Qantas A380 First Class Sydney To Los Angeles

I’m presently taking my dad on a surprise round the world trip to celebrate his “round” birthday. Even now the trip remains a surprise, as he’s just finding out what we’re doing and where we’re going on a day-by-day basis.

Here are the previous posts about the trip:


G’day from up top (that is the opposite of down under, right?), mates!

Today my dad and I flew Qantas A380 first class from Sydney to Los Angeles, which I suppose is the beginning of the end of our incredible-beyond-words journey.

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Qantas A380 Sydney Airport

As anyone that has looked at award availability trends between the US and Australia knows, Qantas first class award space is really tough to come by. Like, really, really tough. And it only gets tougher when you’re looking for space for two people. That being said, there are some “tricks” to at least maximizing your chances of finding the space, as I’ve written about in the past.

So how good is Qantas first class? Is award space so tough to find simply because of the US to Australia market, because Qantas is the best in the market, or is the product really that damn good? It has been years since I’ve flown Qantas first class, so I was keen to give them another shot.

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Qantas airshow between Sydney and Los Angeles

Qantas A380 first class seat

First class on the Qantas A380 is on the lower deck, and is in a 1-1-1 configuration, with a total of just 14 seats. Qantas is the only airline to have just three seats per row on the A380, though they also have among the largest first class cabins of any A380 operator.

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Qantas A380 first class cabin

The hard product is excellent, in particular if you’re traveling alone. The seat isn’t a fully enclosed suite, but it’s private.

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Qantas A380 first class seat

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Qantas A380 first class seat

And the bed is fantastic. Qantas has among the best bedding of any airline – their mattress pad and duvet are unparalleled, in my opinion.

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Qantas A380 first class bed

The entertainment selection is also quite good – not amazing like on Emirates, but still fairly extensive, if not a bit counter-intuitively organized.

Qantas A380 first class food

I wasn’t impressed by the meal service. At all. Don’t get me wrong, the food wasn’t bad, but there wasn’t a single course that I would be surprised to see in business class, and for that matter not a single course I would’ve considered above average for business class.

There was a lamb and lobster canape to start.

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Qantas first class canapes

Then I had a nice cream of cauliflower soup.

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Qantas first class soup

Then I had tortellini with prawns as an appetizer, which was fine but unmemorable.

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Qantas first class appetizer

For the main course I had seared snapper, which was dry and flavorless.

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Qantas first class main course

Then for dessert I had caramel crème with strawberries, which was delicious.

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Qantas first class dessert

The meal wasn’t horrible, but also wasn’t good, in my opinion.

Qantas first class service

The flight attendant working my aisle was very nice. He was engaging, friendly, and attentive, at least during the meal services.

The customer service manager was also a class act.

That being said, the meal service was slow. Really slow. It took three hours for the first meal service, and the crew seemed overworked. Also, between the meals I didn’t really see flight attendants in the cabin, which I’m ultimately fine with on an overnight flight.

But there was nothing about the service that really “wowed” me, if that makes sense.

Qantas A380 amenities

Prior to this trip I was actually a pretty big critic of Emirates. But my gosh did they grow on me with the last two segments — Los Angeles to Dubai and Dubai to Singapore.

The Emirates seats are a bit tight, but the entertainment system, onboard bar, wifi, and showers more than make up for it. Every Emirates flight just feels way too short thanks to how much there is to do aboard.

Meanwhile Qantas doesn’t have wifi, doesn’t have an onboard bar, and doesn’t even have larger first class lavatories.

Instead they just have a small business class seating area at the front of the upper deck with five seats.

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Qantas A380 stairs

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Qantas A380 business class lounge

I know I’m just getting spoiled by the “premium” A380 operators, but once you’ve experienced the Emirates, Korean Air, and Qatar Airways A380s, it’s tough to go back to the ones without “amenities.”

On the plus side, Qantas does offer very nice sleeper suits, amenity kits, etc.

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Qantas first class pajamas and amenity kit

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Qantas first class amenity kit contents

Qantas first class bottom line

Hopefully everyone understands my intent with this post. It was by no means a bad flight. But comparatively, unless you just want to sleep the whole flight (as many people want to between Los Angeles and Sydney), Qantas’ A380s just aren’t that interesting.

Qantas unarguably offers the best first class product between the US and Australia, though I don’t think it’s worth going out of your way to try and find first class space on them, assuming you don’t mind routing via another region.

