Review: Qantas Airbus A330 business class

It may not be the newest business class in the sky but it’s still a comfortable way to fly.

Overall Rating

By Sid Raja , April 23 2024
Qantas Airbus A330 business class
Route

Melbourne to Tokyo

Aircraft Type

Airbus A330

Airline

Qantas

Flight

QF79

Cabin Class

Business Class

Seat

5F

Notes
The Good
  • A comfortable seat and plenty of legroom
  • Extensive inflight entertainment selection
The Bad
  • No inflight WiFi access
  • Tray table unsupported on one side, tends to bounce
  • Wine list rather limited
X-Factor
  • Excellent service from start to finish
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

Qantas’ Airbus A380s and Boeing 787s tend to get the most airtime when discussing the Red Roo’s globe-striding jets. However, while both are worth talking about, the Airbus A330 actually makes up the lion’s share of the twin-aisle fleet.

You’ll find it regularly hopping to Indonesia, Japan and the United States, along with India and New Zealand. It even pops up on the odd Australian domestic hop. And at the pointy end of that aircraft? 28 lie-flat business class beds.

Debuted in 2014, the A330 Business Suite is quite similar to its counterparts on the 787 and A380, though there are subtle differences due to this aircraft’s narrower design. 

Lounge

Business class passengers receive entry to the Melbourne International Business Lounge.

However, as a Platinum frequent traveller, I made a beeline for the Qantas First Class Lounge, which is a scaled down version of the one in Sydney.

Windowside seats were by far the most popular.
Windowside seats were by far the most popular.

Inside it featured a lengthy bar and dining counter, plus a mix of zones for work, leisure and relaxation, with soaring timber walls and red and grey divider screens creating intimate areas for conversation, dining or reading a book from the library.

I recommend setting aside a few hours to enjoy its ins and outs, which include a seasonal à la carte menu, complemented by an extensive wine and cocktail list, and of course that fantastic day spa.

Head to our in-depth Qantas Melbourne First Lounge review for more info.

Flight

Qantas flies daily between Melbourne and Tokyo-Narita. Baggage allowance in business class is 40kg of checked luggage and 14kg of carry-on across up to two bags.

  • QF79 out of Melbourne takes off at 9:25am, touching down in Narita at 7pm.
  • QF80 from Narita takes wing at 8:25pm, arriving into Melbourne at 7:45am the next day.
The business class cabin is light and bright.
The business class cabin is light and bright.

With a flight time of around 10 hours and 35 minutes, that means there’s ample opportunity to settle in and get better acquainted with the seat, service and inflight entertainment. 

Seat

Business class onboard the Qantas A330 comprises 28 lie-flat suites in a 1-2-1 layout – single seats on either side are staggered slightly back from centre rows, adding a degree of privacy where guests are less likely to catch each other’s eye.

The business class cabin of the Qantas A330.
The business class cabin of the Qantas A330.

Based on the Thompson Aero Vantage XL platform, the cream, silver and slate suite houses a dark blue fabric backrest and base, along with a charcoal sash belt and leather-look headrest.

The sash belt must be worn for take off and landing, but can be unhooked after take off.
The sash belt must be worn for take off and landing, but can be unhooked after take off.

Echoing the First Lounge’s vintage styling somewhat are timber-look accent panels in a lighter, yellower shade than the ones found onboard the A380 and Dreamliner. It’s a welcome contrast to the silvery-grey exterior finish.

Another key difference onboard this aircraft is the fixed privacy divider between middle seats – it can’t be lowered or raised, meaning couples or duos travelling together will become pros at the ‘lean to talk’ manoeuvre.

Moving on, a swing-out tray table is tucked inside the right bench space, and an L-shaped storage rack housing the amenities kit and headphones, the latter hanging on a hook under the reading lamp. And to the left, a small bench ideal for resting drinks.

Beneath the bench is a deep central storage bin containing a rolled-up mattress topper for a mid-flight doze. A pillow and blanket dial up the comfort.

But as this is a daytime flight, mine remains coiled like a jam roll for the duration.

A matte touch panel controls the seat position; guests can adjust the angle, lumbar support and footrest with a simple touch of a button.

A handy massage function also helps work out those knots that inevitably form during a long flight. It gets put to good use.

Work

Those hoping to do a little work in the air will find the tray table an adequate size to spread out.

However, it’s worth noting the table is only supported on one side, so it tends to bounce a bit if you lean on it too heavily or during turbulence. Forceful typists, beware…

The table itself is quite solid, but could do with additional support on the left hand side.
The table itself is quite solid, but could do with additional support on the left hand side.

An international AC power outlet and USB port ensure devices remain charged up for the duration of the flight. 

Sadly inflight WiFi has yet to make it on board, though that is thankfully coming in the very near future.

