JAL BUSINESS CLASS B737 OSAKA- TOKYO: REVIEW

Flight: JL228, KIX-HND

Loyalty Scheme: JAL Mileage Bank (member of the Oneworld alliance)

Frequency: Multiple daily

Duration:  1.5 hours

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JAL domestically is known to enjoy one of the best value business class seats in the skies. For just ¥1,000 (~A$10) more than a regular economy ticket , one can enjoy a larger seat with legroom and a cocktail table to work and enjoy a drink. So how does the seat fare in terms of bang for buck? TAT took to the skies to find out on a recent flight between Osaka and Tokyo (Haneda).

The Seat

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The biggest selling point of this seat is well the seat and the extra space one enjoys with 38 inches compared to the 31 in economy. Also included is a armrest with a cocktail table and extendable leg rest. Configured in an interesting 2-3 layout, the seat feels more premium economy than business but for ¥1,000 more that’s nothing to complain about here.

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Entertain me

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Unfortunately there are no individual inflight entertainment options on domestic services, instead passengers are subject to the old school drop down screens. For those who don’t speak Japanese will struggle with the programming offered as there are no captions subtitles for the programs in English. Also on offer is a handful of radio channels which include chart hits as well as classical music options.

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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Don’t expect to see any meals served on JAL domestic flights, instead J passengers are treated to a drinks service. Drinks on offer include the usual soft drink suspects like Coca-Cola, water, green tea (hot or cold), juices and my personal favourite the JAL signature Sky Time drink which possesses a sweet but refreshing kiwi flavour. Considering the lack of food options and the lounge being closed in Osaka when I arrived, I requested a top up of both a Sky Time and beef soup.

It was disappointing that small snacks like pretzels or cheese and crackers were not offered along with the drinks.

Verdict

For ¥1,000 you really cannot complain about the extra room. I suspect the business lite business class was installed to compete with its bullet train competitors. It’s business with no thrills and the service onboard is exactly the same as you would experience in economy. It would have been nice to see some snacks provided to J passengers to enhance the overall flying experience a little. However for a higher return on status and points as well as a lot more leg room the business class seat on JAL is a no brainer purchase. I would fly this seat again!

Comments

Have you experienced flying business on a JAL domestically? Did you love or dislike the flight? Hit up the comments section as I’m keen to hear your thoughts…

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Farewell the Qantas B747 on domestic routes in Australia

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For 50 years the Queen of the Skies aka the B747 has been a staple of Qantas’ international operations. Admittedly I’ve had some fond memories flying her to the USA, the UK and even Germany (when QF used to run their Frankfurt leg). Sadly however as time goes on, so do improvements in technology and great dames like the B747 become in the aviation world (certainly not in the passengers hearts) redundant. Qantas recently has acquired several B787s which are more fuel efficient and as such means the B747 is being retired by the company in late 2020.

Now for the not so sad new folks – all I can say is forget the passport! To recognise how crucial the B747 has been to Qantas (and the aviation sector in general), the airline has announced it will operate the jumbo on select domestic services across four Australian cities. The domestic B747 services will run between November and February 2020.

Below for the list of 747 domestic routes:

  • SYD-BNE  QF524  9 Nov 2019
  • SYD-ADL  QF743  23 Nov 2019
  • SYD-MEL  QF417  31 Dec 2019, QF439 15 Feb 2020
  • BNE-SYD  QF529  11 Nov 2019
  • ADL-SYD  QF736  25 Nov 2019
  • MEL-SYD  QF438  1 Jan 2020, QF400 17 Feb 2020

As an aviation geek, whilst I’m saddened by the B747s retirement, I’m also heartened by the fact that Qantas is giving the general Australian community (and internationals should they be in town), the opportunity to fly the Queen for a reasonable price without having to fork out large sums for an international leg.

Will you be booking in a domestic service on the Qantas B747? Get in touch. I’m keen to hear your thoughts. 

