Book, stay, enjoy. That's

Sunday 27 December 2015

Qantas provides a rare travel treat

I overslept. Two flights in succession. One of the biggest treats of a year in which I flew 170 times on commercial aircraft and four times on helicopters. 

Those flights are a perk, or downside, depending on your view, of my job. Probably 95% of the time I travel in economy class rather than the pointy end but, this time, I got lucky. 

On my final trip of the year, a long one to explore several fascinating destinations in Japan, I was lucky enough to be upgraded by Qantas.

Now I've been a critic of Qantas in the past; at one stage I felt their cutbacks had impacted negatively on both food and service. 

But on the evidence of several recent flights; in both economy and business, they are very much back on top of their game. 

When I boarded my final long-haul flight of the year from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to Sydney, just getting on board really did feel like coming home - and, believe me, I am not the sentimental type.

But on both flights the food and drink (now all handled by Neil Perry's Rockpool Group), was outstanding. There was an excellent choice of in-seat entertainment (current movies, TV programs, radio channels, CD albums, laptop power outlets and USB connectivity) and the crew were perfectly Australian, irreverent but charming. It all just worked. Casual but classy.

But what was the greatest luxury of all - both on my outbound sector from Brisbane to Narita, and on the way home - was the chance to catch up on some sleep. Not just dozing in an upright position, but actually stretching out and getting some real zeds. Above all else this is where business class is a valid investment; particularly if you have to get to work as soon as you get off the plane. 

There are many perks, of course, to being at the pointy end; access to business lounges with meals, snacks and drinks throughout the day, as well as barista coffee; workstations and internet access, magazines and pre-flight showers. You board the flights first, are plied with Champagne and given a nifty little amenity kit. 

Then there are those Skybeds, which you can adjust to any position from upright to lie-flat (with mini mattress, pillows and duvets). The Marc Newson-designed, second generation Skybeds (on A380s and re-configured 747s are a joy, fully 2-metres long, but even the older Skybeds with a slight incline of 9 degrees are very comfortable. 

While went to sleep early on both flights, and slept through breakfast, the food was a real step up from previous flights with a selection of Rockpool-inspired small and main plates, enabling guests to enjoy a full meal or just a late-night snack. Choices included a veal and potato goulash pie to chicken ciabatta with chipotle mayonnaise. 

I opted for a delightful asparagus soup with sourdough croutons, followed by a delicious (and filling) pan-fried snapper with caramelised fennel and roast garlic potatoes). Restaurant quality food.  

On the way home, choices ranged from a nigiri plate with pickled ginger soy and wasabi to a chicken kara-age roll with daikon and cabbage salad and or a roast veal fillet with honeyed carrots. Oh and there were those chocolate profiteroles that were so delicious I had tucked in before remembering to take a picture.  

Wine selections included a choice of Duval-Leroy, Jacquart and Charles Heidsieck Champagnes, a delicious Hill-Smith Estate Chardonnay, an Eddystone Point Sauvignon Blanc from Tasmania and a very nifty Tuesner shiraz. Cheeses, ice creams and Valrhona chocolates (although surely someone in Australia can do chocolates) are on offer, as well. 

There was also Glenlivet, Chivas Regal and Martell VSOP Cognac among an impressive range of spirits for anyone spending the night awake, or needing a serious nightcap. 

All in all, most satisfactory. 

# The writer was a guest of Tobu Top Tours on a trip to promote the new Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train route from Tokyo to Kanazawa, which opens up new areas of 
regional Japan to overseas visitors.

Qantas flies twice daily to Tokyo via Sydney (Sydney-Haneda) or Brisbane (Brisbane-Narita). The Brisbane-Narita flights are operated by the refurbished A330 aircraft, with lie-flat seats in Business, brand new economy seats and new in-flight entertainment. The Sydney-Haneda flights are operated by a B747, which features the refurbished A380 interior. 



  1. What should I do while visiting in Bordeaux?

  2. It's really a nice and helpful piece of information. I'm glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this.

  3. Such a very fantastic blog about the Coravin wine product and i really love it.

  4. You have some honest ideas about the wine cabinet share here I really get many information and discovered most peoples will agree with your blog.
    wine cabinet

  5. Interesting blog and very amazing detail about the Craft beer well done keep it up.
    Craft beer