Premium Economy on a Qantas Boeing 747 is a very good product. Of course, this is the final year of service for the Jumbo Jet at the Australian airline, so it won’t be around much longer. The seat on newer aircraft is different, but this review written in 2009 shows how it still is on the 747 fleet.
I flew from Dublin to London with Aer Lingus, and as is their normal policy, they cannot check a bag through to another airline unless it’s on the same ticket. This is a bit of a shame, but there’s really no other cost effective way into Heathrow. After arriving, I collected my bag and got the train from Terminal 1 to Terminal 4.
Check-in at the Business Class counters was swift, and my bag was appropriately tagged with a Business Class tag as I am a Gold Qantas frequent flyer. Alas, the hoped for upgrade to Business Class wasn’t to be, but I was happy enough as I wanted to try the Business Class product.
British Airways Terraces Lounge Heathrow Terminal 4
I proceeded immediately through security, and went straight into the British Airways Terraces lounge for some relaxation prior to my flight.
There’s a food station where you can get some hot eats prior to the flight. This was very popular among the passengers which was not surprising since most lounge dwellers are up for the free stuff.
For business people or those who want to go online, there are plenty of computers to use. The empty glasses next to the screen tell another story though!
In the toilets, Elemis products are the name of the game. The flight information screens only show the Qantas and British Airways flights.
Eventually it was time to go to the gate to catch my flight.
QF2 – London Heathrow to Sydney via Bangkok (LHR-BKK-SYD)
26 May 2009
Boeing 747-438 – VH-OJU – “Lord Howe Island”
Seat: Premium Economy 35B
Departure: 22:15 Arrival: 05:05+1
Cost: £1,549 return
Qantas First, Business, and Premium Economy along with oneworld Emerald and Sapphire board separately to the Economy Class passengers.
Qantas Boeing 747 Premium Economy
Once on board, I took a photo of Qantas Boeing 747 Premium Economy cabin. As you can see, row 36 and 37 don’t have much window to speak of.
Legroom is quite substantial. I was able to put my arms out directly in front of me and I could just touch the seat in front. Very nice for a 24 hour flight!
In addition to Sydney, Qantas serve Melbourne from London Heathrow, which is also quite a popular service.
A Drink Before We Go
Champagne, juice or water is offered pre-take off. This is similar to Business Class, and of course I went for a champagne! Qantas present Premium Economy as a “Business Class light” product, as opposed to British Airways who aim theirs as an actual Economy Plus.
The differences are very noticable and anyone would be insane to take BA over QF when given the opportunity. Premium Economy was about half full (as was most of the aircraft) and I decided to sit in the empty 35A next to me. We had the safety demonstration and took off on time.
A Sky High Dinner
Once in the air, I got out my PTV from the armrest. They’re a generous size and quite adequate for the class. I thought it would be smaller, but it worked out well.
The menu was handed out by the crew next, which appeared fairly extensive.
The entree was a Green Leaf Salad with Red Capsicum and Snow Peas, followed by Braised Lamb in a Rockcurrant Jus, Parsley Mash and Roasted Vegetables. The alternate main was Herb Crusted Cod with Crushed Pumpkin and New Potatoes. Dessert was Toffee Caramel Cheesecake.
Dinner is served on proper crockery and was delicious as I expected it to be.
Movies and A Little Snooze
Clint Eastwood gives it away – I was watching Gran Torino. An excellent movie that I’d recommend to anyone! A feature of this picture is of the sheet backed blanket. As opposed to having the normal, slightly itchy blanket, they have a sheet sewed onto the back which makes it feel like you’re in bed. An awesome touch!
The seat recline was fairly substantial, and while the leg rest could have been more comfortable, it was all quite good. I managed to doze for a while.
Wake Up, It’s Time For Breakfast
The hot breakfast was Orange Juice, Fruit Salad, Cheese and Herb Omlette with Bacon and Slow Roasted Tomato and a Croissant. The Omlette was pretty shabby and tasted like crap, but the rest of the breakfast was relatively fine.
A nice feature of Premium Economy is that you also have the option to select a Baguette or a Panini if you’re hungry. These are freshly made – you can either have them as the menu option or create your own. This is the same as Business Class.
We soon arrived in Bangkok, and as usual I hoofed it to the lounge as quickly as I could as I needed a shower.
A Short Stop In Bangkok
One thing to note about the Qantas/British Airways Lounge in Bangkok is the humidity in the showers. It is generally necessary to have a cool shower so you don’t come out sweating like a pig.
Soon enough it was time to go back to the aircraft. We had to pass through security again and on the way I got some views of the inside of the Bangkok airport terminal.
Eventually I arrived at Gate E10, where you go down a long ramp to the level of the actual boarding gates.
After a little bit of waiting it was time to board our aircraft again.
Flying Bangkok To Sydney
This time Premium Economy was full and I was in my assigned 35B seat. Soon enough we were back in the air for the short (comparitively) sector on to Sydney.
Dinner this time consisted of a Green Leaf Salad with Herb Vinaigrette. The main was Thai Style Pork Penang with Fragrant Rice and Steamed Greens. This was superbly delicious!
The alternative was Slow Cooked Chicken in a Tomato and Olive Sauce served with Potato Mash. Dessert was an ice cream!! After watching some movies, it was time again for breakfast.
It was a continental breakfast this time and was quite nice. We had to delay our landing as Sydney Airport doesn’t open until 5am. We landed about 5:05am, which was much earlier than our scheduled landing time. Happily, we were first on the ground, so I was out of Passport Control, Customs and Quarantine very quickly. I was actually home before 6am! Brilliant!
Qantas Premium Economy is definitely a Business Class Lite service. The catering is almost identical to Business Class. There are two flight attendants for the cabin, and these are advertised as “dedicated” to the cabin. However, I was told that these two are now assisting with the J class service as opposed to just being for Premium Economy.
This was also my first time where AVOD worked the entire flight, and the selection was excellent. The sheet backed blanket was brilliantly comfortable, and the noise cancelling headphones were a godsend. The pillow was a little large for proper comfort, but otherwise all was good. There was also no issue in having to use the Economy loos.
For the price, you can’t beat the value. My friend advised waiting for a sale and for three days the return price was £950 as opposed to what I paid, but it was no problem. The low GBP meant I spent $3,100 on the flight, whereas Economy would be usually $1,800 to $2,300, so it was a good price to me.
I’d fly Premium Economy on Qantas again with absolutely no hesitation! Look out for my next report, Sydney to London on the A380 in Premium Economy!
And that was how I reported it at the time. The cabin is the same today, but it will be gone by the end of this year.
Have you flown Premium Economy on a Qantas Boeing 747? What did you think? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, leave them below.
Featured image by Sergey Kustov on Airliners.net via Wikimedia Commons.