Review: Qantas Boeing 787 business class, Brisbane-Melbourne

By Brandon Loo, July 27 2018

Qantas is now flying its latest Boeing 787-9 between Melbourne and Brisbane, giving business travellers a domestic Dreamliner treat along this popular east coast route.

The Boeing 787 is seen on around four flights each day – the best flight numbers to watch are QF609, QF611, QF614, QF625, QF627 and QF634 – through to August 31, 2018, when Qantas launches a daily Boeing 787 from Brisbane to Los Angeles and then continuing through to New York.

For the airline, these Melbourne-Brisbane flights mean that more pilots can be trained up on the Dreamliner.

For passengers, it's an excellent opportunity to sample Qantas’ next-generation Business Suite, which offers fully-flat beds (not that you'll need them on this 2½ hour trip) and convenient direct aisle access as well as plenty of personal and working space around the seat.

We've previously reviewed these seats on the initial Boeing 787 delivery flight from Seattle to Sydney, as well as on commercial flights from Los Angeles to Melbourne and London to Perth.

This is also the same seat that will be fitted to Qantas' fleet of Airbus A380s from the middle of 2019.

Read: Qantas to upgrade A380 business class seats to new Business Suites

Australian Business Traveller contributor Brandon Loo flew on the Boeing 787 from Brisbane to Melbourne to bring you this first-hand report of the experience, from Brisbane's impressive Qantas Premium Precinct check-in facilities to the renovated Qantas Business lounge and of course the business class flight itself.

Premium Lounge Entry

Arriving two hours before my flight to Melbourne, I make a beeline for the Premium Lounge Entry area located at the far left end of the domestic terminal's check-in hall, near the main security line.

This affords a fast-track experience from the departures hall to the Qantas lounges, complete with a dedicated security screening lane.

The X-ray system automatically shunts items of interest over to another lane for investigation, leaving the cleared bags to flow smoothly back to you. The trays are also automatically collected and returned to the start, which definitely speeds up the overall process.

There's also baggage drop facility if you're encumbered by checked luggage, plus self-service check-in machines (if you haven't already checked in online or via the Qantas app on your smartphone).

However, being open to almost every Qantas passenger – business class travellers, Qantas Platinum and Gold frequent flyers (and their Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire equivalents) plus Qantas Club members – it can get busy during peak periods.

Once cleared, I head up the escalator to what Qantas calls its ‘Premium Lounge Precinct’.

This includes the Qantas Club, the Business lounge and the elite Chairman's Lounge.

Photos: inside the new-look Qantas Chairman's Lounge

The Qantas Business Lounge

Brisbane's Qantas Business lounge is the most recent of the domestic business class lounges to be overhauled, although the similarly made-over Melbourne Business lounge is expected to be revealed by September.

We’ve already reviewed this lounge in great detail, and it’s definitely one of Qantas’ best efforts.

Review: Qantas domestic business class lounge, Brisbane Airport

In the early afternoon, light food is available at the buffet...

... and the Mexican-inspired 'cantina', where the menu is changed every two weeks.

I tried the spiced pork tostada with adobo sauce and pickled pineapple, and a bowl of chipotle rice with chicken, cabbage and honey-lime vinaigrette – both proved to be quite spicy but also pleasingly filling.

The ‘Quench’ station provides a refreshing array of non-alcoholic beverages, including a very refreshing lemonade and ginger mocktail.

There's a cosy nook at the far left of the lounge, where a secondary coffee and wine bar is located, which is an excellent spot to settle down away from the hustle and bustle of the main lounge.

Qantas Boeing 787 business class

With priority boarding being properly enforced, I'm quickly onto the Boeing 787 and settle into seat 6K.

It's evident that this is very much a 'surprise and delight' for passengers who were expecting a far less impressive Boeing 737. The crew quizzes passengers if this is their first time on a Dreamliner and the captain announces over the PA that we're about to fly on the newest jet in the Qantas fleet.

A simple pre-departure drink of still or sparkling water is offered, before we depart on time at 4pm.

The seats are an improved version of the Business Suite found on the Qantas Airbus A330s, most notably with a sliding privacy divider for the paired middle seats, and are extremely comfortable.

Legroom is not an issue, and the foot cubby is of reasonable depth. 

The sturdy tray table swings out of the side console, and is large enough to tap away on a laptop without much bouncing.

The side console is where you'll find noise-cancelling headphones for the 16 inch video screen, plus AC and USB sockets and an adjustable reading light.

The seat can be slightly reclined before take-off, with electronic window dimming to screen out the sun and make for a more relaxed journey.

