Review: Qantas QF19 Business Class A330 SYD - MNL

Updated 13th November 2020

Qantas QF19 A330 Business cabin
  • New Qantas international Business Class lay flat seat on the A330-200
  • Successful upgrade request for four out of five people travelling as a group
  • Comfortable and compact updated seat configuration with great quality food
NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card

On NAB's website

NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card

Highlights

  • Earn up to 130,000 Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 in the first 60 days from account approval date and keep your card open for over 12 months. Terms and conditions apply.
  • Earn 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent on everyday purchases up to $5,000 per statement period then 0.05 pts per $1 spent thereafter (capped at $20,000).
  • Complimentary Qantas Frequent Flyer membership fee valued at $99.50.
  • Seven complimentary insurances when you make an eligible purchase.

This is the story of how a group of five managed to get upgrades to Business Class, leaving one unlucky passenger stuck in Economy.

The Sydney to Manila route is very busy with business and leisure travellers, as well as Pinoys flying home to the Philippines, which means it can be difficult to find Classic Rewards seats in Business Class. But we managed to get four upgrades. Here's how.

The A330 serving this route has the new Thomson Aero Business Class suite.
The A330 serving this route has the new Thomson Aero Business Class suite.

Flight details

  • Airline: Qantas
  • Flight number: QF19
  • Route: Sydney (SYD) – Manila (MNL)
  • Duration: 8 hours 05 mins
  • Cabin: Business Class
  • When: June 2017
  • Cost: $1,200 per Economy ticket plus 50,000 Qantas Points per upgrade
  • Aircraft: A330-200
  • Seat number: 7F
  • Overnight flight: No
  • Meal included: Yes, breakfast or lunch
  • Amenity kit provided: Yes
  • Pajamas provided: No
  • In-flight Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Baggage: Carry on

Getting upgraded into Business Class

There were no Classic Rewards seats available when we needed them, leaving two options.

  1. Buy Business Class tickets for around $3,500 each (not going to happen).
  2. Buy Economy Class tickets and request an upgrade at 50,000 QFF Points each (sounds like an option).

We chose to buy Economy tickets and then request an upgrade. This is not the most cost-effective way to fly Business Class on this flight since we could have booked Classic Reward Business Seats for 60,000 QFF Points each way + taxes.

We chose to upgrade with the Saver rate.
We chose to upgrade with the Saver rate.

Let's dispense with a myth about getting upgraded. You should be respectful and courteous to airline staff all the time regardless of what you need. That said, being nice to airline staff won't get you upgraded per se but it will help them try harder and get your request for an upgrade processed. Sometimes that pays off. Most of the time it doesn't.

Requesting points upgrades for five people

Here's the kicker. Four out of five passengers had Economy saver tickets eligible for an upgrade, so I put in the request for all of us to be upgraded using points. However, Leo's Economy ticket was not eligible for an upgrade. Lesson learned.

There are only 28 Business Class seats on the A330, and this is a very busy route, so the chances of getting upgrades were slim at best. It happened to be my birthday, which I thought was worth dropping into the conversation. More importantly, we were patient and pleasant with the Qantas staff in the business lounge. The Qantas rep told me to return later when the flight was called for boarding. I held my breath, not expecting good news.

It wasn't until the boarding call when we found out that we had been upgraded, less than an hour before take off. We were delighted, especially since this would be the first time a few of our gang would experience Business Class.

Positioning for QF19

If you want to actually use your rewards points, then you have to be flexible with your schedule and expectations.

Not everyone lives in a major city with an international airport. So in order to catch our flight, we had to get ourselves to Sydney. Our choice? Take the QantasLink Dash 8 from Port Macquarie or drive four hours plus pay for parking at Sydney Airport.

We chose to fly.

David and Leonardo, a.k.a. Gonzalo Higuaín, on the early morning flight from PQQ to SYD.
David and Leonardo, a.k.a. Gonzalo Higuaín, on the early morning flight from PQQ to SYD.

We caught the 6:30am flight from Port Macquarie to Sydney. Since QF19 is scheduled to depart for Manila around lunchtime, we had plenty of time to spare just in case something went wrong.

Before the flight

It gets a hard time, but I personally quite like Sydney Airport's international terminal. There are lots of options for food, duty-free shopping and fun things to do. Leo tried on this VR Headset for a game of golf.

Leo trying out the VR golfing experience at Sydney International Airport.
Leo trying out the VR golfing experience at Sydney International Airport.

With hours to go, hungry for breakfast and needing to recharge devices, we headed back up into the Qantas Business Lounge.

For AV geeks like me, the view from the Qantas Business Lounge at T1 never grows old.
For AV geeks like me, the view from the Qantas Business Lounge at T1 never grows old.

My seat for the next 4,000 miles

The Business Class cabin on this Qantas A330 was arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, giving all seats immediate access to the aisle. I was delighted to try out the all-new Thomson Aero Seating designed Business Suites.

