Flight Diary: Qantas QF10 Boeing 787 business class, London-Perth

Flight Diary: Qantas QF10 Boeing 787 business class, London-Perth

What's it like to spend 16½ hours on Qantas' non-stop Boeing 787 flight from London to Perth?

As Australian Business Traveller has already reviewed the Dreamliner's business class and premium economy seats in detail on several flights, we thought we'd take a different approach and offer this 'flight diary' of our experience and timeline what you can expect in business class on the new Qantas Kangaroo route.

T-minus 3 hours

Qantas flight QF10 departs London at around 1.30pm, so by 10.30am I've checked out of my hotel – the handily-located Hyatt Place Heathrow – and made my way to Heathrow Terminal 3.

With no passengers checking-in ahead of me, I’m able to get the formalities completed quickly. Qantas also managed to find me a window seat in business class, which makes it much easier to photograph the cabin while respecting the privacy of other travellers.

At this time of day there are only a handful of people in front of me in security, making Heathrow a surprisingly pleasant experience, and it gets better when I head to the new Qantas London lounge which opened late last year.

T-minus 2 hours

The gin bar is a standout feature of Qantas' London Heathrow lounge, with a staggering 50 gins on rotation, so I asked the staff for an impromptu tasting.

Lined up above: Australian Green Ant gin, Opihr Oriental Spiced gin, and the Sipsmith Sloe gin 2016. They’re all 'interesting' but I prefer the aperitif-style cocktail prepared for me by bartender Georgie.

Feeling peckish, I have a quick snack at the lounge, but I don’t want to ruin my appetite for the on-board dining experience.

Since its just before noon, Qantas is serving up a brunch menu. Here's what the 'poached egg on brioche' option looks like...

...and here are the ricotta hotcakes. 

After grabbing a bite, I leave the lounge a little early to pick up some goodies from Harrods.

Boarding and take off

QF10 boards at around 1PM, and I settle into my window seat – 6A – which will be home for the next 16+ hours on what is the world's longest Boeing 787 flight.

The crew take my coat and offer me a pre-departure champagne.

Sitting in the now-familiar Qantas Business Suite, I can admire some of the less prominent design details implemented by David Caon.

As a business traveller, one of the best features is being able to have your laptop open on the bench next to you while you’re eating. The thoughtful design and excellent layout and sense of space is why we rank the Qantas Dreamliner Business Suite as one of the best in the sky.

Meanwhile, quite a few of the travellers in the centre seats appreciate the retractable privacy screen – something which was not on the original Airbus A330 seat – with most opting to keep it down.

After an uncharacteristically short period of taxiing we take off only 15 minutes after the scheduled departure time.

Hour 1

With poor weather over London, the flight crew keep the seatbelt sign on until we’ve flown over the English channel. Once the sign is turned off, the crew jump to action handing out our pyjamas...

...amenity kits...

...and breakfast cards.

I’ve always thought the cards are a great idea as they help maximise sleep at the end of a flight. Usually I’ll ask for breakfast to be served just over an hour before landing.

There's also a full menu booklet provided of the dining options throughout the flight. 

Lunch orders are taken and we have a choice of three starters:

  • Spring chard soup with nutmeg crème fraîche and lemon
  • Salad of roast tomato with buffalo mozzarella, artichokes and basil dressing
  • Crab cakes with corn salsa, chilli and rocket

Normally I’d go straight for the heavier crab cakes, but Qantas has been spruiking its efforts to ease the experience of ultra-long-haul flying – part of which is lighter dining options in the air, created in conjunction with the Charles Perkins Institute and Qantas chef Neil Perry. With this in mind, I cross my fingers and go for the soup.

Choices for our mains are:

  • Pappardelle with parsley and pecorino soffritto, spring peas and toasted walnuts
  • Seared Pollock with roast fennel, thyme and chickpeas
  • Tandoori-grilled chicken with mustard seed carrots, basmati and coriander yogurt
  • Roast English beef with Yorkshire pudding, peas and onion gravy

It’s been a while since I’ve had Indian food on a flight so I go for the tandoori chicken.

