THE worst thing about flying up the pointy end of a plane (a real #firstworldproblem) is that you never want to go back to flying any other way. The sheer thrill and the internal shriek factor I felt inside (a feeling I tried to cooly hide when my upgraded boarding pass was handed over at Los Angeles airport last week) made me nearly cry. Tears of joy.First class travel is up there in bucket list land.
Chances are most of us will just dream about it. But when I was invited to try it out on the sky’s big boy, a Qantas A380, on a flight back from Los Angeles, I came home with some very bad news. It totally rocks. And here’s why.As soon as you check in you make your way to the lounge. Not just any old lounge but the FIRST class lounge, which in itself makes you feel like you have joined the smarty pants society.
A glass of champagne and anything you like from the lounge restaurant — one croque monsieur thanks — and it was time to board.Once on board, and yes, there is absolutely NO queue when you are ushered toward the left of the plane. Well, actually even though you board via the front doors, you actually turn right when you’re travelling first on an A380. Small detail. But hey, it’s first class, so who cares?OK, so I’m on board.
As soon as I perch myself in my seat (more a suite than a seat) a chilled glass of real deal champagne is gently popped into my hand. It is served, not with a teeny pack of pretzels or peanuts but with two exquisite canapés — a caviar tartlet and a crostini with salsa verde and pickled fennel — all put on a small tray that is above 2J’s magazine holder.Oh and you pretty much have your own flight attendant too.
My seat is a fully fledged flat bed that rotates so it turns to where your 17-inch TV screen sits, which is just on top of a small extra seat. Or, it can be a foot rest if you are really, really tall. For most first flyers, the extra seat is there in case you would like to invite a neighbour/partner/travelling buddy/husband/whoever over for dinner and a chat. Personally, I’m happy with my own company for the next 14 or so hours.
My understated and impeccably mannered flight attendant, Sunita came and made up my bed even before we left. And just after that I strapped myself in with a belt that resembled a car seat — the whole, over-the-shoulder extravaganza.As I was flying from Los Angeles to Sydney — an overnight flight — it was clever for Sunita to make my bed up before I decided to munch on some supper. Saved all the getting up and standing around thing later on.
My choice of mushroom soup with sourdough croutons, a Penfolds Shiraz and a tagliatelle bolognese (OK, I was hungry) was simply sensational and with the addition of Pepe Saya butter (he’s a butter artisan from NSW) it made the meal seem even more special and Neil Perry-esque than if I was having it on land.I watched one movie, about six brilliant episodes of Emmy-award winning Veep (well, I had just come back from covering the Emmy Awards) and then, without having to count sheep, I blissfully fell asleep.
REASONS TO LOVE FIRST CLASS:● There is a serious calm and feeling of luxe in first class. It’s like you are the only king or queen of the world for those precious hours and no matter what you ask for, it’s quietly and elegantly attended to.● A first class seat or pod (there are 15 of them on an A380) takes up about four economy seats so, yes, there is room. Serious room. And as there are no overhead lockers I could have my on-board flight bag within constant reach, which I loved.
● Chic, dark grey PJs: Serious first classers zip straight to the bathroom as soon as the charcoal PJs are handed to them for a quick changeover. I, on the other hand, hang onto them and took them home as my, well, comfy, at-home lounge wear.● These are serious seats; they swivel 75 degrees, they lie totally flat, give you a massage and one moment you’re facing the front of the plane and the next you’ve swivelled like you’re on a seat on The Voice.
Next, you’ve reclined yourself into a flat bed. Oh, and did I tell you that your made-up bed includes a large cotton pillow, a smaller pillow, a seriously comfy and homey duvet, a woollen blanket and cotton sheet that has been fitted over a sheepskin-covered foam mattress? I felt like I was in a very, VERY comfy baby’s pram.● Loved the mobile charger; the “time to destination” counter; the privacy screens; very smart amenity bags with SK-II products, a small mirror and the trusty toothbrush and toothpaste, which I always forget to bring with me.
● I loved spending at least 30 minutes getting to know my first class digs, especially the aforementioned “time to destination” tablet that doubles as your seat adjuster, entertainment controller, light switch, massage boss and flight path.● Oh and did I mention that first class peeps are first to get off the plane, which made me feel even more like a rock star than when I first walked on.● After a 6am arrival — and those pancakes (see above!) — I zipped home, unpacked, put the washing on and felt perky enough to come to the office for the day.