QANTAS TO FLY B747 ON SYD-PERTH DOMESTIC ROUTES

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Whilst I’m sad of its withdrawal from most international routes, I’m eager (and gunning) to get onboard with a B747 domestically in Australia. Yes you read right….Qantas will fly the queen of the skies, the Boeing 747 between Sydney and Perth from late July.

The B747 will get a shot at domestic duties before its retirement from the Qantas fleet in 2020. For some like me this is like a John Farnham final tour (but Qantas doesn’t plan on making another surprise tour down the track – retirement sadly means retirement).

Don’t expect to see the Boeing 747 doing the east-west leg daily. It’s rumoured QF581, QF582, QF583 and QF568 will be the flights to get the B747 treatment from August 9.

 

Whilst Business Class passengers will be slightly disadvantaged by the lie-flat Skybed II 2-3-2 arrangement,  top tier frequent flyers booked in economy class will be the real winners here with the change with the ability to pre-select seats in the B747 premium economy cabin based on status.

It’ll be interesting to see where the B747 ends up before retirement. Despite being one of the critics against the retirement, I admit this is one move recently by Qantas around the B747 that I do support.

Qantas to launch wifi on domestic A330s in June

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It was quite a while back when I first tested Qantas’ trial onboard wifi. The experience at the time was thrilling especially as it had been the first time I had used wifi aboard a Qantas aircraft. Since then Qantas has pushed ahead and rolled out wifi ‘slowly’ across its network. The latest news on the wifi front is that Qantas will launch inflight wifi on its domestic Airbus A330 jets in June.

The roll out follows wifi upgrades to its 737 fleet and will be welcomed by those making the transcontinental trek on the Airbus A330-200s.

Qantas has fitted the first of its 12 domestic A330-200s with the same satellite technology as the B737. A second wifi equipped A330 will take to the skies by June 30.

The A330 rollout was originally scheduled for early 2017 but constant delays by Qantas has seen the product rolled out until now.

Qantas envisions the majority of its B737 and Airbus A330-200 jets will be equipped with wifi by the end of 2018, with remaining aircraft to be equipped in 2019.

You can read my review of the Qantas onboard wifi here.

QANTAS DOMESTIC BUSINESS LOUNGE SYDNEY: REVIEW

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: Sydney Domestic Airport

Lounge Rating: 4 Stars

 

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Sydney Domestic Airport is one of the busiest hubs in Australia and is key to two of the top ten most frequently flown routes in the world. With such patronage comes the need for corporate facilities that meet the needs of hundreds of frequent flyers who take off out of Sydney daily.
Qantas is fortunate to have its own domestic terminal at Sydney Airport and the experience is generally seamless from check-in to take off. In Terminal 3 are two lounges; Qantas Club and the Domestic Business Lounge. The Australian Traveler regularly uses the Domestic Business Lounge but is yet to give its verdict…until now.
Lounge access options

  • Passengers with an onward Qantas or QantasLink business class flight
  • Travellers connecting to or from an international business or first class flight with Qantas, Emirates or a Oneworld airline, even if the domestic leg is booked in economy
  • Qantas Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers before or after a same-day Qantas, QantasLink, Emirates, Jetstar* or Oneworld flight
  • Other Oneworld Emerald members when their next onward flight that day is with Qantas or QantasLink and carries a QF or other Oneworld flight number (no access when flying Jetstar)
  • Emirates Skywards Platinum cardholders where their next onward flight that day carries a QF or EK flight number and is operated by Qantas or QantasLink.

Lounge location and opening hours

The lounge is located on the Departures level opposite Gates 4 and 5 in Terminal 3. After security turn left and walk for about 30 seconds until you see the lounge entrance on your left.The opening hours are from 5am – 10pm.

