Business Class to NZ: Qantas vs Emirates

There are more than half a dozen airlines flying between Australia and New Zealand. Except for Jetstar, these airlines all offer Business class. But the product in the pointy-end can vary enormously.

Our member v1nce007 recently flew from Melbourne to Auckland and back in Business. They flew with Qantas to Auckland, returning on Emirates.

The two airlines’ trans-Tasman Business class products could not be more different. Almost all of Qantas’ flights to New Zealand are served by Boeing 737s operated by Qantas’ subsidiary, Jetconnect. These aircraft sport 12 domestic-style recliner seats in Business class. By comparison, Emirates flies A380s across the ditch featuring 76 lie-flat Business class beds and an on-board bar!

Despite the inferior hard product, Qantas does have the upper hand in some areas. The flight to Auckland was an early morning breakfast flight. With only 6 passengers in Business, the service from the dedicated flight attendant was top-notch.

Priority boarding worked a treat. The J cabin was was half full 6/12. Jacket taken immediately, and champagne served within minutes. J cabin attendant came around and introduced himself. The domestic J style recliner seats are pretty basic but fine I think for a 3 hour flight.

The food was also well-presented and tasty.

The return Emirates flight to Melbourne was an evening departure. Our member was immediately impressed with the seat and was promptly welcomed on board with a hot towel and a glass of champagne.

Settled in and immediately my FA came and introduced herself and pointed out her offsider who would also be serving row A. The J cabin is huge but was probably 3/4 empty. The seat is really nice, I was in 11A and had the extra storage bins next to the window. Plenty of storage on the side table too and the built in mini bar is a nice idea.

Emirates may have installed an in-seat mini bar for every Business class passenger, but that’s not substitute for the real bar at the rear of the cabin! The on-board bar is a hugely popular concept and a great way to make the time fly by.

After dinner I headed down the back to the on-board bar. There were a few other passengers here and quite a social atmosphere with the passengers and staff chatting. This is a really fun way to spend some time.

Clearly, Emirates has a much better seat and on-board product offering. The Emirates lounges in both Melbourne and Auckland are also superior to Qantas’ Business class lounges. But in our member’s opinion, Qantas comes out on top for its on-board service and food.

Overall for this route I’d say the quality of food and service is slightly higher on QF, but the EK seat is much better and the on-board bar is a really fun experience. For a breakfast flight I’m not really fussed, but I think I’d go for EK for an evening flight, if only for the novelty of hanging out at the bar.

One other aspect in Qantas’ favour is that they offer many more routes and frequencies across the Tasman. All flights are currently on narrow-body aircraft, but Qantas will upgrade two of its daily Sydney-Auckland flights to A330s with Business Suites from next month.

View the full trip report HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]