Qantas’ world-class service continues to thrill business travellers from Asia, discovers Nick Walton.
The Qantas lounge at Hong Kong International Airport remains one of my favourite airline lounges in the world. Refined, contemporary, spacious
and lit with tons of natural light, the lounge is reminiscent of a sleek hotel restaurant rather than a pit stop pre-flight. The bar makes a great
dirty martini; the signature char siu pork and rice is addictive; there’s an extensive hot and cold food presentation that’s heavy on fresh produce and healthy grains; and café and lounge style seating throughout. The only thing missing is a dress code – there were a few too many tank tops
during my recent visit.
I boarded the Qantas A330-300 aircraft from gate 22 and was greeted by the same genuine welcome I got at the lounge (you’d be surprised how rare they are these days). Crew were quick to dish out the goodies, which included bottles of mineral water, glasses of Taittinger Cuvee Prestige Brut champagne, amenity kits from a series of 16 new designs by Australian artists packed with ASPAR products, and chic sleeper suits that make great PJs in winter.
My window seat, 6K, is one of Qantas’ newest generation, Marc Newson-designed Business Suites. With a 1-2-1 configuration, the A330’s business class cabin features 28 seats, each of which is dressed in charcoal leather and blonde wood, with fixed privacy screens, USB and AC ports that are easily accessed at shoulder level, a touch-screen monitor that auto-adjusts brightness based on ambiance light levels, and a control panel that includes Do Not Disturb and a ‘gate-to-gate recline’ settings.
As usual, the service on my Qantas flight was intuitive and intelligent rather than the robotic service many airlines dish out. After takeoff, the in-flight service manager personally greeted each guest as he handed out immigration forms, which were followed by drinks – in my case a Beefeater 24 and tonic – and smoked almonds, served by tray, meaning no huge trolleys filling the aisle as crew prepared lie-flat beds with signature mattresses and duvets for passengers looking to sleep immediately.
As a medium-haul red-eye flight, the menu was suitably light but packed with flavour, with choices including a cheese plate; pumpkin soup with pancetta and potato ravioli; eggplant and okra curry with yellow lentil dhal; a grilled chicken ciabatta with harissa coleslaw and avocado; fried emperor crab with chilli and bamboo shoots; and a herb-crusted pork cutlet with roasted potatoes and onion cream. The ciabatta was perfectly proportioned and well-matched with a sauvignon blanc from Adelaide chosen by Rockpool Sydney’s sommeliers. Dessert included a peach,
plum and raspberry cobbler and ice cream but I opted for cheese and fruit.
If you’re a bit of a night owl like me you’ll love the selection of films and television programmes, classic and new release, available through the enhanced Panasonic in-flight entertainment system.
What We Loved
When made up properly, the lie-flat seat is pure bliss to sleep on and offers a brilliant night’s rest.
What We Didn’t
Dinner took over an hour to begin, which is a long time for a relatively short night flight, hence the number of passengers who skipped it entirely.
Bring your own headphones if real noise-cancelling is your thing.
We’ve been fans of Qantas for years – they are a thoroughly grown-up airline, where service is intelligent, innovation is at the core of the experience, and hospitality comes easily. It’s reassuring that these values continue to dominating the flying experience.
Qantas Hong Kong-Brisbane return in business class from US$3,175 per person. www.qantas.com