Reviews

Review: QantasLink Boeing 717 economy class

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, February 3 2014
QantasLink Boeing 717 economy class
Route

Canberra - Brisbane

Aircraft Type

Boeing 717-200

Airline

Qantas

Flight

QF1554

Cabin Class

Economy

Seat

6A

Notes
The Good
  • No middle seat in the A-C group
  • Q Streaming iPad minis
The Bad
  • Personal space in the 'A' seats
X-Factor
  • Complimentary beer and wine after 4pm, including on weekends
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

Having already reviewed QantasLink's new Boeing 717 business class, we've stepped a bit further back on the plane to report on the experience from the other side of the curtain cabin divider on our recent Canberra-Brisbane flight.

Currently in service on selected flights between Canberra and Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, the reconfigured Boeing 717s will soon expand onto Hobart flights – replacing the existing Qantas Boeing 737 services from both Sydney and Melbourne.

Check-in

Passengers seated in economy can check one piece of luggage at no charge, weighing a maximum of 23kgs.

Gold, Platinum and Platinum One Frequent Flyers see an increased allowance of two checked pieces, each weighing up to 32kgs.

No increased piece allowance is granted to Silver Frequent Flyers and Qantas Club members, though the maximum weight restriction is increased to 32kgs – in line with other Qantas domestic flights.

Seat

Economy features a new 'slimline' cloth seat, complete with an adjustable headrest.

The seat itself is reasonably comfortable, though is a little more firm than a comparable 737 seat – particularly around the lower back area.

In regular economy seats, the pitch varies from 30 to 31 inches, while rows 4, 13 and 14 (the bulkhead and exit rows) enjoy additional legroom.

Given the cabin's 2-3 layout, seats in this twosome are highly desirable for couples or business associates travelling together – though consider avoiding the 'A' seats if you can.

While knee room is adequate, there isn't a lot of foot space in the 'A' seats – the curved cabin wall impedes on the left-hand side, and the support bracket for the row in front is well and truly on the 'A' side:

You can't really put your right foot on the other side of the bracket, as you feel as if you're encroaching on your neighbour's space, and extending your feet forward will find them easily reaching the luggage barrier underneath the seat in front.

With such limited foot space, you begin to feel 'squished' – and when you're seated next to an armrest hog, the feeling is magnified.

Our recommendations: Aim for the extra-legroom bulkhead or exit row seats (pictured below), or failing that, a 'C' seat – you'll have direct aisle access, only one seatmate, and will enjoy the extra foot space that the support bracket provides.

The foot space and legroom in seat 13C

You may have noticed the empty seat pockets above – the slimline seats are designed to preserve knee-room by storing reading materials in a literature pocket atop the seat:

Meal

The QantasLink dinner service

This flight is marketed as a dinner service, which consisted of a chilled chicken salad main – as you can see, the presentation is slightly better than you'd expect for a short hop in economy:

Though the main was quite tasty and had very subtle spiciness to it, absent was a bread roll or side dish, which would have made the meal seem more 'complete'.

Complimentary wine and beer is offered after 4pm, though unlike mainline Qantas flights, this also includes weekends – a bonus for leisure travellers, or if positioning for a meeting on Monday morning.

On this particular flight, the white wine option was a Westend Estate Richland Pinot Grigio 2012 – a sweet, fruity drop with nice pear and apple tones.

If you plan to drive after the flight though, bear in mind that the deceptively small 187mL 'piccolo' still contains 1.8 standard drinks.

Entertainment & Service

A mounted iPad mini with Q Streaming functionality

Q Streaming

As made familiar on the Qantas Boeing 767s, the reconfigured 717s offer the same Q Streaming functionality – though economy class passengers on these birds are given an iPad mini instead of a regular iPad.

Regardless, the same content is made available, and although the screen is physically smaller, it's more than sufficient on such a short flight.

The seatback strap is wide enough to support a regular iPad, so if you've brought your own, you'll fortunately still be able to mount it.

My only gripe: the visual output from the Q Streaming service is really designed for the full iPad, so when trying to select an episode from a TV series, the system would often think that I'd bumped the one above or below it:

Once working, the system played the audio and video content flawlessly.