I’ll be spending nearly 50 hours in Qantas A380 first class come January, so I guess we’ll see if my opinion differs then.

If you’ve flown Qantas A380 first class, what was your experience?

Comments

  1. Hello I’m flying business in March with my wife. Any reviews on the business class product compared to the first class one? Thanks and great report.

  2. Lucky, was this the famed 7 course tasting menu? It does seem disappointing.

    How was the food in the SYD F lounge?

  3. @ ildc — The food in the lounge was excellent. I had a couple of the courses from the tasting menu, but they didn’t all look good to me, so I didn’t go with it completely.

  4. Lucky, how full was the cabin?

    How much does your dad charge if we want to rent him out for our own TRs? He seems like a really cool guy to hang out with!

  5. I agree completely about QF F, it is pretty lackluster really, especially considering how much they (try to) charge for it.

    If it wasn’t for the seat/bedding it would be a very good business class.

  6. @ ildc — Cabin was full — 14/14 seats taken.

    Hah, and I’ll pass on the request to my dad. He’s working on finding an agent right now. 😉

  7. I flew QF in the economy upper deck. Wasn’t really too bad though. Very quiet thank goodness lol :). I do prefer EK as an overall product. Never flew them economy and probably never will since I always use my AS miles for their premium cabin redemptions. I was really satisfied with my EK flights even in business. I pretty much bank all my flights to Alaska anyways. Great redemption rates in Business and First.

  8. That’s why I never understood the whole EK/QF partnership. For the kangaroo route LHR to SYD, I would much rather fly on the Emirates A380 than the Qantas A380 bar none.
    Speaking of which, aren’t you flying that route on QF First in the future? 😉
    Enjoy the remainder of your trip and safe travels on QF107.

  9. Looks good to me 🙂 I’ve had other F products that I felt that same with – but quite frankly, the bed is one of the most important parts. I haven’t had many F products where I felt the food was that great, anyways. And Emirates is, by far, my favorite F class.

  10. I’m afraid Qantas has a reputation in Australia at least for being below par, especially when compared to the mostly Asian/Middle Eastern operators that service the country. It’s a standing joke how the current CEO retains his job frankly.

  11. Qantas stands out from the competition in two fields: short-haul business class (i.e. domestic), and long-haul economy class. Those are its bread-&-butter, and those are where it shines.

    As an Aussie, I’d like to love Qantas First. But I’ve recently flown SYD-LAX and LHR-DXB in A380 First, and both times it felt a bit m’eh (compared to the world’s best carriers — it’s still far superior to North American airlines.) That being said, First is so much better than Business that it’s worth the cost, using AA miles. I recently waited 40 minutes after takeoff to be offered a drink in J (sure, it’s a 14-hour flight, but still.)

    Qantas’s real stand-out is its Sydney First Lounge, which I personally enjoy more than any other lounge in the world apart from the LH F Terminal (that includes Thai’s hugely overrated Bangkok First Lounge.) But I have access to it even when I’m flying economy class, thanks to top-tier OneWorld status. Soooo… overall, Qantas First Class is. Just. Kinda. Good. #sadaussie

  12. Thanks for the report! I’ve been looking forward to trying the QF A380 F from LAX-SYD, but I know it’s tough to get using miles. I’ve been satisfied with the UA GF from LAX-SYD a few times now, and that is almost always available on miles (even if standard vs saver award). After just having flown the BA A380 F LHR-LAX and not being so wowed (and hating the food), I’ve discovered that UA GF isn’t so bad, and it’s easily found in advance. My plan now is to try to get QF F on the A380 since the bedding looks nicer, but if it doesn’t work out I don’t think I’ll be missing that much by my UA GF fall-back. (I’m flying EK F CPT-DXB-LAX next month, so your glowing review is making me salivate in anticipation, however!)

  13. @Frank R:
    I recently flawn Qantas business class, although it was a refitted 747 rather than A380, the seats are the same with Skybed MK2.

    It’s fully lie flat and they provide a duvet which makes it really comfortable to sleep. The advantage of the Sky Bed 2 over many other J products is that you don’t have to put your foot under a little cubby space, rather you have all that leg room to yourself. The downside is that it is still arranged at 2-2-2 on A380, (2-3-2 on 747, yikes!) so unless you sit in the center 2 seats, you will need to climb over or be climbed over.

    Food is ok, but not great. The quantity was a bit small as I was still hungry after meal service.

