Qantas A330 Business Class Melbourne to Sydney review
- Spacious and private seat.
- Friendly and personal service.
- Large entertainment library.
- No Wi-Fi yet.
- Only offered on a small number of daily flights.
As one of the busiest air corridors in the world, fierce competition means you're spoilt for choice when flying between Sydney and Melbourne. At the premium end, with its A330 Business Suite, Qantas offers a solid, luxurious service to make the 90-minute hop, flying the A330 a couple of times a day between the two cities.
But is it worth your hard-earned $800 (or 16,000 points)? You'll probably want to save it for more savvier uses of your coin, but if you're keen to splurge, you're buying in for one of the best short-haul flight experiences available today.
Table of contents
Flight number: QF492
Aircraft Type: Airbus A330-200
Route: Melbourne (MEL) to Sydney (SYD)
Class: Business Class
Qantas Domestic Business check-in
If you're checking in baggage for your Qantas Domestic Business flight, you're entitled to 2 pieces up to 32kg each – a generous allowance, but otherwise nothing out of the ordinary in the premium space.
You can easily check in online or on the Qantas mobile app, but if personal assistance is more up your alley (or if you have checked baggage), the Qantas Domestic Terminal in Melbourne also has a dedicated Business check-in desk, with a similar area available in Sydney.
Qantas Melbourne Domestic Business Lounge
2019 UpdateThe Qantas Melbourne Domestic Business Lounge has since been revamped. Read our review of the new lounge.
It's been several years since the Qantas lounges in Melbourne received major TLC, which has put off some of Qantas' faithful business customers. Aware of this, Qantas is currently refurbishing both its Qantas Club and Qantas Business Lounges. Despite the surrounding construction and its slightly outdated decor, the Qantas Business Lounge still currently holds up as a comfy respite – whilst not overly flashy, it's still a solid escape from the typical airport bustle to unwind or to do work.
The Melbourne lounge is a little more hidden than its Business Lounge siblings across Australia – you'll need to enter the Qantas Club first, then heading up on the second level, enter a nondescript entrance at the back of the lounge.
It can be a little confusing for the uninitiated, but upon entering the Business Lounge, you're rewarded with a quiet, relaxing space.
It's a relatively small lounge in terms of foot area (especially in comparison to Qantas' lounges in Sydney or even its Melbourne International Business Lounge), but it makes up for that with plenty of individualised zones to establish an intimate, personal space for yourself or your group.
The food offering can make or break experiences in a business lounge. Whilst far from restaurant quality, there is a decent spread available here in this lounge, including beef bourguignon, open sandwiches and a selection of soups.
There's also a decent selection of beer, wine and spirits, but the key winner in this lounge is the barista-made coffee – especially important for a cafe-driven city like Melbourne.
For a lounge coffee, it's surprisingly decent – one of the small but brilliant touches that the decerning traveller can appreciate.
Other nice touches to the Qantas Melbourne Domestic Business Lounge include strong, fast Wi-Fi (topping out at 178 Mbps), and a solid shower offering with full-sized Aspar products available. However, whilst there are plenty of power outlets against walls, the same can't be said for standalone seating, which can make for a tricky charging situation during busy periods.
Overall, it's not a fancy lounge, but compared to the general quality level of domestic lounges around the world, you are certainly spoilt with a solid, albeit quaint, space.
Qantas Domestic Business: Boarding and pre-flight
Unlike many lounges around the world heading towards "silent lounges", Qantas lounges still make short, poignant boarding calls. Whether you find it helpful or annoying, it means you don't have to "guess" when to end your valuable lounge time, unlike in other lounges where flight information screen statuses aren't highly reliable at times.
Priority boarding with Qantas flights can be hit and miss, especially in the mornings, but with this flight, the time from lounge to seat was less than three minutes. Upon boarding, you're warmly greeted at the door, and upon taking my seat, I was asked if I wanted my jacket hung in storage and if I wanted a takeoff beverage. This is a standard Qantas Business Class affair, but incredibly impressive considering this was for a very short flight at the tail end of the crew's working day.
If you're travelling with a roller or a lot of carry-on baggage, there is ample storage on board the Airbus A330-200 aircraft, with oversized overhead bins exclusive to business class passengers.
Qantas A330 Business Suite
The star of the show is Qantas' current crown jewel, the Business Suite. Measuring a width of 60cm (24 in) and a pitch of up to 147cm (57 in), it's not an overly wide seat in comparison to its competitors (including Virgin Australia's The Business seat), but it certainly feels private and spacious with its enclosing divider walls and its smart, never-ending additions of nooks and crannies.
Having used the international configuration of the Business Suite a few times since its introduction in 2015, the domestic configuration does hold up against its international sibling. That said, the domestic Business Suite is wrapped in leather; it's slightly less breathable and more "sticky" after a while in comparison to the cloth-lined international seat; not that you'd really notice on a 90-minute flight. Otherwise, it has the same benefits (and flaws) compared to the international suite.
