Tokyo (Narita) - Brisbane
- Fully-flat beds, direct aisle access, and pyjamas
- Great service from this Brisbane-based crew
- Outdated Qantas lounge at Narita Airport
- Espresso coffee is most welcome on this overnight flight
Now with daily flights between Brisbane and Tokyo's Narita Airport, Qantas puts its best foot forward in business class, offering fully-flat beds, direct aisle access and pyjamas on its overnight Airbus A330-300 Business Suite flights, which Executive Traveller puts to the test.
- Frequent flyer program: Qantas Frequent Flyer, Oneworld. Beyond that alliance network (a roster that includes Japan Airlines), Qantas also maintains partnerships with an array of other international frequent flyer programs too, such as Emirates Skywards.
- Checked baggage:
- 40kg: standard allowance
- 45kg: Oneworld Sapphire frequent flyers (except Qantas Gold, below)
- 52kg: Qantas Club members, Qantas Silver and Emirates Skywards Silver frequent flyers
- 56kg: Qantas Gold and Skywards Gold frequent flyers
- 60kg: Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members; other Oneworld Emerald cardholders; Skywards Platinum frequent flyers
- 40kg: standard allowance
- Carry-on baggage allowance: 2x7kg, 115cm bags – or, 1x115cm bag (up to 7kg) plus a garment bag measuring up to 185cm.
- Airport fast-track: Check-in is swift with no line at the business class counter, and a flash of the boarding pass provides access to the nearby "Oneworld Priority" lane at security and passport control. Priority boarding is enforced, and checked bags are priority-tagged and delivered in the first batch upon arrival in Brisbane.
Qantas operates its own business class lounge at Narita Airport, conveniently situated next to the departure gates used by Qantas' flights to Brisbane and Melbourne.
The lounge itself better-resembles a Qantas domestic business class lounge of yesteryear rather than a true international business class lounge on-par with the likes of the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge, although you'll still find the expected zones for dining and relaxing, as well as a few seats geared towards pre-flight work, and before these overnight flights to Australia, shower facilities.
Executive Traveller review: Qantas Tokyo Narita lounge
Qantas flies daily between Tokyo and Brisbane, with QF62 departing Narita at 7:55pm each evening ahead of a 5:55am arrival into Brisbane the next morning, being the only airline offering non-stop service between Brisbane and Japan.
For those jetting to the Japanese capital, QF61 takes to Brisbane's skies at 9:35am each day, touching down in Tokyo for a late afternoon arrival at 5:55pm.
Out of Narita, Qantas also flies to Melbourne, while its Oneworld alliance partner Japan Airlines runs flights from Narita to both Sydney and Melbourne, too.
Sydneysiders, take note that Qantas' Tokyo-Sydney flights depart from Haneda Airport instead, being much closer to downtown Tokyo.
Business class aboard Qantas' Airbus A330-300s finds a staggered seating layout in a 1-2-1 configuration, with seats alternating between being closer to, and further away from, the aisle.
Being an overnight flight where the goal was to sleep, I opted for a seat away from the aisle to minimise the impact of any foot traffic – and for a little extra privacy, too – so selected 4A, which the seat map above shows is over on the window side:
Best seats guide: Qantas Airbus A330-300 business class
Speaking of privacy, these away-from-aisle seats place a fixed shell between you and that aisle, which proves most useful when the seat is in bed mode.
After take-off, you're free to settle into that bed, which stretches to approximately two metres in length (78.5 inches) and 58cm (23 inches) at its widest point.
On these overnight flights, pyjamas are provided too, with the 'large/extra large' size fitting most, although smaller sets are available and may be more comfortable for shorter flyers.
Next to the seat, a fixed console space offering a flat bench, as well as an L-shaped storage nook above, which is ideal for items like amenity kits, reading material, glasses, headphones, laptops when not in use, and also your water bottle, held in place in the corner:
Connections for power and headphones are at easy reach, with plenty of space around these connectors to cater for larger transformers and adaptors, if needed – although the AC outlet accommodates plugs from Australia, Japan and a number of other countries without needing such an adaptor.
Controls for your seat can be found nearby, and in addition to the standard 'upright' position for take-off and landing, there's a pre-reclined position you can switch to as well for a little more comfort.
This is also where you can control things like lighting, the in-seat massage feature, and a 'do not disturb' light, which advises the crew that you don't wish to be woken for breakfast, or interrupted for other service.
Beyond the storage that your side shelf provides, there's also a large literature pocket in front, as well as a coat hook embedded within the grooves above...
... while directly in front of you, there's plenty of space to stretch forward with a fixed footrest that later forms the tail end of your fully-flat bed.
As a taller traveller, I did find that in certain seating positions after placing the seat into bed mode, my knees would occasionally bump into the timber panel pictured above, although this was most noticeable only when moving from one position to another – such as going to bed or getting up – and which wasn't otherwise 'in the way' once comfortable.
