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FLIGHT REVIEW: Qantas A330 Auckland to Brisbane, Business Class

FLIGHT REVIEW: Qantas A330 Auckland to Brisbane, Business Class
Series: TRIP REPORT: Double Status Credit run to New Zealand

Of our four flights in this Double Status Credits trip to Auckland, this was the only one not on a Boeing 737-800, in recliner Business Class seats. For this QF126 flight, the Qantas Airbus A330-200 serving this route was VHS-EBS with 26 Business Class seats and 208 in Economy, totalling 236 seats. The number of status credits earned in this sector was 85, which, with the Double Status Credits promotion, became 170 status credits for this Business Class trip.

a screen with a red and blue text
Seat 3A for me. A true Aisle seat. Even rows in A and K get true window seats [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Flight Details

Flight: QF 126
Route: Auckland, New Zealand (AKL) – Brisbane, Australia (BNE)
Date: Thursday, 30 July 2023
Depart: 3:30 PM (NZDT)
Arrive: 5:25 PM (AEST)
Duration: 3 hr 55 min
Aircraft: Qantas Airbus 330-200
Seat: 3A & 2A (Business Class)
Cost: part of a multi-destination return ticket AU$1,912.89 (destinations include: SYD-MEL-AKL-BNE-SYD).

a man standing in a bus
Boarding [2PAXfly]


My phone, amongst other functions, performs the vital role of taking photos for trip reports. The 2PAXfly iPhone completely died on me the night before this trip. It just heated up without charging and then wouldn’t work. It was a disaster for this trip back to Australia. Or it would have been except that Seat 2B lent me his phone to take shots during the flight. The only downside is that I can no longer tell who took what shots – me or him. So, I have credited all these shots to just ‘2PAXfly’ in this review and the remaining reports on this trip.

a group of airplanes at an airport
QF126 AKL-BNE Ready to board! Emirates A380 in the background [2PAXfly]


The remarkable thing about Auckland Airport – despite its post-flood need for renovation – and the Kiwi staff is that everything went smoothly. We were checked in, through security and up to the lounge floor quickly.

a glass door with a sign on it
Emirates Lounge Level Two, Auckland Airport [2PAXfly]


Seat 2B and I were eligible to enter two of the lounges in the lounge precinct up on Level 2 of the airport, Qantas First and the Priority Pass, Strata Lounge. I have a credit card that gives me Priority Pass access. I have reviewed them both. There is only one other lounge, Emirates, which only opens for three hours, and that was closed while we were there.

a sign with a gold frame
Opening hours sign at Emirates Lounge, Auckland Airport [2PAXfly]


Not that it is unusual these days, but our flight did not get off to a great start, with a half-hour delay in boarding. Instead of boarding at the scheduled time of 2:45 pm, boarding commenced at 3:15 pm.

We made up the time in the air and landed in Brisbane very close to our originally scheduled time. Besides that delay, this was a pretty textbook flight, albeit with the reduced service levels that are now the post-pandemic norm in Qantas Business Class.

Interestingly, the cabin member who greeted me and checked my ticket, I think, was on auto-pilot. Given I had an ‘A’ seat, they directed me to the far “K’ aisle. Obedient as I am, I started heading that way until I realised that I was actually in 3A and should be heading down the other aisle. A very nice female passenger facilitated my ‘cutting the line’ to head down the right aisle, and find my seat.

While we were on the ground, I was offered a choice of champagne, sparkling or still water. Love a pre-departure drink!

At 3:27 pm the ‘prepare for departure’ announcement was made, followed by a briefing about flying conditions from First Officer Andrew Brill at 3:32 pm. He advised that smooth flight conditions were expected for the 3-hour and 13-minute flight, with an expected arrival time of 5:25 pm in Brisbane.