    Service was on par with economy. At breakfast time I was given the meal but no drinks was offered (not even water). I just woke up from a good night sleep so my mouth was quite dry and couldn’t really eat anything without any drink. I buzzed for FA, was not attended for about 15min. I had to grab the FA as he passed by for a cup of coffee. It took a further 10min to arrive at my table! No further drink was offered. (Yes, it was business class!)

    You get pajama tho.

  14. Ben,

    I’m currently booked on UA Global First SFO-SYD. How much of a difference would you say there is between QF and UA in First? I mainly care about the hard product, as well as friendly FA’s, but don’t care that much about the food.

  15. my 2 disclaimers
    I’m not really used to flying in First or Business – its only recently i discovered how easy it is to do inexpensively, so my take may be different from someone who may have different expectations
    My trip from SYD-LHR was on Avios points

    That said, having travelled on this trip to Australia/NZ on QR/EK and QF in A380 First – my overall impression is QF is a “better” overall experience

    Cabin was full, Aircraft reg was VH-OQB, seat 2A

    The seat/bed is without doubt the most comfortable between the above 3 – the mattress comes in a roll, there’s a lovely thick duvet, you don’t feel the joins in the seat – i have a bad back and didn’t feel any discomfort after sleeping. The controller for the seat weights a ton and is in an awkward position to adjust anything – though the crew can adjust your seat from the top of the seat, where threesome control buttons

    the food – i think this is subjective – i liked it, but i had the tasting menu, and was so full i couldn’t even have the sweet. the wine complimented the food – I had the Margaret River Chardonnay 2011/Cabernet Sauvignon and a Scorpio Estate Pinot Gris 2011. Food came out slowly, but that was at my request – i really like having a slow meal -too much rushing usually – which happened on the 2nd leg

    i was looked after vey well, by David – his attention to detail was spot on, i never had to ask for a top up – i can tell David wasn’t looking after you, as the drinks napkins aren’t how he leaves them 🙂

    The toilet is much smaller than the other 2, but its not so small that you can’t get comfortably changed in them – the others are just wasting space imho. There was no spare stock of shavers/toothbrushes etc like the other 2, but you do get an amenity bag with out asking. there were just some moisturiser and “cleansing water” at the side of the sink. They use squares of ?gauze to dry your hands, which can double as flannels. Coat hangers on the back of the toilet doors

    the entertainment – well it kept me busy – i was remaining on Aussie time, as i shall be working night on my return , but i agree i think Emirates was better

    The CSD came to see me – on both legs (the flight legs, not that the CSD’s had any issues with their legs 🙂

    storage, whilst you get a big overhead locker to your self, i think EK wins by having bins at the side of the seat – the 2 little lockers are hard to get too when belts on – they have a lap belt and cross your chest belt for landing etc

    the seats are at least 1m away from the windows, where EK/QR win being closer

    overall i preferred QF

  16. @Kevin

    on SYD-DXB-LHR
    they served
    Taittinger Comtes De Champagne Blanc de Blances 2000
    Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2000
    Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2004

  17. i also forgot to mention, that just above your head when you sleep, is the seat controller – This turns into a display, with the countdown to landing – so its easy to go back to sleep without awakening trying to find out how much more sleep you could have had 🙂

  18. Lucky, I agree with you wholeheartedly about the “amenities” on A380’s. After trying Emirates A380 I have become so excited about trying other A380’s that have similar amenities. This is why I was waiting with excitement for your Qatar A380 trip report – which was awesome by the way. The bar on that plane looks fantastic. As a result of your report, trying Qatar A380 is now on my bucket list, as well as the new Etihad A380 when it start flying, which looks like it has a really cozy bar, more like a cozy lounge. The Emirates and Qatar bars look more like happening bars so will be interesting to try them all. For some reason I am not to excited about the Korean A380 Bar. Looks quite cold and dull, at least on the pictures I have seen. I recognize the actual experience might be different. How does the experience compare to the Emirates & Qatar bars?

  19. Excellent review and over all a fair one. I have flown QF F a lot of times and agree that the seat and bed are superb. The only better bed in terms of comfort would be new JL F which is the best sleep I’ve ever had on any aircraft.
    The food is a bit hit and miss IMO. When QF first introduced the tasting menu a few years ago it used to be a dedicated menu with some different dishes to that on the main menu. Over the last year or so it has just become a selection of dishes from the main menu, which aren’t particularly complimentary. Having said that I never find it a problem to make up my own tasting menu from what’s available.
    Enjoy your next trip to LHR on QF, that one is quite a treat

  20. Lucky, have a one way dxb-lhr (based in london) qantas first class ticket booked as i wanted to experience the lounge. Don’t have anything else booked around but wondering if you think i should bother and save my miles / time for something else

  21. I have tried the seat before, and it is so hard to control it. Even the headrest is controlled automatically. Just too much electronics built into it.

