Airline: Qantas Airways
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Flight #: QF94
Route: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Melbourne Airport (MEL)
Date: May 30, 2022
Duration: 15hr 30min
Cabin and Layout: Business class, 44 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration
Miles Used: 55,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles
Typical Retail Cost: ~$7,300 one-way
Australia has long been one of my favorite places to visit. After having spent a month in the country in 2018, I was ecstatic to hear that the country was planning to reopen in summer 2022. As soon as the news dropped, I started looking for flights — and thanks to my quick actions, I was able to book a screaming deal on an award flight with Qantas Airways, Australia’s national flag carrier.
Because I flew into Melbourne rather than Sydney, the nonstop flight from Los Angeles was a bit longer, but I didn’t mind. Let’s take a look at how this flight went, including check-in, inflight service, and the product itself.
Booking Qantas Airways Business Class
Business class award space for Qantas flights can be a little difficult to find as the airline is a bit stingy when it comes to releasing award seats. Luckily, however, my search for seats started the day that Australia announced it was reopening, which meant I was able to score a seat on a flight for just 55,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles.
If you’re having trouble finding award space, you may want to consider looking elsewhere for these seats. As a member of Oneworld, you can also check out American Airlines (which will charge you 70,000 miles one-way for this flight) or Qantas itself (which will charge you 100,000+ miles for this flight).
For the most part, Alaska Airlines and American can see the same award availability. However, the American Airlines AAdvantage program does have a slight edge when it comes to seeing availability; there were a few dates where I found seats on American that didn’t populate on Alaska’s site.
Flights to Australia are expensive, and this one was no exception. Most one-way nonstop routes you’ll find in business will approach or exceed $10,000, but if you’re pretty flexible with dates, you may be able to find a few for about $5,500. With an average cost for this flight of ~$7,500, you’d be redeeming your Alaska miles at a rate of 13.63 cents each, which is far above our valuation of 1.8 cents per point.
I used my Chase Sapphire Reserve® to pay the ~$22 in taxes and fees for this flight since the card features excellent trip insurance, which meant I’d be covered in the event anything went wrong.
Although I was able to redeem miles on this flight, if I had needed to pay cash, I would have chosen 1 of 2 options. I first would have used The Platinum Card® from American Express which earns 5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with the airline or via Amex Travel — making it my go-to card when buying airfare. Otherwise, I would have used the aforementioned Chase Sapphire Reserve card, since it earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points on all travel and has superior trip insurance.
Hot Tip: Don’t have Alaska miles? Check out other ways to book Qantas Airways business class flights with points and miles.
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Full disclosure: I was actually using Los Angles (LAX) as a stopover — since I was returning on a flight from Puerto Vallarta (PVR) — so I wasn’t in the airport for a long time. Although I was arriving internationally and leaving internationally, I still had to exit security and go through the whole check-in process.
Qantas Airways Business Class Check-in
My flight departed at 9:30 p.m., which was a great departure time for such a long-haul overnight flight option.
Qantas flies out of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, which is where many airlines operate their long-haul international routes. The business class line for check-in was pretty short; there were just 2 people in front of me.
However, there was also a single desk for business class customers, which meant that both the economy line (which featured plenty of desks) and the premium economy line (which had 2 desks) were much faster than mine. That being said, I waited just a few minutes before making my way up to the desk.
A quick note: this is the second time I was flying to Australia, and just like last time, I failed to realize that I needed to complete the visa application in advance (otherwise you cannot check-in). I found this out about 2 hours before needing to check-in.
If you are an ETA-eligible passport holder, you can download the AustralianETA app (iOS, Android) to complete your visa application on your phone (a step-by-step guide is available). Note: the app is extremely glitchy. After about an hour of fiddling with my passport and the scanner, I managed to submit my visa application. At the time, I also needed to fill out the Australian Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD), though this is no longer required as of July 6, 2022.
Bottom Line: If you’re traveling to Australia, you will need to submit a visa application before checking in. Avoid a headache at the airport and fill out your paperwork in advance.
