Qantas offers an excellent first class product on their A380 fleet. It is the same seat they have offered for nearly a decade, and while it isn’t as blingy as some first class products, it is still and excellent way to fly. I was fortunate to find some award space on what was the longest flight in the Qantas route network, between Dallas and Sydney. Qantas now flies the 787-9 between Perth and London, which is even longer. Still, at 16+ hour flight in a lovely suite is a pleasure.
I’ve flown on the A380 several times before, including in first class on Lufthansa and Etihad. I’ve flown A380 economy on British Airways and Qatar too, and in each case, I’ve always sat upstairs. Qantas has first class on the wider lower deck, and with only 3 seats per row, there is lots of space.
Prior to departure in Dallas
I flew into Dallas from home in Milwaukee. Currently the lounge situation in Dallas is somewhat of a mess. Instead of the large Admirals Club in terminal D, which is currently closed for renovations, instead I visited the so-called Premium Lounge which has similar access policies as the AA Flagship lounges. Basically, oneworld elites with an international flight can get access to this lounge.
There is an open bar, and some free food, but despite the name neither are very premium. Qantas uses a lounge in the shared lounge complex, but I didn’t bother. The AA lounge was fine for my layover. While I normally prefer to eat in food in the lounge vs onboard, I did the reverse here due to a drastic difference in quality. This lounge is a temporary solution while the Flagship lounge is being built. I’ve been impressed by the renovated Flagship lounge in Chicago, and heard good things about the others, so certainly this will be an improvement on the current situation.
Once it was time for boarding, I made my way the short distance to the departure gate.
Qantas A380 First Class Dallas Fort Worth to Sydney
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) to Sydney (SYD)
Depart: 9:49 PM Wednesday
Arrive: 6:04 AM Friday (+2)
Duration: 17hr 16mn
Seat: 1A First Class
Since I was traveling alone, I chose seat 1A. The first class cabin is configured 1-1-1 across the lower deck. There is much more privacy on the A side, since the F and K seat open to the other aisle. 1A is very private, maybe too much to some since across the aisle is a wall on the side of stairs to the upper deck. The cabin is rather plain, with bland colors, but I didn’t mind. I hardly noticed anyone behind me, and just enjoyed the luxury of my suite. The westbound flight was dark for much of the flight, so windows aren’t that useful, but there is one less window in row 1 than others.
The seat itself is wide and comfortable. It faces directly forward for take off and landing. Once underway, there is a touchscreen controller that allows myriad of seating positions. The seat rotates towards the footrest on the window side, and I kept the seat rotated like this away from the aisle for the entire flight. Next to the seat is a small touchscreen controller that controls seat and windows in the suite. There is a power port, plus USB for charging, but it is oddly located near the base of the seat in front. Not the most convenient. Please read James’ review of his time in Qantas First class for even more photos of the seat and amenities.
There is a bit of storage available, with a few drawers within the suite for smaller items. A bag could be stored below the ottoman, but I just used the overhead bins above my seat. There are no overhead bins in the middle of the cabin, and the bins above row 1 are smaller due to the curvature of the fuselage. Even with 14 first class seats, I don’t think there was any issue with storage space for the cabin.
Shortly after being seated, a lovely flight attendant introduced herself, and offered a menu, plus pajamas and amenity kit. (See here for a review of this Qantas First Class Amenity kit). I was also offered a drink of my choice, and given a warm towel. I think traveling in premium cabins is the only time I drink champagne, but I suppose I look at it as a festive drink for the fun flight to come. Le Grande Dame 2006 was on offer, pretty nice, and sells for US$160+ per bottle at retail.
Directly in front of the seat is a small cocktail table that works great for holding drinks/snacks without having the large main table out. My drink was served with salted almonds. Appreciate the real glass even though this is a pre-departure beverage, which is rare, at least for me.
Before we pushed back I put on my pajamas. Admittedly this is a safety issue, but I had time, and for such a long flight, I wanted to be comfortable. I’ll review these in more detail later, but I actually prefer the look of the grey pj’s provided to business class passengers.
Qantas First Class Dinner Dallas to Sydney
Despite the late departure time, I started to peruse the menu, figuring out my meal options. I was ready for a real meal after only mediocre nibbles in the lounge. Here are the menus:
Aussie celebrity chef Neil Perry designs menus for Qantas both in lounges and inflight, and has done so for more than 20 years. I’m not so into famous chefs, but I’ve never had complaints about meal service with Qantas.
The menu is multiple pages, including dinner options, then breakfast before arrival, and a wide selection of drinks.