Also of note, if you're sitting in the centre of the cabin, there's a privacy shield between each seat, which can't be lowered or otherwise retracted.
That's fine if you're flying solo, but when travelling with a companion, it can make it hard to have a conversation without leaning forward to see each other – something that Qantas addressed on its Boeing 787 aircraft where the divider can be lowered, although the Airbus A330s retain the 'original' Business Suites, with this fixed divider.
Executive Traveller review: Qantas Boeing 787 business class
As an overnight flight clocking in at exactly nine hours from gate to gate, there's a supper service after take-off, followed by a light breakfast before landing.
Getting things started is a glass of Champagne on the ground (Duval-Leroy Brut)...
... after which, the full bar opens. For a last taste of Japan, I opt for a glass of chilled Ozeki saké, which arrives with nibbles on the side:
Supper then offers a choice between two paths: a three-course Japanese menu – seasonal starters, Dainomono for main, and wagashi for dessert – or the standard menu, which provides a bit more variety.
Opt for this regular menu and your meal begins with a sweetcorn and basil soup with sourdough croutons, or with cheese and accompaniments as a light plate before heading to bed, but for those seeking more options, pre-selecting your preferred dishes online ahead of the flight offers several more choices, too.
Having filed my pre-order, I began with an 'online-only' roast duck salad, which came with bread and more green leaves on the side.
For the most part, the duck had been cooked more like chicken and so had lost some of its natural tenderness, but was still perfectly edible and went well with the chilli dressing.
For the main course, four options were available, and which were the same whether ordering online or on-board – the main advantage of pre-ordering being that you won't miss out on your first preference.
- Linguine with mushroom, spinach, cherry tomato and lemon thyme oil
- Jiangxi-style prawns with udon noodles, bok choy and sesame
- Beef sukiyaki with shallots, tofu, mushroom, chrysanthemum leaves and rice
- Roasted chicken with potato purée, green beans and rosemary butter
I'd pre-selected the beef – obviously not slow-cooked at the table, as would often be the case when ordering sukiyaki in a restaurant on the ground – but which was nice and tender, and perfectly paired to a glass of 2017 Brokenwood Pinot Noir.
For dessert, passengers can choose what they like from a list that includes a cheese plate, a Japanese cheesecake with lemon cream, ice cream, seasonal fruit, or chocolates.
Flying from Tokyo, I couldn't look past the Japanese cheesecake, which was light and sweet.
After supper comes bed, but if you're peckish throughout the flight, you can order fresh fruit, chocolate chip cookies and chocolate bars at any time – and presumably, any chilled courses if still available from the dinner service, such as the cheese plate.
Usually, Qantas' Airbus A330 inflight entertainment would provide more detail around the timing of the meal services, such as how long is remaining until breakfast, although on this flight, the detail hadn't been loaded in, so the screen just displayed "oops":
Fast-forward to breakfast, and rather than working their way through the cabin from front to back – as many airlines do – passengers were instead individually served when they awoke, allowing those sleeping to catch a little extra shut-eye.
I awoke after other passengers were already being served, and didn't need to press my call bell: the crew noticed this on their next pass of the aisle, and immediately offered some breakfast, verbally sharing that the choices were from muesli, a fruit salad, a pastry, or a bacon and egg brioche roll.
Largely still full from dinner, I was content with a simple pastry and a cup of strong coffee, but had I done my 'usual' and gone straight to sleep after take-off (skipping dinner), I'd have appreciated the heartier option of a bacon and egg roll: but being around 4:30am local time in Brisbane, wouldn't have wanted a larger breakfast in any case.
Remembering that Qantas' Airbus A330s have espresso machines on board, I followed that by a latte, which was acceptable by airplane coffee standards and tasted best after stirring.
Entertainment & Service
Fixed in front of each business class passenger is a 16-inch touchscreen HDTV...
... serving up a variety of movies, TV shows and music, including 'box sets', being entire seasons of TV shows. The screen can also be angled upward or downward, to provide a better viewing angle when reclining or for taller travellers.
When there's work to do, I like having the 'moving map' open in the background to keep tabs on the journey, but being an overnight journey, this leg was fortunately better-suited to sleeping.
As above, the system can be controlled by touch, but there's a remote control tucked away to your side, if you run into any trouble.
Service-wise, cabin crew made good use of the aircraft's soft, dimmed lighting, which made for a peaceful transition into and out of rest, and were proactive in providing assistance: such as by offering to hang my outfit in the closet after changing into pyjamas.
The flight's Customer Service Manager Matt was also particularly knowledgeable in wine and saké, and easily engaged in conversation throughout the flight, without being too 'familiar'.
Overall, a comfortable and enjoyable journey – and speaking as a Brisbane resident, this non-stop flight from Tokyo is most definitely preferable to transiting via Sydney, as was necessary until just a few short years ago.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Tokyo at his own expense using frequent flyer points.