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Qantas from Singapore to Australia: 787-9 Premium Economy & A380 Business Class

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  • Qantas from Singapore to Australia: 787-9 Premium Economy & A380 Business Class

    In September of this year, I went on an extended business trip to Australia. This spanned two weeks, and covered Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, as well as a personal side trip to Perth. It was a long time to be away from home, but it was necessary from a work perspective, and also gave me the opportunity to visit friends and family while on the road.

    I flew the trip entirely on Qantas, including one segment on QF's LCC arm, Jetstar.

    I am based in Singapore, and SQ is my favourite airline. Why did I fly Qantas?

    For this trip, I did so because I was keen to see what the post-COVID experience was like on QF. My last experiences on Qantas were pre-COVID, on their A330 and also their A380 with the 1st gen cabin product. My experiences back then were very positive. Now Qantas was operating new Boeing 787-9's to Singapore, along with Airbus A380's, reactivated from storage during the pandemic, and equipped with refreshed cabin products. The Qantas Singapore Lounge, closed during the pandemic, was also now open again. My flights on QF would be on new equipment and/or new cabin products that I had not tried before. I would also get to revisit one of my favourite lounges at Changi.

    Regulars on this forum will know that in the pre-COVID heyday of business travel, I travelled enough to hit both Star Alliance Gold / KF Gold and Oneworld Sapphire / Qantas Gold in a single qualification year. As the pandemic ended, both SQ and QF were kind enough to allow me to maintain status even though I did no flying during the pandemic. But now that travel is booming again, airlines are again starting to qualify status very strictly. I no longer fly enough to qualify for Gold status (or its equivalent) on both Star and Oneworld simultaneously.

    At some point later this year, I will need to make a decision whether to fly the rest of the qualification year on SQ / Star Alliance or QF / Oneworld. My previous trips in the past year were with Star Alliance Carriers (SQ, TG, NH, LH, LX). This trip would provide me with a perspective on what was going on in the QF / Oneworld camp, and hopefully better inform my decision.

    On this trip, I would begin with a SIN-MEL sector on one of QF's newest equipment types, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, in Premium Economy. Then, a domestic QF 737 sector to Brisbane in Economy, followed by a Jetstar A320 Y sector back to Melbourne. After that, a QF A330 segment in Business from Melbourne to Perth, and a return on the same aircraft type in Economy. After that, a MEL-SYD sector in QF 737 Y, before flying home on a Qantas A380 in Business Class, on flight QF1 SYD-SIN, on an aircraft with new refreshed A380 cabin products and a revamped upper deck lounge.

    Along the way, a few runs in Perth and Melbourne, as well as some amazing meals, including omakase sushi at Melbourne's Minamishima, steak at Rockpool Bar & Grill in both Sydney and Melbourne. I could not resist old favourites such as Lulu's Char Koay Teow in Melbourne, and Beef pho at Mekong in Melbourne, and Pho Pasteur in Sydney.

    I've recently developed a taste for cocktails and mixology. On this trip, I visited several excellent cocktail bars, including Nick & Nora and Lily Black's in Melbourne (Where I caught up with fellow SQTalker SQ228), and Cantina OK!, Baxter's Inn, Dean & Nancy on 22 and Maybe Sammy, in Sydney.

    On this trip, I stayed at several excellent properties, including the DoubleTree Hilton Flinders Street in Melbourne, and the West Hotel in Sydney, part of the Hilton Curio collection. These 2 might now be my preferred hotel choices if I visit these cities again.

    Fasten your seat belts, sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of this trip report!

    Last edited by yflyer; 23 October 2023, 04:29 PM.

  • #2
    My trip began in early September. Mrs yflyer was kind enough to drop me off at Changi Airport T1 for my flight QF36, an 8.15pm departure that would get me into Melbourne at 5.40am.



    Inside T1, I spent a few moments admiring the Kinetic Rain sculpture...



    ...before heading past the banks of check-in kiosks to the manned check in counters to pick up a physical boarding pass...



    The automated passport control gate area was fairly busy, but traffic flow was quick.



    The airside area was fairly busy, with shops open and many pax milling around...



    Last edited by yflyer; 11 October 2023, 10:07 AM.

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    • #3
      My first stop was the Qantas Singapore Lounge.



      Note that while F and Platinum / Oneworld Emerald pax were welcome in this lounge, there is a separate QF First Lounge in another part of T1, so this lounge is really targeted at Business Class pax as well as Qantas Club, QF Gold and Oneworld Sapphire.



      This was a very large and spacious lounge...



      ...with modern styling and excellent ambience...



      There was a large wine selection available for self-pour...



      ...as well a full manned bar...



      The extensive drink list...



