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