And then the drink list. Not the most high-end liquors, but the wines and Champagne are a strong point.
Australia is serious about coffee, and as a former British colony, tea is prominent as well. So there are solid coffee and tea options.
Due to the late evening departure, this would be a late dinner, but I was ready for some real food. I ordered another glass of champagne, and the starters were brought out, a caviar tartlet and arancini.
My first course was the prawns. If you’ve read my other reports, this follows a theme, in that I often have spicy food when I can, and this fit the bill nicely. Not too spicy, but savory flavors hold up well even in a pressurized tube at altitude.
I passed on soup, but had a green salad with my main course, which was the Paneer korma. It wasn’t my first choice, but I wasn’t very interested in either fish or chicken, and they were out of lamb. Not getting my first choice is annoying in first class, but I like Indian flavors, so ultimately I was content with my meal.
Dessert I went with cheese, and the flight attendant insisted I have a dessert wine. A little too sweet for me, but it did pair well with the cheese.
Touring the Qantas A380
To be fair, it was a pretty lazy tour. I didn’t parade around other cabins in my First Class Pajamas. There are heavy curtains separating first class, and I didn’t explore much. Being in row 1, didn’t walk behind my seat on the main deck. I went upstairs, where there is a small lounge in the front of the cabin. I didn’t apparently get a good photo, but there are just some benches for seating and a selection of magazines, plus a TV. Other carriers that have first class upstairs use this area for large lavatories. Thai, Lufthansa come to mind, and Etihad has their shower suite here.
The staircase on the A380 always impresses.
Sleeping in the Qantas A380 First Class Seat
After returning to my seat, I asked for my bed to be made. It was late on the time I was used to, and although I usually try to get on the local time, I knew wouldn’t make it that long. This is the longest flight I’ve ever taken, so taking advantage of the ability to have such a comfortable bed was a great perk. A large bottle of Australian water was provided with the turn down service as well.
The seat converts to a really comfortable, wide bed. Bedding is excellent, with a thick mattress pad, a sheet and a nice comforter. There are also 2 pillows provided. In the photo above, the day blanket is at the foot of the bed. I crashed hard, and slept really well. This bed is among my most comfortable I’ve experience in the air. Only other first class bed that I remember being this nice would be Cathay Pacific First Class.
I like to have a cool environment when sleeping, and the cabin is warmer than I like, but thankfully there are air vents in Qantas first class seats. The combination of great bedding, and a wide bed meant for a nice long sleep. I don’t want to waste the first class experience, but on a flight this long, a bunch a sleep is a good thing. I slept great.
Still a long ways to go
I started to stir, and slowly raised the back of my seat into a more comfortable lounging position while watching the large selection of IFE. Eventually I ordered some tea. Service is provided on a silver tray:
The IFE interface is old, but there is a wide array of options. I caught up on a few movies I hadn’t seen plus some Australian shows.
Breakfast before arrival
A few hours before our scheduled arrival, I decided to eat breakfast. At least on this flight, with a morning arrival, serving breakfast makes sense. On shorter flight such as to Europe, I often skip pre-arrival meals opting for sleep. But in this case, the flight is much longer and the meal quality makes it worthwhile to dine.
I started with the muesli and yogurt and the mango smoothie. Please excuse the dark photos, the cabin was still dark and several other passengers were sleeping.
Not much of a coffee drinker, but I had to give the onboard barista skills a chance. The latte was fine.
And then for my main course, I did eggs, bacon and toast. In all, a hearty breakfast, and I believe the eggs were scrambled fresh on board. They tasted like it anyway. Overall, I found the food on board very tasty.
Qantas First Class Bottom Line
Qantas First class is lovely. Service is friendly, but not too formal. Service during the flight was excellent. The seat itself isn’t new, and is due for a replacement pretty soon, but this was still a great experience. No doors, but the suite is private, especially in row 1, and on the A side. The only traffic around the seat is 3 other passengers seated in rows behind using the lavatory. The lack of wifi is a big negative, given the typically long segment lengths. I was on vacation, so it was fine, but still it is a long time to be disconnected. Wifi is coming with the refurbishment plans.
Flying first class is always a treat. If you can find space, or have a lot of cash to drop, I recommend wholeheartedly Qantas First Class. A wonderful way to go.
Have you tried Qantas First Class? Let me know how your experience compared with mine.
This report is part of my long weekend trip to New Zealand. Stay tuned for more. My trip home was in in the reverse direction, but first a review of the awesome Qantas First Class lounge in Sydney.