Short-haul business class compared. Europe vs. Australia.

Hello from Melbourne, where I’m staying at the rather lovely QT Hotel where of course there will be a full review coming soon.

I had been in Sydney and redeemed 9,000 Avios for the one hour short hop between the two cities, flying with Qantas. Having done a number of intra-European segments recently of a similar length, thought it was interesting to compare the product offering between flights of similar lengths.

Now, before I go any further, I do recognise that intra-Australia and intra-Europe are very different markets. There’s substantially more players in the EU market, with a lot more competition and business class fares are generally lower. However, that said, I do think it’s interesting to note what can be done.

For Europe, I’ve actually got two reference points in the last few weeks; I flew Lufthansa Business Class from London to Munich, as a stand-alone segment, purchased around a month before for £311 one way. I also flew Venice to Frankfurt, also with Lufthansa, but as a connecting flight onto my long-haul trip down to Australia. Both were operated by A320 series aircraft.

As mentioned, the comparison is my flight from Sydney to Melbourne on a weekday, travelling in

The first difference is the seat. I believe nearly all European airlines (with the odd mid-haul exception) have the same seat in business class as they do in economy, except with the middle seat blocked. Some, like British Airways have a little gin table for drinks in the middle, although on their newest aircraft this is missing to save weight.

With this configuration, airlines can easily move the divide between business and economy, adjusting as per demand.

Qantas on the other hand goes for the US style seating, with three rows of 2×2 big reclining seats.

In Europe, pretty much the only distinction between business and economy nowadays is the food service. Lufthansa on both flights just served some cold food that couldn’t really be described as a meal. It was just some nibbles, served with a warmed roll. There was no choice other than to take it, or leave it.

However, there was gin, and plenty of it! Plus of course wine, beer and other sprits available.

Qantas on the other hand, served a proper full hot meal with several choices, including the lasagna that I had, a sandwich, soup, and a salad.

Wine was topped up on multiple occasions, opting for that eschewing my normal G&T. Bread was a fresh sour dough. There was also a chocolate bar lurking under the bread. Coffee was offered from a proper cafetière as well.

Thoughts

Qantas have a great product. However fares are very definitely higher, with the lowest one-way fares I can see being roughly £500. Business Class in Europe can sometimes be had for less than half of that.

I’ve not flown British Airways Club Europe recently, however from anecdotal reports from friends, it does appear they’ve improved the catering somewhat – perhaps not to the levels that Qantas have, but definitely better.

So was my flight worth £500? Probably not, but I didn’t mind spending 9,000 Avios on it.

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