waiting on a final 2 passengers who arrived at 10:10. It then wasn’t until 10:19 that doors were closed and we finally started our push-back at 10:30. However that was not the end of it. Our taxi was further held up and we didn’t start heading down the runway until 10:43 – over an hour after our scheduled departure time. In the scheme of things, and the disaster that is international travel at the moment, this was a minor delay.

The seat belt sign went off at 11:04, but there was a further delay in the commencement of the meal service due to some moderate turbulence, for which, the captain apologised. Well at least, I think that’s what he did. Despite being directly under a speaker, I couldn’t quite decipher his announcement.

a seat in an airplane
Seat in repose, with footrest raised and extended

The Seat

Pretty standard for a Qantas 737-800 with 3 rows of business class seats in a 2-2 formation, with 37 inches pitch and a seat width of 22 inches. The seats have minimal controls – one to raise the leg rest, and one to recline the seat back. The maroon leather seats are comfortable and roomy with a fold over tray table deployed from the arm rest.

No visual IFE on this flight, and no wifi.

a close up of a panel
Seat controls and headphone jack under central drinks tray in armrest
a plate of food on a table
Prosciutto salad with blackened corn, barley, spinach and pickles

In-flight Service

We were offered water or champagne at 09:53, with both of us opting for the alcoholic option.

The meal service was delayed until the 2nd hour of the flight due to a lot of turbulence. It wasn’t too bad, just went on for a long time.

There were three choices for main course:

  • Prosciutto salad with blackened corn, barley, spinach and pickles
  • Chicken with mushroom sauce, mashed potato, carrots and broccoli
  • Pepper beef with oyster sauce

I went with the salad and the husband chose the chicken. He loved the chicken, and I enjoyed the salad, although the Prosciutto was not quite the kind that melts in your mouth. The barley and corn also kept the mandibles working overtime. We were offered a choice of 3 wines, 2 whites – a Chardonnay and Semillon, and my choice a Shiraz. Qantas has it wine selection down to a fine art, and has done for years, so none of these choices dissapointed.

Refills were regularly offered and sometimes accepted.

a plate of food and a glass of water on a table
Chicken with mushroom sauce, broccoli, carrots and mash

Dessert was a packaged Simmone Logue Lamington. The texture was not really a sponge and the cream was not recognisable as whipped, but whatever they had done to make an aircraft version of this chocolate and coconut treat was more than acceptable and a satisfying end to the meal.

a cupcake in a box

Because of the delay in the meal service, it didn’t seem long after we finished eating that we were commencing our decent into Wellington.

two windows with clouds and blue sky


The captain announced that crew should make the cabin ready for landing at 12:52, Sydney time (14:52 Wellington time).

We had made good time, arriving into Wellington at 15:09 New Zealand time, only 20 or so minutes after our scheduled arrival time of 14:40.

an aerial view of a body of water and mountains

We completed our paper based customs and immigration arrival documentation and our luggage arrived on the carousel promptly. While waiting for arrival procedures we were triaged by a New Zealand border official with a few questions about our travel plans and accommodation. She put a big green tick on our arrival documents. We then sailed through immigration and security, and Welcome to New Zealand!

Next stop was the rental car booth. Signatures sought and insurance excess waiver paid, we were on our way to our new Peugeot SUV hire car.

people walking on a conveyor belt in a airport
Baggage belt, Wellington airport – with pebble carpet

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

The Boeing 737-800 predominantly used by Qantas domestically, is not my preferred plane for short haul international. Give me an Airbus A330 anytime. Having said that however, the 737 is perfectly good for an under 3 hour flight.

Putting aside the delayed departure and the turbulance that affected meal service, this was a pleasant flying experience, and far from the horror story of some recent Qantas international fights. Our luggage travelled with us, and arrived promptly for a start, and our flight left after only a short delay, and wasn’t cancelled. Under current conditions of understaffing at airlines and airports, that’s called a win!

The New Zealand crew performed well during the flight and provided a preview of that New Zealand lilt of an accent we would experience for the rest of our North Island holiday.

a group of people in an airport
Off to car rentals at Wellington Airport
Other Posts in the Series
<< TRIP REPORT: Qantas First Class Lounge, Sydney, July 2022HOTEL REVIEW: QT Wellington – designed by a teenager with ADHD – quirky, close to Te Papa Museum >>

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