QantasLink Business Class Embraer E190 wet-leased from Alliance, Darwin to Adelaide - How was it?
Hello and welcome to Darwin, Northern Territory, the top end of Australia. Today I’m going to fly on a QantasLink Embraer E190 jet wet leased from Alliance Airlines to Adelaide. I’ve already made a review in economy on this aircraft, this time I’m going to check out the business class experience onboard.
You’ll see a lot of food in this video so make sure you watch it when you’re not hungry. Let’s go! Despite being a relatively small city compare with other capital cities in Australia, there are actually lots of things you can do in Darwin. It is the gateway to massive Kakadu National Park, in the city there’s Crocodylus Park, Darwin Aviation Museum and Darwin Military Museum etc. You can easily fill up 2 weeks time here in the Top End. Where I am now is Darwin Waterfront Precinct, located only a 5-min walk from the CBD, it features many restaurants, bars, a wave pool and a man-made sand beach for locals and tourists.
The best time to visit Darwin is during its dry season from April to October. During this period, there’s sunset market on the foreshore of Mindil Beach on Thursdays and Sundays. The market is the heart of Darwin’s cultural melting pot, you can see over 200 unique stalls ranging from food stalls to an array of arts, crafts and service stalls. One thing that I would like to recommend you to try is the crocodile meat.
This is probably the only city in Australia that you can find cheap croc meat in many pubs and markets. The Road Kill Cafe’s specialties are gourmet burgers made from Australian and local meats including crocodile, kangaroo, buffalo, beef & pork. $13.5 for a croc burger or $17.5 with chips is a good price. I was honestly expecting more money! In my opinion, crocodile meat is something that money cannot buy outside the Northern Territory. I tried to look for restaurants which have crocodile burgers in Cairns, there used to be a few but none of them do it anymore. Here’s my burger. You see there isn’t any seating space between the stalls, where do people enjoy their food?
Aha this way! There are big grass area behind the stalls where you can sit down in the shade, but that’s not where I wanna sit, just a few steps away from the market is the Mindil Beach! Browsing through hundreds of food options along the market then enjoy them on the beach with sunset in the background, this place feels like a paradise isn’t it. It’s such a good idea to set up a market on the foreshore of the beach and no wonder it is this busy every time I come here. Let’s try the burger. Between the buns are coleslaw, marinated crocodile meat topped with mayo.
It is simple, but usually the simple ingredients requires high quality of meat because the flavour highly relies on the taste of the meat itself. You might not believe me if you’ve never had crocodile before but it does taste very much like chicken. Even the colour of the meat is the same. This is a very good burger. if you would like to try, come here on Thursdays or Sundays
between the last Thursday of April and the last Thursday of October. The beach does gets crowded in the final moments of the sunset but it still shouldn’t be hard to find a spot to sit down. If for whatever reason you couldn’t make to the sunset market yet you still would like to try the crocodile meat, you can go to Hotel Darwin in the city. Their territory tasting plate allows you to try emu fillet, crocodile tail and kangaroo in one plate.
This is my favourite pub in Darwin, I also highly recommend their steak and grilled barramundi. I’m so sorry for being off topic I hope you still enjoyed my crocodile adventure let’s head to the airport! Darwin Airport is the 10th busiest airport in the country, it’s the hub for Airnorth and focus city for Qantas Airways. Qantas installed 4 self check-in kiosks in the terminal, but you’ll still have to drop off your bag at one of the staffed check-in counters so I didn’t bother using it. I arrived at the airport 4hrs before departure, the staff at the counter was very nice and let me check-in early. Masks are mandatory inside the terminal there are mask vending machines which sell one disposable mask for $2.5,
5 for $11.5, or a cloth mask for $12. After going through security screening, the Departures lounge is located on the first floor, the area is split in half, if you turn right you’ll see the entry to the international departures lounge and to the left of the escalators are boarding gates for domestic flights. There’s a souvenir shop, a café, a hungry Jack’s, a travel shop and a bar.
These facilities should fulfill most people’s needs. Next to gate 4, you can have a clear view of the apron and the runway. At the end of the terminal opposite to gate 4 is the Qantas club lounge. From outside, it looks like a small regional lounge so I didn’t expect much from it but it’s actually so much bigger and a lot better than I thought.