Just after that, the purser introduced staff and crew, and at 3:40 pm, the aircraft door was closed.

a seat in a plane
QF126 AKL-BNE Seat 3E. Not a seat we were sitting in, but it shows the centre configuration with a non-retractable divider [2PAXfly]


These Qantas Business Suites fully reclining, lie-flat seats are excellent for this less than 4-hour trip across the Tasman Sea. They have a great sense of privacy whether you have one of the true aisle seats or have the console divider between you and the aisle, making it a true window seat. That head-height wrap-around partition with the seat number gives a great sense of enclosure because of its position up near your eyeline.

a tv on the side of a plane
QF126 AKL-BNE view from seat 3A. Note the privacy that seat 3E has. [2PAXfly]

The newer, paler faux wood lightens the feel of the cabin. I really like aspects of this Qantas Business Suite, but it also has its drawbacks. Chief among those is the permanent divider between seats. It makes it hard to communicate with a companion. If the dividers was retractable, this would be come an almost perfect seat.

a plane with seats and a monitor
QF126 AKL-BNE Cabin still feels open even with luggage storage bins above the central seats [2PAXfly]

Below are some images of the various seat features.

a seat in a plane
QF126, Seat 3A, true aisle seat with console next to the window. [2PAXfly]
a headphones on a wall
QF126 AKL-BNE Headphones and storage in seat 3A [2PAXfly]
a close up of a wall
QF126 AKL-BNE Headphone jack and Powerpoints, including a USB located below the headphone storage. [2PAXfly]
a remote control in a car
QF126 AKL-BNE Entertainment system Remote control storage on the left hand side of the seat, including mirror [2PAXfly]

Admittedly, this handset is a bit retro these days, when many airlines run a secondary screen within their handsets.

a glass of beer on a table
QF126 Seat controls on seat 2A, oh! and a glass of champagne. [2PAXfly]
a person's foot in a chair
QF126 AKL-BNE Business suite foot cubby. [2PAXfly]
a plane in the air
QF126 AKL-BNE Qantas retro safety video [2PAXfly]

Safety Video

The Qantas retro safety video has been around for a while. It re-creates the history of Qantas Airlines, using current staff and a bit of humour. It was created for the Qantas Centenary, which went a little south, given it was overrun by the pandemic. The content and heartstring-pulling production still stand up, although I have probably now seen its scores if not hundreds of times. In case you haven’t caught it, here is the full edit below:

The safety video, along with live demonstrations, was played at 3:42 pm as we taxied ready for takeoff. After a long taxi and some dithering about, we finally took off at 3:58 pm, about 18 minutes after the aircraft door was closed.

a glass of liquid on a table
Isn’t champagne mandatory in Business Class? [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Meal Service on the A330

The seatbelt sign was turned off about 5 minutes into the flight at 4:02 pm, and half an hour later, cabin service started with the purser introducing themself and giving a rundown of the menu. Gone are the days of printed menus on this flight, and all domestic flights. Choices were: Tomato soup, roast chicken and mashed potatoes and a Thai salad with salmon. Wine choices were limited to a red, white and the sparkling I had on boarding. Refills were constant, and we were offered a chocolate biscuit (heated but pre-packaged) as a dessert.

Here are some images. Both Seat 2B and I ordered the Chicken, which came with a Greek(ish) salad (it had onion, tomatoes, cucumber, olives and fetta cheese), cheese and crackers and a creamy milk chocolate bar all on one tray. Sourdough bread was offered separately.

food on a table
One roast chicken and mashed potatoes and broccoli with salad and bread [2PAXfly]
a plate of food with broccoli and mashed potatoes
The other roast chicken and mashed potatoes and broccoli with salad and bread [2PAXfly]

Seat 2B ordered an after-dinner flat white coffee. It looked pretty good.

a cup of coffee with foam in it
Flat white coffee [2PAXfly]

Overall, this catering was adequate to good. It’s still a paired-down version of a meal from pre-COVID-19 times, but it is fine if nothing spectacular. Service was attentive but casual, you know, that style that Qantas gets so right. Although the aircraft and Business Cabin are far bigger on the A330 than on the Boeing 737-800, the staffing was sufficient to give great service still.

However, this is not the course-by-course service that is used to apply to this route. With individual courses being served, you interact more with the cabin crew. And pleasant interactions with staff makes for a much more enjoyable flight in my experience. That level of interaction also helps distinguish Business from Economy class as well as the seat.

a plane flying over a map
Love an onscreen map! [2PAXfly]


Qantas has an extensive entertainment catalogue of both movies and TV series on these international flights. The choice is daunting for such a short flight.

a screen shot of a device
Great entertainment choice on Qantas [2PAXfly]

I went for I went with the Littel Richard biopic. At 102 minutes, it would fit within the flight, and the documentary had been on my ‘what to watch’ list for some time.

a screen shot of a television
Little Richard biopic was my choice [2PAXfly]

