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Old 11th October 2018, 12:26 AM   #1
yflyer
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Default Qantas A380 Premium Economy Revisited: QF2 from Singapore to Sydney

Last month, in early September, I made a last minute business trip to Sydney. The last two times I travelled Sydney, I flew SQ. Having sampled SQ in both Y and PEY in recent months, I was keen to reacquaint myself with Qantas’s A380 cabin products in Premium Economy on QF2 SIN-SYD, and in Economy on the return leg, QF1 SYD-SIN.

This would be my first Qantas A380 flight since the carrier resumed flying the Kangaroo Route from Sydney to London via Singapore, after 5 years flying to London via Dubai.

I had previously flown QF premium economy from Singapore to London, however that was in 2013. At the time, I was very happy with my experience. How had QF PEY evolved since then? Also, now that SQ and QF both offer premium economy on flights from Singapore to Australia and London, it would be useful to compare the two carriers to see how their respective PEY products match up.

I also had some unfinished business from my previous trips to Sydney: a meal at the Glass Brasserie at the Hilton Sydney, as well as a run across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Last edited by yflyer; 12th October 2018 at 11:19 AM..
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Old 11th October 2018, 12:27 AM   #2
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QF2 is a 7.30pm departure out of Changi T1.

There are now self-service check-in kiosks in the T1 Departure area.



Pax in premium economy could check in directly at the counters.

After immigration, I headed straight to the departure holding room, which had a dedicated security line for premium pax and frequent flyers, which was good, since there was a longish security line for regular economy.



At the gate, Qantas A380 rego VH-OQB, a 10 year old A380.



All of QF’s fleet of 12 A380’s are between 7 and 10 years old, and all currently sport the same cabin product as they did when their first A380, VH-OQA “Nancy Bird Walton” was delivered in 2008.

That said, Qantas has announced a cabin upgrade program for the A380, which will see all A380 cabins refitted, starting 2019.

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Old 11th October 2018, 12:27 AM   #3
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On time boarding through the upper deck door…



The Business Class cabin, laid out 2-2-2



These seats recline fully flat, and were already dressed in soft grey mattress toppers, as this was going to be an overnight flight to Sydney.



Very characteristic “eggshell” design…with a very long sleeping surface when fully reclined, but not a lot of space to put your things beside you in the seat. The 2-2-2 design also means that the window pax needs to step over the aisle passenger in order to get to the aisle. Also note the side storage compartments by the window.

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Old 11th October 2018, 12:28 AM   #4
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Next, the Premium Economy Cabin, laid out 2-3-2…



…with 5 rows of seats, making a total of 35 PEY seats.



The emex row…



Seat pitch was generous…



…with no underseat obstructions.



Seat recline was good. Here is the seat fully reclined.



Each seat has is an integrated thigh and footrest.

Last edited by yflyer; 11th October 2018 at 01:22 AM..
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Old 11th October 2018, 12:29 AM   #5
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Amenity kit and headphones on each seat.



The contents of the amenity kit…



Each seat also came with a large fabric covered pillow and a thick blanket…

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Old 11th October 2018, 12:32 AM   #6
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The IFE touchscreen folds out of the armrest…



There is an IFE remote control that can also be used to control the screen.



There is also A/C power with a universal socket (But no wifi).

Headphones were the noise-cancelling variety, with decent sound quality (But still not as good as a pair of your own high quality headphones, which you could use with an airline adapter).



Before take-off, the cabin crew came round with pre-take off beverages. I opted for sparkling wine, served in a real glass..



This was Katnook Founder’s Block Sparking Chardonny and Pinot Noir…

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Old 11th October 2018, 12:32 AM   #7
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A very smooth and quiet take-off…



Just over 7 hours flight time today…



Bottles of water distributed after take-off…



I browsed the IFE before dinner…



The system is still the original IFE from the A380 launch. It is still a good system, although the screen is not as impressive as the latest that SQ or EK offer on their latest planes, and there is more lag in the touchscreen than the newest IFE screens.

A very large, and intelligently chosen movie, TV and audio selection…

Movies included latest Hollywood releases, including Solo: A Star Wars Story, as well as many international selections, classic movies from the past…



Notable music selections included a new album from young cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason…



…a hugely talented musician who was invited to play at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding…


Last edited by yflyer; 18th October 2018 at 04:53 PM..
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Old 11th October 2018, 12:34 AM   #8
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It was soon time for dinner…

So far, the Qantas premium economy product was very good -- as good as any PEY that I had previously flown, but catering was where the Qantas PEY product really stood out from the competition…

The menu…



Three choices of main course, which could be pre-selected online prior to the flight.





