InFlight: QantasLink Dash 8 Canberra to Sydney

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InFlight: QantasLink Dash 8 Canberra to Sydney

Route: Canberra to Sydney

Flight: QF1468

Carrier: Qantas ( Operated by QantasLink / Eastern)

Class: Economy

Terminal: After arriving into Canberra airport at about 11:30 the night before it felt a little davaju arriving back this morning to check in for my flights to Seattle, the long way around. None the less the queue at check in was virtually none existent so before I knew it my pack was checked and I had my three boarding passes, immigration form and express pass all neatly collated within the transfer folder. This first flight was just my connection to my mega flight to Dallas and then on to Seattle, so I’m hoping my bag makes it all the way with me.


As Canberra is my home port I’ve reviewed it many times, as usual post security I made a bee line to the business lounge for some breakfast. You can read the full report on the Business lounge here. I was surprised to find that, despite flying this route countless times I don’t think I’ve ever put pen to paper and posted a review of it on Qantas metal. You can however compare my review of the Virgin service here.

Departure: I was busy trying to upload a clip to YouTube so was a little rushed once boarding was called with the standard “first and final call” so I made my way down to gate 14 for a short walk across the tarmac and onto the awaiting Dash 8. Although the dash 8’s aren’t popular to everyone, I really like the priority cabin baggage service provided at the steps the plane. Any bags that are a little too big to fit in the overhead bins can be tagged at the stairs and carried in the hold. On arrival the bags are quickly delivered to the foot of the aircraft ready to go, and it’s pretty interesting to see the size of some of the bags people use the priority service for – I doubt they would fit in the overhead of a 737 sometimes!


Seat: 2A. Each time I fly on the dash 8’s I always forget to select an aisle seat and my profile preference kicks in, assigning me a window. Due to the curve of the aircraft the window seats have less legroom thus the aisle is preferable, although you lose the closer than jet views that the dash’s provide from their lower cruising altitude. The seats aren’t bad for short hops around but don’t expect any fancy features, like reclining. The 2-2 configuration means you’ll only ever be sitting next to one other person however most flights don’t go out full so you’ll often have two seats to yourself.



Aircraft: Dash 8-400Q . I’ve reviewed these birds before, but as a recap, these are single aisle twin turboprop aircraft that operate under the QantasLink brand mainly on short hops around the east coast and are a common sight in the Sydney-Canberra route. A lot of people don’t like these “little planes” but they aren’t that little really as they seat about 74 people and as they fly lower than jets have similar sector times to the jets on the shorter routes they fly. Yes they are loud, but the Q models are fitted with notice canceling systems that are designed to counteract some of the noise (this is noticeable between the 300 series and the 400Q’s). I like the views that the lower cruise altitude provides.


IFE: Short and simple, the IFE is whatever you bring on board as the aircraft is fitted with none. If you do bring stuff on board, don’t expect to be able to use it much. In a 30min flight, the first 5-10 is the climb and the last 10-15 is the decent – both times are when you can’t use electronics which doesn’t leave you much time to do much electronically.

Meal:  Despite this short flight you are served a snack which is enough to fill the gap between breakfast and lunch. Today’s snack consisted of a lovely Lemon myrtle biscuit and piece of shortbread accompanied with tea, coffee or juice. For such a short flight it’s all you need, but it is good to get something, even on short flights, even if like me, your next stop is the first lounge and it’s lovely menu.


Arrival: We did the pretty standard approach into Sydney, making a few turns to get parallel’ish to the runways after passing bankstown before heading out the pacific and before turning around, flying over the oil/fuel storage refineries and then landing towards the north on the left hand runway. Its actually a pretty city to fly into, especially if you have a fly over of the city on approach.Even over the water the different shades of blue waters of botany bay can be pretty, before landing on the runways that stick out into Botany bay, where a few centuries ago Captain Cook also landed in Australia. A short taxi finished off an uneventful flight before coming to a quick stop around gate 16.


As I was transferring to an international flight I was able to use the free Qantas shuttle which departs from the transfer lounge opposite Gate 1. This is a handy feature and provides great airside views as you drive around the northern end of the airport and across to the International terminal. If you are connecting to a non Qantas flight you need to exit the terminal and make your own way across. I’d recommend the $5 terminal transfer using the airport rail link which is accessible via an escalator beneath baggage claim.