  22. See, QF’s catering has a different story to it than other airlines eg LH (my initials! Lol). LH tries to make their food elegant and sophisticated, but QF’s theory is that they want simple but tasty food. It’s similar to the SQ and CX flight attendants

  23. @ Vik — Assuming you used American miles I think it’s still a great use of miles, especially with being able to use the Emirates lounge in Dubai.

  24. @ Princess fiona — Yep, noticed that as well. Recalled the tasting menu last time actually being some unique items, while this time it was just a combination of things otherwise found on the menu.

  25. I agree with a lot of this review, I fly the route regularly in F. The crew can be very inconsistent (with some real gems and some disinterested boilers), and there’s nothing particularly wow about the cabin.

    However, having flown F on most airlines numerous times I have to say I’m surprised with the view of the food. Maybe it was a bad day but in my personal experience QF food is the best in the business. EK food is usually unacceptable in F (I’ve done over 20 EK F segments in the last 3 years) with SQ being just ok, if also inconsistent. Hopefully next time you’re on QF in F (which probably won’t be anytime soon) they put on a better meal service for you!

  26. Your honest report of QF First – warts and all – is greatly appreciated. Thank you. Sadly, Qantas simply doesn’t measure up to other carriers, in my opinion. I flew two segments in F (LAX-SYD and return) a few months ago. Those experiences left me completely underwhelmed with the level of service, and especially not impressed with the lackluster food – and I do know food. The FA forgot to bring courses, skipped steps, and overall the meal simply was not very satisfying – including the rock-hard ice cream dessert.

    By contrast, my 5 flights on Emirates during the past year have been stellar. The menu is far broader on EK than on QF, the wine list is hands-down superior, and the service resoundingly exceeds Qantas on every single measure. Just the fact that Emirates pours Dom and serves caviar puts them miles above Qantas, not to mention the more private sleeping suites, superior service, on-board bar (on the A380), and so much more.

    During the next week I have yet another EK F flight then one on Cathay (my first!), so I’ll have even more data points to compare. But at this point in time, I do not think I would spend (waste!) miles for F on Qantas when there are so many other carriers that offer better hard and soft products. Just my 2 cents …

  27. Having just exited another QF flight, and having read Josh’s and Lucky’s reports, I think you’re both missing the truly great cabin on Qantas – Premium Economy, which is best in class of any carrier. The reason that QF has dumped First class on all aircraft other than the 380 is that the only people flying it were celebrities on a big discount, and those on awards. In classic market parlance, you get what you (don’t) pay for. Business is fine on QF, but not amazing, and Economy is excellent. But Premium Economy trumps all.

  28. @ flying_foxy — Remember liking the food on my last trip with them several years back, but this time it just wasn’t as good.

  29. Ben- Was that meal lunch or dinner? Also, wasn’t this QF 11 not 107 like someone above mentioned? I thought you were going to Queenstown also?

  30. Hmm… Was looking forward trying to score (IAH-)DFW-SYD flight but since Emirates is now flying A380 out of Houston, perhaps IAH-DXB-SYD is a better option.

    @ Lucky – since Alaska doesn’t allow travel to Aus/NZ on Emirates, can you remind what are the alternatives?

  31. @ Ivan Y — You can fly Cathay via Hong Kong or Qantas direct. Those are the two best options with Alaska miles, availability permitting. Also, if you’re interested in a stopover in Fiji, I’m kind of intrigued by the Fiji Airways partnership.

  32. @ Lucky — I am not sure you ever sleep! I must be sleepy myself because wasn’t clear — what program(s) can be used to book EK to Oceania?

  33. @ Lucky — Duplicating your routing may be a way to go 🙂 To do IAH-DXB-SYD roundtrip would be 290,000 JAL miles + ~$1600 in YQ/fees. So would need to transfer over 240,000 SPG points — ouch! On another hand, probably wouldn’t be able to go until 2016 so here’s to hoping AS adds Oceania chart for EK 🙂

  34. Hey Lucky – why no review of the Sydney QF First lounge? Did you not have much time there pre flight?

  35. I’m not surprised you found the food to be average because food in general in Australia is very mediocre

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