The best business class seats on Melbourne-Auckland flights

The best business class seats on Melbourne-Auckland flights

New Zealand remains the most popular international destination for Australian travellers, and Melbourne residents have no shortage of options for getting there in style.

Qantas, Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand and even Emirates all offer business class flights across the pond – but which should you choose on your next trans-Tasman hop?

Australian Business Traveller looks at your options and reveals how you could pay no more to fly in a fully-flat bed than for a domestic-grade reclining seat, based on fares for flights in late October 2016.

1. Emirates Airbus A380 business class

The world’s largest passenger plane doesn’t just ferry travellers afar – it also jets between Australia and New Zealand each day, providing truly international-grade standard of business class on those 3.5-4 hour flights.

Upsides: While you probably wouldn’t change into your (BYO) pyjamas and catch some shut-eye on flights this short, you still have the option of converting your seat into a fully-flat bed: from which you also enjoy direct access to the aisle and your own private at-seat minibar.

But the real drawcard will be the inflight cocktail bar and lounge shared between business class and first class flyers, where a bartender will mix your favourite drinks or pour your Champagne to enjoy as you mix and mingle with other high flyers.

Downsides: There really are no downsides to the flight itself, although the 8am departure from Melbourne could mean a much earlier start to the day for most travellers, who’ll have limited time to enjoy the new Emirates lounge at Melbourne Airport.

Price: From $1,713 return

AusBT review: Emirates Airbus A380 business class

2. Air New Zealand Boeing 777, 787 business class

Business class on Air NZ provides more flexibility as to when you travel with multiple flights each day as opposed to Emirates’ daily service.

Upsides: Also with fully-flat beds and direct aisle access for all, Air New Zealand’s Boeing 777-200, Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 787-9 aircraft are the same you’d expect to see flying on longer routes such as to Los Angeles and Houston…

… and with pre-flight access to the modern Air NZ lounge in the Kiwi carrier’s home hub.

Downsides: Some NZ flights across the pond are all-economy, so you’ll need to choose your flight numbers carefully or wind up flying down the back. As a rule, avoid flight numbers beginning with ‘7’ (such as NZ722) – instead, choosing flight numbers beginning with ‘1’ (eg. NZ126).

Air New Zealand’s lounge in Melbourne is also currently closed for refurbishment, during which time travellers are directed to a temporary set-up in the space which previously served as the United Club.

Price: From $1,701 return

AusBT review: Air NZ Boeing 787-9 business class

3. Qantas Boeing 737 business class

With several flights a day, Qantas also gives you freedom to fly when it suits you with business class guaranteed on every flight, but with domestic-style reclining seats as opposed to a fully-flat bed.

Upsides: Put your feet up and relax with padded leg rests at the ready, while you’re also free to recline into a comfortable position.

Downsides: Aside from the lack of flatbeds, the Qantas international business class lounge in Melbourne is good without being great – lacking natural light and views of any description in most places –while the Auckland lounge has definitely seen better days, but is earmarked for an upgrade.

Price: From $1,701 return

AusBT review: Qantas Boeing 737 business class

4. Virgin Australia Boeing 737 business class

The Qantas competitor launched trans-Tasman business class around 18 months ago with flights from Melbourne timed perfectly for business: arriving by lunch time ahead of your same-day meetings.

Upsides: With just eight business class seats on every flight, the service here feels much more personalised than on some larger aircraft, with those in the second row able to recline without being in anybody’s way, courtesy of a sturdy bulkhead wall behind.

Downsides: Timings on return flights from Auckland to Melbourne aren’t ideal with a daily service pushing back at 6:30am (4:30am Sydney time). There’s an evening option too at 8:45pm, but it only runs twice per week – so on the other days, you’ll need to hop aboard Air NZ instead.

Price: From $1,696 return

AusBT review: Virgin Australia trans-Tasman business class

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Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!


  • opusman


    4 Oct, 2016 08:46 am

    Have LAN stopped flying there from SYD or did we forget one?

