Neil Perry

Airline and Lounge Review: Qantas 787-Dreamliner Premium Economy, London to Melbourne

5/06/2019 08:58:00 AM

The Qantas 787 Dreamliner
Image source: Qantas website

On the way back from Europe at the end of last year, we flew the Qantas route from Heathrow to Perth to Melbourne in Premium Economy on the 787 Dreamliner.

I am not an aeroplane enthusiast, and I hadn't planned on reviewing the flight on my blog - I was really just concentrating on getting home. However, I snapped a few pictures on my phone along the journey to post on my Instagram stories, and I got a lot of messages and feedback about it. Also, before and after my travels when I mentioned to friends that we were taking / had taken this flight, they seemed to be super interested and would ask me lots of questions. So I thought that people might be keen to see a more detailed post! Please note this post is NOT sponsored in any way; I just found the experience interesting and wanted to write about it!

I didn't specifically seek out this flight - we literally just bought a ticket on the same flight Sandra's work was flying her back on because we wanted to travel together. However, I have since realised that this route is actually quite a big deal in terms of commercial flights, as the London to Perth leg is one of the longest commercial flights in the world (it took us 15 hours and 55 minutes, and it's even longer the other way around), only made possible with the technology of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It's also a relatively new route, only having launched in March 2018. Qantas and Boeing have kitted out the plane with lots of new features aimed at improving customer experience and reducing jetlag.

A few key points (I heard these anecdotally from friends and then verified on the Qantas website):
  • The London to Perth route is the first time that Europe and Australia have been connected by a direct air link
  • The windows are 65% larger than regular plane windows and positioned higher to make it feel more spacious
  • The 787 uses up to 20% less fuel than other traditional aircraft of the same size
  • The cabin pressure is lower than standard planes, meaning it's closer to conditions on the ground and more humid (therefore apparently reducing jetlag) 
  • The 787 features Boeing's turbulence dampening technology (I can't personally verify how effective this is; to test this out for myself I suppose I'd have to take a bunch of flights one after the other on planes that do and don't have this technology. But I can say that we didn't experience a huge amount of turbulence.)
Let's take a look!

We flew premium economy, and as Sandra is a Qantas Club member, she was able to bring me as a guest into the lounges (woohoo).

The QF10 (Heathrow to Perth) flight departs at 11:55am, so we got there slightly early and had breakfast in the Qantas London Lounge. It's quite a schmick and spacious new lounge, set over two floors. There are two bars: a very well stocked gin bar downstairs, and a cocktail bar upstairs. As for food, the downstairs section offers table service with an à la carte breakfast and a small buffet, whilst the upstairs section has a larger self-service buffet.

We ordered breakfast - mine was a light yet nourishing breakfast bowl with a soft-poached egg, hummus, tabbouleh and roast cauliflower, whilst Sandra got eggs benedict with asparagus. I got a scone from the buffet because of course I did.

Breakfast at the Qantas London Lounge

They offer a range of Australian wines at breakfast (we abstained) as well as full barista service (we partook). There's also a Quench Hydration Station as part of the upstairs buffet, which offers various waters, teas, juices and cordials to help you stay hydrated. (Including a signature Rockpool tisane - fancy). The Hydration Station is a cute and useful concept and I like it.

Qantas London Lounge - Quench Hydration Station

In addition to the food and bar there's all the usual amenities - comfy chairs and couches, electrical outlets for charging devices, Wi-Fi, fancy showers stocked with luxury toileteries, even a small kids' play area.

So, onto the flight itself! The Premium Economy cabin is quite spacious and comfortable - certainly more spacious than regular economy class, which is what I usually fly. I've never flown First Class, and only ever done a couple of Business Class trips, once in 1992 when my family got upgraded on Malaysia Airlines (the first flight I'd ever done with an individual TV - wow!), and once on the short Frankfurt-to-Heathrow British Airways flight two days before this trip, which had the same seats as Economy but much nicer food and lounge access).

Qantas Dreamliner 787 Premium Economy Cabin
The Qantas Dreamliner 787 Premium Economy Cabin

The seats are in a 2-3-2 configuration, with a 38-inch pitch (source: Traveller.com.au), which basically measures the distance between a point on one seat and the same point on the seat in front or behind it. Thick and non-scratchy blankets, noise cancelling headphones, and pillows that you could attach to the headrest were provided, which helped with the comfort factor. (I habitually bring noise cancelling headphones and a travel pillow with me, but didn't need them on this flight). The TVs were quite large, and there were a good-sized document pouch, drop-down foot rests and a USB charging port. (The table was kept in the armrest). All in all, what I'm saying is that the seat was nice and comfortable for the long flight!

Champagne glass in Qantas Dreamliner 787 Premium Economy Cabin
Cheers!

I normally don't drink when flying, but treated myself to a glass of Australian sparkling wine. Cheers! I ended up watching four films throughout the flight, and sleeping intermittently. For anyone who cares, the films were Life of the Party (Melissa McCarthy is hilarious and I love her); Moonlight (so beautiful!); The Dish (Aussie comedy classic!) and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (camp gothic horror classic).