With food selections out of the way, it's time to unwind a little with the on-board entertainment. Qantas has amped up its collection of boxed sets and I find the TV show Ballers is a guilty pleasure. I managed to watch four episodes on the initial flight from Perth to London, so I continued with the rest of the season three on this return journey.

I use my own noise-cancelling headphones (Bowers & Wilkins PX) as I find the ones supplied by airlines are often a little flimsy and not very good at actually cancelling noise.

Hour 2

Drinks service begins with the aperitivo, consisting of the signature cocktail - tequila with an apple and raspberry mix, which is quite strong and sweet. This is accompanied by an arancini ‘block’.

Hour 3

The large number of premium seats seems to stretch the capabilities of the crew, resulting in a very slow meal service. The salad and bread are delivered almost half an hour before the entrée. 

Finally the entree (spring chard soup) makes an appearance...

... and then there's another half-hour wait for the main (I've selected the Tandoori-grilled chicken).

Thankfully both dishes are filling and tasty. The soup is well seasoned, and the tandoori chicken has a slight kick to it and a generous serving. The salad dressing has a palm sugar base that complements the chicken nicely.

 I wrap up with the delicious cheese plate and then the rhubarb trifle with elderflower sponge and apple jelly. This is also an excellent dish that’s well balanced and not overly sweet.

Hour 4

The marathon meal service finally finishes some 3½ hours into the flight, so I order a Glenlivet on the rocks (sadly, this is the 'best' whisky on board – surely Qantas could do better) and take a natural sleeping tablet.

It’s approaching 3.30am in Sydney, which is my final destination. My plan is to try to sleep for 4-5 hours now so I can begin my transition back to that time zone, waking up by around 9am in the morning.

I change into my Qantas pajamas and slip on the mattress protector, which evens out any bumps in the seat when reclined.

Hours 5-10

The sleeping aid kicks in nicely and I’m ready to doze off within half an hour.

I find that being a 'side sleeper' I prefer to have the seat in slightly reclined mode so I can use the seat bench as support for my arm. While fully-flat is always the gold standard for business class seats, I often encourage people to try different positions.

I’m able to get five hours sleep on board, with just one break in the middle to change sleeping directions. The plan is working well and I wake up feeling relatively fresh. To allow passengers to sleep, the cabin remains in darkness all the way to breakfast service.

Because this is such a long flight, the cabin crew and pilots also need to rest, which they do in small 'bedrooms' located above business class (not that you'd notice). 

Hour 10

I go for a walk around to stretch my legs and order something from the mid-flight menu.

Qantas also has an area set up in the galley for self-service snacks such as chocolate, biscuits and chips, as well as healthier snacks like dips and crudités.

In addition, they offer three hot dishes:

  • Mozzarella, olive and spinach calzone
  • Bacon sarnie with Stokes Brown Sauce
  • Beef cottage pie with peas

Here’s what the calzone looks like…

…but I went for the cottage pie and a soft-drink as my snack.  

Ten hours in, I don’t feel dried out or excessively weary, thanks to the cabin comfort and humidity of the Boeing 787.

Hours 11 - 12

I’ve been working intermittently throughout the flight but now that I’m well rested and fed, I can knuckle down for some serious work (although WiFi isn’t offered on Qantas' international flights, the airline says it'll come in 2021 and will be very fast).

The table offers up plenty of room for my laptop, while AC and USB charging ports make it easy to keep your devices juiced up and ready for action. The seating position is comfortable for working, and you don’t have to be hunched over or stretching too far forward.

Hours 13 - 14

I start feeling drowsy again and set up my seat in the same position as earlier, which is comfortable enough for me to enjoy another couple of hours of sleep.

