QantasLink offers Business class on many Boeing 717 flights – particularly routes between Australian capital cities. But what’s the experience like, and is QantasLink 717 Business class worth it? We put it to the test on a short flight from Canberra to Sydney.
|Route||Canberra (CBR) to Sydney (SYD)|
|Aircraft type||Boeing 717-200|
|Class of travel||Business|
|On-time performance||We arrived on time|
I booked this flight as part of a Classic Flight Reward using Qantas points. A one-way Business class seat on this route costs 18,400 Qantas points + $59 in taxes & charges. (This includes $14 of “carrier charges” that go directly to Qantas.)
A commercial Business class ticket on this route normally starts at $741 one-way.
Note that most QantasLink flights between Canberra and Sydney are operated by Dash 8 Q400 aircraft without a Business class cabin. To book a Business class seat on this route, you’ll need to choose one of the few daily Boeing 717 flights that operate during the morning and evening peak times.
Canberra Airport is arguably the best airport in Australia. It’s modern, spacious and efficient, and there are rarely queues for anything. As usual, check-in was a breeze (there are plenty of self-check kiosks) and I was through security in under a minute.
As a Business class passenger, I had access to the Qantas Business Lounge in Canberra. If you like runway views, the neighbouring Qantas Club could actually be a better choice as it directly faces the apron. From the Qantas Business Lounge in Canberra, you get a great view of the airport carpark. But the Business Lounge has slightly better catering. On this occasion, a hot beef stew with rice was available and a staff member came to my seat to offer ice cream.
The only reason I’m not giving Qantas full marks here for the airport experience is that Priority Boarding – an advertised benefit of Business class – was a total failure. Qantas has recently attempted to improve priority boarding, but it’s still very hit-and-miss.
The Hard Product
There are three rows of Business class on the QantasLink Boeing 717 in a 2-2 configuration. Economy class has a 2-3 layout, so the Business seats are a little bit wider.
I was seated in 1A, which had a bulkhead in front of it and came with ample legroom.
On a previous QantasLink Boeing 717 Business class flight I’ve sat in 2A, which had adequate legroom but a rather awkwardly-positioned metal fixture under the seat in front.
The recliner seat was comfortable and I was happy with it for the short flight. There are no seat-back in-flight entertainment screens and QantasLink seems to have removed the complimentary iPads it used to offer on Boeing 717 flights. However, you can still stream entertainment to your own device via the Q-Streaming App. Wi-fi was not available.
The Soft Product
Before takeoff, I was offered a choice of still or sparkling water in a glass. I’m sure I’ve been offered sparkling wine before takeoff on other Qantas domestic flights in the past, but this was removed a while ago. Honestly, I find this cost-cutting move rather stingy and would be a little annoyed if I had paid $741 for a 55 minute flight. Many other airlines offer champagne – or at least orange juice – as a pre-departure beverage in Business class.
No hot meals are available on this sector – regardless of the time of day. With a time in the air of barely 30 minutes, this is completely understandable – otherwise, it would be almost impossible to serve the entire Business cabin. (I’ve been on Sydney-Canberra flights where the flying time was so short, the crew didn’t even manage to serve cold meals before being asked to prepare for landing.)
Immediately after take-off, I was offered a cold Waldorf salad with chicken. This came with a delicious Manna from Heaven chocolate crunch.
The salad was fresh and tasty, albeit a little small. The flight attendant suggested that I could also have some cheese & crackers if I didn’t fancy the salad.
To accompany the refreshment, a choice of red and white wines were available. I opted for the Margaret River sauvignon blanc, which was very nice.
The cabin crew were friendly, attentive and professional, although the level of crew engagement was limited by the very short flight time.
QantasLink Boeing 717 Business Class
This was an enjoyable short flight, but is this product worth paying $741 for? Absolutely not.
The only time it really makes sense to fly Business class between Canberra and Sydney is when connecting to an international flight – as I was doing in this case – or perhaps when upgrading from an Economy Flex fare for 5,000 Qantas points.