It’s bewitching enough to fly from Australia to Hawaii on an overnight flight which departs Sydney late in the evening and arrives in Honolulu, ten hours later, mid-morning on the same date of departure. Odder yet, I found, is to fly on a 29th of February: I ended up feeling that I’d somehow snaffled not just one but two extra days. Which, in a year like 2016, may be a mixed blessing.
Marc Newson’s Skybed is a rare opportunity to enjoy a design classic at 30,000 feet
You step back in time in more ways than one on this route. With Qantas’s fortunes on the up after a spell in the doldrums, it replaced the doddery Boeing 767s on this route with the newer A330s, complete with the now classic Marc Newson interior. While an even newer “Business Suite” fit-out has been introduced on certain A330s of the fleet – used primarily for internal flights in Australia, and some shorter-haul international hops – the company has, however, noted the popularity of the Newson-designed A330s, and currently has no plans to replace Newson’s Skybed design on this and other longer-haul routes.
I can’t disagree with that assessment. Marc Newson’s Skybed is a rare opportunity to enjoy a design classic at 30,000 feet – as indeed it is to appreciate a Newson interior full stop, given the closure of the restaurants he designed for Oliver Peyton in London, and the transformation of his once lovely Lever House restaurant into a pop-tarty gallery for Warhol pictures in the shape of Casa Lever.
From cutlery to coat-pegs, cushions and blankets, Newson has overseen every detail of the cabin; his Skybed, with its hard-shell cowl and horizontal mattress, remains a revolutionary and solid Business class product. The two-two-two arrangement does mean that those in the outermost window seats have to stage a daring and potentially injury-inducing clamber over their sleeping neighbour if they want out in the night, however, which remains a downside.
Very appealing Jack Spade amenity bags for men (Kate Spade-branded for women) remain standard, as does Neil Perry’s “Rockpool-inspired” inflight menu, which is, however, starting to look a tad tired in 2016. There’s such a vibrant food scene in Australia, and so many chefs winning plaudits, that although Perry was instrumental in raising Australia’s food profile, maybe it’s time Qantas lent a new figure its support.
Certain details on the flight I took could have used some tuning up
And while the “old-style” A330 should certainly remain flying a good while longer, certain details on the flight I took could have used some tuning up. An overhead panel light directly above my seat was flickering as I boarded; unhappy at the prospect of a migraine on a long-haul flight, I asked to change seats. Business Class was sparsely populated on this flight, but my request was met with contradictory responses from different staff: one said yes, of course; once I’d moved, the purser bore down on me and told me seat changes weren’t permitted before take-off. That’s understandable, of course, but his testy tone – as if I’d taken it upon myself to wander off – was one that shouldn’t be taken with any passenger, let alone in International Business Class. Maybe it was the strange day we flew on, but this seemed an attitude from a different time entirely. C