Sunday, August 09, 2009

Seat Review - Qantas A380 International Premium Economy

Madame BOOT was in Venice recently for work. Yes she is a road warrior traveller as well. And Yes there are people that work in Venice. Her trip gave the BOOT family an opportunity to review Qantas' new A380 Premium Economy Product. Her quick summary of the experience "Happiness is a low base". Her expectations of Qantas service going into the flight were bad and results were above her expectations. I asked her - "Did you feel like the service was of a standard that should come out of a $10mm investment in the new Qantas customer care centre". Her reply "the customer care is there so long as the customers do not interfere with process. The "process culture" rather than customer care culture of Qantas continues to hold back their product from the high level rating that the seat, entertainment and technical components deserve.

Update - my own review of the product is here where I rate Qantas Premium Economy as the best in it's class

The BOOT rating for Qantas International Premium Economy on the A380 is a 4.0 stars out of 6 or Good Seat". Here is the detailed review (Details and scoring system for airline seat reviews)

Getting on Board

Score 1.0

Madame BOOT had the additional bonus of a Gold membership to help with lounge access. Qantas' business class lounge is well stocked, large and comfortable. It gets a little crowded in nearly abandoned Heathrow Terminal 4 but Sydney and Singapore are a real oasis. As to boarding itself there is a dedicated queue for premium economy which filters straight upstairs for a simple and easy boarding process. A drink is offered immediately and cabin crew where available for help.

The Seat

Score 0.5

"Good but not incredible" was Madame's initial response. The recline is nowhere even in the realm of business class but does allow for sleeping. Unfortunately the foot rest was in the wrong position and at the wrong angle for Madame meaning that her feet were left dangling. This made it hard for her to find a comfortable position for her height. The space between the rows was noticeably greater than economy with "no sardine feeling". But the exit row seat for her return from London to Sydney came with a cost. The exit row extends across the cabin and gives more room to the middle section of seats but this is then used by passengers and (most appalling) staff as a thoroughfare. Means that her relaxation was constantly and regularly interrupted by staff members looking for a short cut from one aisle to the other. Thankfully the VOD screens come out of the arm rest rather than seat in front so the regular herd like movements of wandering crew did not interrupt viewing. The interruption by staff reduced the score here form a 1.0 to a 0.5. The staff culture having a negative impact on the quality of the seat.

The Service

Score 0.0

More and more this becomes Qantas' weak point. It is provided to their schedule not the passengers'. Here are some examples. My wife woke at one point and asked for food outside a meal service (as encouraged by the menu). She was offered a sandwich but then made to wait over 30 minutes so they could bring it along with the next cabin service and therefore not interrupt their routine. On the way to London (not the A380) for a meal Madame was offered "lamb or fish". She asked for "fish", was provided with "lamb" and after a quizzical glance was told by the crew to "eat the lamb and ask for the fish if still hungry later". On the return flight Madame was very unwell and needed to use the bathroom. She stood and tried to give her tray to a crew member to allow her to get to the bathroom quickly. The crew member refused to accept the tray as he was busy. Not good enough Qantas. The training centre is not paying off.

The Food

Score 0.5

"Unremarkable" but closer to business class than economy.

The Entertainment

Score 1.0

Thankfully all of the glitches in the Qantas VOD system have been fixed. There is plenty to choose from. Madame commented particularly on the great selection of non-movie entertainment such as Louis Theroux docu-comedies. She particularly liked the dedicated "kids" button that allowed direct access to the children's entertainment.

The BOOT factor

Score 1.0

She loved the A380. Comments like "it is much quieter", "better air quality", "roomier", "space around you feels bigger". The plane makes a difference. Such as shame that the service culture takes away from this.

Final Score

4.0 - Good Seat

Details and scoring system for airline seat reviews


Mobissmo said...

Thanks for sharing.

Carl Jackson said...

"eat the lamb and ask for the fish if still hungry later"

Kind of says it all doesn't it?

Madame BOOT said...

I forgot to mention the cotton lined blankets, they were warm and soft. Very nice.

Smith said...

I chanced upon to view your blog and found it very interesting. Great ... Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

There's no pleasing some people. Especially the nauseatingly arrogant Ms Boot.
Oh please get a life!! Qantas still does a great job considering how tough a time the airline industry is encountering at the moment.
Some people need to go do some flying in the US and then come back with their crits of our carrier. Very different attitude then I imagine.

Tim Hughes said...

@Smith - I chanced upon your attempt at getting a link into my comments and found it crap. Please dont do it again

@Anon - thank you for taking the time to insult my wife. It just that sort of insightful input that lifts the quality of the blog and my appreciation for the readers. Next time you want to do that please have the courage to put your name to it so I when I call you spineless and useless I can use your name rather than the words Anon.

Madame BOOT said...


just because people on US carriers are treated like terrorists in need of a water-boarding session doesn't mean that we should shut-up and put-up with average service from Qantas.

Interestingly Qantas' service was less than stellar before the GFC, so the 'tough times the airline industry is having' does not seem to be the factor that is causing them to suggest one should eat the lamb even though they asked for fish!