Oneworld Los Angeles Business Class Lounge
Qantas doesn’t operate its own lounge at LAX; instead, it uses Oneworld’s Los Angeles Business Class lounge, which caters to premium passengers of Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and British Airways.
The lounge itself was fairly nice. It was massive and mostly empty, which meant I had no trouble finding a seat.
I’ll admit, though, that I actually wandered around for a while trying to decide where to sit due to the abundance of seats available.
There was also a separate area filled with dining tables.
Eventually, I ended up at the business center, where I could keep an eye on the departures board.
The lounge had a pretty large bar, which is where most guests hung out.
It served pretty much anything you could ask for.
The food also looked pretty good, though I was maintaining my appetite for the flight.
Even the bread selection looked fresh and appetizing.
There were also soft drinks on tap.
I spent some time in the lounge working before making my way to the boarding gate, where I waited for just a few minutes before boarding began promptly on time.
Interestingly, Qantas chose to board both premium economy and business class simultaneously, which made for a somewhat crowded experience. Still, I was able to board relatively quickly, and ended up in my seat with plenty of time to spare.
On Board Qantas Airways’ Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
This was my very first time flying business on Qantas, and my overall experience was mixed. Generally, the business class product gets a pretty solid review, and that’s likely what I’d come away saying as well, but there were definitely a few hiccups to be had.
Unlike my recent Saudia Airlines flight, Qantas Airways does serve alcohol on its flights, and I was quite grateful to receive a glass of welcome Champagne shortly after sitting down.
However, I’m always one to search out reviews of a flight before I board, which often gives me expectations. Case in point, I asked a flight attendant for a set of pajamas since it was a nighttime flight and I’d read that these were offered. Unfortunately, according to the flight attendant, they didn’t have any pajamas on this flight. Why not? Well — according to the attendant — they normally did, but this time they just forgot to … put some on board. So the outcome was, no pajamas.
Also, although we boarded on time, we ended up departing 30 minutes late. We mostly made up for this in the air, however.
Business Class Seat
Qantas Airways used a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 seat configuration on this flight, which meant that every passenger had direct aisle access.
The seat itself was quite spacious, and I appreciated being butted directly up against the windows.
I had also chosen a bulkhead seat for the wider footwell, which made a difference during the flight.
For reference, even-numbered seats are set directly against the windows and offer more privacy than odd-numbered seats. Despite this, my seat still felt a little less private than other options, simply because the wraparound shell was pretty short. I had a pretty clear view of my neighbor’s screen, for instance, which made me miss the more private options offered on other business class seats.
That being said, I did enjoy the large flip-out table.
There was also a ton of room in various storage compartments.
Aside from the touch screen, there was also a remote to control the inflight entertainment.
The seat controls offered a large amount of variety, so you can find the perfect position.
And, as you’d expect, the seat featured an international plug, as well as a USB port.
Now, this needs to be said because I’ve flown on a flight or 2 in my time, and I’ve always heard those warnings about not moving your seat if one of your items happens to fall inside. Imagine my dismay when, while sleeping, I heard my Kindle clatter hollowly to the interior bottom of my seat.
Now, I’ve never lost anything under a plane seat. Ever. But I could not, for the life of me, get my Kindle out. So after about 10 minutes of trying, I flagged down a flight attendant. He spent 10 more minutes trying before giving up and asking a second flight attendant — with longer arms — to come help.
I wish I could make this up, but alas. While the second flight attendant was attempting to retrieve my lost Kindle, I was trying to describe how it fell into the seat in the first place. While doing so, I accidentally bumped my Bose headphones and they, too, clattered down inside of the seat (you have to imagine how big this gap is to have eaten both a Kindle and a big pair of headphones).
Unfortunately, the flight attendant hadn’t noticed it happened, so once he triumphantly returned my Kindle to me (with the aid of a hanger) I had to awkwardly ask him to also retrieve my headphones. It turned out that during the course of the flight, the seat had also managed to eat my pen, my seatbelt, and a pack of Listerine strips, all of which I was able to recover.