The 1-2-1 configuration with the new Qantas Business Suites on QF19.
The 1-2-1 configuration with the new Qantas Business Suites on QF19.

Each suite has a very tasteful combo of wood and leather. They have thoughtfully designed the seat so it has a spacious feeling with lots of easy-to-access storage, power, seat and screen controls. Oh, and the seats have a massage function!

Rows seven and eight of Business Class are separated from the main Business Class cabin by a bulkhead divider. The rest of the seating on this plane is Economy.

As usual in a layout like this, the middle seats are best for couples travelling together. However, thanks to the design of the Business Suites, you have a great deal of privacy in the middle seats if you sitting next to a stranger.

Getting comfortable in 7F.
Getting comfortable in 7F.
Champagne and orange juice before takeoff is mandatory. For me.
Champagne and orange juice before takeoff is mandatory. For me.
QF19's flight path from Sydney to Manila.
QF19's flight path from Sydney to Manila.

After we reached cruising altitude, I decided to visit Jack up in 3K. This was his first time flying Business Class, so I gave him the pick of the bunch: a window seat in the main cabin. Much better light for taking pictures too.

Jack pretending to get some work done.
Jack pretending to get some work done.
The Qantas Business Suite seat reclined.
The Qantas Business Suite seat reclined.
There is no lack of legroom in Qantas Business Suites.
There is no lack of legroom in Qantas Business Suites.

What about Leo?

Leo was the only person in our group to miss out on the upgrade request because of a technicality. His was the only ticket bought in the non-upgradeable "Sale". He did get to try out the Business Suites for a while though. Needless to say, he loved it!

Leo: "Does it recline all the way back?"
Leo: "Does it recline all the way back?"
Leo: "Hombre, estoy tan celoso ¿Quieres intercambiar asientos?"
Leo: "Hombre, estoy tan celoso ¿Quieres intercambiar asientos?"
Leo: "Yo apruebo esto."
Leo: "Yo apruebo esto."

Guilt-free and assured in the knowledge that there was nothing else I could have done to upgrade my friend, I settled in for a travel-induced afternoon nap. Since it's not the overnight flight, the seats weren't turned down into beds and there were no pyjamas either. Even so, it was still very comfortable.

Food and drinks

Well fed and watered passengers are happy passengers. Thankfully, the food and drinks on Qantas international Business Class flights are genuinely very good and consistently so.

Lunch was served shortly after ascent and dinner was served later into the flight, both at set times. It is possible to pre-order meals if you have specific dietary requirements. And, if, somehow, you're still hungry at any time during the flight, then simply ask (politely) for a snack off the menu.

Take your pick from the food menu on QF19.
Take your pick from the food menu on QF19.
The seasonal fruit off the snack menu was refreshing.
The seasonal fruit off the snack menu was refreshing.
Dinner was pan-fried ling with braised silverbeet, dill potatoes, oregano and lemon.
Dinner was pan-fried ling with braised silverbeet, dill potatoes, oregano and lemon.

Views of the wing

Part of the pleasure in flying is to just see the world from above. Closer to our arrival in Manila with the window shades back up the scenic views come into vision.

The view as we began our approach into Manila.
The view as we began our approach into Manila.
The concrete jungle known as Metro Manila, with Bonifacio Global City in the middle and Makati in the distance.
The concrete jungle known as Metro Manila, with Bonifacio Global City in the middle and Makati in the distance.

The verdict

Overall, the Business Suites experience is a big step up from Economy Class. The privacy and comfort of the new Thomson Aero Business Suites made this a very enjoyable daytime flight from Australia to the Philippines.

The food, especially dinner, was delicious. The in-flight entertainment system was fast and responsive with all the latest movies, TV shows and documentaries. There was more than enough to fill the time. I didn't try the WiFi, so can't comment on connectivity and speeds. As for the service, it was okay. I had no complaints, but at the same time, don't expect service like you would get from Singapore Airlines.

Booking Qantas Economy tickets and then putting in a request for an upgrade was a risky move. It would not have been unusual for Business Class to be fully booked, leaving us all in Economy (with Leo). The fact that we got four people upgraded was, to say the least, surprising. It can be done. However, it was not very cost-effective.

For a short business trip to Manila from Australia with a few days on the ground, a flatbed seat on a direct Qantas flight is the way to do it.

NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card

On NAB's website

NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card

Highlights

  • Earn up to 130,000 Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 in the first 60 days from account approval date and keep your card open for over 12 months. Terms and conditions apply.
  • Earn 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent on everyday purchases up to $5,000 per statement period then 0.05 pts per $1 spent thereafter (capped at $20,000).
  • Complimentary Qantas Frequent Flyer membership fee valued at $99.50.
  • Seven complimentary insurances when you make an eligible purchase.