Qantas uses both single-aisle Boeing 737s and twin-aisle Airbus A330s interchangeably on its domestic routes across the Australian continent. Which aircraft is better for long-haul domestic flights? Let’s discuss the difference.
Where do the two aircraft fly?
Surprisingly, both aircraft are in use on the main routes across Australia. Qantas deploys the Airbus A330 on routes like:
- Sydney to Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth
- Brisbane to Melbourne and Sydney
- Melbourne to Sydney, Brisbane, and Perth
The Qantas Boeing 737 flies these destinations too, and many more besides. It is used to link many of Australia’s urban centers.
Qantas has 28 Airbus A330s, eight of which are Airbus A330-300s. The Airbus A330 fleet is for short-range international travel (such as to Bali from Australia) as well as some popular domestic routes. However, it has seen more use in recent months domestically due to the current aviation crisis.
As for the 76 Boeing 737-800s in the Qantas fleet, they are used almost exclusively for domestic and trans-Tasmanian travel (to New Zealand).
For the sake of this comparison, we will examine what it is like to fly on the much longer east coast to west coast flight (Sydney/Melbourne to Perth) on both the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A330. The trip takes approximately five hours.
Economy cabin compared
The Boeing 737-800 has the economy cabin laid out in a 3-3 configuration (which is typical on a Boeing 737) with a seat pitch of 30 inches. The Boeing 737 fleet can have a seatback entertainment screen, although it is relatively pot luck if you will have a screen on your flight or not. Only around half the 737 fleet have them installed. Otherwise, passengers will need to use their own devices using an app pre-downloaded from the app store.
The Airbus A330-200, on the other hand, has its economy laid out in a better 2-4-2 configuration. This means that couples can sit together on the side and families in the middle of the aircraft. Plus, the A330 has a seat pitch of 31 inches. When the seats are that small, every extra inch is a blessing.
Lastly, all the Airbus A330-200s come with seatback inflight entertainment, and bringing your device is not necessary.
Economy winner: Airbus A330.
Business cabin compared
As for the business cabin, which is better?
The Qantas 737-800 has twelve business class seats at the front of the aircraft in a 2-2 configuration. These are recliner seats that have 37 inches of pitch.
The Airbus A330 has been retrofitted with the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner long-haul business class. This means a 1-2-1 configuration with 72 inches of lie-flat pitch. It is no question that the privacy and the space of an Airbus A330 business class trumps the Boeing 737. Especially on a night flight when you can choose to have a lie-flat sleep.
Winner: Airbus A330
The Boeing 737 is for short-haul operations, and Qantas designed the A330 for long-haul flights. Because of this design difference, there is not a scenario in which the Boeing 737 would be better to fly on for passengers over a five-hour trip than the A330.
What do you think? Have you flown on both? Let us know in the comments.