Flight review: Qantas QF19 SYD - MNL in Economy Class

Flight review: Qantas QF19 SYD - MNL in Economy Class

  • Flight five out of nine on a Round the World (RTW) Classic Rewards ticket
  • Flying Economy when you can't find seats on Business Class
  • Making the most out of your points when you're travelling around the world

With a large number of customer service, data management and development personnel working remotely from the Philippines, we try to host a meetup every few months. In March of this year I flew from Sydney to Manila with Qantas as part of a Round The World Classic Rewards ticket. On this leg, I was bound for Economy as I had no luck in sourcing a Business Class seat. 

Luckily, David, being the nice boss that he is, decided to cancel an already booked Business Class seat from Brisbane to Manila to join me in Economy for an eight-hour journey.

My rating

3.13 out of 5
  • Amenities & IFE
  • Cabin & seat
  • Food & drink
  • Service

Flight details

  • Airline: Qantas
  • Flight: QF19
  • Route: Sydney (SYD) – Manila (MNL)
  • Duration: 8 hours 5 minutes
  • When: March 2019
  • Cost: Part of a RTW Qantas Classic Rewards ticket
  • Aircraft: A330-200
  • Class: Economy
  • Seat number: 49K and 50K 
  • Overnight flight: No, departed at 12:25PM and landed at 5:30PM
  • Meal included: Yes, lunch and snack before arriving in Manila
  • Amenity kit provided: No
  • Pyjamas provided: No
  • In-flight Wi-Fi: No
  • Baggage: A carry on up to 7kg, and two checked bags up to 23kg each

Before the flight

As I was travelling on this trip with David, who is a Gold status Qantas Frequent Flyer, he was allowed to take me into the Qantas Business Lounge with him even though we were both flying in Economy. 

To get to the lounge, you need to go through security and immigration (the fun stuff) and then take the escalator next to gate nine (right next to JB Hi-Fi and the Apple store). Go up one floor and you can't miss it.

Qantas Business Lounge in Sydney
Qantas Business Lounge in Sydney

If you're not flying Business or First Class, don't worry. Sydney airport has plenty of food and coffee options for those not lucky enough to be flying with someone with Gold status. 

Even the duty-free shop is a great option to spend some time before your flight.

Starting the journey

Our Qantas A330-200 before taking off on a sunny day in Sydney
Our Qantas A330-200 before taking off on a sunny day in Sydney

The boarding process on this flight was smooth. However, there was a long queue for Economy as the flight was fully booked. 

We still managed to get on the plane really fast as our seats were at the back of the plane. (I will remember to book seats up the back in future after this experience.)

The economy cabin, fully booked
The economy cabin, fully booked

The A330-200 cabin is divided between 28 flatbed seats in Business Class and 243 standard seats in Economy, with a 2-4-2 layout.

My impression? The seat was OK, although it felt more like one you would find on a low-cost airline, as it had a very old look and feel.

You could say it was . . . vintage?

In flight entertainment? Well . . .

The route from Sydney to Manila on a seven inche screen
The route from Sydney to Manila on a seven inch screen

I always enjoy catching up with recently-released movies on my flights, but this flight was different. The plane in use this day was very old. I was not alone in thinking that watching a movie on a seven inch (this is a generous estimate) scratched-and-glossy screen was not going to be any better than watching a downloaded movie on my phone screen, that was actually wider than the screen in the seat! 

However, I pulled a jiu jitsu move on the negative and turned it into a positive by using the time to catch up with David, take some cool 360º pictures like the one below, talk about work and life, and eventually get some rest for our meetup in Manila.

Post from RICOH THETA. - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
Art. Or just a random picture of a glass of beer in front of a plane window?
Art. Or just a random picture of a glass of beer in front of a plane window?

And then, there was food

It was lunchtime not long after the flight began, and even though we had a late breakfast in the lounge we still ordered food, because . . . you never say no to food (or at least I don't).

There were three options on the menu:

  • Vegetable lasagne with spinach cream sauce and parmesan
  • Chicken cashew satay with prawn nasi goreng
  • Braised beef brisket with spicy roast carrots and couscous

On the side, there was some cheese and biscuits and the old (but gold) Qantas garlic and herb focaccia.

The selection of drinks was quite restricted, but the Australian Merlot that I ordered was very nice and smooth. I would definitely drink it again. 

Braised beef brisket with spicy roast carrots and couscous
Braised beef brisket with spicy roast carrots and couscous

The cabin crew on this flight were fantastic, something I have come to expect from all Qantas flights. Even in Economy they treat you very well and will get you a second piece of garlic bread or dessert if you ask nicely. Seriously, go for it!

Yes, I also ordered the snacks before landing

I was still feeling hungry after all the food, and the cabin crew definitely had my back. I had the choice of pizza or a box of dumplings. 

I went with the dumplings, as I had never had dumplings on a plane, so I thought, why not? I am glad to report I was not disappointed, especially because the box came with a BBQ pork bun which was really good.

Steamed dumpling box with soy and ginger dressing
Steamed dumpling box with soy and ginger dressing

Landing in Manila

After what felt like a long eight hours, we made it to the Philippines.

Sadly there was no "express voucher" for Economy ticketholders (and no express lane either), and immigration in Manila can take a long time to clear, especially with a fully-booked flight. 

By this point I was really missing the perks of Business Class. 

Landed on time on Ninoy Aquino Airport
Landed on time on Ninoy Aquino Airport

What would I do differently next time?

Next time, I would definitely book flights as they show up, and be ready to pay 5,000 points to change them, even if I don’t have all the itinerary figured out. I might even check out other Business Class flight options and stopover in Hong Kong like my colleagues did. 

Would I fly with Qantas on the same route next time? Yes. Qantas is probably one of the best choices for this route, even if this plane was ancient, so I would definitely fly with them again on this route. 

One thing I can recommend when booking with Qantas is this: be patient. Things change ALL the time, with booking errors and flights disappearing and reappearing after a week. Just go out, do some meditation, and come back. And book as soon as you see a flight you like, even if you don’t have the return ticket, because you can add that one later.

Qantas is renowned for throwing all types of errors your way when you're trying to book flights. If these are bothersome for you, check out our guide on how to get around Qantas booking errors

And if you’re booking a “Round The World” ticket, meditation may not be enough, so be sure to try some yoga, pilates, drink some tea and hire Linda (our business support manager) to call Qantas for you.

Overall experience

Overall, the flight was fine. 

The plane used by the airline this particular day was really old, probably one of the oldest in the Qantas fleet.

But I got to travel with my friend/boss, ate nice food, had some decent Aussie wines, and made it safely to our destination without delays.

If you are like me and like to indulge in some luxury on flights, check out our review of QF19 in Business Class from a couple of years ago.