Long story short: the seat is comfortable but features a large gap — on both sides — so keep your valuables stored inside your bag.
Food and Beverage
There were 2 meals on this flight, with a dinner course and an optional breakfast service.
I ordered the beef flat iron steak with skordalia, snow peas, and port wine sauce for dinner, which was delicious, and continued on with my initial beverage choice of Champagne. That’s probably the reason why I forgot to take a picture of the food. Suffice to say it was pretty tasty.
To receive breakfast, you needed to fill out the breakfast card and hand it in in advance. You could choose from a range of options, including buttermilk and ricotta pancakes with strawberry compote, yogurt, a fried egg and halloumi ciabatta sandwich, and fruit salad. I opted for the cold-pressed juice, fruit salad, and pancakes.
All told, I thoroughly enjoyed the food selection on Qantas, and I was happy to be woken up for breakfast service as I had requested on my card.
The amenities for this flight were pretty standard, although I was more than a little disappointed by the lack of Wi-Fi on the plane. In 2022, it doesn’t make sense to not offer internet on a flight lasting more than 13 hours.
Despite the lack of Wi-Fi, Qantas still does a decent job keeping people entertained throughout the flight. The inflight entertainment system was both large and responsive at 16 inches in size. Its range of movies was also pretty expansive.
This was the first time I’d ever forgotten my own wired headphones, so I had to make do with the ones Qantas offered. While they weren’t noise-canceling, they did a good enough job with the sound overall.
Amenity kits were placed at our seats upon boarding and contained a variety of products. Interestingly, most of it was Qantas-branded, including the socks, eye mask, ear plugs, and dental kit.
The kit also contained lip balm, hand cream, and face cream from the Australian brand Li’Tya.
Side note: I normally bring my own face cleansing wipes on the plane but had forgotten them. Many flights offer these as part of your amenity kit, so I was disappointed that Qantas did not.
Qantas does bedding well. As a business class passenger, you’re provided with a decently-thick comforter and a plush pillow, both of which are comfortable enough on which to sleep. You also receive a mattress pad, which features a loop at the top to prevent it from sliding around.
Bottom Line: I had a perfectly comfortable flight with Qantas. It was neither the best nor the worst business class flight I’d been on, though the fact that my seat ate a total of 5 items during my flight was fairly distressing.
I try to be a friendly passenger at all times, but especially when I’m flying in a premium cabin. After all, most of the point of the experience is to have a good time — and being polite is a part of that.
Service on the flight was pretty proactive; I did use my call button a time or 2 to request a new drink, but on the whole, the flight attendants stopped by and checked on me just in case.
Of course, watching a pair of flight attendants shake down my seat in order to retrieve my lost items grants them an automatic 10/10, as does another flight attendant patiently waiting as I downed the rest of my Champagne before takeoff so as not to waste any.
We arrived only a few minutes delayed, though I was perfectly happy to be arriving a little later than predicted as I didn’t want an early check-in to my hotel. Still, we landed at Melbourne Airport (MEL) and rolled up to the gate, disembarking just a few short minutes later.
Business class customers receive a pass to speed through immigration, which is an excellent idea. However, at 6 a.m. in the morning, it was hardly necessary; there was no line whatsoever for passengers. Australia also uses e-gates, which meant I simply needed to scan my passport and waltz through immigration.
I waited a few minutes for my bag since I’d managed to make my way so quickly through immigration, but it really only took about 10 minutes. All told, I was off the plane and in an Uber on the way to my hotel in less than 30 minutes.
Overall, this was a pretty decent flight. Although these aren’t my favorite seats — thanks to their lack of privacy and the fact that they ate all of my belongings — I was still very comfortable. Is this the best business class product I’ve ever flown? No, but it’s a solid option with good service and a great way to get to Australia, especially at the low cost of just 55,000 Alaska Airlines miles.