I spent the past weekend indulging in a rare break in Noumea (even business travellers need some downtime) bookended by two days of pinballing around the east coast on Qantas flights.
The reason: a strategic quest to retain my Platinum status the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme.
The trigger: a rare planetary alignment which saw Qantas launch a $1000 business class sale between Sydney and Noumea at the same time as it ran a 'double status credits' promotion.
By booking the Sydney-Noumea business class flight as part of a more complex itinerary involving flights to Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane, I paid only $500 more for those connecting flights but netted 920 status credits – sufficient to lock in my Platinum status to 2020 – plus a long weekend relaxing in this tropical French idyll.
After 10 flights, 10,511km, here's what I learned.
Catch a domestic Dreamliner
A handful of Qantas' daily flights between Melbourne and Brisbane now run on the Boeing 787, bringing an international-grade experience to the trip.
This is to help Qantas pilots train up on the Dreamliner before begins daily flights from Brisbane to Los Angeles and New York in September (with potentially a new US destination to follow – we're hearing whisper of Chicago).
For passengers, the 'domestic Dreamliner' service not only lets you enjoy Qantas' best business class seat. It also provides an opportunity to upgrade from economy to the Boeing 787's premium economy cabin at no cost.
Get the good seat
Qantas doesn't sell premium economy on domestic flights, so savvy Qantas Platinum and Gold frequent flyers booked in economy on a Dreamliner flight can choose a seat in row 20 through 23 to snare themselves a premium economy seat.
You'll have the same meals and service as economy, of course, but a more comfortable and better-appointed seat with extra width and legroom.
The flight numbers to watch for are QF609, QF611, QF614, QF625, QF627 and QF634.
Where WiFi is super-fast
Gone are the days when I'd use my 4G iPhone as a personal hotspot rather than join the slow and congested lounge WiFi network.
Speeds at the Qantas lounges are insanely fast, averaging 50-100Mbps and as high as 150Mbps – that's anywhere from five to ten times what most homes and offices get from an ADSL2+ broadband connection.
Upload speeds were often in the same range which means you can effortlessly fling the largest of files to company servers and cloud backup systems while waiting for your flight.
"All-day battery life"
Today's machines have plenty of grunt but still fall short on the go, at least in my experience with my circa-2017 MacBook Pro.
It's supposed to be good for "up to 10 hours wireless Web", according to Apple. But "up to" is the catch, and you have to allow for the usual manufacture exaggeration.
There's no way you can call this 'all-day battery life'
My MacBook started the day at 100 per cent battery charge. Three hour of working in two airport lounges plus three more hours in flight saw the battery meter in the red zone.
I'd love to be able to leave my laptop's AC adaptor at home when I've got a day of meetings and work, but right now I have zero confidence that this manoeuvre won't leave me high and dry before I clock off.
Inflight WiFi is still a roll of the dice
Three of my eight domestic Qantas flights were on Boeing 737 jets – the workhorse of Qantas' domestic fleet – and two of those were outfitted with WiFi.
That's on par with Qantas' running tally of having almost half its Boeing 737 fleet upgraded to the satellite tech, with most of the rest being kitted out by year's end.
So right now, you don't want to rely on being connected above the clouds.
But when the connection is there, you can expect a zippy 12-15Mbps: again, as fast as many home networks.
Australia's best domestic lounges…
Courtesy of an extensive upgrade in early 2017, the Qantas Club and Business lounges at Brisbane's domestic terminal now rate as Australia's best.
(There's also an all-new Chairman's Lounge with the invitation-only digs sporting a contemporary design built around neutral tones of walnut, timber and brass.)
When I visited the Business lounge's Mexican Cantina eatery was serving up delicious spiced pork tostadas and chipotle rice, with the menu rotating fortnightly. Cocktails are served from 5pm and changed up each week.
The huge windows, spacious layout, thoughtful composition of furniture and flow plus generous greenery brings a touch of sunny Brisbane into the lounge, and even the neighbouring Qantas Club is the best of its breed.
… but Melbourne is catching up
Melbourne's lounges are next in the queue, and aim to raise the bar again.
The Qantas Club is already half-done and the first stage of a made-over Business lounge due to open in September.
The Business lounge's dining feature will be Asian noodles and concept images show an elegant and 'very Melbourne' space.
(That said, Qantas Club members aren't pleased about losing their former runway view and indeed any view – the best they'll get will be windows into the terminal itself.)
Few people spend more time on planes, in lounges or mulling over the best ways to use frequent flyer points than David Flynn, the editor of Australian Business Traveller magazine. His unparalleled knowledge of all aspects of business travel connects strongly with the interests of Executive Style readers.