Aloha! Hawaiian Mini Break Part One: Qantas Business Class Review.

2015 has been a year full of ups and downs, so I decided to reset myself prior to summer and take off to Hawaii for a few days of sun, diving, and cocktails. What a fun time it was! #missionaccomplished.

The trip started in the best possible way – with an upgrade and several champagnes in the airport lounge prior to boarding. Then there was the ridiculously drunk  and highly entertaining gentleman 2 seats over, who first tried to hit on me, then tried to hug the flight attendant and finally confessed he was on his way to a week long tinder date with a woman half his age and twice his height! He was staying in my hotel and I was hoping to catch a glimpse of them during my stay but no such luck!

I was actually fortunate enough to be upgraded on both flights so I was quite spoiled. The trip there was fantastic – the attendants were lovely, the food great, the champagne free flowing, and the lay down bed very comfortable… all the things you would expect from a business class cabin. The flight left at 10.30 at night so after a few champagnes I was too tired to enjoy the full meal, and slept on and off the entire way. I do recall the snapper being delicious though and I was probably asleep when they came around to offer dessert.

On the way home though, the experience wasn’t as great. If I had paid full fare I might have been a little disappointed. Let me preface this by saying I am a huge Qantas fan. I know they have their critics but I will always fly them (or an affiliate) by choice, and sometimes at a higher cost than a competitor’s fare. I like supporting my national carrier, I don’t want to see them go the way of Ansett and the sight of the flying kangaroo never fails to make me smile. I am still a Qantas fan, but no one is immune to the occasional off day.

I had jumped on to Eat on Q to pre order my meal and chose a delicious looking pork saltimbocca with smashed potatoes and broccoli. It was really the photo of the meal and the potatoes which sold it to me (is there really anything better than potatoes cooked with fat and salt? Maybe only tequila mixed with contrieu and lime ;-p).  I think the Eat on Q idea is a good one but it only allows you to choose one course rather than the 3 courses available on the plane. I didn’t realise that the small plates were actually entrees as you could only select one option (I assumed the small plates were for less hungry people). The seared tuna salad entree looked quite delicious when it was served to the other passengers so I was a little jealous. Then my pre ordered meal arrived. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the marketing image provided, and I am savvy enough about food marketing to know that those images are unlikely to be accurate and are styled for photography, not to eat.

But when my meal arrived, it wasn’t the small thin medallions of pork with some kind of sauce, smashed potatoes and stems of broccoli I had been anticipating. What I got was 2 large chunks of pork with some pancetta on top, no sauce and no potatoes. The very thing I had ordered that dish for!! When I asked the attendant he apologised and said the potatoes didn’t make it on to the plane. How does an airline forget to board key components of its business class meal? I had also ordered a cheese plate for dessert which never made it to my seat, although I was offered cheesecake.

A couple of movies later and the supper meal was served. I chose the Rueben’s sandwich with sauerkraut. Last time I flew long haul I was on Emirates and was again fortunate enough to be upgraded from Dubai to Sydney. I can only imagine this happened because of some luggage dramas I had experienced on my way to Dublin, and there was a flag on my name. I say this because when I checked in at Dublin Airport I was given a window exit row seat for both legs, without asking, and when I ordered a drink, they brought me 2! So as a non Emirates frequent flyer, when I was upgraded on for my final flight I was pretty surprised and kind of excited (and quickly forgave them for the luggage drama!). I was on a high profile flight on an Emirates A380 complete with on board bar and cocktail list, so it was always going to be a different experience to the Qantas A330, on a route which only recently got a proper business class cabin.  One of the meal options on the Emirates flight was the Rueben’s sandwich, a special from the Neil Perry designed menu of their sister carrier. It was really good. So I ordered it again on this flight. This time, it was not good. And I’m not sure it was a Rueben’s. It definitely wasn’t on rye bread, it didn’t have the sauerkraut on it, it was really just a beef and cheese toastie. They did take it away and add the sauerkraut for me when I asked why it was missing, but to have 2 meals come out with listed accompaniments missing from the dish? Whoever put the various ingredients on board obviously didn’t pay much attention to their check list that day.

I also flew business class last August on Qantas flying from Sydney to Dallas Fort Worth and my experience could not have been more perfect, I put this time down to a bad day on behalf of the crew, and will still always choose by beloved Qantas. It was a perfectly enjoyable flight and any time you get upgraded, on points or as a gift from the airline, is a wonderful thing.

Keep an eye out in the coming days for my review on Oahu’s food – from the cocktails in Waikiki to the hot masalas and shrimp trucks of the North Shore! #yum.

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