Airline: Qantas | Aircraft: A330-300 | Class: Business | Flight: QF52 (SIN-BNE)
As part of my day job, I am required to travel between Singapore and Auckland a number of times each year. While Singapore Airlines probably provides the most comfortable flight experience between these two cities, it is also the most expensive (no surprise there!) - you are looking at a flight that is often 50-60% higher as compared to non-direct routes and this translates into quite a bit when flying in Business Class. As such, one of my favourite ways to get to where I want to go is via Melbourne (or Sydney!) on Qantas - the new A330 Business Class products are beautiful and the flights are quite enjoyable (I also get to stopover in Melbourne to visit people and cafes I like so that is a double win).
Business Class passengers traveling on Qantas will have access to the The Qantas Lounge in Terminal 1 of Changi Airport. While this is my favourite airline lounge in Changi Airport (even though the new Singapore Airlines Lounges look pretty promising), it does get extremely crowded especially before a QF flight - this is also why we are seeing an expansion of the current Qantas Lounge in Changi Airport by the end of 2019. As such, I decided to check out the British Airways Lounge and Concorde Bar located next door - it was a terrible idea since that too, was extremely crowded and the food options were not exactly great. I did manage to take some photos of the British Airways Lounge on a separate visit (when it was quieter) and it was a much more pleasant experience.
This is not the first time that I am flying on Qantas' A330-300 new Business Class product - I flew it from Melbourne to Singapore last year on a day flight and I really enjoyed it - it was beautiful-looking, comfortable and they were fairly eager to top-up my Champagne throughout the flight (an immediate win in my book!). There are 28 Business Class seats on this flight and the window seats (A and K) alternate between being closer to the aisle and window with each row. If you are looking for seats with a little more privacy, you should be after seats A and K in rows 2, 4 and 6 - check out the A330-300 Seat Map that Qantas publishes for more information!
Taking flight QF52 brings back fond memories of living abroad - I used to live and study in Brisbane for four years and the flight number has not changed over the years. While I did not have the luxury of traveling in Business Class previously, I am extremely thankful that I now have the benefit of doing so with my day job (and on the flights that I do not wish to pay a premium for, there is always the option of using miles).
The Business Class seats on Qantas' A330-300 product offers an impressive 73" of seat pitch and 23" of seat width. In comparison, Singapore Airlines operates an A350-900 on the same route - the Business Class seats offer 60" (78" after reclining into a flatbed) of seat pitch and 28" of seat width. I definitely do appreciate the bigger seat width on Singapore Airlines since it allows me to place my stuff (e.g. camera) on the side but the seat on Qantas is sufficient for an average-sized adult.
The Business Class cabin product on the A330-300 product is beautiful and I really like the ambient lights that you can turn on and off. As you would expect, you will be able to charge your mobile device via the USB Charging Port and there is also a universal power outlet if you need to charge your laptop (or prefer to use a high-power charger for your device). I also like that Qantas provides bottled water in each seat - while it not exactly the 'minibar' that you get on the Emirates' A380, it helps that you do not have to bother one of the cabin crews for water.
Since this was an overnight flight in Brisbane, all passengers in Business Class were offered a set of pyjamas (which you can wear and take home after) as well as an amenity kit. As mentioned previously, the sizes of the pyjamas run a little large so if you are of a similar-build as me, you will probably want to go for a Medium/Large (which is still pretty baggy!) instead of a Large/X-Large. I do like how some of the amenity kits offered in Business Class look but the contents are pretty basic so there is really not much to shout about. If you do not care much about the contents (chances are that you will probably be traveling with your own anyway), the amenity kits are actually great for storing things like your wallet, passport and charging cables on your future flights! The flight was scheduled to depart at 8:30PM but it was delayed slightly on the ground and only departed approximately 30 minutes after.
Since this was an overnight flight, most airlines would rush through meal service so their passengers can get some rest as quickly as possible. As such, some of the items on the menu have been marked as items which can be served quickly - this means that you will be able to get to bed faster! Personally, I try to avoid red-eye flights between Singapore and Australia because the flight duration is just not long enough to catch up on sleep but sometimes it is just inevitable. Since it was still fairly early and I typically go to bed later, I decided to do the full dinner/supper experience instead. For a start, some green leaf salad as well as a selection of bread were served - flights exiting Australia actually get a better butter but unfortunately, those offered on flights exiting Singapore are fairly ordinary.
