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.
A United 787-9 touching down – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
United’s daily service from Los Angeles (LAX) to Melbourne (MEL), Australia is the world’s longest Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight. The long flight (UA98 is scheduled for 15 hours, 50 minutes) allowed me to not only put the 787-9 to the test, but also United’s Economy Plus product.
Flights from LAX to Melbourne take off in the late evening and arrive in the early morning, so the outbound flight is quite easy to sleep on, assuming you aren’t contemplating the remoteness of the vast Pacific Ocean. The routing typically takes the aircraft out on runway 25R, and after an eternity over open water, high above Kiribati, American Samoa, and Fiji, before crossing the Tasman Sea, leaving less than an hour of flying time over land.
Economy Plus on the United 787
As you enjoy your breakfast, you can gaze out on a sunrise over the Australian Alps and observe the Dreamliner’s wings, which are nearly free of fuel, in their most upward-bent shape. I was excited for the flight, but not sure if United could come through during such a long trip.
A Virgin Australia 737 at Melbourne Airport – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com
As an Australian expat, I will often have an opportunity to commute back to Australia for special events. This trip was one of those times. I got to head to Australia to attend a friend’s wedding (congrats Stuart & Michelle!) and thankfully it meant that I could combine a number of things together: a trip home to see friends and family, the wedding (obviously) and a mini mileage run with Virgin Australia to re-qualify for my gold status.
Though I had already re-qualified on points, I still had four segments required on Virgin Australia operated aircraft. As an AvGeek, I always look forward to these types of adventures.