Flight test: Qantas 747 jumbo jet business class

Qantas business class service.
Qantas business class service. 

THE ROUTE

New York (JFK) to Sydney (via Los Angeles).

THE PLANE

Boeing 747-400.

UP THE BACK OR POINTY END

Business, seat 1J.

TIME IN THE AIR

Six hours, 10 minutes from JFK to LA; two-hour stopover in LA; 14 hours, 45 minutes from LA to Sydney. An ill passenger delays our departure from LA and we arrive 40 minutes late into Sydney.

THE SEAT STUFF

Stylish silver and purple capsule-style Skybed seat in a 2-3-2 arrangement. Plenty of storage with a large pocket in the seat in front and a privacy screen if you don't like the look of your neighbour. Seats are infinitely adjustable and recline to a fully flat, two-metre-long bed. Seat width: 61 centimetres; pitch: 152 centimetres.

BAGGAGE

Business class passengers get three checked pieces (32 kilograms each) plus two carry-on bags (7 kilograms each).

COMFORT FACTOR

The big drawcard of this route is Qantas uses the same plane for both legs, so you don't have to endure a US domestic carrier from New York to LA. In seat mode the Skybed is comfortable and spacious and when you're ready to turn in, a flight attendant will make up the bed with a mattress and duvet. Stylish his-and-hers amenity kits from New York designer Kate Spade complement Peter Morrissey's natty grey pyjamas.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT

The latest instalment of the Q Entertainment system features a dizzying array of choice including 100 movies (15 new releases on this flight), 500 TV programs, 20 radio channels, 80 games and 1000 CDs. Delivery is via a touch-sensitive 30.7-centimetre screen and noise-cancelling headphones. There's also in-seat power and a USB port.

THE SERVICE

Excellent, particularly on the second leg where the mood is playful and jovial rather than fawning and obsequious. Jackets and coats are whisked away to be hung up and meals and drinks are served and cleared promptly. I accidentally left my laptop onboard during the stopover at LA and it was retrieved and delivered to me without fuss or fanfare. Business class passengers have access to the British Airways Terraces Lounge in JFK and the oneworld alliance lounge in LA. Both are busy but perfectly agreeable places to while away a couple of hours.

FEEDING TIME

Disappointingly, the food on this flight isn't up to Qantas' normal high standards. Qantas uses local catering companies in each port and regular business travellers tell me the food on services leaving Australia is generally better. On the first leg my king prawn, chickpea and rocket salad starter is lacklustre and the slow-cooked Moroccan lamb is OK rather than great. The second leg is an improvement with a tasty light supper of pulled pork with tortillas and a decent breakfast of scrambled eggs on toasted brioche with smoked salmon. A welcome glass of Billecart-Salmon champagne and an excellent wine selection help ease the pain.

ONE MORE THING

Qantas business and first customers have access to an invite-only express security channel at JFK.

THE FREQUENCY

Qantas flies daily from Sydney to New York via Los Angeles. A business class flexible return fare costs $14,850.

THE VERDICT

Arguably the most comfortable and stress-free way of getting to and from the Big Apple.

Tested by Rob McFarland, who was upgraded courtesy of Qantas.

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