The best business class seats on Brisbane-Auckland flights

By Chris C., November 8 2016
The best business class seats on Brisbane-Auckland flights

Flying from Brisbane to Auckland in business class? You may be surprised to learn that not two, but five airlines compete for your high flying dollar on this busy trans-Tasman route.

That list includes Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand, along with Emirates and even Taiwan-based China Airlines.

Australian Business Traveller ranks your business class choices between these two cities, while also revealing how much you'd pay for a return journey if flying in late November.

1. Emirates: Airbus A380

When jetting between Queensland and New Zealand, you really can't go wrong in business class aboard Emirates' flagship Airbus A380.

Upsides: This is just like any other Emirates A380 flight, with fully-flat beds and direct aisle access standard for every business class passenger – but the real hit is the inflight bar and lounge area, where you can mingle with a cocktail in-hand.

Before take-off, you can also board the aircraft directly from the dedicated Emirates Brisbane lounge without setting foot back out in the terminal, and if you're expected to remain productive up in the sky, you'll find 10MB of free inflight WiFi with an extra serve of 500MB available for just US$1.

Downsides: There really are no downsides here, except that to earn status credits in the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, you'll need to remember to book the Qantas (QF) codeshare flight number rather than booking directly with Emirates on an EK flight number.

Price: From $1,708 return

2. Air New Zealand: Boeing 777

Air New Zealand tempts travellers in also providing true international-grade business class across the pond, but only if you book the right flight...

Upsides: Book the daily flight NZ136 from Brisbane or NZ135 on the return and you'll snag Air NZ's Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, again with seats that transform into fully-flat beds and which each provide direct access to the aisle.

Air New Zealand's refurbished lounges in Brisbane and Auckland also aren't to be sniffed at, while Virgin Australia Velocity members can also earn points and status credits when flying with Air NZ (both on NZ and VA flight numbers).

Downsides: Air New Zealand also runs a second-daily Brisbane-Auckland flight using a smaller Airbus A320 aircraft (NZ734 and NZ739 on the return), but which has no business class seats whatsoever. That means you'll either need to be flexible with your schedule, take a downgrade on one leg or choose another airline.

An easy way to remember which flight is which is to note that Air NZ flight numbers beginning with '7' (eg. NZ734) only provide economy, while those beginning with '1' offer a business class cabin. This applies across other routes too, such as Sydney-Auckland.

Price: From $1,707 return

3. China Airlines: Airbus A330

Here's an option out of left field: SkyTeam alliance member China Airlines also flies between Brisbane and Auckland, running as a continuation of its Taipei-Brisbane service – but you can book only the trans-Tasman leg without trekking to Taiwan.

Upsides: You'll again find an international-standard business class product on board, but this time with 'sloping sleepers' in business class rather than fully-flat beds, and a 2-2-2 cabin layout which seats some travellers away from the aisle.

China Airlines' fare prices on this route also tend to be incredibly competitive, and in some cases comparable to what other airlines would charge for a flexible ticket back in economy class.

Downsides: With only four flights each week and no Australian alliance partners to help out, flexibility is key here – either by planning your meetings accordingly or considering other airline options on the days China Airlines doesn't fly.

Price: From $831 return – the lowest price of any airline

4. Qantas: Boeing 737

Let's be realistic: on a three-hour flight, flat beds in business class are more so a novelty than a necessity, which perhaps explains why Qantas instead runs its domestic-style Boeing 737s on this route with seats that merely recline, rather than turn flat.

Upsides: It's still easy to get comfortable here by pairing that recline with padded leg rests in your business class seat, with the Roo's schedule offering one daily service plus a second flight that runs five times per week.

Business class passengers can also relax in Brisbane's superb new Qantas international business class lounge before their flight (pictured), and while the Qantas lounge in Auckland isn't anything to write home about, passengers can opt for the Emirates Auckland lounge when it's open and has adequate space.

Downsides: There's not a great difference in fare prices between these flights and those with more international-grade seating, so it pays to consider all of your options before you book.

Price: From $1,708 return

5. Virgin Australia: Boeing 737

Another contender is home-grown Virgin Australia, also flying domestic-style Boeing 737s across the ditch.

Upsides: With only eight seats in business class, this is by far the cosiest pointy end choice – and if you select a seat in the second row, you can recline as far as possible without being bumped by anybody behind, courtesy of a bulkhead wall.

Despite Virgin Australia's recent shake-up to its international lounge access rules, passengers can continue to use the Air New Zealand lounges in both Brisbane and Auckland prior to these trans-Tasman flights.