I wake up an hour and a half before we land and request breakfast service, which is promptly delivered.

Aside from the usual offerings of eggs or muesli, Qantas has expanded its breakfast selection:

  • Omelette and corn fritter, pickled mushrooms, crispy pancetta and tomato & chilli relish
  • Cardamom pears with coconut yoghurt quinoa, almonds, hazelnuts, blueberries and honey
  • Smoked salmon with soba and zucchini noodles and ponzu dressing (shown above)
  • Broccoli and parmesan quiche with roast tomatoes and rocket
The smoked salmon noodles are light yet filling and very tasty, if a little overdressed. 

Hours 15 - 16

With the flight winding up, I watch a movie and swap out the pyjamas for my own clothes. The cabin crew offers any final drinks or snacks.

We land at Perth airport just before 1PM local time, with the flight taking just over 16.5 hours - all in all, I’m feeling refreshed and well-rested.

Since my final destination is Sydney, I have to go through Perth customs, collect my bags and then check-in for my Sydney flight. The process takes around half an hour, and leaves me enough time to spend some time in a lounge before my next flight.

Would I fly QF9/QF10 again?

For travellers who start their journey in the larger cities such as Sydney or Melbourne, Qantas' non-stop Perth-London route does require a stopover – in Perth.

The alternative is the Sydney-Singapore-London Airbus A380, which Melbourne and Brisbane passengers can join in Singapore.

From my perspective as a Sydney-based business traveller both routes require a stopover – one in Singapore, the other in Perth – so which would I choose for my next trip to London?

Sydney-Perth-London gets my nod for now because it has the advantage of the superior Boeing 787 business class seat, and when spending 17+ hours in a seat this can make all the difference.

There are some advantages to the Singapore route, but I found the key to the flying via Perth is to plan your travel time in terms of when you'll sleep, and for how long.

But when Qantas upgrades its A380s with the same business class seat as the Dreamliners, the choice of which Kangaroo Route to fly will come back to a more level playing field.

Sid Raja travelled as a guest of Qantas

Siddharth Raja

Siddharth Raja

sid@ausbt.com.au /

A former technology writer and motoring editor, these days Sid spends more time at the pointy end of the plane with a good whisky in hand.
 

24 comments

  • mcglynp

    mcglynp

    14 Jun, 2018 12:25 pm

    Thanks really like the format of the review. I had been interested to see how QF would structure the service offerings through the flight.

     
    In saying that, not really following the logic of the final recommendation. You would go with Perth for the superior seat because you are sitting in it for 17+ hours. But you're only doing that because you choose to fly via Perth.
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  • Taylor

    Taylor

    14 Jun, 2018 12:42 pm

    Thanks Sid - I think that was a great report!
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  • Sanjay Prakash

    sanj747

    14 Jun, 2018 12:48 pm

    Great report Sid with plenty of information. I agree with your comments on the Whiskey.
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  • moa999

    moa999

    14 Jun, 2018 05:56 pm

    The onboard gin is equally downmarket compared to what you get in the London lounge.

    The spirits are often a step fown, but the wines onboard often a stepup from what you get in the lounges.
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  • Sanjay Prakash

    sanj747

    15 Jun, 2018 08:45 am

    Absolutely agree. Do think the wines in the QF first class lounge are very good. I flew JAL for the first time recently to the US in J class and did enjoy their Japanese whiskey.
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  • Ladtsmt

    Ladtsmt

    6 Jul, 2018 12:44 am

    Is it the new first class lounge in London to which the article refers or the general QF lounge? I went to the latter last month and left. The food offerings were pathetic and there was little service. I'm a long term user of the old combined BA/QF lounge and was most disappointed in the single one. As I was also entitled to use the Cathay lounge I went there. Better quality food and alcohol and premium service.
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  • aggie57

    aggie57

    14 Jun, 2018 02:10 pm

    I like your suggestion to set the seat as you feel most comfortable. That’s how I get past the Himalayan A380 business seat. Lift the rear an inch or two and voila, a level sleeping surface.
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  • dokken

    dokken

    14 Jun, 2018 02:10 pm

    Great, comprehensive review. I don't normally fly with Qantas, but this route IS tempting to try.
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  • David Ferguson