Here is a quick video of the approach into Sydney. Notice the line up of international departures includes a Qantas 747, Delta 777 and a China Southern A330.

Crew: Two crew operate in this aircraft who are both professional but similar to the crew I had in Virgin a few days earlier – efficient and effective but not that personable. I normally find the crew on the dash 8 flights much more interactive and have a little character/passion however today’s crew were very mainline which was a little disappointing.

Overall: There probably isn’t a need for an overall summary on such a short flight, especially given the review took longer to write (and for some maybe read) than the flight itself. Thus I’ll finish up by saying the flight and crew did the job well of getting me into the first lounge on time and ready for my connection to Dallas.

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InFlight: Canberra to Gold Coast – Virgin Business

Route: Canberra to Gold Coast (Coolangatta)

Flight: DJ 1693

Carrier: Virgin Australia

Class: Business

Terminal: It was an extremely satisfying feeling walking into the terminal after a week of work knowing that the majority of the next three weeks I will be in the air or sightseeing around Canada and the United States. Before jetting off to North America on Monday, I’m attending the 6th Australian Frequent Flyer event on the Gold Coast, Queensland and thus am relaxing and unwinding (which is no longer the WiFi password) in the cosy Canberra lounge. I’ve been through here many times and for the full review, check out my lounge only review here.

One new addition since my last business flight on Virgin is the boarding pass envelope that is now provided when you check in. I think this is a neat addition and would be handy for connecting flights and keeping your baggage receipts handy, similar to what Qantas use for international connections but “virgin-ified”. Perhaps a little on the large size and hard to fit in a pocket but I guess the PR team probably want it to be seen so others can ponder how they can get one.

While waiting for our flight to be called I watched a few very excitable dogs get unloaded from a Qantas 737, the first was a little shy however once he saw his buddy was also being offloaded he sprung back into life and happily watched the rest of the planes forward cargo get unloaded.

Departure: Due to congestion on the Tarmac in Melbourne (where it was a lot less sunny that here in Canberra) our flight’s boarding was delayed by 10mins, which is apparently the time it takes to unload a flight into Canberra on a Friday night. Being one of the last flights out of Canberra, all that meant was a few extra minutes relaxing in the line which was getting emptier and quieter by the minute.

I’ve never flown to the Gold Coast before from Canberra but have done the Brisbane hop many times, which our flight pretty much mimicked, with a slightly earlier decent. All arrivals and departures were to the north at Canberra today, and by the time our flight was scheduled to depart the relatively constant stream of departures every 10mins or so had reduced significantly.

Seat: 1C. I normally opt for the window seat so trying the aisle was something a little different to my usual routine. I’ve reviewed the seat itself a few times which yo can read here, so although the seat is seriously in need of a little footrest, it is quite comfortable for few hours. The seat does feel however as if it is perched into the aisle a little, but this is only really noticeable during the constant flow of people during boarding after which it’s easy to stretch your legs under the curtain into the aisle if you find the bulkhead a little close

Aircraft: Boeing 737-800. Although all the 737-800 fleet are fitted with the business cabin, this bird is still holding onto its Virgin Blue history with the standard red livery. The interior fit out includes the forward 2 row business cabin which is separated from the main cabin by a perspex mini bulkhead. Unfortunately there is no Boeing Sky Interior on today’s aircraft but otherwise its a clean and well maintained interior.

IFE: The Samsung galaxy tablets and personal take home headphones were waiting in each seat pocket in the business cabin. This is a nice change and saves having the crew spend time distributing them after take off. Pre loaded are a variety of movies, tv shows, music videos and radio/music tracks. For longer flights the movies would be good however on a 1.5 hrs segment, by the time electronic equipment can be used its not really worth trying to start one. There are roughly a dozen or so tv programs to watch, however as each option only contains one episode, don’t try to start a family guy marathon mid flight.

The music and music video options are a good choice to pass the time on a short flight after you’ve watched your favorite tv show. Overall the galaxy is a huge improvement on the digeplayers but personally I’m much more a fan of gate to gate seat back entertainment. Alas the tablets seem here to stay so it’s best to just make the most of them, although a little more tv content would be good.