A crisp white tablecloth was laid on the foldout tray table, the first sign that catering in QF Premium would be well differentiated from Economy…



I had pre-selected the braised beef brisket…

Dinner, comprising appetiser, main and dessert, were served together on a tray…



This was served with real ceramic bowls and casseroles, proper glasses and metal cutlery, which came wrapped in a cloth napkin.



A wonderfully presented meal, very close to business class…

This was served with a choice of wines and beverages…I chose the Ministry of Clouds Shiraz…



A refreshing salad…



The braised beef brisket came in a generously-sized portion…



This was tender and tasty.

Dessert was memorable…



A coconut pudding with palm sugar caramel (Looking a little like large sago pearls)...

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Old 11th October 2018, 12:35 AM   #9
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After that, I indulged in cheese and crackers, accompanied with Port wine…



To end off, tea and coffee were offered…



…served in proper ceramic cups…



This was an excellent meal service, which elevated the PEY product to something almost approaching business-lite…

After dinner I ordered a G&T, which was again served in a proper glass…thumbs up.

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Old 11th October 2018, 12:38 AM   #10
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It was then time to sleep…



I had no trouble sleeping in this PEY seat. This was a very comfortable PEY seat, with soft padding and a large pillow and blanket.

A picture of the PEY cabin…very good cabin ambience on the A380 upper deck…



Bathrooms were located in between the PEY and Business Class cabins…



A peek into the Business Class Cabin…



As the flight time of 7 hours did not allow for a full night’s sleep, I opted to skip breakfast prior to landing, and instead maximize my sleep till right before landing, which was at about 7am SYD time (5am in Singapore…way too early!)…


Last edited by yflyer; 11th October 2018 at 12:21 PM..
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Old 11th October 2018, 12:39 AM   #11
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Overall a very impressive flight on QF’s A380, whose PEY product has stood the test of time very well.

The hard product is no longer new, but the layout is spacious, and the seats very comfortable.

Catering was exceptional by PEY standards, better than what I have experienced on SQ, LH and BA PEY, and approaching Business Class.

Cabin service was also very warm and attentive. On the flight I was on, the cabin crew member in charge of the PEY cabin came round and welcomed each passenger by name, and thoughout the flight, passengers were taken care of very attentively.

Comparing SQ’s PEY product on the A380 with QF’s A380 PEY:

- The cabin products across the two carriers A380 aircraft is broadly comparable. SQ’s A380 PEY is 2-4-2 on the main deck, vs upper deck 2-3-2 on QF, but seat dimensions and comfort are similar.

- SQ’s newer IFE is superior in terms of quality and variety of content. SQ also has wifi, which Qantas doesn’t.

- QF’s catering is far superior to SQ PEY catering: Where SQ offers Y catering with an additional choice of main, and champagne as a beverage, QF offers a catering concept approaching Business Class.

- While SQ’s cabin crew are unique in the industry, both SQ and QF provide excellent cabin service in PEY. In fact, the cabin service concept in QF’s PEY, which is closer to J than Y, may mean that passengers might receive a higher level of service than SQ’s PEY.

I’ve not included price in the comparison, as this varies widely depending on fare bucket and dates, however this is obviously a criteria for passengers as well.

Setting price aside, I would rate QF’s premium economy product as superior to SQ, mainly because of the large gap in catering concept, with SQ’s edge only being IFE and the availability of wifi.

Given SQ’s aspiration to lead the industry, this verdict might surprise some readers, especially since many travellers, myself included, would rate SQ Business Class and Economy Class as superior to QF. It is only Premium Economy that bucks this trend, and there might be reasons as to why SQ has pitched their PEY product that way (Some say the risk of cannibalising SQ’s business class is one factor, although my personal view is that this risk is unfounded.)

Bear in mind that we are talking about a QF PEY product that has been around since their A380 launch 10 years ago. It is not a stretch to imagine that if SQ does not enhance their PEY product, the gap will likely grow wider when QF updates their A380 cabin next year. In the updated QF A380, there will be 60 PEY seats, up from 35 seats currently, so evidently the QF PEY product concept is working well.

As a fan of SQ, I am hoping the next round of SQ PEY improvements will bring the product back up to par with, or even leapfrog, QF. And I will continue to fly SQ PEY when it makes sense to do so. As it stands now, though, I look forward to flying QF’s PEY more.

Next up, a couple of days in Sydney, and a run across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, before flight QF1 SYD-SIN in Economy.

To be continued!

Last edited by yflyer; 11th October 2018 at 01:25 AM..
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Old 11th October 2018, 09:57 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yflyer View Post
Overall a very impressive flight on QF’s A380, whose PEY product has stood the test of time very well.

The hard product is no longer new, but the layout is spacious, and the seats very comfortable.

Catering was exceptional by PEY standards, better than what I have experienced on SQ, LH and BA PEY, and approaching Business Class.

