TRAVEL | Qantas operates five flights a week between Sydney and Honolulu. The Airbus A330-300 (“A330”) is currently used on the route, and travellers can choose between Economy and Business Class (the A330 doesn’t have a Premium Economy cabin).
This was my first time travelling to Hawaii, and my first time travelling on Qantas since the start of the pandemic, so I was keen to see how the experience lined up to reports. I was in Qantas’ Economy cabin, and paid AUD$50 to upgrade to an exit row seat for extra leg room.
I’d heard some horror stories about checking in to international flights at Sydney airport post-pandemic, but the process was fine. As with mainland US, visitors to Hawaii need either a US visa or an ESTA. There’s also the new USA Passenger Attestation Form, which you can fill out directly on the Qantas website or app.
You can check in online or using the Qantas app, and bag drop stations at the check in counter mean that even with checked baggage, you’ll be able to avoid lining up to check in with an actual person. I didn’t have lounge access for this trip.
Checked luggage is included with all Qantas Economy tickets when flying international. You can check-in one bag up to 32kg, and a carry-on bag (115cm) up to 7kg. You can also carry on a small item that can fit under your seat.
Service on Qantas domestically post-pandemic has been a bit of a mixed bag, with the impacts of redundancies and staff shortages clearly impacting those on the job at times. This was not one of those occasions. The service on the flight from Sydney to Honolulu reminded me of what was once standard for Qantas. Staff were cheerful, professional, and always happy to help if I needed anything.
The Qantas Economy cabin on the A330 that flies from Sydney to Honolulu features 269 seats, in a 2-4-2 layout. Colour wise it’s black, white and red – in line with Qantas’ branding. The cabin is very clean.
The cushioned fabric seat has dimensions of about 79cm x 43cm. Like any economy seat, it doesn’t recline that far back. It does, however, have built-in lumbar support, an adjustable head rest, and softer cushioning than a lot of the competition. Being in an exit row seat, leg room wasn’t a problem for me. If you’re in a non-exit row economy seat, netted footrests provide a sense of more legroom than might usually be the case.
Each seat has a USB port, video input, and AC power outlet. Enough power is provided through the ports to power most devices, including a laptop.
On the back of the seat there’s dual mesh pockets for magazines and other belongings. If you’ve opted for an exit row seat, it’s a hard “shell” type holder to the side. Inside it, you’ll find the latest copy of “Qantas Magazine”, which is full of interesting articles and destination guides.
The back of each Qantas Economy seat has a 28cm screen, which you can use to access Qantas’ Panasonic eX3 inflight entertainment system. On it you’ll find around 1,500 entertainment options on demand, including around 100 movies, 500 TV programs, 800 music options, and 18 radio channels. Content rotates regularly to ensure that the content remains fresh and current.
Provided headphones are cushioned over-the-eat style headphones with decent sound quality, and basic passive noise reduction. For me it’s my trusty SONY WH-1000XM3 noise cancelling headphones with an adaptor for the headphone socket.
Meals are included with all Qantas Economy tickets. The flight to Honolulu departs at 8:40pm and gets into Honolulu at 9:25am (the previous day due to the time zone change) so it’s dinner and breakfast that you’re looking at here.
Menus rotate regularly on Qantas flights, with three main options available. I had a choice between:
- Salad of chicken and Japanese-style rice with edamame, spinach, and roast salad dressing
- Ratatouille pasta bake with panko topping, roast cauliflower, and green beans (vegan)
- Braised wagyu beef with broccoli and soft polenta
I opted for the chicken salad with rice. Nice flavours, and decent chunks of chicken breast. A good example of just how far Economy class cabin meals have come in recent years. Served with each meal is a rosemary, garlic, sea salt, and olive oil focaccia.
To drink, it’s a selection of Australian wine, beer, and spirits. There’s also water, juice, soft drink, coffee and tea. I went for a can of James Boag’s Premium Lager and Little Creatures Pacific Ale. For dessert, a chocolate Paddle Pop.
For breakfast, it’s a choice of two meals:
- Scrambled egg, boxty potato cake, pork sausage, and beans
- Seasonal fruit plate
With both, you get an apple and cinnamon muffin and Greek yoghurt with blackberry, acai fruits, and granola. I opted for the hot breakfast, which was perfectly fine, but it didn’t reach the heights of the dinner option.
If you’re ever hungry outside of meal time you can just ask one of the flight attendants and they’ll bring you a snack or a drink.
On the seat when you first board is a blanket and a pillow. There is no amenities kit provided on this flight, however a range of travel essentials, such as a dental kit, eyemask, and earplugs, are available on request.
I had some concerns getting back on the flying kangaroo long-haul for the first time post-pandemic, after hearing less than great stories about flying in the post-pandemic flying era, but couldn’t fault a thing on this flight. A short delay (no more or less than any other domestic or international flight I’ve taken this year), friendly service, and a comfortable cabin in which I was able to get a few hours sleep in all combined for a pleasant experience.