Meal: On boarding we had the usual choice of pre flight drink, water or the signature “the Australian” mocktail. After attempting to make this at home on more than one occasion, I went for the mocktail, which I must say is much better when mass produced (by someone else) and served in a little airline glass. This flight fell within the dinner time slot and tonight’s dinner service tonight included a choice of a lamb penne pasta or a feta and rosemary cannoli. I decided to go for the lamb although on serving it was more like penne and meatballs, and they tastes more pork/mince mix than lamb, although nice none the less.

Accompanying the main was a side green salad (code for various types of lettuce) with a balsamic dressing, a hot bread roll and a Luke Manigan toffee toasted macadamia coated in milk chocolate as the dessert. All in all not a bad feed which occupied a nice chunk of the relatively short flight north. Drink service flowed well throughout the flight from which I opted for the Australian mocktail with the addition of a few generous splashes of gin to make a nice “the Australian” cocktail.

Arrival: Arriving from the south we touched down on time before rapidly decelerating along the rather rough and bumpy Coolangatta airport main runway. Sitting on the left side of the aircraft there wasn’t much of a view however those on the opposite side of the aisle got a sneak view of the buildings that light up the edge of the gold coast. If you’re not a fan of doing the walk across the tarmac then the gold coast isn’t for you as there are no jetways here at all (try Brisbane and take the train if a jetway outweighs proximity). I actually find the walk across the Tarmac more appealing than a jetway as when I take that first step onto the air stairs I feel like I should pause and wave to the waiting media scrum – but as I’m not famous nor have a paparazzi following, I skipped that step and made the short walk into the terminal.

The last time I flew into Coolangatta it was in the early days of Tiger Airways and only used the shed that Tiger originally used so this was the first time in the terminal. I had heard it described as a food court attached to a runway (quote to @Li_Ras) which is a pretty accurate description. As this was an evening arrival and our aircraft was been used for the last outgoing flight for the night the terminal was pretty quiet and most of the food court vendors had closed up shop for the night. After my better half arrived in on Jetstar about half an hour later (and yes, putting him on Jetstar while I flew business wasn’t well received) we grabbed a taxi into Surfers ready for a weekend of theme parks and frequent flyer events.

Crew: The crew were efficient and friendly but not as chatty as the majority of the Virgin crew I’ve had in the past (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just different). Service was prompt and despite a few ice cubes going astray I managed to finish off a few drinks during the flight, which were refilled pretty quickly. The cabin was ready for landing in no time today with everyone working like a well piled machine and no chance of any glasses being forgotten before landing today. Overall a good crew but it didn’t have a “bringing back the romance” feel to it, perhaps it’s because they were returning to Canberra and didn’t have any evening plans.

Overall: Efficient service and nice food, accompanied by an IFE option made the flight comfortable and fly by. As opposed to Melbourne or Sydney, the slightly longer flight to the Gold Coast made the meal more comfortable as it wasn’t a rush to get the food out and cleaned up in the shirt hop, yet the overall flight wasn’t long enough to get bored with the smaller selection available on the IFE. The smooth flight was a nice start to the weekend of thrill rides :)

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Lounge Review: Qantas Business Lounge, Canberra

Location: All of the Qantas lounges are in the new section of Canberra Airport one level above the departures level. At the top of the escalators the Business lounge is straight ahead while the Qantas Club is to the right and the exclusive Chairmans Lounge to the right. The lounges are all very close to Qantas gates and security clearance.


Entry: Unlike the Qantas Club, where you can purchase access, the Business Lounge is or use of Business class passengers and platinum frequent flyers (and Oneworld emerald equivalents) . Unfortunately there is no anytime access anymore which is a significant gripe for frequent flyers when they are picking up friends at the airport. Platinum members can enter the lounge when arriving from a Qantas flight subject to space availability.

Space & Comfort: Both the business lounge and Qantas club are brand new and as you would expect of something so new, they both offer great levels of comfort and space. The Business Lounge is about half the size of the Qantas Club howler offers slightly nicer chairs and given its limited access, is generally quieter and more relaxing than the Qantas Club – especially on weekday afternoons when the lounges fill up with the exodus of public servants. The lounge is subtly sectioned off into discreet areas like the bar, business area and several seating zones making it feel a little more private when it’s full.