A little glitch – I couldn’t hear the sound when the movie started. I called a member of the cabin crew, who said that a reset of my entertainment unit would probably sort it out. Fortunately – although it took quite a few minutes, It did.

a screen shot of a television
Qantas entertainment choice [2paxfly]

But there was much, much more to choose from:

a screen shot of a computer
More Qantas entertainment choices [2paxfly]
a screen shot of a movie
Even more Qantas entertainment choices [2paxfly]
a screen shot of a movie
Just when you couldn’t get enough Qantas entertainment choices [2paxfly]
a screen shot of a computer
I’m ready to give up, so many to choose from – Qantas entertainment choices [2paxfly]

… and there was even more.

a screen shot of a television
Qantas entertainment choice [2paxfly]
a view of the sky from an airplane window
QF 126 between Auckland and Brisbane. [2PAXfly]

Seat 2B chose to have a little kip on the flight rather than enjoy the entertainment. Given my tiredness on arrival, I would have been wise to do the same.

a person sleeping on a chair
A recumbent Seat 2B [2PAX]
a aerial view of a river
Coming into land at Brisbane Airport [2PAXfly]


At 6:38 pm Auckland time (4:38 pm Brisbane time), the captain warned of our imminent descent, and at 7:03 pm (5:03 Brisbane time), the crew were requested to prepare the cabin for landing.

We landed on time at 7:26 Auckland time (5:26 Brisbane time) as scheduled. We had made up our half-hour departure delay easily. At 5:38 Brisbane time, it was ‘disarm doors and crosscheck’, and the seat belt sign was off at 5:39 pm. Minutes later, we were heading down the airbridge with some visual delights you don’t get every day.

Although we excitedly thought we might be having an Air Force One encounter, not so. Look carefully and note the total lack of passenger windows, and you realise this is some type of cargo plane to support travelling USA dignitaries. Most likely, as reader Mike has pointed out, it is one of the ‘Doomsday’ E-4 aircraft that provide an in-air control centre for the USA government in times of crisis. There is a very informative CNET article with considerable details about this National Airborne Operations Center aircraft.

a large airplane with a blue stripe on it
Not Airforce One, but Airforce Two or Three – cargo carrying Boeing 747 [2PAXfly]

Next, it was through immigration and customs, and off to find the transfer bus to the domestic terminal.

At this point, I was feeling the weight of our weekend in Auckland, and my spirits were beginning to flag. I almost regretted our routing, which involved layovers in both directions. Still, an hour in the Brisbane Qantas Business lounge and another short flight in Business Class are not the worst ways to spend a few hours.

an orange and white sign
Tranist sign at free airport transfer service between International and Domestic terminals in Brisbane [2PAXfly]

No one likes waiting for a bus. Not even me.

a screen on a plane
Ceiling view with air vents from a reclined business class seat [2PAXfly]

2PAXfly Takeout

Other than the delay in boarding, this was an uneventful, text-book flight. Service levels on Qantas have declined since COVID-19. Just not quite the attention to detail or finesse that you experienced pre-pandemic. The meal service is a one-tray affair with no printed menus. Interaction with cabin crew is consequently limited. Our crew were attentive, and the service levels couldn’t be faulted. My quibble is with the service design – which goes back to management, not the cabin staff.

This was a good flight, and the Airbus A330 and Business Suite with a fully flat bed is a clear winner over the Boeing 737-800s recliners. They are so much more private, comfortable, spacious and have vastly more storage space too.

However, there is a downside. If you want to chat with your travelling partner or the cabin crew, the A330 isn’t as good as the 737-800 Business Class. On the A330 – you are just that bit further away. It is good for privacy but not for intimacy. I’m talking about conversation. Get your mind out of the gutter!

There is not quite as much interaction with cabin crew on the A330 compared to what you get with one staff member and the 12 Business Class seats on the Boeing 737-800s.

In summary, if sleep, rest, or a large screen are your priorities, try to book an A330. If you enjoy interacting with the crew, then the Boeing 737 will suit you well.

Other Posts in the Series
<< LOUNGE REVIEW: Strata Lounge, Priority Pass lounge at Auckland International AirportLOUNGE REVIEW: Brisbane Qantas Business Lounge. Packed to the gunnels! >>


    • 2paxfly

      Hi Mike,
      Thanks for this information. Yep, that certainly looks like what we saw. I’m going to amend the post to include that information and link.
      Again, many thanks!


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