Qantas Airbus A330-200 aircraft now feature the upgraded business class cabin – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Over the last 18 months, Qantas has been progressively upgrading their business class product on their Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The new business suites bring the product in line with the ever-increasing trend of direct aisle access for all business class passengers, as well lie flat beds — a first for Qantas on the domestic market. The upgraded A330-200 cabins are configured with 28 lie-flat seats in a 1-2-1 configuration that can remain in the recline position during takeoff and landing.
It has been quite some time since I last had the opportunity to fly domestically in business class with Qantas, and with my annual trip to Australia, I thought I would burn some Qantas frequent flyer points to check out their new business suites on the popular Sydney-Melbourne route, a very short 95-minute flight.
Virgin Atlantic’s “Golden Girl” Airbus A330 – Photo: Alastair Long
I recently flew Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick (LGW) to St. Lucia (UVF). It was a first-time experience for me, both flying the airline and riding on an Airbus A330-300. The flight was part of a Virgin Holidays package that my wife and I bought at the last minute, although flights to the island from London at this time of the year are also available with British Airways. I’d read mixed reviews about the Virgin Atlantic product, but my wife is a big fan – so I kept an open mind and we opted for the red livery.
I was excited to experience Airbus’ smallish wide-body over the distance, even though I understand Virgin operates the route with a 747 from time-to-time. The closest Boeing equivalent I’d flown on was a British Airways 767 from Moscow a few years ago, and I’d also enjoyed Etihad’s A340 from Abu Dhabi a few months ago – both en-route to London Heathrow – so I relished the prospect of adding a new aircraft type to my repertoire.
Now, I’m a European LCC short-haul aficionado for both personal and (formerly) professional reasons (I used to be the Airports and Ground Ops lawyer for a UK airline). Minimalist seat width, pitch, a single aisle, and scratching around for euros or pound coins to pay for coffee and a muffin are my norms, so frankly any change from that is a win in my book. Actually, that’s rubbish. I love luxury, pampering, and upgrades as much as the next person. I was just full of AvGeek zeal and excitement on the day. Even the delay at LGW security whilst my Kindle Fire was tested for explosive substances was good-natured and efficient.
Having experienced both first and economy class on Etihad, it was now time to try business Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
ETIHAD AIRWAYS PEARL BUSINESS CLASS REVIEW BASICS:
Airline: Etihad Airways
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Departed: Abu Dhabi (AUH)
Arrived: Amsterdam (AMS)
Stops: Non-stop flight
Class: Business class
Length: About 7.5 hours
Cheers: New business cabin layout, very private feel, direct aisle access for each seat, in-flight internet access (for a fee)
Jeers: Slightly narrow seat width for my liking
Overall: Etihad continues to be one of the market leaders in their premium cabin product
The Airbus A330-900neo – Image: Airbus
At the Farnborough Airshow this week, Airbus has officially announced that they will be moving forward with offering the new A330neo. Airbus is hoping that the new model will be 14% lower fuel burn per seat than the current A330 and they will be able to fly an additional 400 nautical miles.
Cabin mock up of the A330neo – Image: Airbus
“The A330 is a very important margin contributor for our Group. It’s also one of the most reliable and efficient commercial aircraft ever,” said Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus Group. “Customers love it. With our decision to re-engine the plane, we will keep the A330 flying high for many more years to come.”