Home Travel Better

Flight Test: Qantas QF163 Sydney – Wellington

Qantas offers non-stop flights from Sydney to the New Zealand capital, Wellington, for direct access to New Zealand and beyond. Karryon checked-in to an economy seat to check out the Trans-Tasman service to Windy Wellington.

Qantas offers non-stop flights from Sydney to the New Zealand capital, Wellington, for direct access to New Zealand and beyond. Karryon checked-in to an economy seat to check out the Trans-Tasman service to Windy Wellington.

Qantas and Jetstar upped their post-COVID services to New Zealand last year, now operating 30-plus return flights per week on five routes.

The Aussie flag carrier flies daily from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to Auckland and from Sydney to Christchurch on its B737 and A330 wide-body aircraft. Qantas also resumed services to Queenstown and Wellington in mid-2022.

Check-in and boarding

Qantas International Business Lounge in Sydney.

Online check-in is available 24 hours before departure and it’s recommended to get the pre-boarding requirements out of the way before arriving at the airport. My daughter and I flew Qantas from Brisbane to Sydney so our luggage was already checked through to our final destination, meaning we could proceed straight to customs and security.

We board the transit bus from the domestic terminal to the international terminal to connect to our Trans-Tasman flight, waiting around 15 minutes for the service and additional passengers to fill the coach.

With a layover of almost four hours between flights, I’ve sprung for a lounge pass to enter the Qantas International Business Lounge at Sydney International Airport to while away the extra time.

Located above the T1 luxury precinct, the Qantas International Business Lounge is expansive and airy with direct views over the tarmac and plenty of seating from comfy lounges to communal high tables. There is a wide selection of meals and snacks with an onsite barista and self-service wines, beers and soft drinks.

Our NZ flight departs at Gate 60, which is a brisk five-minute walk from the Lounge.

Onboard comfort

Boeing 737-800 Economy cabin.

Qantas’ B737-800 International Economy cabin has a 3×3 configuration. We had our seats changed to a window and middle seat to accommodate a family of four spread across the remaining seats. (I had requested middle and aisle seats for us).

The Economy cabin seats have a width of 17.2 inches and seat pitch of 30 inches with a five-inch recline and a four-way adjustable headrest. It’s fine for short people (aka me) but taller peeps will definitely want to stow their luggage in the overhead lockers to allow for more legroom. There are two toilets located at the rear of the cabin.

The current Qantas safety video looks back at 100 years of service with some fun nods to preceding aviation eras while weaving in all the necessary info.

The fun stuff

The QF Trans-Tasman Economy service.

On Qantas International Economy short-haul flights, there is a limited selection of onboard entertainment. The nine-inch seatback touchscreen has movies, docos and TV series, including kids’ options, with volume control on the seat and USB and PC power ports near the screen. Passengers are also provided with complimentary headphones.

Free inflight Wi-Fi is available aboard this service to browse online, check emails and connect to other entertainment options in flight mode.

While the Qantas inflight mag has returned (hooray!), it was missing from our aisle and had not been replaced from the previous flight. I did spy it at the Lounge though so it’s worth asking the flight crew for a copy.

Inflight food

Economy light meal example.

Qantas provides nine dietary options on these flights – pre-book online or through an advisor up to 24 hours before flying.

I’ve pre-ordered a vegan meal for me and a kids’ meal for my daughter (available for age 2–12 years). The SYD-WLG service offered a light hot meal box choice of two dishes – Italian meatballs or chicken on our flight – plus a beverage service that includes hot and cold drinks (and free wine and beer). The crew comes around after the meal service with complimentary Lindt Ball chocolates as well.

My dinnertime vegan meal consisted of a ravioli pasta with tomato sauce, while the child meal was a cheese-topped schnitzel. The dishes were a little disappointing and limited although the regular main meal option looked good.

Travel tip

Qantas First Lounge is pretty luxe…

If you have a layover of three hours or more, I highly recommend purchasing a Qantas lounge pass if you do not already have complimentary entry as a Frequent Flyer. The well-appointed space is perfect to relax with nibbles, coffee and drinks and offers a quiet spot to plug-in and work. It cost me $84 for an adult pass and $55 for a child.

The Qantas Frequent Flyer program is $99.50 to join, or check out any current offers for reduced or fee waivers.

The details

  • Aircraft: Boeing 787-800
  • Seat: 41A (window)
  • Flight time:  3hr 15m
  • Luggage allowance: 1x 30kg checked; 1x 7kg (56cm x 36cm x 23cm) carryon plus 1 x small personal item
  • Arrival in Wellington: 23:55 (scheduled) / 23:50 (actual)

Qantas operates Sydney–Wellington direct flights twice daily all year round.

Cassie paid for Qantas flights from Brisbane to Wellington.