Meal

Kicking off with a pre-flight glass of champagne, service continued just after take-off with staff roaming the cabin to introduce themselves and explain the menu. 

A glass of champagne is offered before take off.
A glass of champagne is offered before take off.

Australian beers and wines, standard spirits and an assortment of non-alcoholic drinks were available throughout flight, along with the usual suspects of tea and coffee.

Lunch options were a Japanese set menu – a bento box of seasonal appetisers, followed by seared beef fillet on steamed rice with miso soup and pickles on the side – as well as an à la carte selection that included four western entrees:

  • Plant-based carrot and thyme soup with sourdough croutons
  • Carrot and thyme soup with rocket and sunflower pesto
  • Salad of salmon crudo with chargrilled corn, pea guacamole and jalapeño dressing
  • Chicken skewers with spiced cauliflower and pineapple pickle

Plus four mains, served with Neil Perry’s green leaf salad:

  • Plant-based polenta with braised chickpeas, silverbeet, roast tomatoes and almonds
  • Katsu chicken ramen, udon noodles, bok choy and edamame
  • Crumbed snapper with mashed potatoes, peas and tartare sauce
  • Beef fillet with roasted potatoes, braised cabbage and porcini mushroom butter

Dessert was a selection of cheeses and crackers, a mango mousse drizzled in chantilly and topped by sesame seed nougat, as well as seasonal fruit and an ice cream sandwich.

The meal service kicked off with a margarita aperitif and mozzarella and pine nut arancini, after which dishes soon flowed. I opted for the chicken skewers and spice cauliflower to start, followed by the beef fillet and cheese board to finish.

All up it was a tasty though rather rich meal. I certainly didn’t go hungry.

Prior to landing, a second meal service was offered, though a much slimmer menu:

  • Plant-based cauliflower with pearl couscous, zucchini and tahini dressing
  • Ginger and shallot pork with Shanghai-style rice cakes, chilli and sesame

Entertainment & Service

Accessed via the 16-inch touchscreen and wired remote, the entertainment system was loaded with a collection of recent and classic films, games, and televisions shows, plus a concise selection of audiobooks.

Tapping on the ‘QMenu’ heading brought up an easy-to-navigate library, conveniently divided into sub-categories like Marvel Icons, European, Cinema D’Italia and Bollywood. There was a decent selection of Asian programs too.

The remote is tucked under a lift-up panel.
The remote is tucked under a lift-up panel.

Noise cancelling headphones were provided on a hook in the storage rack at each seat. While not the most premium feel, they were a comfortable fit and provided a good level of sound quality.

Noise cancelling headphones are within easy reach.
Noise cancelling headphones are within easy reach.

As expected, service was a delight, with the friendly chatty crew featuring English and native Japanese speakers.

Verdict

The food, service and comfort on board are all top-notch, while the flight time of just over 10 hours was manageable and over before we knew it.

As a daytime jaunt and factoring in a time zone difference of one hour from Melbourne, it’s kind on the body clock too.

The writer travelled as a guest of Qantas.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Jul 2014

Total posts 59

The most remarkable aspect of this flight was that it took off at all . . . . the reliability of the Qantas A330s has been woeful of late, and the condition of their cabins leaves much to be desired. And as for the food  . . . more butter than beef in that main course, and surely it's time for Neil's green leaf salad to be rotated off the menu.

That said, the Tommy's Margarita from Curatif now available in Qantas J is surprisingly good - a few of those and the issues mentioned above become much more bearable.

28 Apr 2021

Total posts 24

It has been several years since we last made a number of return flights to Singapore on the QF A330 Airbus.


Being a couple naturally we were seated together and found the fixed privacy divider personally offensive that did not enhance the enjoyment of the 8 or so hours of travel. 

Whoever was responsible for signing off on this terrible aspect and not having the divider retractable, was a real 'Dill'.
At that stage being on the advisory panel, feedback of a constructive criticism was submitted that the problem should be addressed and modifications carried out.

It is considered that this suggestion along with other comments flyers voiced, obviously went through to the 'wicket keeper'.

Reading about the latest Business Class menu, Wow indeed as obviously vast improvements in some degrees have been made, but still have the ring of mix/mash of main courses created by the Perry style of catering.

A further trip to Singapore is under consideration and being a Platinum and my wife Gold, there is one thing for certain, we will be flying with Singapore Airlines as a number of colleagues are now doing on frequent trips being made to the area. 

Also at the Brisbane Int'l terminal SQ are always blessed with a Gate allocation nearby the boarding and arrival area, whereas QF continues to languish regularly on Gate 84 or beyond creating lengthy walks.

J Class comfort and decent food is worth far more than earning status and points. 


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