The hallmark feature of the Business Suite is that you can "recline" your seat during take-off and landing, being one of the first business class seats in the world to allow you to do so. There's a couple of caveats – you're only allowed to recline the seat to a single, predetermined angle for take-off and landing, and you also have to wear an additional clunky sash belt (even if you're not reclining). That said, it's a fantastic way to get a head-start on a snooze before you even leave the gate. Claiming an extra 30 minutes to a comfortable nap does wonders for a busy day of travel.
The Qantas Business Suite can transform to a fully-flat bed, and unlike the previous Skybed generations, it's a truly-flat bed with no angles in sight. The alcove at your feet (and below your entertainment screen) is also very spacious, where everyone but the tallest humans can stretch their legs and get comfortable.
Finally, the suite is surrounded by mood lighting (completely adjustable with your seat controls) and includes a myriad of neat touches and little features, including a vanity mirror, an oversized shoe and blanket cubby, outlet and USB power, and a mountain of space and nooks for your devices, reading material and travel accessories.
These features make for an excellent experience for international long-haul travel, but isn't this overkill for a 90-minute hop between Sydney and Melbourne? Yes, yes it is. If you really wanted to sleep flat in your suite on this short flight, you can, but considering that half of your flight time is taking off and landing, most of the benefits of the Business Suite are simply moot. Don't count on using the Business Suite's full potential on a short flight like Melbourne to Sydney.
Qantas A330 Business Suite: Entertainment
The Qantas A330 Business Suite sports a wide 16-inch touchscreen, which is responsive to touch and looks sharp. You can also access the selection via your own device with the Qantas Entertainment app.
Speaking of selection, there's a surprisingly large list of titles on offer for a domestic flight; the library is actually comparable to those available on international sectors. First-run movies and a healthy mix of shows from premium Foxtel channels make the line-up for this flight. Don't worry about syncing your offline Netflix library as you're more than covered here.
Where this Qantas A330 does fall short is with inflight Wi-Fi. While Qantas is currently rolling out fast, free Wi-Fi to its Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 fleet, a full rollout is delayed until late 2019 and into 2020.
Food and service on Qantas Domestic Business
Whilst flying in the back of the bus is a far less generous affair these days, you can still get a decent meal in business class. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a selection of meals available on such a short flight like Melbourne to Sydney – in this case, either a chicken pasta or a vegetable korma masala.
The masala was hardly a fancy meal in both appearance and taste, but it was surprisingly enjoyable. The main was served with a selection of fresh bread and a Koko Black chocolate bar to finish.
A selection of red and white wines are available, along with beer, tea, coffee and soft drinks, continually topped up until decent. Here's a little secret though (which the cabin crew may not initially offer) – sparkling Chardonnay is available on all mainline domestic flights in Business, so if you're feeling bubbly, ask for a bottle.
As up to Qantas' solid reputation for on-time performance, the flight left on time and even arrived slightly early.
It isn't perfect every time, but Qantas cabin service is typically prompt, down-to-earth and genuine, and this flight was no exception. Rob, the Customer Service Manager for this flight, took the time to individually greet everyone in the Business Class cabin – typical on longer flights so a nice surprising touch on a short-haul flight like this one. Dawn and Nicole, the Business cabin crew, addressed me by name from memory every single time and remembered my drink preferences. Dawn even took the time to have a good chat about life in Sydney.
It's the personal touches that are lacking with similar domestic sectors around the world and just goes to show the high calibre of domestic business class in Australia, particularly Qantas' offering, where it is on par with its renowned international service.
Gabe's Qantas A330 Business Class flight rating: ★★★★★☆
On paper, it seems like this flight was perfect: a pleasant lounge, a superb Business Suite, a decent meal and excellent service. What more could you ask for?
But for a short 90-minute hop, even the best experience may not be a great value proposition when it costs $800 or 16,000 points one way, especially when you can score a Jetstar seat for $50 for the same route. Even when using points, 16,000 is nothing to sneeze at – with 20,000 more you're already in international business class territory.
Furthermore, the A330 Business Suite is only available a few times a day between Sydney and Melbourne. For most flights between the two cities, the quite-spartan Boeing 737 cabins are used which can be a relative disappointment.
But sometimes, part of the experience is to throw value propositions out the window and spoil yourself. So if you're committed to cashing in on your next flight between Sydney and Melbourne, or if your business is willingly footing the bill, there isn't a less extravagant way to hop between the two cities than the Qantas A330 Business Suite.
The Points Finder takeIt may be super overkill for most trips between Sydney and Melbourne, but the Qantas A330 Business Suite is a superb product with excellent service to match.
Gabe Palomares travelled with Qantas at his own expense.
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