Qantas A330 Economy Class Review (Auckland-Brisbane)

Qantas A330 Economy Review (Auckland-Brisbane)Qantas is one of the key players in the competitive trans-Tasman market, with multiple daily flights from Brisbane, Melbourne & Sydney to Auckland using a mix of Boeing 737s and Airbus A330s. In this review, we test the Economy class service on an Airbus A330 flight from Auckland to Brisbane.

Flight Details

Flight number QF126
Route Auckland (AKL) to Brisbane (BNE)
Aircraft type Airbus A330-200
Class of travel Economy
Seat number 27K
On-time performance This flight ran on-time
Star rating 4.5 stars out of 5

The route

QF126 route map

Flight Cost

I paid $336 for a one-way Economy Saver ticket on this flight.

Airport Experience

I was checked in straight away in the priority queue, thanks to my Qantas Gold status, and an “express path” sticker was placed on my boarding pass so I was through immigration and security in no time.

I was lucky to have arrived at the airport early enough to pop into the Emirates Lounge in Auckland before it closed. If you have Qantas Gold status or above, you are entitled to use the Emirates Lounge when flying with either Emirates or Qantas from this airport. And it’s an absolutely brilliant lounge with great staff, top-notch buffet food and drinks including Veuve Clicquot champagne, clean bathrooms and showers, and the lounge was almost empty!

Sadly, the Emirates Lounge is only open for 3-4 hours prior to the departure of each Emirates flight. It closed when EK451 started boarding around 1.30pm, so I headed next door to the Qantas Business Lounge.

In general, the Qantas lounges in Auckland are a real disappointment in comparison. They’re in need of a refurbishment and the food & drinks selection is typically average. That said, I was pleased to see that Qantas has at least replaced some of the old furniture since my last visit. And on this occasion, I’m pleased to say that the food was better than usual. It was Christmas Eve, and the Qantas Lounge was serving quite a tasty Christmas ham with roast vegetables to accompany the party pies, toasties, salads and Kapiti ice cream – the latter of which is one of the best things about the Auckland Qantas Lounge. The lounge manager was also doing the rounds handing out Christmas cocktails, which was a nice touch.

Boarding started on time and priority boarding worked perfectly! Perhaps Qantas should get some of their ground staff in Auckland to provide training to the gate agents working Qantas domestic flights. 😉

The Hard Product

Qantas flies twice daily from Auckland to Brisbane. The morning flight, which I’ve previously taken many times, is operated by a Boeing 737-800. The afternoon flight, which I took on this occasion, is an Airbus A330 service. The difference between the two aircraft is huge.

If you’re in Business, the Airbus A330 is a no-brainer as you’ll get a fully lie-flat bed with guaranteed direct aisle access for every passenger. By comparison, the Boeing 737 just has recliner seats.

In Economy, the Airbus A330 is also a better experience. It feels more spacious as it’s a wide-body aircraft, and the seats also seem to be slightly bigger with reasonable legroom.

Qantas A330 Economy class legroom
Qantas A330 Economy class legroom

Economy class on the Qantas Airbus A330 is laid out in a 2-4-2 configuration.

Qantas A330-200 Economy class
Qantas A330-200 Economy class

Read more: The Ultimate Qantas Economy Seat Guide

This particular Airbus A330-200 was configured for short-haul flights, and in-flight entertainment was provided in the form of an iPad in the seat pocket, which could be placed into a special holder on the back of the seat in front (but only after take-off and before landing). Passengers could also access Q-streaming entertainment on their own device if they preferred, although wifi was not available.

Q-Streaming in-flight entertainment via a Qantas-supplied iPad
Q-Streaming in-flight entertainment via a Qantas-supplied iPad

There was a reasonable selection of movies and TV shows to choose from on the in-flight entertainment, but not as many as you would get on Qantas’ long-haul aircraft. I was also disappointed to see that music was not available at all, despite this being an international flight. (Qantas no longer includes music in its in-flight entertainment selection on domestic flights – presumably to save money on licensing fees.)

Some of Qantas’ Airbus A330-200 fleet – and all Qantas Airbus A330-300s – have proper seat-back TV screens in Economy class. Interestingly enough, so do the Boeing 737-800s that Qantas normally uses for trans-Tasman flights.

The Soft Product

This flight took place on Christmas Eve and some of the cabin crew were getting into the spirit. Some were wearing Santa Claus hats, and the Customer Service Manager welcomed us all onto the “Christmas flight to Brisbane”.

Other than that, the service was pretty standard for a Qantas international flight. There was a drinks run after take-off with soft drinks, juice, beer, wine and spirits all available free of charge to Economy class passengers. This was followed by the lunch service.

There were three meal choices on this flight – beef stew with mashed potato and vegetables, a vegetarian pasta or cold chicken salad. I chose the chicken salad, which was good without being special. It came with a warm but stale garlic bread roll.

Chicken salad served for lunch on QF126
Chicken salad served for lunch on QF126

Tip Top ice cream sticks were handed out for dessert, followed by tea and coffee. After this, the cabin crew seemed to disappear for the rest of the flight – but I’m sure they would have answered the call bell if I’d wanted anything.

Qantas A330 Economy Class
  • Airport Experience
  • Hard Product
  • Soft Product

Final thoughts

I would rate the Qantas Economy class service across the Tasman above the Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand Economy class offering. It is an enjoyable way to fly!

The main thing that normally lets Qantas down in Auckland is its sub-par lounge.


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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.

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Graeme Nicholls

Hi Matt, the reason there is no music is customers’ feedback was they wanted more content to watch and the onboard computers, that store all the content, are limited in capacity. Something had to go to create more capacity, so music was sacrificed.
Cheers, Graeme