Downsides: These seats do recline, but there's no leg rest, nor is there a fixed inflight entertainment system: you're instead handed a Samsung tablet to use with the aircraft's wireless inflight entertainment system, which can be difficult to balance at meal times.

Price: From $1,708 return

Also read: Priority Pass expands lounge network in Brisbane

FolloAustralian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2438

Originally posted by loopflyer - moved from incorrect article:
Certainly if one were flexible they might seriously select China Airlines A330 at half the price of the others!  A 3 hour flight doesn't require a lie flat seat.  There's plenty of space from that picture.

04 May 2015

Total posts 261

It's times like this I wish China Airlines also flew Melbourne-Auckland. Those fares are incredible!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 473


I understand the article is focused on 'comfort', but there's a key oversight (IMHO) in this analysis...the departure time. 

Assuming a business traveller wants to fly to Auckland in J then surely they would be conscious of maximising their work day vs sitting in isolated or semi-isolated comfort on a plane? 

Of the 8 flights per day 5 of them essentially wipe out the business day. 

Assuming a business traveller wanted to maximise their work day in Brisbane, then the options are limited to QF125, NZ734, and VA160! 

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2438

Hi Mark, given both the flying time and the time difference between Brisbane and Auckland, many business travellers opt for the morning flights out of Brisbane which allow you to reach Auckland during the business day (and if you only have one meeting, you can fly back that same night), whereas the flights you've mentioned don't reach Auckland until around midnight, which means a very late arrival at your hotel and not a great deal of sleep before the day ahead, if you have a typical 9am (local time) start.

From the headline, this article purely compares the actual business class experience across the various airlines: there'd be no point in us ranking airlines on schedule here as different travellers will have different preferences, and if the timing of one flight suits them more than another, they'd simply book that flight.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 473

Not criticising the article Chris - it's a very good comparison of the various hard product options. I'm somewhat surprised many biz travellers would choose the morning flight(s)! 

As a regular on QF125 it generally has a full J and at least 6-7 Platinums in the first rows of economy - with most of us opting to stay at the Novotel across the road from International. 

You're right about the trip times as well, I use QF125 as it means I can work all day in BNE, get the late flight, work most or all of the day in Auckland and then get either QF126 or EK435 home. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 462

I think it also depends on the corporate outlook on this - I know that I tell my staff that they should travel wherever possible during working hours - I don't expect them to do the bulk of (short-haul) travel in their own time as that's not fair on them.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 473

Good call John, I guess I have a blinkered view given I work for myself! 

My perspective is to maximise my work availability as it ultimately benefits me - which is different to a employee's view of the world..


05 Mar 2012

Total posts 26

Amazing that with five airlines on the route, four of them price within $1 of each other!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Dec 2014

Total posts 25

China Airlines have some great one ways fares too, e.g. AKL-BNE from $318 inc taxes.  Fly to AKL in Y and back in J, you're looking at $500 return.... great value!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2012

Total posts 134

Qantas: Boeing 737"Let's be realistic: on a three-hour flight, flat beds in business class are more so a novelty than a necessity, which perhaps explains why Qantas instead runs its domestic-style Boeing 737s on this route with seats that merely recline, rather than turn flat". Funny that Qantas were running the same "domestic" plane out of Perth to Auckland on a + 8 hour "international" route - charging "international" business rate for the red-eye flight. Never again!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 700

I'm not sure about Emirates but Air New Zealand does not carry the mattress or the larger pillows on trans-Tasman flights. So whilst a flat bed sounds nice you're really just sleeping on the back of your chair which is not so comfortable. When I saw someone ask about a sleep the staff did at least get a blanket and a smaller economy pillow.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jan 2015

Total posts 13

Trying to book Business Class on QF, BNE - New Plymouth via Aukland in Jan. 2017.  No options for Emirates, that I see, come up.  The QF note says operated by Jetconnect.  Why fly QF on a 737 when u can fly Air NZ much cheaper and a more comfortable aircraft.  Even though I am Gold membership on QF I am looking at Air New Zealand, options and facilities seem much better.  Where can I see the Emirates options?  I would appreciate knowing.  Please advise .... Cheers .... 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards platnium

30 Nov 2013

Total posts 43

In order to see the Emirates option you would have to book your flights separately as Emirates focuses on traffic to the 4 main destinations. Auckland Wellington Christchurch Queenstown

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on The best business class seats on Brisbane-Auckland flights