In December 2019, I decided to fly Qantas back from Sydney to Melbourne as the flight time suited better than my usual preference of carrier (Virgin Australia). Qantas had a conveniently timed 8.30pm departure, whilst Virgin only had 8pm or 10pm. So I booked Qantas.
Before the flight, I thought why not blow a few frequent flyer points on upgrading to business, to experience Qantas domestic business, and also get lounge and priority boarding (which I’m accustomed to being a Platinum Velocity member).
This review is in general comparing my usual experience on Virgin Australia to my only Qantas experience since about 2013. Understand that it is a first world problem bitching about lounges and business class service, but when you pay (albeit in points) for a premium service, it should be delivered.
I was looking forward to the Domestic Business Lounge. As Qantas operate both the Club and Business lounges, and Virgin only one lounge for all passengers, I’d expected the Business lounge to be to a higher standard. It was not.
Sydney Domestic Business Lounge before flight: complete chaos. Food was absolutely average. Apricot chicken or similar with rice. But you’d be lucky to get a single scrap of chicken in amongst the sauce. Hard to get a beer as hard to get staff attention, wine at least self serve.
Additionally, getting a table to sit at in the Business lounge was extremely difficult. Would to see what the Club is like (or is that quieter?). And this is 7pm on a Wednesday. Can’t image the shitshow that it would be on a Friday.
I’d heard that Qantas priority boarding has always been average. But just over a week before my flight, Qantas had apparently fixed this: Qantas launches new priority boarding system.
Well, safe to say, it wasn’t improved. When I got to the gate, the priority queue was much longer than the standard queue, with the same number of gate staff for both lines. Based on this, I took the standard queue and got on quicker than the priority queue.
Virgin does his quite nicely, they board just the priority queue until it is empty, then the standard. If a new priority person walks into the queue, they are taken immediately.
I am assuming that as this was only a week or so after the changes, that they hadn’t got the process down pat yet (but seriously, can an operations staff member at Qantas just fly one domestic Virgin flight to see how it’s done?).
- 737 with three rows of business class, very similar to Virgin, but think the purple divider Virgin have is a tad nicer.
- Pre-departure drinks. Choice of a 250ml bottle of water or nothing. Virgin offers sparkling wine, sparkling water (my usual choice), orange juice or water – served in a glass, not a bottle that was still sitting empty 20 minutes after take off.
- No rope divider between economy and business. As soon as seat belt sign off, economy passenger going through to business front toilet.
- Economy service trolley pushed right into business class cabin and no service offered. Economy passengers with drinks before business passengers during flight.
- No introduction by staff welcoming to business. Pretty much treated same as economy (or worse – as drink service after).
- 20 minutes after take off still nothing at all. Service started about 25 minutes after take off. By time reached row 3 of business, about 35 minutes.
- Serve business class from a trolley? Why? Get some drink orders and food and bring it back. Absolutely no need to bring a trolley through.
- Drink service and food at same time. Causing delays. Take drink order before take off for service immediately afterwards, not hard?
- Food options: pies, cheese, something else. Pies were good.
- The main cabin guy was great (Rob). Shake of hands. Suggestion of wines. But before he started service, he seemed to have to deal with some operations issues (lots of touch screen stuff at front panel, but someone else could have taken care of business before economy). But a shake of hands before take off and food and drink order would be nice.
- When landed, no flight attendant blocking off economy from business to make sure business exit first, so some economy passengers exiting before business.
Not trying to say economy passengers should be treated poorly, but business class are paying a premium and should get some perks!
A lot of my friends rave about Qantas. I won’t be back in a hurry.