    Flashman181

    14 Jun, 2018 02:24 pm

    Interesting report. The Qantas lounge in Heathrow is indeed impressive although the toilets seemed very limited number wise.? Was there for a couple of hours in Feb and it was very noticeable people hanging around outside waiting for a free one on either floor. Anyone else noticed this ?
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  • Geoff Aire

    Geoffair

    14 Jun, 2018 02:30 pm

    Good report and data about the preferred seat however its slightly further than routing via SIN and is B787 experience really better than A380?
    QF got great PR from the route and atlast good pitch down the back 'though will it make money long term? A380 usually wins on comfort.
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  • PERflyer

    PERflyer

    15 Jun, 2018 05:23 am

    Yes if flying business the 787 provides a lot better sleep experience than the A380. I got 8 hours non stop in 1k on QF10 recently. (1A & 1K are extremely private and staged forward on their own in the 787 cabin compared the 330).

    Flying on QF10 as someone else has mentioned above gives a opportunity to maximises uninterrupted sleep whereas flying QF2 by the time you’ve had service ex sin and before arrival in SYD your lucky to get 4 hours theoretically.

    However If flying Y go the A380 / QF2 if flying to BNE or SYD. Probably stick with QF10 if going to Perth / Mel or even Adelaide. Don’t get too excited about 1” extra pitch when the 787 3-3-3 is a horrid place to be with even skinny people practically touching shoulders the whole way and fighting for space with the ultra slim armrests. The A380 is still a much nicer experience in economy and feels less cramped as a while even with 1” less pitch.
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  • Bob Burgess

    Bob Burgess

    14 Jun, 2018 03:42 pm

    Good report, like the different style, always interesting to see how people approach a flight like this. As much as I like Singapore and starting my trip at the Qantas First lounge I would agree that PER-LHR or the reverse LHR-PER is better in that you don't have that 7hr SIN-SYD overnight flight at the end which is always hard to get a decent sleep on. Leaving London in the afternoon, being able to work and relax and sleep through to Perth and then have a short PER-SYD flight sounds more appealing to me especially with the better Boeing 787 business class seat.
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  • aniljak

    aniljak

    14 Jun, 2018 05:39 pm

    Great detailed review! Would love to see a similar review flying same route in Economy. Flight sounds great in Business but not everyone can afford it. My thinking is the guy who stayed in his seat the whole way didn't do it by choice. More likely wedged into tight seat and couldn't get out!!!
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  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    14 Jun, 2018 08:20 pm

    The limited number of economy class reviews for this new routing of QF9/QF10 mostly suggest it's an 'experience' to be avoided due to the narrow seats on the B789 (QF not being the only airline to have these) and the flight's length.

    For me, Asian airlines via southeast or north Asia are better.
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  • lind26

    lind26

    14 Jun, 2018 07:42 pm

    Did you eat both the breakfast offerings in the Qantas club in London?
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  • Joe

    Joe

    15 Jun, 2018 12:33 am

    I would go crazy in a small 787 for nearly 17 hours. It's also not nearly as quiet, roomy or comfortable as the A380. Despite the joke they call an on board lounge because they couldn't really come up with anything else to fill the space with, its still a welcome space to stretch out in and maybe chat with a fellow traveller while not disturbing anyone (well maybe row 11 J class pax). Atmospherics about the same. It will be a no brainer when the A380 gets the new seat...wonder if this will eat into the 787 J loads for perth route. And I concur...C'mon ABT bring on a 787 Y review considering the immense hype over the 787 via perth to LHR. I think thats only fair to ABT senior teir QF ff's. They are equally as loyal to ABT as F and J pax are ;)
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    aniljak

