Qantas B787-9 business class London–Perth; Cathay Pacific B777-300ER economy Hong Kong–Nagoya
At 14,500km, this is the third-longest commercial flight currently in operation, and the first scheduled non-stop service between the UK and Australia.
It’s served daily by a B787-9 from London Heathrow Terminal 3.
The new route means that Qantas now has three routes between Australia and London – the direct Perth-London service on the B787-9 Dreamliner; a reinstated Sydney-Singapore-London service on the A380; and London via Dubai from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth with partner airline Emirates on a mix of A380 and B777 aircraft.
This was from Gate 1 (for scheduled departure at 1315). Priority boarding for business class passengers came after children and the elderly. Business class is spread over two cabins in a 1-2-1 configuration (A-EF-K). I was in the front cabin. The aircraft caters for 236 passengers in three classes: 166 economy, 28 premium economy and 42 business class seats.
I was in row 2 in a centre seat, 2E. The seat is a Thompson Aero model and allows every passenger to have direct aisle access. It has a staggered seating configuration, so that when the seat is fully reclined, the feet of the passenger slide below the side table of the seat in front (sounds weird, but works well). The window seats are either close to the window, or slightly further away and closer to the aisle.
The seat has a 46-inch pitch, 80-inch bed length, and either a 23-24 inch seat width or a 24-25 inch bed width.
The seat can be in a reclined position from take-off right through to landing, because there is an over-the-shoulder strap as well as waist strap for safety (which you only have to wear for take-off and landing).
Changing into pyjamas in the washrooms requires at least a nodding acquaintance with the basics of yoga
The seat is very spacious, with a large amount of storage space, a side table with storage and a good-sized armrest on both sides. The centre seats have a divider, which is up when you enter the cabin, but that can be lowered if you want to chat with the passenger in the neighbouring seat. There is more storage under the side tables, though the exact location of this depends on which seat you are in. There’s an area for magazines and a bottle of water, which was waiting at the seat when I boarded.
There is a single washroom at the front, and two washrooms at the rear between the two business class cabins. These washrooms are small, and changing into pyjamas in the privacy of the washrooms requires at least a nodding acquaintance with the basics of yoga.
The front row – row 1 – has only two seats, the window seat 1A and 1K, and is best avoided because it’s too close to the galley. The first full row is row 2, and there the front two seats, being bulkhead seats, have more leg room. These two front seats are good for those travelling as a couple, though at the front there are no overhead lockers over the middle seats because of the crew rest being overhead, so you will store your bags in the overhead lockers above the window seats. Seat 2E has a side area by your feet where you can keep your hand luggage during the flight.
The best window seats are those close to the window and away from the aisle, and these are seats 3A, 5A, and 7A, though 7A is quite close to the rear galley. On the other side of the aircraft go for 3K, 5K or 7K.
Once on board we were offered water and champagne (Jacquart Brut Mosaique), and our jackets were taken. After take-off we were offered Martin Grant sleepsuits. There were also washbags in two colours, darker colours for men, pink for ladies, with designs by Warakurna artist Polly Butler-Jackson. Further drinks weren’t offered until 1500 and the lunch service took two hours from this time, so we
finished eating at around 1700. I think this was because it was the inaugural flight, as service was much quicker on the return.
There was an appetiser of bubble and squeak – tasty, but we were given no cutlery. When I asked for a fork I was only given a napkin. I chose crab cakes to start, which were moist and full of flavour, served with corn salsa, chilli and rocket. For a main I chose grilled chicken with mustard seed carrots, basmati rice and coriander yoghurt. The portions were generous and it was delicious. Desserts included ice cream, rhubarb trifle or cheeses. If you want to pre-order from a bigger menu, Qantas calls this service Menu Select.
Snacks offered throughout the flight included mozzarella, olive and spinach calzone; bacon sarnie with brown sauce; or beef cottage pie with peas.
I worked for a few hours and then reclined the bed; the flight attendants can do this for you. There’s a mattress topper, which you slip over the headrest to keep it in place. There’s also a good-sized pillow and duvet. The bed has enough room by the side that you can keep drinks and objects next to you and the IFE allows the screen to be dimmed so there’s just a message in a low light telling you how much flight time remains.
The bed is good for sleeping, though once fully reclined to turn from your back onto your side isn’t easy because your knees jam against the top of the alcove.
Once reclined you can raise the bed a little and read until it’s time to go to sleep (or watch the IFE). I slept for a couple of hours. I then got up to fetch a snack and drink, before going back for a longer sleep.
I woke about three hours before landing and filled in the breakfast card. The care taken over the food is best shown by the breakfast selection, which included omelette and corn fritter, with pickled mushrooms, pancetta and tomato and chilli relish; cardamom pears with coconut yoghurt, quinoa, almonds, hazelnuts, blueberries and honey; smoked salmon, or soba and raw courgette strips with ponzu dressing. There’s a choice of juices including spinach, cucumber, apple, celery and lemon.
We landed 20 minutes early into Perth and then made our way to immigration where there was no queue.
This is a historic new service and it was a pleasure to be on the inaugural flight to Perth. Once on board it didn’t seem different from many other long-haul flights, with the extra three or fours hours not really adding any discomfort. That might not be the case in economy or premium economy, one of the reasons Qantas has increased the number of premium seats on this aircraft. I hope the service is commercially successful, because being able to reach Perth so easily is a great start to a visit to Western Australia. Tom Otley
This is the first commercial non-stop flight from London to Australia.
The B787-9 Dreamliner is flown by many airlines in various seating configurations.
This is the fastest way to get to Australia from the UK, and you get to Perth directly.
The internet rate for a return business class flight from London to Perth costs £3,883 (US$5,269).
16 hours 45 minutes (17 hours return).