Review: QantasLink/Alliance Embraer E190 economy (Alice Springs-Darwin)

With no such thing as a middle seat, the QantasLink Embraer E190s are a choice pick for economy flyers.

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, September 15 2021
QantasLink/Alliance Embraer E190 economy (Alice Springs-Darwin)
Route

Alice Springs to Darwin

Aircraft Type

Embraer E190

Airline

Qantas

Flight

QF1961

Cabin Class

Economy

Seat

6B (aisle)

Notes
The Good
  • Food and drinks complimentary for all, including beer and wine from 4pm
The Bad
  • Unlike other Qantas jets, there are no seatback tablet holders here
X-Factor
  • Aboard the Embraer E190, there's no such thing as a middle seat
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

QantasLink's partnership with Alliance Airlines has brought the Embraer E190 back to the domestic skies, now appearing on selected regional routes across the country.

With just 84 seats in economy, plus 10 in business class, the nimble E190 is about half the size of a Boeing 737, making it perfect for Red Centre hops like Alice Springs to Darwin.

Check-in

Depending on your frequent flyer status, here's what you can pack:

  • Checked baggage allowance:
    • 1x23kg: standard allowance
    • 1x32kg: Qantas Club, Qantas Silver
    • 2x32kg: Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One, Chairman's Lounge
    • 2x23kg: other Oneworld Sapphire/Oneworld Emerald guests
  • Carry-on baggage choices:
    • One 10kg bag: maximum dimensions of 115cm
    • Two bags (14kg total, max. 10kg in one item): maximum dimensions of 105cm each
    • 1x10kg bag + 1x suit pack: maximum bag dimensions of 105cm, maximum suit pack dimensions of 185cm
    • Plus: One personal item per person, such as a laptop satchel, handbag, overcoat, camera, or duty-free goods.

Lounge

On its own, an economy class ticket doesn't get you into the lounge – but for Qantas Club members plus Gold frequent flyers and above, the Qantas Club awaits in Alice Springs

Opening one hour before each flight, the recently renovated space feels modern and fresh, with a buffet offering a variety of self-service food and drinks. 

From time to time, 'tray arounds' make an appearance. This 6pm visit found crispy spring rolls with sweet chilli sauce on offer.

ET review: Qantas Club domestic lounge, Alice Springs

Flight

Between Alice Springs and Darwin, QantasLink provides double-daily flights on weekdays, and daily services on weekends.

During the week, that sees flights departing Alice at 8:40am and 6:45pm, ahead of the two-hour journey to Darwin.

These flights are all served by the Alliance Airlines Embraer E190s, which operate on behalf of QantasLink.

Tickets are sold in the same way as any regular Qantas flight – including via the Qantas website – and provide the same inclusions like points, status credits, lounge access, status-based baggage and more.

This is different from a regular 'codeshare', where Qantas sells tickets on another airline's flight under its own QF flight number.

Instead, the only passengers on these routes are those who've booked through Qantas, on a QF flight number.

Seat

Reflecting that the Embraer E190 isn't as wide as other jets – narrower even than the Boeing 717 – seating in economy comes in a 2-2 layout. 

While it sounds like a negative, it's actually a positive: nobody on the entire plane ends up in a middle seat. Instead, everyone gets either an aisle or a window.

With the seats measuring at 18 inches (~46cm) wide, there was space enough around the shoulders, even next to a well-built neighbour.

Although there's no adjustable headrest on these birds, the seat's padding made for a comfortable journey.

When it comes to legroom, there's a standard pitch of 31 inches (79cm) between each row – and unless you load the storage pouch full of items, most travellers' knees won't touch the seat in front.

Particularly when flying into the Darwin heat, an adjustable air vent above each seat was certainly appreciated.

Meal

With a departure time of 6:45pm, service on this flight was a hot refreshment , aside complimentary beer, wine, soft drinks, tea, coffee, and other non-alcoholic drinks. 

Inside the box was a tasty vegetarian kale, feta and tomato quiche with chia pastry – very much a light dinner, rather than a full meal.

Travellers with dietary requirements, do be aware of the long list of ingredients and allergens, which may mean bringing your own food to consume instead.

With two hours to spare between take-off and touchdown, crew came through the cabin to offer a second round of drinks, which many appreciated on this Friday night flight.

Entertainment & Service

You won't find seatback TVs or overhead screens aboard the QantasLink Embraer E190s, so plan ahead and bring your own device.

At the time of travel, this meant pre-loading a tablet with movies and TV shows, although by the end of September 2021, Qantas will roll out streaming entertainment aboard these E190 jets, via the Qantas Entertainment app for iOS and Android.

When that goes live, we hope the airline also takes the opportunity to install tablet holders atop the seatbacks, as currently, gadgets live in your hand or down on the tray table.

Service on the flight was prompt and efficient, with crews happy to chat when given the opportunity, especially after the first round of drinks had passed.

All in all, it's great to see the Embraer E190 on the Alice Springs-Darwin route, which allows the airline to offer double-daily flights but without the struggle of filling a Boeing 737 on each departure, which has almost twice as many seats.

For those in economy, the absence of a middle seat, together with complimentary food, plus free beer and wine from 4pm, will keep most travellers coming back.

Also read: QantasLink Embraer E190 business class review

Chris Chamberlin travelled as a guest of QantasLink.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1368

How does it compare with the 717, a similar plane, which Qantas could use on the route.


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