Economy - Domestic

Reconfigured cabin on 767s and 737s is extremely cramped, probably 30in pitch or so (take a look at this picture taken on a new 737-800 for example). Bean poles like me can't sit straight in their seats, and are guaranteed backache within an hour or so. But then most Aussie flights aren't much longer than that unless you go to Perth. BAe146s are just as bad, configured as 3-2 and the leg room is about 29in. The new Airbus 332s are marginally better, but then that's probably because they are slightly more spacious than the Boeings in general.

Inflight news or movie or TV show, otherwise music and ABC Radio live. Service is okay, snacks are bizarre at times, and not as good as they were when Ansett was around.

Domestic time keeping is a serious problem - maybe that is just on the Brisbane to Sydney route I frequent. Cityflyer brand may be aimed at the business traveller, but they really need to sort out the timekeeping.

I can't imagine what market the discount airline Jetstar is aiming at - removing free meals and the business cabin in Qantas domestic is all that is needed to offer the same as Virgin Blue does, but then by all accounts Virgin Blue have learned how to do service and keep time.

Summary: Aussie favourite (for some reason), but Virgin Blue is miles better.

Business - Domestic

Yes, that's right, Qantas have actually upgraded me two or three times to business between 1998 and 2004 (when my employer finally agreed with my doctor's medical advice). And it's not bad, legroom probably about 40in, and seats are 2-2 on 737s and 2-2-2 in 767s. So narrower than on their international planes, but not much. No individual video screens though.

Service is quite good, food is always very nice, same inflight entertainment options as in economy though. But given that most domestic flights (apart from East coast to West coast) are under 2 hours, I don't care too much.

Summary: Perfectly acceptable for domestic travel

Economy - International

Reconfigured cabin on 747s and 767s is extremely cramped, probably 30in pitch or so. Bean poles like me can't sit straight in their seats, and are guaranteed backache within an hour or so.

Qantas clearly got BA to reconfigure their planes, with identical seats, identical seat pitch, and same indifferent inflight entertainment. "Award winning" my foot - the judges must have been blind as well as deaf, or maybe stuck in a timewarp.

Some 747s have personal video screens, otherwise it's the usual bland fare. Service is poor, food is generally bland and uninteresting, cabin crew are generally patronising, being heavily biased towards babies and against frequent fliers. Also Qantas serve unlimited alcohol so some flights end up being like booze houses, making it very unpleasant for other passengers.

Summary: Best avoided unless you are an Aussie.

Business - International

The reconfigured planes used on the Kangaroo route and to the US have the new pod business seats with "flat" beds - well, seats that go flat but remain at about 15 degrees. So if you sleep on them, you wake up at the foot of the bed. Steeper than SQ; if the designer had thought a little they could have done the same as SQ. Although now, in 2010, they are gradually revamping these seats to go completely flat, at least on the 747s and the 380s.

And the seating has negligible storage space - so annoying, especially when you consider how much storage space SQ's long range business class has.

Food service is fine, nice touch with the breakfast being ordered before going to sleep, and it just arrives, and is exactly what you asked for. Cabin service is fine too, certainly improving over the last few years. But they should go to get trained by Air NewZealand! And the crew should really learn how to smile and be friendly. It's not hard!

Video screens are mounted in the backs of the seat in front of you - I find that they are mounted too low, so get a sore neck when watching movies. They are fine if the seat is positioned "flat" though. Also, amusing, the screen for the exit row business seat is mounted really high on its retractable arm. Odd. Entertainment selection is all video on demand on the 747s and A330s. Same system as Air New Zealand, nice selection of entertainment, but ferociously complex navigation system. Admittedly they have made user interface improvements since I first saw it, but it is still quite ponderous.

Summary: Pretty nice, shame about the steep flat seats and complete lack of storage.

Qantas Club

Some airlines have frequent flier programmes, Qantas has the Qantas Club. If you are a member, or at least a Gold Frequent Flier, you get into the Qantas Club, regardless of your class of travel. Yes, not joking, business class travellers do not get into Qantas Club unless they are either Gold frequent fliers, or a member of the Qantas Club. With the latter costing over AU$600 and the former unattainable unless you fly internationally most of the time, they basically can keep it, as the service offering inside is no better than any frequent flier lounge offered by other low grade airlines.

I don't understand who decided this was a good idea, but it seems to be the most extraordinary waste of money paying for membership of something like the Qantas Club. Especially when Club members paying AU$600 per year get preferential treatment over Qantas Business class passengers paying 4 times the fare that Economy class passengers would pay. I suppose staff of companies that are happy to pay the membership have no problems. Virgin Blue have got it right with their pay per access to the Blue Room (sadly now gone in favour of annual fee), and there is service with a smile when you get there. Each Qantas Club I have visited has been met with nothing but rudeness and down right offhandedness; and that is as a Business Class passenger too.

While I have nothing against families, I find it odd that many Qantas Club lounges are havens for large families of uncontrolled children. Why does this not happen in any other airline club, I wonder. It's quite often better just sitting in the main airport terminal than having to endure the lounge. Sad really.

Last updated by Philip Smith on .