Food & Beverages: The buffet lunch menu selections today were a chicken korma, Vegetable tangiene or spices mexican soup in addition to the usual antipasto spread, cheeses and cold meats. For the sake of the review I tried the vegetables which were spices and nice although I didn’t want to eat too much as I was saving myself for the first lounge in Sydney later that afternoon. The food available today was great for snacks or a full lunch and in my experience the same offerings at dinner are much preferable to the snacks in Y on the flight. If you want to make a sandwich there are breads available and a toaster, although no sandwich press for those cheese melts.


The bar opens around midday and offers a variety of beer, wine sparkling as well as spirits and is staffed by a bartender although the wines are self service. Soft drinks and a variety of juices are available all day. Before 3pm there is barista coffee available but after this point you’ll need to use one of the coffee machines if you need a hit of caffeine.
Staff Service: Today the staff outnumbered guests of the lounge and thus service was very good although generally the staff are friendly and attentive regardless of the number of visitors. In addition to the entry staff there are several servers behind the buffet and a few cleaners who rapidly clean up and used plates glasses etc.
Airport Views: Unfortunately the lounge has no views of the tarmac or runways instead looking across to the multistory car park and the elevated entrance road. If they swapped the locations of the Qantas Club and Business Lounge the views would be great, so if you’re after airport views this lounge isn’t for you.
Amenities: The bathrooms are clean and fresh with Molton Brown hand wash and moisturizer which are always a nice touch. There aren’t showers in the lounge although I’m not sure if Canberra would really have any need for them.
Business Facilities: Strategically placed in the far corner of the lounge away from any ambient noise is a business centre with several iMac’s (which also run windows for those not up with Macs) and a printer. There area is pretty quiet and the Internet connection fast for checking those last few emails or checking in on Facebook. There is also free wifi across the lounges which since Qantas swapped from Telstra to Optus the speed and reliability has increased significantly.
Overall the Business Lounge, although very similar to the Qantas club is quieter and more relaxing with the staff friendlier and more eager to assist or chat. As both lounges are brand new they can’t be faulted for quality and design so either will make the wait and Canberra relaxing.

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Air Force One side on

Air Force One in Canberra

Category : InFlight

Ok so this post isn’t really travel related, but I couldn’t help myself today and went to Canberra Airport after work to get some photos of Airforce One and the entourage of other planes that have accompanied President Obama’s trip to Australia. Anyway here are a few of the photos that I took of these rather unusual visitors to the national capital (and Canberra Airport looked really busy as a result – almost like a real international airport).

Air Force One from behind

Air Force One side on

Why bring one when you can bring a smaller backup?

Delta Visiting with the President too

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Qantas 737-400 (VH-TJK)

InFlight: QF763 – Canberra to Melbourne (Business)

Route: Canberra – Melbourne

Flight: QF763

Carrier: Qantas

Class: Business (My First Domestic Business Class experience)

Seat: 5F. As this was my first experience in Domestic Business Class, I think the review of the seat is probably going to be more generous than someone who flys at this end of the plane all the time. None the less, here we go. Firstly this aircraft operates in whats called a variable configuration (meaning they can change the number of business / economy seats pretty easily). Business Class has a 2-2 seating configuration, which is really just the 3-3 configuration with a table in the place of the middle seat. None the less that table comes in handy for your pre take off glass of juice or water and the seat width feels a little wider – until you recline. If you try and recline, it feels like part of your seat is missing (basically cause it is, its the middle seat). As it was only a 45min trip down to Melbourne I didnt feel the need to recline anyway, but for longer flights this might be anoying. Leg room wise it’s probably comparable to the exit rows (or maybe even a little bit less), however as you dont have anyone cramped next to you, it does feel more spacious. I had the window seat and definately didnt feel squeezed in like you sometimes do down the back. Although I enjoyed the extra space, if you only got the ‘larger’ seat (and not the rest of the business class service) I don’t think it would be worth the price difference.

Aircraft: Boeing 737-400 (VH-TJK). Although I’ve reviewed these birds a few times now (actually sometimes it feels like its all I get to review out of Canberra), I’ve never had the opportunity to review her from the pointier end of the plane. Although alot of this was covered in the seat section, here are a few observations of this particular bird. Firstly, at the galley at the front is pretty spacious for the crew to get those Business Class meals together, yet the toilet is the same as in the back end (although sure you dont have to share it with as many people). The asile feels a little wider, and there is much less of a rush for the overhead bins. The main difference is obviously the lack of the wing obstructing your view outside the aircraft, and maybe slightly quieter. Other than that, the 737-400 is a pretty standard aircraft in the Qantas fleet, regardless of the front or back, its time for them to be retired and replaced with newer birds.