It seemed like the crew were still getting used to working on the Boeing 787, with drinks eventually offered forty minutes after take-off and afternoon tea served shortly after.

This comprised of a choice between potato & leek soup or chicken curry. I opted for the curry, which proved to be flavoursome and delicious, and was accompanied by sourdough bread and Koko Black chocolate.

While the Dreamliner is equipped with an espresso machine capable of serving up a decent cappuccino, on this flight only brewed coffee was available.

Runway closures at Melbourne resulted in an extra 30 minutes being added to the flight time, and the crew thoughtfully brought me a very fluffy pillow and thick duvet so I could indulge in a 'power nap'.

Summary

If you're planning to fly between Melbourne and Brisbane before the end of August it’s definitely worth seeing if you can get yourself onto one of these Boeing 787 flights – the trip will be far more enjoyable and more productive compared to the standard Boeing 737 recliners, although there's no inflight WiFi on the Dreamliner.

Fares cost the same as a regular Boeing 737 service, and if you're looking to spend Qantas Points to upgrade from economy or book a reward seat you'll find plenty of business class seats available.

Brandon Loo travelled on the Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner at his own expense.

Brandon Loo

Brandon divides his time between Perth and Launceston, with ample hours spent in airport lounges in between. He recently picked up photography and tries to capture the beauty of Tasmanian landscapes, aeroplane cabins and in-flight food, to varying degrees of success.

eminere

eminere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1133

Not even a simple tablecloth on the meal tray? Come on Qantas, that sloppy presentation makes it look like canteen food.

Brandon Loo

Brandon Loo

10 Jul 2018

Total posts 83

Yes the meal was an heated up in one plate, foil on top, economy-style. The competition plates up their food separately which helps with presentation, though there's no simple tablecloth on either carriers for short flights.

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2336

I was on a BNE-MEL Boeing 787 flight on Tuesday – offered a dhal & coriander soup or bacon & egg sandwich (went for the dhal) and likewise, the table was simply set, no tablecloth, but I cared less about that than that the soup was delicious.

stmaus

stmaus

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2017

Total posts 103

You can say "Virgin Australia" instead of "the competition".

stmaus

stmaus

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2017

Total posts 103

A simple news article would suffice. We have already seen the QF B787 J class reviewed multiple times. Losing credibility somewhat. Thanks.

Mike66

Mike66

30 Apr 2015

Total posts 6

I think you will find that domestic is very different to International. Tablecloth on a VA domestic on a medium sector???

sdtravel

sdtravel

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jun 2015

Total posts 107

Interesting that you say priority boarding was enforced. Can you elaborate on this a little more.

They just boarded the priority line first?

They checked and turfed out anyone not meant to be there?

They boarded Business and platinum before inviting Gold to board?

Was the flight boarded earlier than the standard 20 for domestic?

Phil Young

Phil Young

Qantas

22 Oct 2012

Total posts 263

Good question. Wouldn't it be good if priority pax were boarded first, followed by general boarding. And that non-priority pax were sent back during priority boarding. Too hard they say. Bah!

Brandon Loo

Brandon Loo

10 Jul 2018

Total posts 83

The flight was boarded at the standard 20 minutes. Premium passengers were all called together, no distinction for Golds. The line went on for about a minute before they called general boarding - that covered most eligible passengers already waiting in the gate area.

JKH

JKH

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2017

Total posts 131

Coffee in a paper cup?

runalong

runalong

27 Jul 2018

Total posts 3

I noticed that too. Paper cups definitely not standard in Business. Might have something to do with issues regarding new crockery being introduced throughout the network.

Also Brandon, did you travel on a weekend by any chance ??

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2336

Yes, that did look odd - mine was definitely served in the new David Caon cup.

Brandon Loo

Brandon Loo

10 Jul 2018

Total posts 83

Paper cups are definitely not standard - tea was served in a proper mug earlier in the flight.

Yes I did travel last Sunday afternoon.

runalong

runalong

27 Jul 2018

Total posts 3

I can tell cause the catering on the weekend in business class seems markedly different to weekdays

bl5965

bl5965

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Nov 2015

Total posts 35

Interesting, how would you say the catering is different - better or worse on weekends?

peteshep

peteshep

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 135

Are they reserving premium economy seating for platinum passengers to select on Y fares?

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2336

Qantas has indicated that premium economy seating is available for selection by Platinum and Gold frequent flyers. There’s a post in the Community section which has a bit more on this as well as the flight schedule for domestic Boeing 787s: https://www.executivetraveller.com/community/view/42/7573/qantas-boeing-787-flights-between-melbourne-and-brisbane

aggie57

aggie57

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 152

While the business suite is nice, overall isn't this Qantas 787 story getting a bit over-hyped? I mean we have over 700 787's delivered now, sit at any major airport around the world and you can quickly get into double digits counting them.

