Whilst many people looking to fly home after a weekend in the sun in Bali opt for the cheaper carriers like Jetstar, Virgin or the excellent Garuda, I managed to snap up an incredibly cheap business class fare on Qantas’ A330-200 service to Sydney.
This overnight route would let me taste their medium-haul business class experience on their A330 and boy, would I be staying up all night.
You can watch a video of the trip here:
This surprising review comes curiously from Qantas’ bidding system. Booking an economy class ticket (full fare via the American Express travel portal) I was offered to upgrade to business class by entering their seat auction. Essentially, Qantas allows passengers to suggest what they would like to pay and, if successful, they will be bumped up to the front of the plane.
My fare for the journey was $500 AUD for an economy seat (only $100 AUD for me, as I used the $400 travel credit offered with the American Express card) and when I was invited to bid to upgrade, I was given a minimum suggestion of $410 AUD.
Now the regular business class goes for $2,400 one way, so to get it for under $1,000 would be fantastic. I bid $510 (always bid a bit more than the minimum, as even a dollar more might get you a win) and was told I’d be successful 24 hours before the flight.
Check-in and lounge
I checked in through the normal process and, despite being business, there were very few people even checking in (as I was running late) and thus I didn’t get to take advantage of any queue jumping. Additionally, there was no fast pass for security or immigration at Bali’s international airport (DPS) so there wasn’t much benefit for my boarding pass.
I tried out the lounge for Qantas at the airport. There is one shower for the entire lounge, and the food, whilst impressive in range, was lackluster and disappointing. It was as if the chef who made my ‘oh so excellent’ sandwiches in Zürich followed me to Depensar. Fortunately for me, that would be the last time I experienced bad food on my journey…
Boarding the aircraft first (perks of sitting in 1A) I was impressed with the old design. It was big, with 73 inches of pitch and 23 inches width. I had so much legroom that I could sit with my butt on the floor and still struggle to touch my feed to the bulkhead.
It had some pretty old school controls, which didn’t even work as the aircraft was at the gate (apparently the offboard power was not working and the pilot was waiting to switch on the engines), but that didn’t stop me from exploring every nook and cranny.
The business class cabin is in a 1-2-1 configuration, but noticeably there were fewer seat rows throughout as the legroom was so big. The seats and cabin were a bit tired and dirty, with dust on the lesser-used surfaces (such as on top of the TV screens).
The tray table was hard to find at first, but I was pleased that it was very solid and had the flexibility to move about horizontally when I needed it.
In sleep mode I found the seat to not be as comfortable as Singapore’s A350 business class, but the legroom was fantastic. The blanket and pillow provided were adequate, but I missed the double pillows that were provided by Singapore. Like my previous flight, the headroom left a little to be desired.
The cabin was given the most stuff in an amenity kit I have ever seen. Not only was I given the basics such as toothbrush, paste, shaving kit, floss, soap and hand cream, but a full seat of PJs (sorely missing from Singapore’s business class), slippers, eye mask and more. In fact, I struggled to get a full photo of it all.
Now we get to the meat of the matter (pun fully intended). Upon arriving at my seat, a flight attendant joined me (not a rookie at all, but a well-trained man who actually seemed to really take care) to take my breakfast order. He did offer to let me sleep (as it was only a five-hour flight) but it was unlikely that I would want to miss anything.
Following that was the dinner selection, with him giving his own suggestions when asked. I’d later run into him around 3am, when everyone was asleep.
I went with the chicken pie and, I have to say, it was one of the best food items I’d had on my journey so far. It was fresh and filling enough that I actually didn’t feel that hungry afterward.
In conclusion, traveling onboard this Qantas A330-200 was like going back in time to an age that airlines seemed to have forgotten. The plane was tired, sure… but the service was bar none! I felt like I was visiting my grandmother’s house, uncomfortable at first in the aging house but then showered in so much love and food that I never left hungry.
Qantas has something special with this old aircraft and I hope they don’t lose it with their march on into the future.
What do you think? Have you flown the Qantas A330? Let us know in the comments.