Airline review: Qantas business class, Sydney to Vancouver

THE PLANE

Boeing 747-400. Qantas has retained nine of this aircraft in its fleet, reconfiguring the cabins to match the standard of its newer A380s.

THE ROUTE

Sydney to Vancouver

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Qantas Frequent Flyer and the Oneworld Alliance

CLASS

Business, seat 2B

DURATION

Scheduled time is 13 hours 50 minutes. A couple of tardy passenger meant we missed our departure by 25 minutes, but we nevertheless touched down 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

THE FREQUENCY

This service operates from December 12 to January 25 with three flights a week – Monday, Thursday and Saturday. A lot of this is about Australian holiday and snow season demand. Ours was the first flight for the winter season – Qantas ran direct Sydney to Vancouver flights from mid-June to mid July this year. It partners with WestJet for connections through to other Canadian cities.

THE SEAT

The fully-flat Marc Newson-designed Skybed has an 80-inch (203.3 centimetre) pitch and measures 24-inches (61cm) in width and because you're in a pod, there's no interfering with the passengers behind. The reconfigured aircraft are fitted with 364 seats: 58 business, 36 premium economy and 270 economy. The seats in all three cabins have won awards for their design and comfort, including an Australian International Design Award for the economy seat.

BAGGAGE

In business, you can bring along three pieces up to 32kg each. In economy the baggage allowance is two bags up to 23kg each. Unlike other airlines that fly this route, that means with Qantas, you can bring your ski or snowboard equipment within the cost of your ticket. These amounts are the base line - baggage allowances increase according to your Frequent Flyer status.

COMFORT

This is a lengthy flight, but it goes through the night and mine was certainly an experience to spoil you for flying any other way – slip the soft mattress over the seat, hop in to your Qantas PJs, lie the seat flat and off to sleep you go. I have never landed feeling so fresh.

ENTERTAINMENT

The radio selection is excellent, there are "box sets" of some outstanding TV series and a good line-up of recent release and classic movies. The screen is big enough and the headphones in business good quality, with some noise cancelling capability.

SERVICE

Always with a smile – relaxed and friendly but very professional.

FOOD

I must confess, we ate in the Qantas International First lounge at Sydney Airport before departure, and this is was where Neil Perry hits his straps with a new summer menu: ocean trout sashimi, minute steak, salt and pepper squid, five spice duck salad and other familiar staples prepared with unfamiliar quality. On board, the appetite was fading, but I still managed some fish – a tasty blue eye – for a main course and then some refreshing Maggie Beer ice cream. Breakfast was fruit and yoghurt and the signature Qantas energiser drink, then some freshly scrambled eggs with bacon, mushrooms and potato rosti. There's a self-serve snack bar in business throughout the flight.

THE VERDICT

How can you go wrong with comfort and service like this on a flight? Leaving aside that indulgence, I've flown other airlines on this route and whichever cabin of the aircraft I was in, Qantas would be my choice. Return economy fares from Sydney start at $2275, premium economy from $4842, and business from $9252.

Tested by Jim Darby who travelled as a guest of Qantas and Whistler Blackcomb.

See also: Qantas' new first lounge summer menu by Neil Perry
See also: Best airlines in all classes named

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