Domestic business travel is on the rebound, and Qantas is back to flying full strength – which means you can once again enjoy an international-grade business class seat on even the short Sydney-Melbourne hop, as well as on the transcontinental trek between those cities and Perth.
No, we're not going to call this a #TravelHack, although it's certainly a trick of savvy travellers and frequent flyers.
What we will call it is the smartest way to upgrade your Qantas business class experience without actually spending a single cent more on your ticket.
And it's easy to do: next time you're booking a flight on the Qantas website, look for the icon which indicates if that flight will be on a Boeing 737 or an Airbus A330.
Here's why that little icon makes a big difference.
Most domestic Qantas flights are on the Boeing 737: it's the workhorse of the Flying Kangaroo's fleet, with 80 of the popular single-aisle jets carving up the Australian skies.
But some flights between Sydney and Melbourne, as well as east-west routes to and from Perth, feature the larger and better-appointed Airbus A330.
(In fact, from late March 2023, Qantas says close to 50% of flights on the Sydney-Perth and Melbourne-Perth routes will feature an A330.)
Qantas has ten A330s assigned to its domestic fleet, and these are crowned with the same business class seat as appear on the international A330s.
Marketed as the Qantas Business Suite, it also appears – in a slightly updated form – on the Boeing 787 Dreamliners and the Airbus A380 superjumbos.
And comparing the business class seat of the Boeing 737 to the Airbus A330 is chalk and cheese.
We'd suggest that most Executive Traveller readers have flown in both, especially when it comes to Qantas' A330s on overseas jaunts of up to nine hours to Asia and Honolulu.
But why wouldn't you want to enjoy that same A330 experience on the 90-minute shuttle between Sydney and Melbourne, or those 4-5 hour coast-to-coast runs – especially if you need to get a power nap on the A330's lie-flat business class bed?
Here are some other drawcards of the domestic Qantas A330 Business Suite.
Comfort: it should go without saying that the A330's business class seat is far more comfortable than that of the Boeing 737 in every measure.
It's wider and has more legroom, has a far more ergonomic design, and the seat can be put into a relaxing recline mode for taxi, take-off and landing portions of your flight.
Don't forget that even on a Sydney-Melbourne trip, you're in that seat for much longer than the actual flying time: there's the 10-15 minutes from boarding to take-off, and maybe 5-10 minutes from landing to walking off the plane. Why not spend all that time in a great seat?
Privacy: obviously, there's no seatmate rubbing shoulder with you – even in the paired middle seats, which are separated by a shelf and divider.
But this is about more than just enjoying a greater sense of personal space: if you've got work, sensitive work, do to on your laptop or documents, there's no chance of your neighbour stealing some glances and some confidential information.
Convenience: apart from a tiny cocktail table between the Boeing 737's business class seats, there's no place to keep anything within reach.
The A330 Business Suite, on the other hand, boasts a wide shelf next to each seat, with a recessed area for parking your laptop, tablet or smartphone, a book or magazine, reading glasses or other items and oddments.
And if you need to power up or recharge your tech en route, the AC socket is within easy reach instead of being tucked away beneath your seat, and there's also a USB outlet right next to it.
WiFi: speaking of tech, all domestic A330s are fitted with the fast and free Qantas WiFi service – a welcome bonus if you need to tackle some work from A to B, especially on east-west flights which take up a large chunk of the day.
Inflight entertainment: Not so crucial if you're bounding between Sydney and Melbourne, but for transcontinental flights, the A330's seatback screens are bigger and brighter than the pokey panels of the Boeing 737.
In fact, with Virgin Australia axing its own Airbus A330s (along with the Boeing 777s) to become a Boeing 737-only airline under new owners Bain Capital, there's no argument that Qantas now boasts Australia's best domestic business class.
All the same, you should know one caveat to the A330 business class experience.
No under-seat stowage: while there's more room in the A330's overhead lockers, so you're less likely to have to cram in your bags on a crowded flight, you're not permitted to keep a small bag close at hand under the seat in front of you (unlike passengers in the second or third rows of the Qantas Boeing 737).
The easy way around this: once you're in your seat, quickly fish out from your carry-on bag anything you'll want to use during the flight and then pop your bag up overhead.
Making sure you book onto a Qantas A330
The Qantas A330 business class pretty much sells itself, so how can you make you're going to be flying in it?
When you're on the Qantas website and perusing the timetable for your next trip, pay attention to the airplane icon on the second-last row.
For most domestic Qantas flights this will either read B737 or A330 – in the screenshot below, we've highlighted these with a green circle – and you can guess which one's the prize pick.
In this case, for a Sydney-Melbourne flight in mid-2023, here's an A330 rose perched between two B737 thorns (and yes, it costs the same to fly on the A330 as on the Boeing 737, in either Aussie dollars or Qantas Points).
While there are fewer A330s between Sydney and Melbourne than once was the case, you will generally find them on morning and evening peak hour flights – so of the 30+ daily flights darting between these two cities, you may only spy two on the Airbus A330.
The ratio's higher on east-west flights, with several A330s each way each day for Sydney-Perth and Melbourne-Perth.
A final note of caution: for any number of reasons (such as a domino effect of delays, or technical issues) the Airbus A330 can be swapped out and a Boeing 737 appear in its place, so no A330 booking can be considered writ in stone.