      Glasses were laid out on long counters...



      Some of the red wines available...



      Sparkling, white and rosť wines...



      I poured myself a glass of 19 Crimes Blanc de Blancs...

      Last edited by yflyer; 2 October 2023, 12:43 PM.

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      • #4
        There was a large, dedicated, dining area with a buffet spread...



        Cold Starters...



        ...and salads...



        These looked really appetising...



        The hot buffet selection...



        Beef massaman curry and grilled zucchini...



        Pasta with cheese and pumpkin, mushroom and parsley...



        There were also two cooked-to-order items: Seafood laksa and a chicken sandwich...



        I sampled their laksa...



        Yum, very tasty...with mee tai bak instead of the usual thick bee hoon noodles....



        The dessert selection...



        Comment


        • #5
          There were large and well equipped shower rooms.





          On the whole, I thought this was an excellent lounge -- one of my favourites in Changi.

          Compared to the SQ's SilverKris Business Class Lounges and Krisflyer Gold lounges, I generally preferred the decor of the QF lounge to the SQ lounges. The decor theme seemed more coherent, whereas the SQ Lounge felt like a hodge podge of different design themes -- the fact that the QF Lounge wasn't too busy was also a factor. While the food selection in the SQ SilverKris J lounges was greater, I did appreciate the fact that the QF lounge emphasized quality over quantity. As for wine and liquor, while SQ had the edge with Champagne, the drink selection at the QF lounge was wide and well curated.

          As a lounge for Business Class pax and QF Gold / Oneworld Sapphire members, the Qantas Singapore Lounge sets an extremely high standard.
          Last edited by yflyer; 2 October 2023, 12:53 PM.

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          • #6
            I headed to gate C26 to await boarding.



            Boarding, and subsequent departure, was delayed by about 30 minutes, while some engineering work was done.

            The aircraft taking us to Melbourne this evening was Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner rego VH-ZNM, Qantas' 13th Dreamliner, delivered just 3 months prior, in June 2023.



            A very warm welcome at the aircraft door...



            This was a 3-class aircraft, with 42 Business Class seats, 28 Premium Economy, and 166 Economy seats.

            I passed through the Business Class section, laid out in staggered1-2-1 layout...



            These seats were based on the Thomson Aero VantageXL seat frame, and looked both stylish and comfortable.



            The window side seats alternated with seats close to the window, and seats closer to the aisle, with a console next to each seat which doubled as the foot cubby hole for the seat behind it.



            Seats in the middle bank were similarly staggered...



            There were privacy screens built into the seats, which helped provide decent privacy between pax...



            At this time, there is good consistency in the long haul business class product from Qantas: their international A330, 787-9 and refreshed A380 all use versions of this Thomson Aero VantageXL seat product, with just minor differences.



            What a nice business class seat product. While I would not get to try this seat tonight, I would get to try a very similar seat on the A380 on my SYD-SIN return in 2 weeks time.
            Last edited by yflyer; 4 October 2023, 10:38 AM.

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            • #7
              The Premium Economy Cabin looked really good as well, with seats laid out 2-3-2.



              These were seats from Thomson Aero, which had been heavily customised for Qantas.



              These seats were wide, and very comfortable.



              Legroom looked generous...



              To my eyes, these seats looked far more impressive than SQ's A350 PEY seats, and also much more stylish and modern that ANA's 787-9 PEY seats.

              My seat was 20D in the Premium Economy section, but I couldn't resist taking peek into Economy.

              Comment


              • #8
                The Economy cabin was laid out in 9-abreast 3-3-3.



                The seats looked modern and comfortable, with state of the art IFE...



                But then, 9-abreast Y on a 787 wasn't really something to rave about. Was it tolerable? I guess. But not quite the most comfortable way to fly Y...



                At least Qantas saw fit to provide each Y pax with a large soft pillow, with a real fabric pillow case.
                Last edited by yflyer; 1 October 2023, 08:53 PM.

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                • #9
                  I headed back to my seat in the PEY cabin, seat 20D, the bulkhead aisle seat...



                  This seat was stored under a sliding wood-finish panel on the armrest...



                  This was a nice design, and solidly built, but it took a fair bit of force to push the display back into storage after use.



                  There was a USB charging point (A/C power also available)....



                  Sturdy tray table stowed in the other armest...



                  Seat recline button and IFE controller in the side of the armest...



                  The bulkhead PEY seats had a combined storage slot and mesh footrest in front of the seat.



                  The mesh footrest could be raised to support the feet in a comfortable resting position when the seat was reclined.



                  It was nice to see a real hardcopy inflight magazine. I didn't realize how much I missed a physical magazine until I started browsing this. Please, SQ, bring back the SilverKris magazine!



