Innovative upgrade wrapping passengers in cosy comfort, or sleep-wrecking slab on that crucial 9+ hour overnight leg to Sydney?
Travellers on Qantas’ popular Sydney-Bangkok flight will soon make up their own mind about the debut of a unique non-reclining business class seat on the route.
Described as being ‘a sofa in the sky’, the same Finnair AirLounge business class seat already features on selected Qantas flights between Sydney and Singapore, with Qantas flying a leased Airbus A330 jet from Oneworld partner Finnair to address a shortfall in its own fleet as post-pandemic travel continues to grow.
And from Sunday March 31, Qantas will replace its own Airbus A330 on the Sydney-Bangkok route with another Finnair A330.
The change will be accompanied by new flight numbers and a footnote that the flight “is operated by Finnair For Qantas.”
- Sydney-Bangkok QF23 becomes QF295
- Bangkok-Sydney QF24 becomes QF296
The Finnair A330s are expected to remain a fixture on the Sydney-Singapore and Sydney-Bangkok corridors until the end of 2027, at which point the first new Boeing 787s intended to replace the A330s will arrive.
Thankfully, you’ll still earn same number of Qantas Points and Status Credits as if this was a 100% Qantas flight on a red-tailed jet – and that will include a double serve of Status Credits when the next Qantas Double Status Credits offer drops.
Qantas’ new Sydney-Bangkok business class
So what can Bangkok-bound business travellers expect?
Most people who’ve flown in Finnair’s latest business class tend to have very positive reactions, including praise as the best non-doored business class.
But when the pendulum of opinion swings the other way there’s a sharp shift into ‘so uncomfortable, I’ll never fly it again’ territory.
The entire padded inside of this over-sized curved shell is your seat – and it’s a seat that’s fixed in place.
It doesn’t recline into sundeck-style mode, let alone to become a bed. It doesn’t recline at all. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean you have to sit bolt upright for the whole flight.
One corner of the AirLounge’s front shell, off to the side of 18” video screen, contains an alcove for your feet.
When it’s time to sleep, two padded panels swing up between the seat and ottoman to create a continuous space which becomes your fully-flat bed.
The AirLounge’s fixed-in-place nature requires more effort on the part of the passenger to get comfortable.
Because the seat doesn’t recline, you’re either sitting upright or lying flat – there’s no in-between position unless you create it yourself.
So be prepared to change position, wiggle around and nestle in, lean this way and slouch that way in order to make yourself at home, because the seat won’t do any of that for you.
Premium economy for Sydney-Bangkok
There’s a hidden bonus from this A330 switch: unlike the Qantas jets, the Finnair versions include premium economy (while gaining the same count of 28 business class seats),
This opens up new opportunities for not only greater comfort than economy – at a higher cost, of course – but also potential points-based upgrades from economy to premium economy.
Finnair’s A330 premium economy cabin is quite small and intimate, with just 21 seats (in three rows of a 2-3-2 layout) and its own dedicated washroom.
These premium economy recliners are quite a comfortable one overall, with the standout feature being a single-piece ‘waterfall’ legrest as shown in the photo below, although without a footrest to complete your relaxing recline.
Each passenger gets their own AC and USB power outlets, with a second USB socket in a handy recess below the 13” video screen.
With the same 38” pitch as the Qantas A380 and 787 premium economy seats there’s a decent amount of legroom, and as ways the front row (row 21) delivers maximum stretch.
However, in other dimensions Finnair’s premium economy seat is a notch behind its Qantas equivalent – the recline is 8” whereas Qantas has 9.5 inches, while the 18.7” seat width is narrower than the Red Roo’s 19.5-21 inches.
There’s also a movable 6-way head rest, although you don’t get Finnair’s Marimekko-designed neck pillow: while Finnair is supplying the aircraft and crew, Qantas will look after the catering and IFE content as well as ‘soft product’ elements such as pillows and blankets.
And if you’re suck in economy, you can always try to select one of Finnair’s extra legroom seats, found in the centre section of rows 32 through 36 (in other words, any of the D, E, G or H seats in those rows).
The best Bangkok lounges for Qantas passengers
And here’s some final advice: ahead of the 6pm flight back to Sydney, Qantas directs loungeworthy travellers – including business class passengers and top-tier frequent flyers – to the independent Miracle Lounge.
You should ignore that and steer well clear of the second-rate Miracle Lounge, unless you’re in economy or premium economy and holding only Qantas Cub membership – because there are far better lounges available through the Oneworld and Qantas/Emirates partnerships.
Business class passengers should make a beeline to the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge in Concourse D for its à la carte dining room, cocktail bar and refined ambience.
Just be aware that the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge doesn’t open until 4pm, so if you’re at the airport earlier (which we’re almost certain you will be) head for one of the two options below.
The Cathay Pacific Lounge in Concourse G is the go-to for Qantas Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers (because the Qatar Airways lounge is only for business and first class passengers).
With the same elegant design as many of its siblings – including Hong Kong’s The Deck and The Pier plus Cathay lounges at Tokyo Haneda, Taiwan and Manila – you can look forward to delights from The Noodle Bar and a tended cocktail bar, a pleasing buffet spread plus plenty of comfortable chairs and sofas where you can settle in.
Another option for Qantas business class passengers and Platinum- or Gold-grade frequent flyers is the Emirates Lounge at Concourse G.
It’s exactly what you’ve come to expect from Emirates lounges around the world, and that’s a good thing if you’re a fan of the excellent buffet and the self-pour Champagne and spirits.