Qantas 737-400 (VH-TJK)

Terminal: As today I’m in business class I get access to the business lounge (also available for platinum frequent flyers). The Qantas Club and Business lounges in Canberra are pretty new as a result of the recent terminal development project that is underway (so far Qantas has the new terminal while Virign and Tiger share what remains of the old terminal). I’ve commented on the Canberra Qantas Club before so I’ll try and compare the Business Lounge to it. To be honest, other than a few fancier looking chairs the Business Lounge is pretty much the same as the Qantas Club. During busier times it might be quieter as its about half the size, although when travelling on a Saturday morning Canberra airport is hardly crowded so its hard to tell if it is generally this quiet. The food offerings were pretty similar to the Qantas Club too, although the fruit salad (called premium fruit salad) did have a fair bit more variety of fruit in it than the general lounge, and the museli was in individual glasses instead of a scoop for yourself dish. Again as it was a weekend the barista service wasn’t offered (not that I drink coffee anyway, but a hot chocolate would have been nice).

Departure: Although scheduled for 10:20, due to the late arrival of the aircraft from Melbourne we had about a 10min delay for pushback. Being one of the first to board, I didnt mind the delay as I got to settle in for my flight in comfort. Although we made up most of this time in flight, the pilot was very apologetic both at the gate in Canberra and on arrival into Melbourne. I used my point and shoot camera to flim the take off which I have uploaded for you below. Later I’ll add the landing video that was shot on my new DSLR in full HD (unfortunately you tube limits uploads to 3gig, so might have to trim that one down a little first).

Inflight Entertainment: I’ve reviewed the IFE (or lack there of) many times now so feel free to check out one of the other InFlight reviews for a run down. The IFE in Business is exactly the same as that in economy and, to be honest I only glanced at the CRT TV a few times during the flight (too busy eating) anyway so couldnt really give any further details.

Meal: The food, drink and service departments is where economy really has room to diferentiate itself from econony (especially when the seating isn’t that spectacular). The Canberra – Sydney/Melbourne legs are the shortest flights in the Qantas network where Business is offered, and thus the offering is (or so I’m told) somewhat condensed to fit it into the short flight times (some flights only have a 30-40min flight time). Prior to take off juice or water was offered. I went with the Apple and Strawberry Juice (sounds fancy and tastes delicious – will have to look out for it at the supermarket). Once the seat belt light was off we were offered a refreshment which consisted of a sandwich filled with Waldolf salad and chicken accompanied by a very dense and rich chocolate cake. To wash the sandwich down choice of juices (apple and strawberrry or apple and passionfruit in addition to plain boring orange) or sparkling wine were offered – unfortunately as I was driving the juice had to do me (of which I tried both). Although at first I thought, a sandwich – boring; I actually found it to be very nice and about all you had time to eat during the short flight (they could have had a choice between 2 sandwiches, but meh, the option they had was pretty dam nice). The usual Tea and Coffee round ended the meal (but as I drink neither, was wasted on me). 

Qantas Domestic Business Class Meal

Crew: Penny and Jacquiline in the Business Cabin were extermely polite, addressing (or at least attempting to) everyone by name when offering our refreshments and ensuring those pesky economy folk didnt steal our overhead bin space or use our toilets. The meals were served from the trolley, however were cleaned up on an “as needed” basis – e.g. once you finished your tray was collected instead of waiting for the trolley to return. All business seats were full, and yet they managed to get the food out very quickly without rushing. Unlike in economy, if you made eye contact they asked if you needed anything without having to use the call button. I would equate thier service levels to that of the QantasLink crew I flew with a few weeks earlier. At the end of the flight they ensured all Business Class passengers were able to collect thier carry on bags and leave the cabin before releasing the masses behind. I was pleasantly suprised with the service and hospitality offered – Good Job.

