Qantas, Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class, Perth to Rome non-stop
Flight QF5 Perth-Rome
Qantas uses a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with 236 seats, 42 business class, 28 premium and 166 economy class. The pilot tells us this is the seventh delivery of the 787, which they’ve “lovingly called Jillaroo,” a nod to women working at outback stations.
THE LOYALTY PROGRAM
Qantas Frequent Flyer, member of the OneWorld Alliance.
I’m in seat 12E, which is just aft of the business class cabin, in the aisle. The seats in this cabin have a 1-2-1 configuration.
The flight departed half an hour late at 10:50 p.m. but arrived in Rome 20 minutes early at 8:25 a.m., taking a total of 15 hours and 43 minutes, which would have broken a speed record. We fly over Saudi Arabia and Egypt, observing the pyramids at sunrise, before crossing the Greek islands towards Rome.
CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSION
5.45 tonnes for a business class passenger. Qantas offers a carbon offset program and aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
The flight departs Sydney via Perth three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays and is seasonal, operating for the European summer between June 22 and October 6. Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said this week that the airline was considering flying the route year-round.
My flight departs from Melbourne and I am checked in to Rome at the domestic counter. At the Perth end, I disembark at Terminal 3 and enter the Terminal 4 check-in area, from where there is a quick walk upstairs to the special entrance created for Qantas flights from Rome and London to immigration and security. It’s not open all the time, so there’s a bit of a wait, but when we pass, it’s one of the smoothest customs experiences I’ve had. Admittedly, we are part of a media crowd and check in early, before most passengers arrive, but that makes Perth Airport an attractive proposition to begin an international journey.
In Business Class, we are allowed 46 kg of checked baggage and 10 kg of hand baggage.
The business class seat offers 46 inches (117 cm) of pitch, with a bed of 80 inches (203 cm) when put into lie-flat mode. I haven’t flown business class in two and a half years and since I’ve flown Jetstar a few times more recently these seats are extremely luxurious. I am sitting up straight as I write this; the airplane cabin lights are off but a perfectly angled little pin lamp allows me to work without disturbing others. There is a console to my left, I can store everything from a small bag, countless drinks and snacks, as well as storage space for a water bottle, menus and an amenity kit. Your tray can be tucked away out of sight or pushed back and forth into a position that suits you.
When it comes to sleeping, the seat comes with a warm blanket, pillow and mattress topper and you can turn it into a flat bed with the push of a button. When lying down, the seat narrows, but with my 170 centimeter frame, my feet don’t even touch the end.
I love the brand new accessory kit – “inspired by Qantas over the decades”, this cute retro gray and pale blue faux leather kit contains socks, eye mask, earplugs, face cream Li’Tya face and hands and a lip balm. This new product is well-being in more ways than one, provided by an Aboriginal company. I note that the toothbrush and earplugs now come in recyclable packaging. And the classic gray pajamas remain unchanged.
To celebrate the launch of flights from Rome, a special menu is offered in the lounge before boarding – and it was good. For once I was glad most of it was meat so I limited myself to the shrimp skewers and vegetable skewers which came with a very tasty tangy green salmoriglio and sala verde ( note to chef, Neil Perry – it needed something to mop up that delectable sauce, and I was stealing wet rolls prepared for the potato leek soup). You can water it with miniature niggers. That being said, I’m glad I saved room for dinner on board. Admittedly, for those doing the trek from the east coast, the late night start makes it hard to stay awake the first two hours of waiting for food (and being at the back of things meant I was among the last to be served), but the spaghettini I had in mind was worth the wait. More of those delicious shrimp (and a generous portion of them), a bit of heat with chilli, sweet touches of cherry tomato, tangy lemon and a fresh sprig of flat-leaf parsley. I was a little less impressed with the tiramisu which was heavy on the marscapone.
There’s no wine list – passengers have a choice of red or white – with the whites you can choose between a brilliant South Australian Vermentino or a rich Margaret River Chardonnay. Both are smart choices.
On business, you can help yourself to mid-flight snacks which included a variety of fresh fruit, chips, cookies, pretzels with salsa, as well as cans of kombucha and bottled water. At 8am, I’m hungry and order a mid-air croque-monsieur – risky, as I’m not a ham eater. But the multigrain bread is crispy on the outside and pleasantly oozing with cheese in the middle. The accompanying black coffee is also excellent. Breakfast, served two and a half hours before landing, offers several options, including granola, fruit, yogurt and homemade crumpet.
This is the first flight I’ve been on that doesn’t require masks – the requirement has just been lifted and everyone seems to be embracing it (including crew), with only one or two passengers wearing them. carry. During check-in I am asked to show my international vaccine certificate, but there is no requirement for testing prior to arrival in Rome.
The usual film and TV sets are on offer – but I’m impressed with the depth of information in the cards which offer views such as ‘aerial’ and ‘window seat’ as well as an array of half-mind-boggling information that I would normally be googling while staring out the window seat, trying to figure out where the hell I am. Unfortunately, googling anything is not an option, as there is no Wi-Fi on the flight (a blessing no doubt for some, a curse for those of us who work). Qantas has not yet installed Wi-Fi on board its international flights, so make the most of it on your home connection.
The service is impeccable, super friendly and professional. I am introduced to my flight attendant very early and am fed and watered at the touch of a button. I even get updates on how long my mid-flight sandwich will take. I feel spoiled, really.
ONE MORE THING
My attempts to stay awake as long as possible at the start of the flight to avoid jet lag on the Rome side didn’t really work. Typically a light sleeper, I’m wide awake around 7am Perth time (midnight in Rome) which means only 5 1/2 hours of sleep. A general commotion in the cabin at this time indicates that I am not alone. On the plus side, staying up early in the flight means we’re now halfway there with less than eight hours to go. I can start work.
In addition to light meals, many attempts are made to avoid jet lag by starting early at the Qantas International Transit Lounge, which has been specially designed for ultra long-haul flights. This extends to light therapy in the shower rooms and a lovely outdoor area. The lighting is set to “at night” to help passengers adjust to the upcoming jet lag.
AND SOMETHING ELSE
If I have to have a complaint, it will be about the toilets. Closest to me in the middle of the business cabin are the smallest and smallest bathrooms I’ve experienced in business class and trying to wash your face or change into your pajamas is like doing acrobatics. They are fortunately kept clean throughout the flight.
No wonder Perth-London has been such a hit – there are so many positives to this new route that it will be hard to see why passengers would opt for any other. For starters, you’ll spend three hours less in the air; the security and immigration registration experience in Perth is painless, combined with the impeccable service, makes it a no-brainer. And of course, the icing on the cake, you find yourself in Rome (and on this occasion, in record time).
OUR SCORE OUT OF FIVE
The writer traveled as a guest of Qantas.
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