Actually, as I type this it occurs to me the the singular most impressive part of them is the wing. But that never gets mentioned. If you get a chance, watch a departing 787 climb out from the rear. The flex is amazing.

James Barker

James Barker

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 36

I wouldn't classify this as over-hyped, it's a story telling people how they can fly on a Boeing 787 instead of a Boeing 737 on a domestic route. That's top advice in my book!

Brandon Loo

Brandon Loo

10 Jul 2018

Total posts 83

Definitely not trying to 'hype' things — as James mentioned, it's just a story on how to try the newest QF product on a domestic route for one more month, while shining some light on the improvements to the BNE ground experience :)

eminere

eminere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1133

I appreciated this review.

thecypercop

thecypercop

QF

04 Oct 2013

Total posts 11

Have done 4 trips on the Dreamliner MEL to BNE as will as MEL to PER ( domestic leg of QF9) Other than the seats in Business, I much prefer the A380. Its great to get it on the domestic legs, but going to PER on it, service is often worse than the normal domestic product. As for priority boarding - its a joke with QF. Overseas I regularly see staff refuse to board PAX in the wrong line and send them back. It can be done. Unless double boarding using the 2 airbridges is in operation it takes forever.

CWT Traveller

CWT Traveller

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Sep 2011

Total posts 14

Being based in Perth and someone who has flown the new product on both A330 & B787, I am not surprised that you East Coast travellers are excited about it. It does compare very well to Virgin's 'The Business' but for me, the general vibe of the VA product is still better. But hey, look at domestic travel in AU then compare it to product in the US or Canada. We have nothing to complain about!!

uniqueaimartin

uniqueaimartin

07 Mar 2014

Total posts 1

Hence Qantas dumped again off Skytrax Top10 Best Airlines. Too sad, a small thing like tablecloth or proper coffee cup showed how the company doesn't really care about serving the best for customer. This is why Asian airlines dominating the Top10.

moa999

moa999

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1378

And yet on a similar flight distance Lufthansa and Air France who are ahead of Qantas on that so called ranking would give you an economy seat with no-one in the middle, and at best a sandwich or salad.

ian62

ian62

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 31

That depends on whether or not you accept the methodology, reliability, validity and ethics of the Skytrax circus.

Daniell

Daniell

26 May 2011

Total posts 58

Skytrax? Take it from someone in the 'know'. Take these awards with a grain of salt/he who pays the most :-)

And neither Virgin nor AirNZ were anywhere in the top 10, uniqueaimartin

Matt_01

Matt_01

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Feb 2016

Total posts 44

Domestic 787 flights are just crew training and aircraft testing. 787, 330 or 737 Dom J is all the same. Int J different story.

Rotten

Rotten

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2018

Total posts 4

I just took my first 787-9 flight with Air Canada LAX-YYZ (seated 8K) 2 days ago and while the aircraft was obviously very new, I can say it was the most comfortable flight I have ever enjoyed. The second leg of a long haul from BNE with VA in The Business (777).

The similar suites on both airframes are very functional as well as comfortable, and compare most favourably with my F flight with QF LAX-SYD (380) last month.

I definitely noticed a difference in the quality of ambience with the improved pressurization and arrived feeling almost human after only 4 hours sleep in the previous 30.

(unfortunately I don't sleep well flying)

I found service comparable on all 3 flights with staff attentive and have difficulty understanding some of the negative comments that sometimes appear here regarding this airline or that having poor service, and feel that single instances may be the root cause of such negativity, based on my experiences at the pointy end.

benmay

benmay

01 Nov 2012

Total posts 3

I did the flight recently and was pretty underwhelmed by the whole experience too. Turkey sandwich and a muffin in business class. Hardly impressive for a 2hr flight from 11-1pm (pretty lame lunch).

Ladtsmt

Ladtsmt

23 Jul 2017

Total posts 30

Definitely under-whelmed by the 787. I was on the REAL first international flight in December 2017 from Melbourne to Los Angeles. (Forget the PER-LHR flight. That was several months later. It was only a new route on an already well used plane). I was in the business class "suite". It was the same as that on the A330. The 787 interior is definitely over-hyped. It's just another plane, albeit a new one. It will never revolutionise air travel. That was done almost 50 years ago by the old lady of the sky, the Queen of the Sky, the Boeing 747.

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