Arrival: Our Approach into Melbourne took us directly over Eildon, before flying across Melbourne’s north eastern suburbs, over the top of Essendon Airport before making a sharp right turn to land at Tullamarine towards the north. Although landing a few minutes late it was nothing too dramatic. The taxi from the runway as great as we passed all 4 terminals as we wrapped around to the Qantas Domestic Terminal, providing some great views of aircraft you never get to see at Canberra (yep – my plane withdrawals were satisfied). Once I get access to a computer to edit the landing video to under 3Gig for you tube I’ll add it here as it has some great (at least I think they are) shots of both China and Shanghai (operated for China Southern) aircraft moving about the taxiways.

Overall: Overall my first experience in Domestic Business on Qantas was a pleasant one, which I could definately get used to. Although the seat itself wasn’t that great, the service, food and I guess even being able to be an elitest for a day was worth the not so many points and not so many dollars I spent for this leg. Hopefully this will be one of many to come.

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Dash 8-300 (VH-SCE)

InFlight: QF2133 – Canberra to Melbourne

Route: Canberra to Melbourne

Flight: QF2133

Carrier: Qantas Link (operated by Eastern).

Class: Economy

Seat: 3A. As there is only 1 class on the dash 8, all the seats are pretty much the same. Row 1 is the exception where seats F and E face backwards. The centre arm rest retracts fully which is great when the seat next to you is vacant (as it is in my case).

Aircraft: Dash 8-300 (VH-SCE). I’m a personal fan of the dash 8 series aircraft, although I know many people don’t like seeing the propellers spin around. I however love the small 2 by 2 all economy cabin that feels offers plenty of legroom in every row. The prop noise is definitely noticeable, so if you have a hangover this bird wouldn’t be for you. Still there is adjustable air vents in each seat as well as your own reading lights and a mini tray table. There is a compact toilet at the front of the plane, so although this is a prop plane, its no four sestet trainer. Other than that the aircraft feels comfortable throughout. The airspeed on the dash 8-300 is a little slower than the 400 series and jets, so it will take a little longer to get to where you’re going however as they cruise at a lower level you get to cruise speed faster, thus saving some time on short hops.

Dash 8-300 (VH-SCE)

Terminal: Check out any of my other recent reviews for the run down on Canberra Airport.

Departure: Spot on time for departure out of gate 14. We took off towards the north before circling around Canberra and then climbing up over the snow dusted hills towards Melbourne. One of the best features of the dash 8’s is the quick take off and faster turns which often (like in today’s case) provide great views. The view across Canberra CBD was awesome and provided for some great photo ops.

InFlight Entertainment: There is no audio or visual inflight on the dash 8’s so the Australian Way and Spirit magazines are all there is to do. If you need something you can always bring an iPod with you. Ironically the background music while boarding was “taking off on a jet plane” which the cabin crew found very ironic and amusing.

Meal: As it was morning tea time we were served a snack pack which consisted of a choc brownie, deluxe nibble mix, some mints and a water. Tea and Coffee was provided (however as I drink neither I got a fresh glass of OJ). As always with the dash 8’s the crew offer mints after the meal (mentos this time) which adds to the personal service.

Crew: The best asset to the dash 8 is it’s crew. I have to say that the crew on this (and most other dash 8 flights I’ve taken) are by far friendlier and provide a much more personal service than mainline Qantas. The crew pass up and down the aisle several times and clean up when you are finished. I even got a top up of juice. If Qantas were able to replicate the QantasLink service and hospitality across all it’s flights it would be a much more popular choice.

Arrival: The captain (who may have had a few too many coffees by the speed he spoke at) advised that we were above Eildon and making our decent for an early arrival into Melbourne before landing towards the south (I got a view over our house as we came in which was nice). Gate 30 is at the end of the newer concourse however its not much of a walk across to the international terminal for my connecting flight to Singapore.

Overall: Overall a great, friendly and pretty smooth service down to Melbourne. Today is the start of my trip to Malaysia for the weekend so will be moving from the smallest aircraft in the Qantas fleet to the largest so it will be interesting to compare the two reviews. Anyway, as I post this review I’m comfortably sipping away on my glass of bubbly in the business lounge, which is much more relaxing than the domestic lounge (and has a slightly better food and beverage offering). The next post will probably come from Malaysia as I have a relatively tight connection in Singapore. Till then, Enjoy.