Ambience
Compared to its newer interstate counterparts like Perth, Brisbane and soon to be Melbourne, the Sydney Lounge does feel somewhat tired. That said, the nice touches and choice of furnishings is still a cut above the quality of those in the Qantas Club lounge next door.The lounge offers 180 degree views of the busy Qantas domestic operations at Sydney.
For an avgeek like me this is addictive viewing watching Qantas’ B737s and 717s taxi out. The north facing position of the lounge also provides the lounge with an abundance of natural light so at no point throughout the day does it feel cold or dark.
Bathrooms within the complex were probably the only real let down and don’t have the elegance or fine touches of its Sydney International counter part. There was even some noticeable wear and tear on the walls and ceilings of the bathroom. I assumed they were not being addressed as the lounge was touted as the next lounge to get given the new Qantas Lounge look treatment.
Bread and butter (food and drink)
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In terms of the food and drink there was not a lot on offer in the lounge. I had entered the lounge at almost 8pm at night and the majority of hot dishes at the buffet had either been cleared or were running low.
In fairness I know this lounge at other points of the day when I have used it has offered quite a lot in terms of choices but there was no denying for a flagship domestic lounge in Sydney, this visit was rather disappointing.The lounge has one main buffet area where a mix of hot and cold food options are on display. Opposite to the buffet section is Island Dining area, where each seat comes with already-configured place settings.
This area is great for those who want an a more refined, restaurant style experience.On the menu was a beef stroganoff which wasn’t displayed well but surprisingly tasted very good. Considering Australia was on the cusp of winter at this point, it was the perfect dish to warm me up.

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Drinks wise, the lounge shone with a great selection of alcoholic options from elf-pour white, red and sparkling wine, as well as a good selection of beers, spirits and mixers available from the staffed bar. That said the real x factor was is the Qantas barista service. I have always found the Qantas barista-made coffee fantastic quality and unlike  Qantas Club coffee is served in pyrex glasses.

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Verdict
The Qantas Domestic Business Lounge is a pleasant way to spend time dining and wining prior to flying or for those wanting to get some work done, a good space to sit down and focus. Compared to other interstate lounges like Perth it does feel a bit worn and there is some noticeable wear and tear but overall this lounge is of a quality standard.
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Comments
Have you experienced the Qantas Domestic Business Lounge at Sydney Domestic Airport? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – was it a star or was it a dud?

Qantas Domestic Economy B737: Review

Flight: QF493, Sydney-Melbourne
Loyalty Scheme: Qantas Frequent Flyer program (a partner of the Oneworld program)
Frequency: Multiple flights daily
Duration:  1 hour and 10 minutes

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Qantas has long been the leading standard in Australian domestic aviation. However their fleet can very and depending on what type of plane you fly on, the experience can vary substantially. I have often found their A330 product their best domestically but more often or not it is the B737 workhorse that I end up landing in.

The flight for me was severely delayed with the flight taking off an hour and 15 minutes later. Qantas has a shocking record of on time departures and my flight was sadly no exception. The poorly communicated delay left me bitter upon entering the flight but I did not want that getting in the way of reviewing the airline fairly on this flight.

Seating

Economy Class, 4C. Being in the first row (aka bulkhead) of the economy class I had a bit more wriggle room than my fellow passengers seated behind me. The seat had poor pitch but for a one hour flight it did the job. That said I couldn’t imagine flying this very aircraft to Bali like Qantas does for 7 hours where it would seem too small and overbearing for such a long flight.

Entertain Me

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The flight offered seatback entertainment which I find is far superior than its wifi entertainment option. I watched half of the movie Victoria and Abdul (yes I break up my flick watching with the ambition of watching the other half on my return flight). At times the entertainment jumped around which was a tad frustrating but generally the product was quality viewing.

The Bread and Butter (Food and drink)

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Qantas a year ago adopted a tray less food service where meals were packaged and able to be easily disposed of once the passenger had finished their meal. The dinner service offered two options: a creamy pesto pasta or a chicken coleslaw salad. I went with the salad option. The chicken was tender and rather delicious with the coleslaw drizzled in a zesty and tasty Asian style sauce.

