Jetconnect are a wholly owned subsidiary of Qantas based in New Zealand. The airline operates a fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft between New Zealand and Australia. The reason for the setup of the subsidiary is down to money as it is more profitable to operate the airline this way.

On board service, frequent flyer benefits, uniforms and training is the same as Qantas in Australia. I decided to try the Qantas Business Class service between Sydney and Auckland on a dinner service.

QF149 – Sydney to Auckland (SYD-AKL)
25 April 2017
Boeing 737-838 – ZK-ZQF – Abel Tasman
Seat: Business Class 1A
Departure: 18:45 Arrival: 23:55

After spending some time in the world famous Qantas International First Class lounge in Sydney, I walked down to the gate and boarded the little Boeing 737-800 which operates to Auckland.

Seating and Cabin

Cluttered is the first word that comes to mind when I arrive at my seat. Menus are located on the arm rests between the seats and each seat has a blanket and pillow waiting for its owner.

As I usually do, I popped the blanket and pillow into the overhead and settled in to my seat. Leg room is okay but taller people should choose row 2 or 3. The crew came around with welcome drinks and I chose a Champagne.

Qantas Jetconnect Dinner Menu

Australian chef Neil Perry puts together the Qantas meals and he has been doing so for many years. Quite frankly I think it’s time for a change. You can’t tell me that he is still doing cutting edge meals and that there is no rising talent to replace him.

Apart from the fact the menu is printed on the cheapest and most flimsy paper imaginable, the font and design make me wrinkle my nose. For the prices people pay for these flights, to me it is not good enough. Don’t get me started on the headings either. Small plates. Pfft.

Up In The Air I Fly, Zoom, Zoom…

Front row business class seats have PTVs that pull out of the arm rest, so Jetconnect is no different from Qantas in this regard. Decent headphones are provided and they block out a lot of the aircraft noise.

During the safety demonstration the crew put on their no nonsense faces and once done we taxied to the runway and took to the air. A drinks run is first and I had a Champagne which is delivered along with nuts.

Toilet for One

Boeing 737s are usually used on short domestic sectors within Australia so it is interesting to find them deployed on international services. They are configured virtually the same as domestic apart from a foot rest in the seat. The small aircraft means a small toilet.

Of course, it is only a 3 hour flight but despite this the competition all offer much larger aircraft. Air New Zealand and LATAM both operate the 787-9 while global juggernaut Emirates uses the Airbus A380 across the ditch. Given the choice, I would go with one of these. I loved flying LATAM from Auckland to Sydney just a couple of weeks previously.

Our Small Plate

Starters are referred to as small plates and I chose the kingfish cerviche with corn, coriander, grilled chilli and tostada chips rather than the soup. First, you are given a salad and offered bread before the plate is delivered.

Happily the butter is warmed so it is extremely easy to spread. The balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette really went well with the salad so I was pleased. Next, the small plate is delivered.

I found the meal to be just okay. It’s a little cumbersome to eat and you have to be really careful to make sure the chips don’t break and leave mess everywhere.

Our Main Plate

There are five choices for dinner but the selections are strange. A selection of cheese as a main plate? Seriously? A soup which is advertised as being a “big bowl” – well, you would hope so! Then there is yet another salad, a crumbed fish butty – so a sandwich – and my choice which is caramelised masterstock braised pork belly with jasmine rice and steamed gai lan.

Dancing happy tastebuds were the result as this meal was thoroughly delicious. I think the menu needs a rethink though as it seems like they are offering a lot of choice for no reason whatsoever. Perhaps I am missing something but none of the options came across as international business class standard to me.

Cheese or Ice Cream?

Dessert is a choice of cheese or ice cream and I went for the cheese plate. Lucky I didn’t choose cheese for my main plate, otherwise I would have been in some pickle!

Nothing wrong with the cheese plate at all. The reason I feel so miffed about the menu is the duplication. The same soup is offered in both courses though one is bigger than the other. Cheese is also offered twice. I find it lazy but what do I know? Perhaps the Qantas boffins found this is what the modern Australian and New Zealand consumer wants.

Your Post Meal Hot Towel

In a twist to the usual pre-departure or immediately post-departure hot towel service, Qantas bring them around after the meal. I guess it is to get you clean and ready to settle in for the flight ahead. I certainly didn’t expect it at this time.

After this the crew present chocolates which is always a nice touch. Throughout the meal I watched an animated feature which passed the time and before long we were descending into Auckland and landed without incident.

Overall Thoughts

This review will be the one I will remember for going on so much about the menu. From a commercial standpoint it makes sense – by making the dishes available during different courses, it must cut waste and increase choice. I just don’t see why a passenger would desire this at all. I found it to be lazy.

The New Zealand based Jetconnect cabin crew are as polished as their Australian counterparts, delivering a slick service while being friendly and laid back. Despite the cerviche being a bland and hard to eat in the confines of an airline seat, the rest of the meal I would rate from fine to good. The cabin feels a little cramped but it is a small aircraft, so that is understandable. Entertainment choices are extensive and very good.

At the end of the day I found myself underwhelmed and a little baffled at the Qantas International Business Class service. I expect it is better on the larger aircraft with bigger seats and better menus. Either Australia and New Zealand should agree to be visa free and allow domestic flights or Qantas should treat Auckland as an international destination. Both would solve most of my gripes with the service.

Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons