A day ahead of the launch of nonstop flights between Perth and London with the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, Qantas’s head of customer product says the aircraft is setting a new benchmark for customer satisfaction.
Qantas has so far taken delivery of four 787-9s, with the aircraft operating a daily service between Melbourne and Los Angeles since December, as well as flying domestic trunk route services – predominantly Melbourne-Perth and Melbourne-Sydney – while pilots and cabin crew build experience in operating the type.
“We’re extremely happy with the way customers are responding to the aircraft,” Philip Capps, head of customer product and service development, told Australian Aviation on Friday.
“Particular elements from the cabin environment, the seating and the comfort [levels] but also the inflight entertainment are resonating very strongly with customers,” he said.
“When we compare the experience of customers who are flying so far on Melbourne-Los Angeles – and soon to be Perth-London – there is a material increase, it is effectively a new benchmark of customer advocacy and satisfaction [levels].”
Qantas is configuring its 787-9s in a ‘premium-heavy’ configuration seating 236 passengers, with 42 seats in business class in a 1-2-1 configuration offering direct aisle access for every passenger, 28 in premium economy laid out 2-3-2 across and 166 in economy in a 3-3-3 layout with 32in seat pitch.
Such a configuration reflects both the business-heavy nature of the routes the airline will operate the aircraft on, but it is also optimised to provide the payload-range performance necessary for ultra long-haul routes like Perth-London, which will the longest route yet operated by the 787.
YouTuber Paul Stewart reviews the business class service on the first Qantas 787 Melbourne-Los Angeles flight last December.
Capps said the 787 interior and passenger experience had seat a new benchmark for the airline.
“We’ve recently announced the reconfiguration of the A380, there will be many elements of that which will be aligned with the Dreamliner so it means that we know that we’ve done things that are working well with customers and now we are going to continue to roll those our across the rest of the international fleet.”
Early experience with the 787 has also validated Qantas’s approach of collaborating with industry partners in designing and delivering its 787 passenger experience.
“I think what works for us is the collaboration of the best minds in the business. We like to use our own experience but then work with Neil Perry who knows food, beverage and service like no other. Like Sofitel who also knows service like no other, with the [University of Sydney] Charles Perkins centre,” he said.
“Our job then is to continue to pull all those threads together and weave them into an experience. The more you can collaborate with the best in the field, the better the experience will be. So that’s really the biggest lesson we’ve learned.”
Part of that experience is the new Qantas transit lounge at Perth Airport, which was previewed to media on Friday.
“The introduction of Perth-London services is quite a game-changer, for Qantas, for Qantas customers, for our people and also for the networks that we serve,” he said.
“In that context then being able to introduce a new aircraft type with a bespoke cabin interior and a very unique lounge and terminal experience is fundamental, It means the experience for customers travelling from Melbourne through Perth to London and back will be very different to any other way of getting to Europe.”