For my choice of main course, I decided to go with the Prawn Wonton Dumpling Soup with Spring Onion and Pickled Green Chilli - on my previous flight with Qantas, this dish was unavailable by the time it got to me so I have been feeling rather sore about it ever since (just a joke, in case anyone thinks I truly feel that way). While I did prefer the soup to be hotter, I really enjoyed the dish thoroughly - it was exactly what I needed before some intended slumber (unfortunately, I did not manage to sleep on the flight due to some technical problems with the seat but more on this later). The dish was also nicely plated (something that Qantas is not well-known for) so that is a nice touch.
The cabin crew then pushed a dessert trolly out into the Business Class cabin for passengers wanting to indulge a little more. On the trolley, passengers could choose from a warm cinnamon donut with praline cream, ice-cream or some seasonal fruits. Obviously, I went for the most indulgent option which was the warm cinnamon donut - it was absolutely delicious but I did not dare to think about the sugar content in this one. Let's just say that it was very satisfying (especially if you do not have a solid diet plan). A range of snacks like fruits, biscuits as well as chocolate bars are also offered throughout the flight (in case you get peckish) but I did not have any since I wanted to drift off to bed after dinner.
Midway through a movie, I decided to recline my chair into a flatbed to get some shut-eye before landing into Brisbane - I had slightly under 5 hours left on the flight and figured I could do with 3-4 hours of sleep. However, I realised that the seat does not recline fully into a flatbed. In fact, the seat only managed to recline slightly (probably 40-degree from its original position) and there was no way to push it down further. I raised this issue to one of the cabin crew on-board and they were great - a couple of them came by to figure out the problem and by using a bit of force, they managed to perhaps recline the seat a little bit further. Having said that, the seat was definitely not ideal for sleeping.
One of the most important reasons why people pay a premium for a Business Class seat (on a red-eye flight especially) if for the flatbed - having a seat that does not recline into this position meant that I was unable to get any sleep in during the flight. The cabin crew onboard did what they could but unfortunately there were no other vacant Business Class seats available (yes, it was a full flight) and there is no First Class cabin on the A330-300.
Now, I completely understand that things break and I am fine with that but I was really offended when I got a low-ball offer from the Qantas Customer Care team after explaining the situation to them - click HEREto find out how terrible the whole situation was! In summary, I was offered 5,000 Qantas Points 'as a gesture of goodwill' which I have found offensive since there was a breach of contract - I paid for a fully-functioning Business Class seat and was not given one. On top of that, being offered 5,000 Qantas Points is an extremely rude form of compensation in my opinion and I was seriously appalled when I saw the email. Just for the sake of reference, a one-way reward flight in Business Class from Singapore to Brisbane requires 60,000 Qantas Points so 5,000 is really ridiculous. Even if I were willing to travel in Economy Class (but no thank you), a one-way reward flight will still require 25,200 Qantas Points!
After sharing my discontentment with the Qantas Customer Care team, they offered me a choice of either two Business Class Lounge passes or 7,000 Qantas Points - both of which are useless to me since I am already traveling in Business Class (and have access to the aforementioned lounges) and also, 7,000 Qantas Points get me absolutely nowhere.
Approximately 90 minutes prior to landing, the cabin lights in Business Class were switched on and breakfast was served. One of the crew members came to check on me and asked how my sleep was but unfortunately I did not manage to get any decent rest at all. On the bright side, I did manage to enjoy a really nice view of the night sky from my seat - something that I probably would not have not noticed had the seat reclined fully (so thanks Qantas, I guess?). The breakfast muffin was pretty ordinary but I was really dying for a coffee when the crew went around the cabin. Honestly, it is a bit of a shame - I really liked flying with Qantas and I seriously think it offers great bang for the buck. I tend to credit these Qantas flights to my Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account since being an MVP Gold member gives me some sweet bonus on the mileage accrual. Unfortunately, the customer service team in Qantas has ruined it for me - screwing up on a flight is one thing but having no decency to take ownership of the issue and the failure to offer reasonable compensation have really annoyed me to no end. I have moved all my remaining flights to Australia and New Zealand away from Qantas and in case anyone was wondering, no I did not accept their new offer of 7,000 Qantas Points - no compensation was accepted from that incident and hey guess what? It’s not like they care anyway.