Do you remember once I was told at Virgin Australia Sydney lounge that filming poses a Security risk? Quite oppositely, the staff here not only had no problem with me filming as long as I don’t film the face of the staff, but also shows great interest in my YouTube channel even though she doesn’t know who I am yet! Since I’ve now received a big green light for filming, let me show you this hidden gem at Darwin Airport! First of all the lounge can accomodate up to 650 travellers at the same time therefore it is huge! Immediately after the entry is a meeting room equipped with a printer, followed by different styles of lounge chairs in different arrangements. At the end there’s a kids room. You think that’s all the seating space they’ve got? There are so many more! And yep there are still more if you keep going. The lounge actually offers 270-degree view of the airport.
One side of the lounge faces the road outside the terminal, one side faces the control tower and one side gives you a great view of the apron and runway 29. I believe Northern Territory has one of the least covid restrictions in Australia, the bar and buffet have returned to self-service. The bar offers barista coffee, tea, snacks, different beer, both draft and bottled, soft drinks and wine.
The alcoholic beverages are only served after 12pm. On the buffet table, there's juice, salad, soup, some hot meal options a dessert station and even a pancake machine. Here's the menu! I’m a big fan of soup therefore the first thing I picked was the black bean and vegetable broth. The dark chocolate cake looks yummy so I decided to try one as well. I suspect this broth is an entree dish, it is very appetising and makes me want to have more food. The lounge really offers a good view, you can see the take off and landings from here when the airport uses runway 29.
Let’s have a look at the chocolate cake, I like how they only give you a small piece instead of forcing you to finish a big slice of the cake. It tastes amazing! I don’t like cakes that are too sweet. The dark chocolate ensured the cake to have a strong chocolate flavour but prevented it from being overly sweet, I love it! One common problem at many Qantas club lounges is that there are no power plugs near the windows.
I often have to choose between the view and charging my device. I also discovered a tea station and a magazine shelf displaying the monthly published Qantas magazine. I took one for me to read during flight. I’m actually quite full right now, but In order to show you other food options, I’m going to have some more! This vegetarian Santa Fe salad combines crisp colourful veggies such as corns, peas and black beans with some serious flavour from jalapeño peppers and lime. I only took one scoop at the buffet cuz I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, but it turned out to be my favourite dish at this lounge! The Bene Fish Curry and Roast Potatoes.
They didn’t specify which fish they used on the menu but I guess it is barramundi. The curry has successfully hidden or covered the general fishy taste of the barra. Another great dish. The lounge tops up food very frequently. After the fish tray was emptied it was replaced by a new hot dish. It’s not shown on the menu but I’d call it creamy chicken with potatoes. It tastes ok but I prefer the fish.
For those who don’t like fish this would be a good alternative. Overall all the dishes I had at the lounge are delicious, my favourite has to be the Santa Fe salad and the dark chocolate cake. I believe almost every Qantas club lounge offers shower facility. In Darwin there are a total of 5 shower rooms including one accessible shower.
The water pressure appears to be excellent. You can ask for a towel and toiletries from the reception. In summary I’ve had a good time at this Qantas Club Lounge, I love the airside views and the food they offered were excellent. Compare to Virgin Australia lounges, Qantas club is usually much bigger and the food is much better. Plus, Qantas has a lot more domestic lounges than Virgin. Virgin used to have a lounge here in Darwin but now it has become the operation centre for the Northern Territory Border Control Unit. The aircraft that’ll be flying me to Adelaide is a QantasLink Embraer E190 jet wet leased from Alliance Airlines.
The aircraft sits a total of 94 passengers. It is perfect for Qantas to operate on medium haul regional routes that are too big for the Boeing 737. This all-white E190 also belongs to Alliance Airlines, it’s currently being dry-leased to Airnorth. It has the same interior as all the other Alliance Airlines E190s at the moment. Being painted all white it looks more like a private jet. Boarding for my flight commenced 20mins before departure, I had a malfunction with my go pro at that time so I didn’t get to film the boarding announcement.
Flying in business class gives you the privilege of boarding through the dedicated boarding lane. VH-UYY, this is in fact the exact same plane that flew me from Adelaide to Alice Springs in June. Alliance purchased its E190s from two operators, American Airlines and Copa Airlines. Alliance has kept Copa Airlines interior including the seats on this aircraft.