  • eminere

    eminere

    15 Jun, 2018 10:08 am

    No Chauffeur Drive?
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  • Andyzx

    Andyzx

    15 Jun, 2018 01:01 pm

    @Flash181 yes we noticed this too. I actually pointed it our to a couple that were headed to the wrong side :).
    @Joe the 787 is less noisy (and noticeable so) than the A380. Atmospherics are significantly better even in Y. On my infrequent walks further back about the same 50:50% were sleeping / watching movies to my A380 experience, PE might have been slightly more awake.
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  • Andyzx

    Andyzx

    15 Jun, 2018 01:19 pm

    Thanks for the report Raja. I flew Syd-Mel-LHR QF9 J/Bus in May. My comments and i agree with a number of yours, agree its a great seat (7k) foot well a little cramped and the shade was down for the whole trip so you don't get the sense or visuals of flying across the Middle East and Europe, which I found disappointing even though its dark 99% of the way.
    Food good but a little pretentious but your menu sounded much better. Wine great, spirits/bubbles poor. Crew (mostly English) below average both in terms of speed and attentiveness, the CS Mgr came to say hi with 30 minutes to go and basically said he didn't want to talk to a lowly silver status. He was noticeably more chatty to other Pax forward of me rows 1-3.
    Timing of the flight arrival at 5.00am allows for an easy connection to other European cities for late morning arrival. the 1-2 hours earlier make all the difference.
    Jet lag and atmospheric of the flight: fantastic, I got 5 hours good sleep 1-2 hours dozing/ broken sleep (according to FitBit) then flew on to Prague (QF lounge not open) so enjoyed Cathy very much, which is next door. I crashed at 9pm that night woke earylish the next morning and worked/toured all the following day. Went to bed at a reasonable time, this is significantly better than my usual experience which is 3 days of broken/falling asleep.
    Would I fly QF9/10 again, trying to book it online at the moment!
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  • SeaVisionBurma

    SeaVisionBurma

    15 Jun, 2018 09:19 pm

    Excellent to read this Sid. Like the format, makes for a good report and encourages a different way of approaching the flight

    I have a question - what is the crew layover in Perth in between flights before departing back to London? Would be interested to find out their rest period
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  • Henry  Private

    longwayaway

    16 Jun, 2018 12:57 am

    As a Melburnian living in France for their Summer, Perth may save 4hours+/- when the direct Perth-Paris service starts. Long mamouths are no more for me. I like to stop and recover for a few days. Stepping back on an aircraft showered wearing a clean shirt. Perth is uninteresting whereas Hong Kong does it for me. With Cathay, they answer when you dial whereas Qantas takes 1 hour +. You can book any flight at no cost unlike Qantas who charge to talk with a human being. You can pay the spot price in any currence, etc. Herringbone seating/flat bed so no stepping over people. All sectors over local night. ZZZZZ. Bliss.

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  • SeaVisionBurma

    SeaVisionBurma

    16 Jun, 2018 02:03 am

    What's a "Long mamouth"?
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  • Henry  Private

    longwayaway

    16 Jun, 2018 02:55 am

    It’s tautology. Reversing backwards. 4 AM in the morning. It’s mammoth anyway. When leaving Australia, I’d rather be on an other carrier as soon as possible. Qantas has lost its magic of yesteryear. I thought differently when I first arrived in Australia on QF8 B747-100 VH-EBA LHR-BOM-PER-SYD Seat 31A (leg room) and in the flight deck for just about all the take offs and landings (had a CPL). £256.00 for a life changing event. I still have a set of air operated headsets. Ebay?

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  • PJ_R

    PJ_R

    18 Jun, 2018 09:19 pm

    Great info. Will book an alternative to Qantas next week when I book a flight through Singapore.
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22 Nov, 2018 01:38 am

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