Drink selection throughout the flight offered some simple but satisfactory alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. I went for the sparkling Redbank option which was a tad less sparkling and more flat in flavour.

The only downside on this flight was the rushed service. Normally this flight usually does well in terms of attentiveness but the attendants seemed rather in a hurry to dish out the meals and drinks without any real care or effort. Additionally the traditional mini dessert of a Lindt chocolate ball was not offered like it had been on other Qantas flights during the dinner service.

Extras

The complimentary alcoholic beverages in the main cabin after 4pm weekdays is a nice touch after a long day in the office.

Verdict

The Qantas domestic economy product is definitely head and shoulders above its rivals, especially when executed well. That said I have experienced at times quite warm and exceptional hospitality from its budget counterpart Jetstar to the point that they even load free gourmet goodies onto me without any additional charge. Qantas going that extra mile in terms of the service is something that lacks here; especially when the airline is deemed Australia’s premium full service airline.

The seat for economy is generous and comfortable for the flight and the meal service is satisfactory and filling. Qantas shines with its drinks service with staff usually more than happy to offer an additional beverage top up on their City Flyer flights.

Now if only I could one Qantas flight that was on time, I would rate them a lot more glowingly.

Comments
Have you experienced the so called Qantas services or were left a bit bitter like me all flight thinking about how late the Qantas plane would be landing into the destination? Keen to hear your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

Busiest travel routes for 2017 announced

 

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Whilst I’m not a numbers man (and don’t profess to be), I do get excited nonetheless by facts and figures around aviation and travel. Naturally it comes as no surprise that when Oag.com (global provider of digital flight information) released reporting around the Top 10 World’s Busiest Routes for 2017 this week I was eager to know more.

According to OAG.com, the world’s busiest air route for 2017 was in South Korea. The popular route from Jeju to the capital Seoul saw airlines fly a whopping 64,991 this year.

Australia featured strongly, appearing twice in the top ten. Sydney to Melbourne was the world’s second busiest air route, with 54,519 flights annually whilst Brisbane to Sydney is the eighth busiest, flying 33,765 times annually. Having flown frequently on both routes I understand the patronage and busyness of the legs.

Whilst the top 10 busiest flights were domestic, When it came to international routes, Hong Kong to Taipei topped the list with 29,494 flights yearly. Eight out of ten routes in the top 10 international routes were from Asia.

Top 10 busiest air routes

Jeju-Seoul, South Korea: 64,991
Melbourne-Sydney, Australia: 54,519
Mumbai-Delhi, India: 47,462
Fukuoka-Tokyo Haneda, Japan: 42,835
Rio de Janeiro-Sao Paulo Congonhas, Brazil: 39,325
Sapporo-Tokyo, Japan: 38,389
Los Angeles-San Francisco, USA: 34,897
Brisbane-Sydney, Australia: 33,765
Cape Town-Johannesburg, South Africa: 31,914
Beijing-Shanghai, China: 30,029
World’s busiest international air routes

Top 10 international air routes

Hong Kong-Taipei: 29,494
Kuala Lumpur-Singapore: 29,383
Jakarta-Singapore: 26,872
Jakarta-Kuala Lumpur: 20,890
Hong Kong-Shanghai: 20,818
New York La Guardia-Toronto: 17,116
Hong Kong-Seoul Incheon: 16,366
Beijing-Hong Kong: 14,592
Dublin-London Heathrow: 14,556
Bangkok-Singapore: 14,455

I’ll be keen to see what the figures/ patronage is for 2018 when this time of year comes around again. Will South Korea still maintain the crown? Only time will tell.

 

Comments

Have you flown any of the aforementioned routes? Do the figures reflect your experience in terms of crowds/ people traffic? Keen to hear your thoughts.