Flight Review, Qantas Airways (QF627), Brisbane (BNE) to Melbourne (MEL)
Date Flown: 23/07/2017
The Qantas Dreamliner has been treating passengers on domestic services between Brisbane and Melbourne, with multiple daily flights operating between these two airports daily. This isn’t a permanent fixture on the Qantas timetable unfortunately, with the Qantas Dreamliner being pulled off this route on the 31 of August 2018. The following day a new service will commence from Brisbane flying passengers all the way to Los Angeles, and then onto New York.
Currently Qantas have acquired five Dreamliner’s since receiving their first aircraft in late October 2017. So why is the airline deploying their newest aircraft on domestic routes when they are capable of so much more?
It all comes down to crew familiarisation, cabin crew, ground staff and gate agents all need to be familiar with this new airframe. By having the Qantas Dreamliner on this route it allows all the crew on board to get accustomed to the new layout as well as the new galleys and equipment on board.
Crewing the flight between these two Australian capital cities are Qantas International cabin crew, not the usual domestic crew that would otherwise operate on this route. International cabin crew, like the name suggests are usually seen on long haul Qantas flights that operate between Australian and overseas destinations.
By having the Qantas Dreamliner on this route it allows for an extra cabin to be introduced into the domestic market, with an all new premium economy seat. The Dreamliner also has a new upgraded Business Class cabin, similar to the suites on board the Qantas A330, and also a refreshed Economy class cabin, which at present is only available on the Dreamliner fleet. Qantas only sells tickets on the aircraft as a two cabin configuration, despite having three cabins on board. Qantas passengers are able to book an economy seat and get the choice of having a more luxurious Premium Economy seat on board. Qantas Platinum One and Platinum members have been given exclusive access to the premium cabin during the seat selection process.
Qantas operate various flights on this route each day, often utilising the airline’s fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft, if you’re able to get a flight on the Dreamliner when its operating it’s a huge bonus. On the day that I travelled there were 14 flights on the Boeing 737-800 aircraft and only two flights on the Dreamliner.
The Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner operating this flight was configured into a three-class cabin configuration, with Business Class at the front of the aircraft with 42 seats in a 1-2-1 layout, offering all passengers direct access, so there is no need to climb over anyone to get out of your seat during the flight. Premium Economy follows closely behind with 28 seats in a 2-3-2 layout, offering a more spacious experience. Each seat offers an ergonomic headrest, individual adjustable footrest, USB charging ports and various storage options. The economy class cabin has a capacity of 166 economy seats in a 3-3-3 layout.
Click here for the aircraft seat map.
For this journey the newest member of the Qantas Dreamliner fleet was operating this flight. VH-ZNE was delivered to Qantas on the 30 June 2018, so the aircraft is brand new! The plane has been nicknamed ‘Skippy’ after the much-loved television marsupial and series that was broadcast on Australian television from 1968 to 1970. The aircraft also has two General Electric GEnx-1B engines powering you on your journey.
For this flight I was lucky enough to be travelling in Premium Economy, in seat 21A, which is in the second row of the Premium Economy cabin. Being a Qantas Platinum member I was able to select these seats when I booked my flight via the ‘manage my booking’ section. The premium economy cabin is situated over the wing, from Rows 20 to 23, the further you go back into the cabin the less view you will get out the window of the ground as the wing becomes in the way.
My journey started Brisbane Airport after arriving from the city on the Airtrain, which easily connects passengers with the Airport, Brisbane CBD and Gold Coast, making it a simple and straightforward way to get in and out of the airport.
As you arrive at the Qantas terminal, walk straight through the glass doors on ground level, as soon as you walk through you are situated in the general check-in area, with a huge array of self-check in machines and bag drop area. Situated on the left as you walk in there is a separate Premium Lounge Entry section, this is a dedicated premium check-in area, security screening and lounge entry reserved for Business Class passengers as well as Qantas Frequent Flyer members who currently hold Platinum One, Platinum, Gold and Qantas Club membership, along with their oneworld equivalents, Emerald and Sapphire. This enables a quick and easy way to check in and escape all the rush in the main check in area.
When passing through the Premium Lounge Entry passengers can check-in for their flights, pass through airport security and make their way straight through to the Qantas Club or Business Lounge, which are easily accessed by the escalator, taking you up to the departure level. The Business Lounge is situated on the left, while the Qantas Club is situated around the corner on the right hand side.
Being a Qantas Platinum member, the Business Lounge is my port of call. The business lounge has recently undergone a huge makeover, with the lounge offering an array of seating options, a Mexican inspired ‘Cantina’ offering freshly made Mexican dishes, a drinks bar, tea and coffee facilities, toilets, showers and a huge self-serve food area with an variety of dishes to choose from.