Cabin service was also very warm and attentive. On the flight I was on, the cabin crew member in charge of the PEY cabin came round and welcomed each passenger by name, and thoughout the flight, passengers were taken care of very attentively.

Comparing SQ’s PEY product on the A380 with QF’s A380 PEY:

- The cabin products across the two carriers A380 aircraft is broadly comparable. SQ’s A380 PEY is 2-4-2 on the main deck, vs upper deck 2-3-2 on QF, but seat dimensions and comfort are similar.

- SQ’s newer IFE is superior in terms of quality and variety of content. SQ also has wifi, which Qantas doesn’t.

- QF’s catering is far superior to SQ PEY catering: Where SQ offers Y catering with an additional choice of main, and champagne as a beverage, QF offers a catering concept approaching Business Class.

- While SQ’s cabin crew are unique in the industry, both SQ and QF provide excellent cabin service in PEY. In fact, the cabin service concept in QF’s PEY, which is closer to J than Y, may mean that passengers might receive a higher level of service than SQ’s PEY.

I’ve not included price in the comparison, as this varies widely depending on fare bucket and dates, however this is obviously a criteria for passengers as well.

Setting price aside, I would rate QF’s premium economy product as superior to SQ, mainly because of the large gap in catering concept, with SQ’s edge only being IFE and the availability of wifi.

Given SQ’s aspiration to lead the industry, this verdict might surprise some readers, especially since many travellers, myself included, would rate SQ Business Class and Economy Class as superior to QF. It is only Premium Economy that bucks this trend, and there might be reasons as to why SQ has pitched their PEY product that way (Some say the risk of cannibalising SQ’s business class is one factor, although my personal view is that this risk is unfounded.)

Bear in mind that we are talking about a QF PEY product that has been around since their A380 launch 10 years ago. It is not a stretch to imagine that if SQ does not enhance their PEY product, the gap will likely grow wider when QF updates their A380 cabin next year. In the updated QF A380, there will be 60 PEY seats, up from 35 seats currently, so evidently the QF PEY product concept is working well.

As a fan of SQ, I am hoping the next round of SQ PEY improvements will bring the product back up to par with, or even leapfrog, QF. And I will continue to fly SQ PEY when it makes sense to do so. As it stands now, though, I look forward to flying QF’s PEY more.

Next up, a couple of days in Sydney, and a run across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, before flight QF1 SYD-SIN in Economy.

To be continued!
Really happy to see good competition in the PEY class ex-SIN. SQ's conservatism is going to come back to hound them with more of the same with a little bit of improvement. QF on the other hand is certainly trying hard to standout on its PER-LHR ULR. If they can make SYD/MEL-NYC happen, I think QF will ceratinly move into a class of its own on ULR flights.

Thanks for the TR, yflyer!
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Old 11th October 2018, 11:47 PM   #13
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As always, your trip reports are a joy to read.

All the seats look so weird without seat back screens. Never tried PEY before, because I somehow never find reasonably priced tickets. Maybe someday I'll find something palatable.
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Old 14th October 2018, 04:27 PM   #14
yflyer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarbonMan View Post
Really happy to see good competition in the PEY class ex-SIN. SQ's conservatism is going to come back to hound them with more of the same with a little bit of improvement. QF on the other hand is certainly trying hard to standout on its PER-LHR ULR. If they can make SYD/MEL-NYC happen, I think QF will ceratinly move into a class of its own on ULR flights.

Thanks for the TR, yflyer!
Thanks, CarbonMan! Given the number of potential ULR routes Qantas have, I am sure they are investing a lot of time and effort to make these flights comfortable, whichever cabin passengers are in. I am keen to try one of these QF ULH sectors in either J or PEY. Not too keen on 9-abreast 787 Y on PER-LHR though!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dfs24 View Post
As always, your trip reports are a joy to read.

All the seats look so weird without seat back screens. Never tried PEY before, because I somehow never find reasonably priced tickets. Maybe someday I'll find something palatable.
Thanks, dfs24! Apart from paying for PEY, a good option is using points to upgrade from Y to PEY, which both QF and SQ offer...
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Old 16th October 2018, 01:17 PM   #15
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Thanks Yflyer. I really enjoy reading your trip reports.

Having flown myself on PEY with SQ, LH and AC, I found QFs PEY product quite impressive, especially if compared to what SQ is offering.

What is puzzling me that only SQ choose to locate the washrooms in the Y cabin, but all others having washrooms either exclusively for the PEY cabin or shared with the J cabin. I personally would rate SQ Premium Economy rather Economy Plus, the overall package is underwhelming especially if you consider how expensive they are marketing it. The bubbly in a plastic cap is not helping it.
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