The Battle of The Transcontinental Business Class : Virgin Australia vs Qantas (Part 2)
PART 2 : QANTAS
Following on from Part 1 this part shows the return to Melbourne, this time on Qantas.
ROUTE: Perth to Melbourne
AIRCRAFT: Airbus A330-200 VH-EBM
SEAT: 2A (Business Class)
DEPARTURE: 10.00 (Scheduled) 09.55 (Actual)
ARRIVAL: 15.30 (Schedules) 14.55 (Actual) 35 Minutes Early!
|VH-EBM at the gate|
|Qantas Club Perth|
|Small breakfast while I wait for my flight|
|Nice views from the lounge|
|Economy class meals being loaded onto VH-EBM|
1. The international Skybed with angled lie flat seats (60 inch pitch, 21.5 inch width)
2. The domestic 2x3x2 recliners configuration with middle seat blocked for 'space' (measurements unknown)
3. The domestix 2x2x2 recliners configuration (35-37 inch pitch, 21.5 inch width)
Today I was flying on the 3rd configuration which is the next best thing after the angled lie flats. My aircraft VH-EBM was just under 4 years old at the time of this flight and is fitted with 36 business class seats and 265 economy seats. All seats feature an audio video on demand entertainment system.
At about 935am the flight was called for boarding and I headed down the escalator and found the gate was just a few metres from the lounge exit point. That was very convenient, and on this occasion priority boarding worked and I was able to board immediately. Both the front doors were being used which meant that there was no economy class passengers filing through the business class cabin which is handy when you are trying to store your cabin bags and get settled. As I entered the aircraft I was warmly greeted by name and directed to row 2.
|The Qantas A330-200 Business Cabin on VH-EBM|
|Seat 2A with pillow, blanket and menu|
|more cabin shots|
|Another cabin shot|
|Seat 1A is my preference due to having nobody reclining into you but legroom is limited|
|Looking across to the business class wardrobe|
It was also immediately apparent that this crew was a lot more senior than the crew I had experienced on Virgin the day before, this is not necessarily a bad thing and after all Qantas have been around a very long time.
With boarding complete early we managed to have doors closed 5 minutes ahead of schedule at 9.55am. I was lucky that 2B remained vacant giving me loads of room to move. The captain came on the PA and announced a very fast flight time of 2 hours 45 minutes, this was about 1 hour 45 mins faster than the flight over the day before... amazing what a difference the winds can make!
Considering this flight time I wasn't so disappointed that I had missed out on the skybed as I would hardly have time to sleep or relax after lunch anyway. The captain said that due to the high winds there may be a few bumps during the climb to cruise and once the announcement was over we pushed back and made our way to the runway for takeoff.
|Climbing out of Perth|
|Soon enough we are above the cloud and in clear sky tracking towards Melbourne|
|Basic Controls for entertainment system - the rest can be done on the touch screen|
|TV screen and tray table neatly tucked away in arm rest|
|Entertainment system out with airshow display|
|Nice thick duvet style blanket|
|Despite the narrow pitch I can still comfortably cross my legs|
Once the seatbelt sign was off the crew started preparing the meal service. With the short flight time the service really needed to commence right away. First up, a round of drinks with some nuts! Meal orders were also taken at this point.
I elected to have a glass of the Wirra Wirra 12th Man Chardonnay (Adelaide Hills) which was quite a nice drop ($27 a bottle at Dan Murphy's). The nuts came in a packet which was a significant downgrade in presentation compared to the heated nuts on Virgin the day before which were served in a bowl.
|First drinks being served at this point - nice and fast|
It was nice but sadly wasn't quite hot enough. It needed to stay in the overn about 5 minutes more at least. Not long afterwards I peaked out the window and saw we were crossing the West Australian coastline and heading out to see over the 'Great Australian Bight'. Interestingly when you think of crossing the continent by land you think of the desert, but by air the most direct path is mostly over the water!
|Farewell Western Australia|
|Beef Sausage - 'big plate'|
Around 20 or 30 minutes after my main course I decided to ask for the cheese plate with accompaniments and a glass of Baileys on ice. Here is how it came:
The cheese was a soft type and quite strong in flavour but I enjoyed it. It came with some dried apples and grapes and crackers. The menu says this plate is available at any time during the flight. Whilst I sat there enjoying my cheese another cart made an appearance in the aisle:
It was the tea, coffee, fruits and dessert cart! Not to mention quite a few bottles of Baileys too. I decided to partake in a lovely little cake:
I can't remember exactly what it was but I believe it was a citrus cake of some sort, perhaps lemon. I do recall that it was delicious though! Plates of fresh fruit were available as well but I was rather full by this point. My tray table was cleared and I headed for a quick pitstop in the lavatory before landing. It was interesting to note that there was no special brand name amenities or hand creams like Virgin had in the lavatory. However proper cotton towels are available whereas Virgin used paper towels.
By this stage it was over 2 hours into the flight and we were just 15 minutes from top of descent. It's a very different experience to the flight in the other direction as after the meal you still have a couple of hours ahead of you. With this in mind I did not miss the fact that my seat was only a recliner as I definitely had no time for sleep anyway.
The captain came on the PA again to do his arrival briefing and we were told a bit of a storm had been passing through Melbourne and we should expect high winds and a bit of turbulence on approach.
|Descent has commenced over Victoria|
A series of left hand turns saw us approaching the airport from the east for a landing on runway 27, giving us some good views of Melbourne:
Overall a very pleasant flying experience and in Part 3 I will do a proper comparison of the two airlines and what they offered and my final opinions.