                  Reading light integrated into the seat frame...



                  Noise-cancelling headphones and amenity kit.



                  I found the headphones' sound quality decent, but I found the headphones a slightly tight fit, and felt warm and uncomfortable after extended use. I much preferred the PEY / J headphones on SQ, which had good sound quality, and could be worn comfortably for much longer.

                  The contents of the amenity kit...


                  Last edited by yflyer; 4 October 2023, 10:41 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I was offered a pre-departure beverage, a choice of either sparkling wine or sparkling water...I picked the sparkling wine...



                    A pre-daparture beverage served in real glassware, in PEY...imagine that! A sign of things to come, as far as PEY catering was concerned...

                    The Captain came on the PA to welcome pax onboard and provide details on the flight. I was pleasantly surprised to hear a female voice. It was Captain Caroline in command of the flight this evening. While not the first time I've flown on a plane with a female pilot, it didn't occur all that often...

                    The current Qantas video celebrated QF's 100th anniversary with scenes from aviation history...I found this to be a wonderful safety video, which certainly held my attention...



                    The video cleverly demonstrated safety features in a variety of aircraft types over the years...



                    ...complete with cast members in era-appropriate clothing and hairstyles...brilliant!



                    I also did a double take when I thought one of the flight attendents in the safety video looked familiar...



                    He was standing right next to me as the safety video played.

                    "Did they pay you for that?"...the pax next to me asked him. She had also recognised him from the video!

                    "No! I should have asked to be paid!"...he replied with laugh!
                    Last edited by yflyer; 2 October 2023, 01:01 PM.

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                    • #11
                      We taxi'ed to our runway and took off into the night sky...

                      Once seatbelts signs were off, I checked out the IFE...



                      This was very good, with clear and sharp widescreen, with an excellent programme selection...



                      ...comprising movies, TV and music...



                      Audio selections looked quite comprehensive...



                      The Airshow display and map was also integrated into the IFE...



                      We departed Changi slightly behind schedule, at 9:13pm, and with a 7 hr 1 min flight time, this would get us into Melbourne at 6:14am, just over half an hour behind schedule...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Cabin ambience in the PEY cabin was excellent. We were in a curtained off section, just behind Business, and ahead of Economy.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It was time to dine. Printed menus were provided...



                          On this flight, there would be dinner, followed by breakfast prior to arrival...



                          The drink menu...



                          Dinner was served on a single tray. For PEY, this was spectacular.



                          This was real china, metal cutlery and real glassware. Almost business class!



                          This really put almost every other airlines' PEY catering in the shade. SQ's PEY catering is essentially Y catering, and so is ANA's. And to add insult to injury, on a recent ANA Premium Economy flight from Singapore to Tokyo, I was served wine and even a G&T in a paper cup.

                          It is clear that here, Qantas sets the standard for premium economy catering. They are so far ahead of SQ and ANA here that it's not even worth putting up a comparison.

                          I was offered a slice of bread from a basket...



                          The smoked salmon salad was good...




                          To accompany my meal, I asked for a Gin & Tonic, and I was so pleased to see it served in a proper glass, complete with lemon slice. Perfect.



                          I chose the beef brisket noodles as my main, and was not disappointed. This was delicious!



                          There was also Singapore Roast Chicken Rice on the menu as another main option. It looked good to me when I peeked at my fellow pax's meal, but from where I was sitting, it was not clear if this dish came with chilli sauce. I hope it did (Because it's not really Singapore Chicken Rice unless it comes with chilli!).

                          I asked for a glass of red wine to have with my noodles. There were a couple of bottles on offer, and I picked the Pinot Noir.



                          Mmmm...very good...and once again served in proper glassware...



                          Dessert was fine as well.



                          The cheese came in a plastic wrapper, but still, very satisfying...



                          What a wonderful meal. As good as it gets in PEY.
                          Last edited by yflyer; 2 October 2023, 09:59 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Finally, a glass of Bailey's Irish Cream as a nightcap...



                            Each PEY seat came with a thick blanket, and a large pillow...



                            The pillow could be attached to the top of your seat...



                            Seat recline was good...



                            Together with the extended mesh footrest, I could sleep quite comfortably. While this wasn't a fully flat bed like in Business, it was a quantum leap up from Economy.

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                            • #15
                              Before sleeping, I took a quick stroll around the cabin.

                              In the galley, snacks were laid out.



                              To use the restrooms, you had to go through the curtain into the Y cabin and go past a few rows of Y seats, but this wasn't too disruptive.



                              Some pax from the PEY cabin went forward to use the J lavs occasionally, but the cabin crew weren't too fussed about that on this occasion.

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