Qan­tas B787-9 busi­ness class Lon­don–Perth; Cathay Pa­cific B777-300ER econ­omy Hong Kong–Nagoya

LON­DON–PERTH

Business Traveller (Asia-Pacific) - - CONTENTS -

BACK­GROUND

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.

BOARD­ING

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.

THE SEAT

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.

BEST SEAT

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.

THE FLIGHT

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.

AR­RIVAL

We landed 20 min­utes early into Perth and then made our way to im­mi­gra­tion where there was no queue.

VERDICT

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

WHAT’SNEW

This is the first com­mer­cial non-stop flight from Lon­don to Aus­tralia.

WHAT’SNOT

The B787-9 Dream­liner is flown by many air­lines in var­i­ous seat­ing con­fig­u­ra­tions.

BESTFOR...

This is the fastest way to get to Aus­tralia from the UK, and you get to Perth di­rectly.

PRICE

The in­ter­net rate for a re­turn busi­ness class flight from Lon­don to Perth costs £3,883 (US$5,269).

FLIGHTTIME

16 hours 45 min­utes (17 hours re­turn).

CON­TACT

qan­tas.com.au

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