Qantas has been partnered with Australian super-chef Neil Perry since 1997 (over twenty years!), and I was very interested to see what the food offering would be like. Of course, the meals on planes never look quite as good as the promotional materials, but our lunches were tasty and satisfying without being overly heavy. Sandra got a beef and red wine stew with with cooked greens and mashed potatoes, and I got tomato and mascarpone rigatoni. Both meals came with a green salad dressed in "Neil's vinaigrette", cheese and crackers, and a square of rhubarb cake with custard.

Qantas 787 Dreamliner Premium Economy Dinner by Neil Perry: Beef and red wine stew with mashed potatoes and vegetables; Rhubarb cake with custard; Salad with Neil's vinaigrette; Cheese and crackers

Qantas 787 Dreamliner Premium Economy Dinner by Neil Perry: Tomato and mascarpone rigatoni; Rhubarb cake with custard; Salad with Neil's vinaigrette; Cheese and crackers

(Random memory from the deep archives of this blog: when I flew Singapore-London in 2006, I was super excited to see that they offered a Gordon Ramsay-designed meal in Economy of salmon with pancetta peppers, boiled potatoes and herb butter).

The flight is, obviously, long, and they also offer lots of options for between-meal snacking. There was a self-service snack bar, with items like ginger shortbread, crisps, chocolate, and fresh fruit. They also had this Neil Perry-designed vegetable dip served with crudités at the snack bar that was absolutely DELICIOUS, and I was clearly craving fresh raw vegetables after my trip because I ate a lot of this. (Well, I would have eaten more but my wife warned me that it was quite garlicky so I had to stop, hah).

You can also order hot snacks throughout the flight - I got this eggplant cheese pasta bake which was surprisingly good - all crunchy and cheesy and comforting. (And come to think of it, way better than the underwhelming pasta bake I had an expensive chain in London the night before). I also realise now that I chose two tomato-based rigatoni dishes for two consecutive meals. I regret nothing!

Qantas 787 Dreamliner Premium Economy midnight snack: Eggplant and cheese pasta bake

Breakfast was offered as well, shortly before landing, but I actually slept through it - whoops. (I struggle to sleep on planes so it must have been very comfortable!)

When we landed in Perth, it had never even crossed my mind that we'd be able to access a lounge at all. My ticket just said "London to Melbourne", so I assumed we'd simply be waiting in the terminal for the plane to refuel before we boarded it again for the Perth-to-Melbourne leg. I was wrong!

When Sandra said: "We can go to the Lounge!", I was already pleasantly surprised, but I assumed it would be the regular (but still very nice) Qantas Club or Domestic Business Lounge. I was absolutely stoked to discover that Qantas have a dedicated Perth International Transit Lounge for customers with lounge access flying the London-to-Perth or Perth-to-London flights (thank-you again Sandra for getting us access!)

Qantas Perth International Transit Lounge
Qantas Perth International Transit Lounge

As you can see in the above picture, there's a sun-drenched patio area at the back, which is where we sat. It was lovely to get some natural light after the long flight!

There were a few features offered in the Lounge for long-haul travellers that we didn't use ("Body Clock Intervention" to minimise jetlag, a full bar, barista service, fancy showers), and many that we did use.

In terms of food, there was a hot and cold buffet, including soups and bread, fresh salads, fruits and desserts, as well as a BBQ with grilled-to-order sausages. (German Sandra of course had one of these and it was super tasty).

Qantas Perth International Transit Lounge - Tomato soup and damper

Qantas Perth International Transit Lounge - ham and cheese focaccia
Qantas Perth International Transit Lounge - ham and cheese focaccia

Quench Hydration Station!

Qantas Perth International Transit Lounge - Quench hydration station
Qantas Perth International Transit Lounge - Quench Hydration Station

The hydration offering extended from drinks to skin. The bathrooms had Aspar brand skin care products available for use, so I treated myself to a little skin hydration ritual. My skin gets super oily on flights - I assume it's because my skin gets dehydrated in the cabin and then overcompensates by greasing up like crazy. Usually the only way I combat this is by moisturising before I leave the house, and by pinning my hair off my face so as not to irritate it. It was nice to be a bit extra!

Qantas Perth International Transit Lounge - Aspar skin hydration ritual
Qantas Perth International Transit Lounge - Aspar skin hydration ritual

One more awesome amenity - a stretch class! I'm really into wellness and self-care - you know, yoga, scented candles, aromatherapy, stretching, meditation, relaxation music, that kind of thing - so when the lovely instructor Amy came around asking if we'd like to participate in a stretch class, my immediate response was an enthusiastic "HECK YES!" The atmosphere was relaxing and the class was simple yet effective. What a great way to (literally) unwind after the long flight.

Qantas Perth International Transit Lounge - Wellbeing studio
Qantas Perth International Transit Lounge - Wellbeing studio

All fed, hydrated, limbered up and relaxed, from there it was back onto the (same) plane for the relatively simple three-hour flight from Perth to Melbourne. Phew!

Do you prefer long flights or breaking them up with stopovers? Have you done a 15 hour or longer flight? Do you have any great travel tips to share for beating jetlag and greasy skin or for getting more comfortable?

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2 comments

  1. Loved reading this. I am so excited to do this flight! I hate stopovers so this is my dream. Now I just need to plan and book my holiday ;)

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