The 10 business class seats are in a 1-2 configuration. There are 4 rows on the single side and 3 rows on the twin side. The seat has a width of 20 inches and a pitch of 38 inches. It is 2 inches wider than economy.
Business class seats are fully covered in leather. The structure looks similar to the business class seats in Virgin Australia’s B737s. Unfortunately there’s no power plug on this aircraft. There’s an extendable cocktail table shared between two seats, and each seat is reclinable. There’s an adjustable headrest at the front of each seat.
The seat pocket is massive, it can fit a lot of things, above each seat there’s an individually controlled reading light and air vent. They’re the same as in economy. This is my first time flying in Qantas business, Rex has been offering pre-flight drinks since it introduced business class in March, Virgin re-introduced pre-flight drinks when it re-launched its business class in April, Qantas being the best airline in Australia, and given that its business class are so much more expensive than its competitors, I was expecting the same but both surprisingly and disappointingly the pre-flight drink was not offered because of covid. Taking off from runway 29 is very scenic, if you’re heading south, sitting in a window seat on the left gives you an amazing view of the airport and Darwin city. I picked a seat on the right because I’d like to see the sunset later on. I know Qantas provides a fly well pack which includes a face mask and 2 sanitising wipes, but did you know the wipes come in different sizes? I definitely prefer the longer one.
In the seat pocket there is an Alliance Airlines safety card. It will be replaced with QantasLink branded E190 safety card. Eventually. The windows on Embraer E-Jet series are square shaped. They may look interesting if you’re used to flying on Boeing or Airbus aircraft. There are two cabin crew serving 94 passengers, the cabin manager serves business class first then she occasionally has to help the other crew in economy.
The meal was served shortly after take off. In business there are 3 meal choices, with 2 being vegetarian, i picked the only meat option: pork banger with mash. All choices come with a dessert and 2 Lindor chocolates.
As a side dish a slice of white sourdough or Sourdough Harvest Grain Loaf with sesame is also offered. For drink, the available options are red or white wine, sparkling or still water, beer, tea, coffee, juice and soft drinks. These are pretty much the same options as in economy except I guess the wines offered in business are more premium. I asked for a glass of red wine to match with the pork. Bangers and mash is a traditional dish of Great Britain and Ireland.
The dish served by Qantas consists of 2 pork sausages, peas mash as well as onion gravy. The mash and the onion gravy is a good combination and was flavourful. The sausages were also quite nice. However bangers and mash is an example of pub grub in the UK, meaning it is relatively quick and easy to make in large quantities. Feel free to disagree with me but the main plate, excluding the bread the chocolate and the dessert looks more like an economy class meal on a long haul international flight.
A Qantas business class ticket on this flight is around $1900, that’s 5 times higher than economy and about the same price as a gold single cabin on the Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin. I would like to see fresh meat such as chicken breast, Atlantic salmon or eye fillet steak, rather than processed meat such as sausages to be served in business class. I don’t think this would cost much extra for Qantas, but would bring up the dinning experience to a higher level.
Again this is what I was thinking while having this meal, feel free to disagree with me. The sourdough served onboard has a crisp and crackly crust combined with a tender springy crumb, it was nice. The dessert tonight is a 60 gram Apple & Cinnamon Tea cake. There are cuts of apple and raisins in the cake, it was yummy.
I always find the dessert from Simmone’s Kitchen to be satisfactory. Qantas has picked a good supplier here. The portion of the whole meal was great, it was tasty I was just a little bit disappointed with the menu. For comparisons sake, after finishing my business class meal, I asked for a serving of the meal in economy class. This is the first time I’ve seen Qantas serving the meal box in economy since March last year, I can therefore confirm that Qantas has now returned to its pre-covid catering in economy. The meal today is lamb kofta with spiced rice.
Kofta is a family meatball dish found in the Indian subcontinent, middle eastern or central Asian cuisines. Covered in the sauce is a big piece of lamb kofta served on a bedding of jasmine rice. The meat was cooked through and tasted tender. The dish has a mild, sweetish flavour therefore it should be accepted by most people. After my meal, I asked for a cup of green tea.
