With Australian carrier and Oneworld member Qantas operating 40 flights per week from Singapore to five cities, all with the same flat-bed product in Business Class, it was high time for Mainly Miles to jump on board and thoroughly review the experience.
I took a trip on the airline’s shortest Australia – Singapore connection, between Perth and the Lion City, to find out what you can expect from the Qantas product in long-haul Business Class.
- Flight: QF71 Perth T3 to Singapore Changi T1
- Class: Business
- Seat: 5K
- Aircraft Type: Airbus A330-300
- Aircraft Registration: VH-QPC
- Aircraft Age: 19.1 years
- Date: December 2022
- Departure / Arrival: 11:25 / 16:45
- Flight Time: 5h 20m
- Cost: 38,750 Avios + AU$106.82 (~S$98)
Taxes and fees of AU$106.82 on this flight predominantly relate to mandatory taxes and charges imposed by the Australian Government and Perth Airport, which you’ll also pay when making a Singapore Airlines redemption on this route.
The slight difference is a small fuel surcharge levied by Qantas of AU$17.50 (around S$16).
The Thompson Vantage XL seat
Qantas was launch customer for the Thompson Aero Vantage XL Business Class seat, introducing it on domestic flights in December 2014 on these very same Airbus A330-300s, then on its international debut to and from Singapore the following month.
Qantas calls this its “Business Suite”, though it’s not really a suite since there are no closing doors, however privacy is quite good and there is plenty of personal space.
The seat now features on all Qantas wide-body aircraft in Business Class, including the carrier’s flights to and from Singapore, with those installed more recently on the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 sporting some additional enhancements.
Here are the key stats:
- Layout: 1-2-1
- Seat Width: 23″ – 24″ (58cm – 61cm)
- Bed Length: 80″ (203cm)
- Recline: 180o
- IFE Screen: 16″ (41cm) HD
For comparison, this seat is 3-4″ wider than the Singapore Airlines’ wide-body Regional Business Class seat, with around 3″ more bed length, making it arguably a better option on the Perth route, where SIA exclusively operates its smaller Regional Business Class product on the A350 Medium Haul or Boeing 787-10.
The Qantas Airbus A330-300 has 28 Business Class seats across seven rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Two toilets serve the cabin, one at the front left and one at the back right.
As you can see from the seat map, Qantas did not opt for ‘couple’ seats at alternate rows on this aircraft, like Singapore Airlines did with its Regional Business Class product, so all seats are staggered from one another, even in the middle section.
Solo travellers will probably want to opt for one of the window-aligned seats where the console is between the seat and the aisle, for added privacy, which are found on even-numbered rows at 2 A/K, 4 A/K and 6 A/K.
Those in the odd-numbered rows at the A/K seats do have less privacy, but benefit from an extended side console against the window itself, which is useful for storage and working.
I mistakenly selected seat 5K, on the recollection that it was the odd-numbered rows that had better privacy, and by the time I realised my mistake, the solo seats at the even rows on this flight had all been taken.
Nonetheless I was still looking forward to trying the aisle-aligned window seat on this trip.
Do be aware that the seat selection tool on the Qantas website does not help you determine which seats have more or less privacy, so you need to be using a site like aeroLOPA for this!
‘Down the back’, for those interested, the balance of seats on the Qantas A330-300 is made up of 269 Economy Class seats in a 2-4-2 configuration (which tapers to 2-3-2 in the final few rows, as the cabin narrows).
This flight was scheduled to depart Perth at 11.25am, however Qantas sent me an SMS the previous morning, advising of a schedule change to a 2.10pm departure, which would see us landing into Singapore at 7.30pm, nearly three hours later than planned.
Luckily this wasn’t a major issue for me (in fact it gave me a longer lie-in and more relaxed breakfast at the hotel that morning), and I arrived at Perth Airport at a more civilised 11am, rather than the 9am I had originally planned for.
Remember that all Qantas flights from Perth, including international services, depart from T3, the carrier’s own terminal, not from T1 where most other international departures (including Singapore Airlines flights) originate.
Don’t make the mistake of heading to T1 to check-in, which is physically located on the opposite side of the runway to T3 and will then involve a 15-minute bus ride for you to reach the right place!
There were five check-in desks open for the flight, one of which was set aside for Business Class passengers and Qantas or Oneworld elite status holders.
There was only one couple ahead of me in the queue and I was checked in just a couple of minutes later.
Initially you have to proceed through domestic security at T3, which is simple since nothing whatsoever needs to be removed from your carry-on baggage, thanks to enhanced scanning technology now available here and at a few Australian airports.
After that though, you’ll need to find the entrance to the Qantas International section, where you then go through Immigration (the auto-gates seem to work a charm), and immediately after that a more regular security screening, which unfortunately does involve removing laptops, tablets and liquids, etc.
Yes, it means you go through security twice! It all sounds a bit convoluted, but from joining the check-in desk queue to reaching the lounge entrance in the international section actually only took me 10 minutes in total, since the terminal was very quiet.
Qantas Business Class passengers heading to Singapore on QF71 can use the airline’s Perth International Lounge in T3, which is located after the international immigration and security checkpoint, with the wood-clad entrance more or less unmissable on the right side.
Access is also permitted by Qantas or Oneworld elite status, if you’re flying Economy Class.
Qantas originally built this lounge exclusively for eligible passengers on its Melbourne – Perth – London service, operated daily by a Boeing 787-9 (hence its original name, and still current signage, as “The Qantas Perth International Transit Lounge”).
That meant those travelling from Perth to Singapore on QF71 were instead directed to T4’s domestic Qantas Business Lounge or Qantas Club, but happily that policy changed in May 2022.
All departing international lounge-eligible Qantas passengers from Perth can now access this International Lounge, complete with 15 private shower suites, plus an outdoor bar and dining section.
The lounge has a good range of seating options, ample charging points (Aussie plugs only, plus USB ports, so you may need your adaptor), fast Wi-Fi (50 Mbps) and a nice F&B selection.
Bread is freshly baked by chefs in the lounge itself, so despite having just had breakfast in the hotel I decided to treat myself to a pre-flight snack of goat curd, tomato and basil bruschetta, with a vermicelli and tofu salad on the side – very tasty.
I was even offered the option to join a 15-minute stretching and meditation session by a yoga instructor, but passed on this as it’s really no my thing.
Champagne is not offered, but once the clock hit 12pm (ok it may have been a few minutes before 12!), I asked the bartender for a glass of the Sparkling Wine (Seppelt Fleur de Lys from Victoria), which was an acceptable drop – crisp and light.
The lounge is operated by Accor-Sofitel, like many other Qantas lounges including those in Singapore. Service was very friendly and attentive, with empty plates and glasses cleared away promptly.
After catching up on some work in the lounge, I headed down to the gate shortly before the revised boarding time, to find our A330 basking in the Perth sunshine.
Unfortunately departure was further delayed, so we didn’t get on board until 3.15pm, though I didn’t mind taking a seat in the gate area for a change of scenery from the lounge (which sadly has no external views).
While I was waiting, many passengers with onward connections from Singapore on Jetstar were keeping the gate staff busy with their transit concerns, as was a large group continuing to Colombo on SriLankan Airlines. The risks of connecting itineraries I guess!
Boarding was through the second main entry door, so it was a ‘turn left’ experience for Business Class passengers after being welcomed by the crew, who all seemed happy despite the delay.
My seat 5K was prepared with the mattress and pillow waiting, plus the in-flight menu and amenity kit on the side console.