TOP TIP – Tap the address bar, and then tap the 'private' button in the bottom corner – while functionless without an internet connection, the privacy mode also darkens the address bar and navigation area, making viewing easier on your eyes – particularly so on evening flights when the cabin lights may be dimmed.

Service

The crew were attentive without being intrusive, and took the time to explain the food and beverage options on board whenever a passenger asked them a question during the meal service.

Over the PA, passengers unfamiliar with iPads or the Q Streaming service were advised how to turn on, mount and use the iPad, with an offer to assist if requested.

Missing on board was the personal touch, though I'll concede that it's a little hard for the crew to personalise the travel experience for over 100 passengers on a reasonably short flight – or to do so for some without making other passengers feel left out.

Summary

With the personal inflight entertainment options, daily complimentary alcohol service and the lack of a middle seat (at least on one side), the 717 is a very welcome addition on routes to and from our nation's capital – and soon, to Hobart as well.

Chris Chamberlin was a guest of Qantas Airways and 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 with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

mpsfsc

mpsfsc

03 Feb 2014

Total posts 3

Really enjoyed reading this review and the tip & details in it. Especially the bit about the small wine bottle being 1.8 standard drinks - very useful info for us light drinkers!!

watson374

watson374

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

Agreed, excellent review! I'm now interested to try this out at the first available opportunity.

Are the flights being flown by reconfigured aircraft known or are they random?

hutch

hutch

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1226

Great to see some reviews again.

Jono

Jono

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 246

I recently flew on the Qantas B717 economy from MEL to CBR. It was a nice jet. Clean and fresh interior. It's just a shame that on such a short flight I didn't get a chance to take in all the entertainment etc.

Interestingly enough on the return flight we were on a 737 and there was a total of 12 people on it.

Ryan K

Ryan K

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 303

I can't wait to try the refreshed 717 on a HBA-SYD flight in a few months time. The 'Av Geek' in me actually want to sit towards the back to hear just how loud those engines can be!

dazzaredroo

dazzaredroo

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Mar 2013

Total posts 66

Great review Chris and a good accompanyment to your previous business article on this bird. Now where have all the critics of this aircraft, config and service gone ??????

eminere

eminere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1133

Did you mean to recommend the B seats?  According to the seating plan on SeatGuru the seats are AC-DEF.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2948

Nicely spotted eminere, that should have indeed been 'C' seat – all fixed!

brettmacf

brettmacf

25 Jul 2011

Total posts 12

Thanks for the review Chris. However I would have to disagree with your overall view of the 717. I am a regular flyer between Bris and Canberra and the 717 is a definite downgrade (even compared to the good old 734!!). The econ seats are uncomfortable and the leg room pretty squashy. There is only 1 loo at either end and they are in the galley so you are competing with crew as well as other passengers for standing room when you need to go. Even the FAs complain of the cramped work space.

I prefer to sit down the back on the aisle in the 738 as you often score a free seat nextdoor. In the D seat on the 717 you are constantly being bumped as the aisle doglegs at the end. So I would agree the B seat is best. The service is comparable to QF mainline and is pretty good really.

There were often many empty seats on QF on this route on the 738 so I understand their decision to replace with smaller aircraft. However I would rather they pull one of the midday flights completely and maintain the rest on 738s than swap to 717s to manage capacity concerns.

Such a shame that QF have downgraded their aircraft to our nation's capital like this. After another uncomfortable flight on the 717 last night I have decided to use VA to Canberra from now on. All their services operate 73s on this route and are far more comfortable.

brettmacf

brettmacf

25 Jul 2011

Total posts 12

Oops sorry read B seat as C seat ... my bad airline alphabet.

qantasfa

qantasfa

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Mar 2013

Total posts 9

All QF flights in/out of CBR now include complimentary beer and wine in economy after 4pm, 7 days a week when operated by either QF Mainline or QLink from/to all ports.

eminere

eminere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1133

Do the F seats suffer from the same space impediments as the A seats?


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