Must-read Earlier Installments:
- Singapore, Cathay, and Qantas First Class.. Some of the Best Meals of My Life, and a Tour of Hyatts in Bangkok, Singapore, and Sydney
- Inside the New Oneworld Lounge at LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal
- Cathay Pacific First Class, Los Angeles – Hong Kong
- Cathay Pacific “The Wing” First Class Lounge, Hong Kong
- Cathay Pacific Business Class, Hong Kong – Bangkok
- Grand Hyatt Bangkok: Suite, Club Lounge, and Facilities
- Thai Molecular Gastronomy at Sra Bua in Bangkok
- Getting Custom Tailored Suits Made in Bangkok at Empire Tailors
- Nahm at the Metropolitan: the Best Thai Food in Thailand?
- Thailand’s Iron Chef Cooks Ancient Recipes in a Deserted Top Notch Restaurant
- Eating The Best Local Thai Dishes in the Bangrak Neighborhood of Bangkok
- Louis Tavern CIP Lounge and Cathay Pacific Business Class, Bangkok-Singapore
- Grand Hyatt Singapore
- Eating and Entertainment Like a Singapore Local
- Singapore Airlines ‘The Private Room’ First Class Lounge
- Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class, Singapore – Sydney
- Park Hyatt Sydney
- Eating… and Drinking (As One Does..) in Sydney
- Review: Quay, Sydney’s Famed Restaurant Overlooking the Opera House
- Qantas First Class Lounge, Sydney
About 30 minutes delayed we left the first class lounge to head over to the boarding gate.
Premium boarding for an A380 involves a lot of people.
Things cleared up a bit as we headed down to first class.
I’ve been aboard this bird before, and it’s striking but also one that continues to vex me.
Now, this is one of the toughest awards in the world to get. For most award tickets you don’t need to book a year out. With Qantas you really do. Even then it’s tough to get two first class seats from the US to Australia and vice versa. There’s a trick to booking Qantas first class awards that you should know.
Qantas puts a lot of first class seats in its A380 — 14. That’s a lot of passengers to provide service to in the extensive manner that international first class entails.
At the same time they have only three seats across on the bottom deck of the A380. Most airlines do 4.
You’d expect, then that the seats would be wider and more spacious than other airlines offer, in the way that the Cathay Pacific 777 first class seat is wider and more spacious than other carriers operating the same across (3 vs 4 across are at issue there as well).
Except that the seats are angled so that the front of one seat protrudes into the back of another. The seats are only ‘sort of’ super wide. And they actually wind up creating a dead space as well. So while the seats are gorgeous, and comfortable, they aren’t nearly as generous as you’d think.
Nonetheless, it’s a gorgeous seat indeed.
Seat controls are all electronic.
There’s modest seat storage.
And of course there’s power at the seat.
The first class seat doesn’t just have a lap belt but also a shoulder belt that’s required for takeoff and landing, much like the United Airlines Global First seat.
Another interesting thing about the cabin is that there’s actually overhead bins, something you don’t see often in the best first class products. Removing the first class bins creates an extra feeling of spaciousness, and seats often have their own closets or they’ll just use the seat’s ottoman for storage.
This became an issue inflight as the middle seat passenger one row behind me kept getting up and getting stuff out of the bin above my seat throughout the flight. She would open and close the bin, realize she forgot something, and open and close it again. And I’ll be especially impolite and note that she had really bad gas. That wasn’t great for my sleep.
The day prior to departure the cabin was half empty. The seats in front of and behind me were empty. That doesn’t surprise, since 14 is a lot of first class seats to sell. Ultimately on departure though every seat in cabin went out full. On a Tuesday. Qantas upgrades aggressively but generally only very close to travel.
Once settled into my seat a flight attendant brought around predeparture snacks and beverages.
Pajamas were then distributed along with amenity kits and slippers.
Once we were in the air I got up to change into my pajamas but first had a look upstairs at the lounge area, the dead space that’s rarely used by anyone onboard the A380.
The bathroom features a window and is stocked with amenities, although isn’t as large as onboard some A380 aircraft.
I went back to my seat and started playing around with controls, and especially liked the window shades that remind me of British Airways first class.
By this time we were enroute, and it was nice to see the straight shot across the Pacific to the U.S. That’s the real advantage of this flight. It’s a true first class, without the inconvenience of transiting Asia, and it’s the only one like that.
It was time to order dinner. Here’s the menu from the flight (click to enlarge):
I wasn’t terribly hungry and so I decided to being with the amuse bouche followed by just a few items and forego the tasting menu.
I had had such a good shrimp quesadilla on my Cathay Pacific flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong that I think I was biased towards an inflight quesadilla. The Qantas one turned out a mistake in comparison and I had just a few bites.
After the meal passengers all relaxed in for the long flight.
I did decide to take a few bites of dessert, which I had initially demurred.
Then I asked a flight attendant to make my bed.
I slept a few hours on and off. The seat was perfectly comfortable, but I find the mid-afternoon departures difficult because I’m just not really all that tired.
So I finished off some shows. By the end of the flight I was done with The Newsroom season 2 and also the latest season of The Walking Dead.
Then about 90 minutes prior to landing I got up and ordered breakfast.
I got up and changed back into street clothes while a flight attendant collected the mattress pad and blankets. The captain announced that approach into Los Angeles would be quite rocky, so asked that we return to our seats and belt up early. Our approach took a full half an hour and we were finally on the ground.
Ultimately the Qantas A380 first class is the best way to fly between the US and Australia. It’s not on part with first class on Cathay Pacific or Singapore. The food isn’t as good. The service isn’t as good. There’s no doors on the seat either and towards that end I rate them below Etihad as well, and even ANA and Asiana.
But they compare very favorably to any US airline and I’d rank them ahead of European carriers as well.
Part of the allure I’ll admit is how tough it is to get the seats. When you find Qantas A380 first class award seats, you take them.