BACKGROUND: Hong Kong became the first Asian destination to see Qantas’s newest aircraft, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, on December 13 when it took over the majority of flights per week on the airline’s Melbourne-Hong Kong route from the Airbus A330-200. Until that point, the Dreamliner had largely been focused on ultra-long-haul routes.
CHECK-IN: The Qantas check-in desk is located at Hong Kong International Airport’s Terminal 1 at aisle J, at the far right side of the building. Having arrived about two hours before the scheduled 19h00 flight time, queuing was minimal and I was checked-in within minutes. Credit also to the check-in agent who directed me to the best lounge to go to, based on the location of the boarding gate (Gate 25).
BOARDING: We began boarding about 10 minutes later than originally scheduled, though the process was certainly quick. It is worth noting that business class passengers share the same boarding queue as those in premium economy, so it may be worth queuing up a little early to get ahead of the pack if priority boarding is a big concern.
THE SEAT: The business class cabin is laid out in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration, meaning all seats offer direct aisle access. I was seated at the very front in 1A, a bulkhead seat offering slightly more space owing to it not having a seat in front of it. While storage space is not massively abundant, that which is available is incorporated into the seat well, with a small lockable drawer located under the in-flight entertainment screen and a right-angled miniature ‘shelf’ above the side table that is great for quickly stowing your laptop, documents and cables. The seat controls are also here, along with universal power and USB outlets. The length when the seat is reclined to a fully-flat bed position (203cm) is fantastic. The footwell in the bulkhead seat was similarly capacious, not narrowing at the end as so many business class seat products do. The width – 58-61cm – is also generous, though you’ll want to lower one of the armrests when lying down to avoid feeling too cramped. One point against the bulkhead seats 1A and 1K – they are positioned further forward in the cabin, almost adjacent to the galley. While I never found myself particularly disrupted by the activity in the galley, travellers on other flights may not be as fortunate.
THE FLIGHT: Our flight departed about 20 minutes behind schedule, but the cabin crew wasted no time in beginning the service once we’d left the gate. Upon being seated, I was offered a glass of champagne, a set of grey cotton pyjamas and an amenity kit. A little over 10 minutes after take-off, a crewmember offered to set up my mattress, while another offered me a welcome drink. The meals were served shortly thereafter, featuring a selection of either a soup or salad for starter, one of four mains and a selection of cheeses, fruit, ice cream or caramelised banana crepes with coconut cream. I opted for the salad, a black bean beef short rib with noodles and a cheese plate, all of which I can recommend. About three hours into the flight after the meals had been served, I was offered a nightcap of either hot chocolate or chamomile tea. I slept uninterrupted for four and a half hours, waking up only 45 minutes before we were due to land. This did mean I missed the additional breakfast service, though I was glad for the extra sleep.
ARRIVAL: Despite the initial 20-minute delay departing Hong Kong, we made incredibly good time and arrived well ahead of our scheduled 07h30 landing, touching down in Melbourne at 06h48. Business class passengers get an Express Path pass for expedited customs processing.
VERDICT: The Dreamliner’s bulkhead seats offer a fantastic amount of room and were among the more comfortable business class seats I’ve slept on in recent memory. Combine this with good service, lovely food and a thoroughly convenient overnight schedule that gives passengers time to eat, work and rest at times that sync with their regular sleep cycle, and this is a service I’d definitely recommend.