I especially asked honey for my tea and the crew was very helpful and got what I wanted. Half an hour later, a vanilla ice cream was served. Compare to the Qantas 737, the divider between business and economy is a bit low, people in economy can clearly see what I’m doing. Furthermore the curtain was not used throughout the flight, hence business on e190 has less privacy than on the 737. I’m not too bothered by this, I just would like to point it out.
There’s no free wifi nor wireless streaming offered onboard at this time but the seat is quite comfortable, most people should be able to take a good nap. Let’s have a look at the Qantas magazine that I took from the lounge earlier. Qantas suspended its inflight magazine in April last year, it hasn’t returned to the seat pockets on the aircraft yet, however it’s now available at every Qantas lounges. This monthly published magazine is more like a travel guide showcasing the attractions of different destinations that Qantas flies to.
For example, July being the school holiday month, Qantas mainly introduced tourist destinations such as Katoomba, in the blue mountains, Port Douglas Great Barrier Reef, just an hour drive north of Cairns and various ski locations across Victoria, NSW and New Zealand. The magazine also features international destinations such as Tokyo and Cook Islands. It is an informative magazine and gives you ideas for your next holiday. Let’s explore the rest of the aircraft. I’ve always been curious about the legroom of the first row. I’m now sitting in seat 2F.
The space between my knee and the bulkhead at front is much greater than the space between seat 3F and 4F. However because I can’t put my feet under the bulkhead, I cannot fully stretch my legs. But if you’re shorter than me you’ll probably be able to. The legroom in seat 1A seems to be the same as the legroom in seat 2F. There are 2 lavatories on this aircraft, the one at the front is dedicated to the crew and business class passengers. The roof is low in this lavatory, and the space is a bit small.
2hrs into the flight it’s great to see that the crew handed out clean masks to replace the old one. I’m now sitting in row 25, the last row in economy. The economy class seats are in a 2-2 configuration with a width of 18 inches and a pitch of 31 inches. The seats are covered in fabric and there’s no headrest in front of each seat. If you’d like to have a more detailed look of the seat, please feel free to check out my other E190 review in economy class.
The other lavatory onboard is located at the back of the aircraft, shared by a total of 80 economy class passengers. Although I still can’t fully stand up straight, the roof is a bit higher in this lavatory and there’s more space to move around. This lavatory also features a baby change table. There are a total of 3 passengers in business class and the economy class doesn’t seem to be full either, pretty much everyone has two seats to themselves. Not long before landing, the crew offered me two packs of snacks. I have to say that the cabin manager on this flight Heidi was a very experienced crew, and she was really accommodating with my filming. Thank you very much!
Before landing, I moved to seat 3A, the left side of the aircraft, so I can enjoy the stunning city approach into Adelaide Airport. The business class seat on the single side also has an extendable cocktail table but much smaller in size. So how was my first ever business class experience with Qantas? First of all, the major differences between economy and business on this aircraft are the seats.
The business class seats are wider, offer more legroom and hence more comfortable. If you are a Qantas bronze or silver frequent flyer, flying in business also allows you to experience the Qantas lounge, priority check-in, priority boarding and enjoy a better meal onboard. To be honest Qantas is already offering the best business class meal in Australia, however did the meal wow me, not really.
An economy class ticket from Darwin to Adelaide is usually around $400 a business class ticket is around $1900. When travelling in economy you can bid for an upgrade before your flight. I bid $360 to be upgraded to business class the day before, and my bid was successful. I know not many people would pay almost $2000 to travel in business, but is it worth bidding $360 to get an upgrade? I’ll let you be the judge! Welcome to Adelaide! QantasLink would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land. On behalf of all of us here at QantasLink and One World, thank you for choosing to fly with us it's been our pleasure to have you onboard today, we look forward to seeing you again the next time you travel. If you're visiting Adelaide we hope you enjoy your stay, and of course to those returning, welcome home! Thank you so much for watching, this review was filmed on 16 June, the weekend before South Australia entered lockdown.
I flew to Tasmania the day after I filmed this flight so I’m safe at the moment. If you’re in SA, VIC or NSW right now, please stay safe, stay at home and follow the covid rules. I’ll see you all in my next video!