During my visit the ‘Cantina’ was serving up spiced pork tostada, adobo sauce and pickled pineapple as well as chipotle rice with chicken, cabbage and honey lime vinaigrette, along with an assortment of condiments. Qantas lounge attendants were also walking around offering small crispy chicken wraps with lettuce, cucumber and balsamic soy dressing.
Boarding and Departure
Boarding commenced at Gate 24, at 1455hrs. By the time I arrived at the gate boarding had just been called with everyone starting to line up. I boarded using the priority queue, reserved for Business Class passengers, Platinum One, Platinum and Gold Frequent Flyers members, as well as their oneworld equivalents.
There was only one aerobridge connected to the aircraft. I handed over my Frequent Flyer membership card to the gate agent, who scanned it and a handed over a paper copy of my boarding pass. He was extremely welcoming and friendly, and used a personal approach when scanning my membership card. Upon boarding the Dreamliner you notice just how big the aircraft actually is, the high ceilings and large windows make the cabin feel spacious and inviting.
The Customer Service Manager (CSM) on board welcomed to everyone that boarded the aircraft and acknowledged their status and greeted them accordingly. The plane pushed back from the gate at 1600hrs, taxiing around to Runway 01 (RWY01). The flight departed 3 minutes ahead of schedule at 1612hrs. The flight time to Melbourne was only 2 hours and 9 minutes.
Inflight and Arrival
Sitting in Premium Economy for the price of an economy ticket is definitely worth it, with more space to enjoy the flight. The Premium Economy seats on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner have a pitch of 38’ and a width of 20.5’.
The inflight meal service was a refreshment snack, a pre-packaged snack box consisting of sliced apple, cheese and crackers. Accompanying the snack box was a full drink service, offering tea and coffee, soft drink, water, juice, beer and wine. I had a bottle of Truvèe Pinot Gris along with a bottle of water.
During the flight the CSM came up to me in the cabin and personally introduced himself, and welcomed me on board the Dreamliner. As the flight was coming to an end the crew on board collected all the rubbish from passengers, the CSM followed behind and offered me a second drink service. I asked for another wine and within a few seconds he was back with two small bottles of wine and a few packets of rice crackers to nibble on during the remainder of the flight.
As the sun started to set outside and the moon started to shine an announcement was made on board asking if there was a medical practitioner on board. A gentleman walked up from Business Class to help out alongside the crew helping out a passenger on board that was sitting in the economy section.
When there is a medical emergency on board the crew need to keep watch of the ill passenger, but at the same time the crew that were servicing the Premium Economy cabin had disappeared and there was little attention given to the remainder of the flight. The crew on board were extremely professional throughout the whole medical emergency on board, and the flight continued as normal as if nothing is wrong, all the way into Melbourne.
Each Premium Economy seat has its own seat back inflight entertainment screen offering passengers access to movies, television shows, radio, flight information and games all from the comfort of your seat. The seat reclines to a relaxed position, perfect for long haul flights when you need to get some sleep during the flight. A tray table is stowed in the arm of the chair, multiple USB charging ports are on offer, along with each seat having its own personal reading light.
The flight was extremely smooth throughout with only a few bumps coming into land at Melbourne Airport, due to severe weather at the time. The flight had a cruising altitude of 40,000ft. Prior to descent into Melbourne a second announcement was made on board asking everyone to remain in their seats when we arrive at the gate, as paramedics were going to board to take the unwell passenger off.
We landed on Runway 34 (RWY34) at Melbourne Airport at 1827hrs, two minutes later than scheduled with the plane taxiing around to Gate 23. There was an ambulance and emergency services vehicles waiting for our arrival. As soon as the aircraft came to a stop paramedics boarded the aircraft, once the passenger was taken off the aircraft, everyone disembarked as usual.
Baggage was available at Carousel 4 but there was a huge wait while waiting for bags, I would have easily waited there for 20 minutes or more waiting just to collect my luggage.
Overall, the flight was good, just like any other Dreamliner flight I have been on. The CSM on board was extremely welcoming and made sure that he introduced himself to a select few passengers on board. The medical emergency was something that I have never encountered before on any flight that I’ve been on, which was something different. The crew on board handled the situation professionally, but it would have been good if there will was more of a crew presence in the Premium Economy cabin.
The premium lounge entry at Brisbane Airport is amazing, and makes travelling throughout Brisbane Airport a breeze, if only more domestic airports had this entry. Flying on the brand new Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is an experience within itself, and by having it on these domestic sectors it allows for a greater number of passengers to enjoy the aircraft without having to travel overseas or on a long haul flight.
If anyone was looking at travelling between Brisbane and Melbourne or vice-versa, I would seriously encourage you to try and book a seat on the Dreamliner and enjoy the service while you can before the aircrafts get assigned to long haul sectors.
Disclaimer: All the reviews are simply a summary of my experience and opinions from my own point of view. Unless stated, all of the flights and experiences are paid for by myself as a self-funded frequent flyer. No articles or reviews are influenced in any way by a third party or company.