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  • Tim Saunders

    Tim Saunders

    4 Oct, 2016 09:01 am

    Read the article, Opusman, this is about Melbourne-Auckland. LAN was already covered in the Sydney-Auckland version of this article about a week ago. It's incredible value for money, I fly it each month.
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  • sgb


    4 Oct, 2016 09:21 am

    And China Airlines even better value. Isn't competition marvelous. Melbourne could do with a few more carriers.
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  • David Bancell


    6 Oct, 2016 08:34 am

    just booked with China Airlines , Melb to ChCh - $767 business class...nice price. Will be interested to test it.
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  • lind26


    7 Jun, 2017 08:38 pm

    What was it like?
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  • sgb


    4 Oct, 2016 08:58 am

    This article is about Melbourne to Auckland. Any Business class offering a flat bed instead of a chair for the same price gets my custom. Qantas and Virgin take note.
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  • TheRealBabushka


    4 Oct, 2016 04:43 pm

    I'm still not convinced of the need for a flat bed on such a short service. It's simply excessive.
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  • readosunnycoast


    4 Oct, 2016 10:54 am

    Observation :-------- AirNZ seats a great for sleeping but very ordinary for sitting for long periods.
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  • sgb


    4 Oct, 2016 11:46 am

    Oh, the opposite to QF 737 seats, ok to sit in, hopeless to recline, loung, or attempt to sleep in.
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  • sparkymarky


    4 Oct, 2016 11:06 am

    Given the age of Qantas' 737s and the state of the Auckland lounge you wonder if Qantas really values the customers that travel accross the pond. AJ say's the lounge in Auckland will be upgraded and "good things take time" but they have been talking about this for 3 years...I'm not sure why it's so hard.

     From Melbourne to Auckland my recommendation would be to use the Emirates morning flight and use the Emirates lounge (or Qantas First if you can) and then the Emirates flight back (so you can use the Emirates Auckland lounge) that leaves about 18.30 but book via QF's website so you get the status credits.

    It is correct the temp AirNZ lounge in Melbourne has the feel of a hospital waiting room and should be avoided at all costs but at least it makes the Melbourne Qantas business lounge look good for the time being.

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  • sgb


    4 Oct, 2016 11:43 am

    The cost of a QF J ticket on a 737 to Auckland from Melbourne is very expensive for what you actually get. I always use EK J A380, magnificent service, and lounges at both ends. I'm not into hospital waiting room type lounges.
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  • lorks


    5 Oct, 2016 11:50 am

    Remember it can occasionally be cheaper to buy two single one ways on EK, Or even fly via SYD to AKL and take the LAN flight out, then direct back to MEL on EK.
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  • AJW


    5 Oct, 2016 04:07 pm

    The AGE of the Qantas 737's? Really? The ones in the Jetconnect fleet, which operate the NZ flights were delivered in 2009 and 2011! Hardly old.

    As for valuing customers, sad fact is what they offer is suited to the route. The other airlines mentioned here run long haul international aircraft as a feed in to their long haul flights. EK obviously to Aus and to DXB and NZ towards the US. That's the only reason you will find the long haul product on a short flight.

    It does irk me when writers make statements like "domestic business" and "international-grade business"

    Again reality is world wide there is short haul (which firmly includes Australian domestic and short haul international to detonations such as NZ). Comparing world wide that would be most intra Europe flights, or flights from US to Canada, Caribbean, central America etc Where 737/A320 type a/c with the Qantas style seat is pretty much the norm, or shock horror in Europe even worse with an encomium style seat.

    The mid haul, where in business angled flat or indeed sit-up business is not uncommon, mostly on flights 4-8 hours. Mostly wide body but can by A320's.

    Then long haul where lie flat is the norm.

    Anyway goes to show how spoil we really are if we expect long haul international product on a 3.5 hour hop across the pond.
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  • sparkymarky


    6 Oct, 2016 10:40 am

    The fact QF (or JetConnect if you like) compete with a far superior product from EK and AirNZ to Melbourne both on ground (in Auckland) and in the air. The ACK QF lounge needs an upgrade now and the F&B should be better....frozen pizza and party pies anyone, it's like going to a 9 year olds birth party everytime I visit!!!

    The jetconnect fleet is tired (vs the wide body options) and the IFE has limited choice (given I've done these sectors every week for over 3 years I know)...the only positive is the quality of the crew.

    The point I think many are trying to make is a $$$ value one...given the QF cost for J seats is about the same to the "international business" options the other carrriers offer greater overall VALUE.

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  • Mal


    4 Oct, 2016 02:19 pm

    Yes, EK A380 all the way for me, not forgetting the option to book under QF code for full points & status credits!
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23 May, 2019 03:17 am


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