Now that’s a mega bonus.On a side note — OK, a rather big one — it pays to remember that using your points can get you up the pointy end, if you have paid for a full fare ticket. So, if you are in the business of frequent flying and those points are accumulating, hey, give it a go.The only bad news is, well, there really isn’t any.Happy flying!HOW TO GET THERE:The Qantas A380 aircraft operates services from Sydney and Melbourne to Los Angeles and Dubai, Sydney to Hong Kong, and Dubai to London with its codeshare partner Emirates.
Melissa Hoyer was upgraded by Qantas: the staff probably saw how tired she looked as she checked in.
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100,000 Bonus Qantas Points + $450 Qantas Travel Credit - AMEX Qantas Ultimate Ad Earn 100,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online by 9 April 2018, are approved and spend $3,000 on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card membership. Receive $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year. T&Cs. Click here to apply. by Chris Chamberlin | November 15, 2016 There’s no such thing as a bad seat in first class on the Qantas Airbus A380 but as seasoned pointy end travellers quickly learn, some seats are better than others.
Where you're perched for that 13 to 24 hour journey to Los Angeles, Dallas, Dubai and London determines how much privacy you'll have during the flight, your view during the day, your chances at getting a good night’s sleep, and even noises that you’ll encounter from other passengers and from the galley. We went exploring aboard a recent Qantas A380 flight to bring you the pick of the superjumbo's 14 first class suites.
Also read: How to use Qantas frequent flyer points to upgrade to first class The best Qantas first class suites for that ‘private jet’ feeling: 1A, 1K On the world’s largest passenger aircraft with seats for almost 500 people, it can be a little hard to replicate the ‘private jet’ feeling that you'd normally get on the tiny upper deck on a Boeing 747. Your closest bet on the A380 is 1A or 1K, as there’s a solid floor-to-ceiling wall ahead of you, and as the seat again swivels to turn away from the aisle, all you can see is the view, your dining table, footrest and entertainment screen.
On the downside, that blissful feeling may be interrupted when the nearby closet is opened and closed throughout the flight, and you’ll be passed by every first class passenger in your aisle on their trip to the restroom. That said, you’re otherwise much less aware that you’re on a commercial flight than as you can’t see a large cabin – rather, anyone – ahead of you. The best ‘cosy’ Qantas first class suite: 2F While not one for the claustrophobic, 2F is the perfect spot if you like to feel cosy and tucked in, thanks to space given to the stairwell running between the main and upper decks.
You’re cocooned by walls spanning almost the entire suite, with a large privacy divider shutting you off from the aisle on the left. If you’ve invited a travel companion to dine with you in the suite, they’ll need to watch their head when standing up – there are far better things than arriving at your destination with a throbbing headache. The best Qantas first class suites for daytime flights with a view: 4A and 4K If you’re flying during waking hours and want to take a break from the otherwise-great inflight entertainment, head for the ‘A’ and ‘K’ seats in row four.
These suites have an impressive three windows for taking in a little sightseeing… … while passengers in the other rows have just two windows each: You can also use the fixed touchscreen control to raise and lower the opaque shade and the full blackout blind, so you’re all set. The most private Qantas first class suites: 5A, 5K If privacy is paramount on your journey, we suggest you choose the window seats at the back of the cabin – 5A and 5K.
First class passengers generally board via the door ahead of row 1, and the lavatories are also at the front of the cabin – so before take-off and during the flight, your suite should only be passed by the crew heading to and from the galley at the rear. As there’s no seat behind you, fellow travellers also won’t be able to peek into the suite from the rear as they usually can when the privacy divider is lowered.
.. Like all window seats, 5A and 5K rotate to face away from the aisle, including when the crew have made your bed to settle in for the evening or an afternoon nap. You might encounter a touch more engine noise than you would further forward… … but the A380 is a particularly quiet aircraft to fly on, so chances are you probably won’t notice the difference. The aisle with the least traffic in Qantas first class: the ‘A’ seats There are two aisles through the first class cabin – the right aisle is used by guests in the ‘F’ and ‘K’ seats, while the left aisle is exclusively for the passengers in the ‘A’ seats.
If you’re easily disturbed by people wandering about during the flight, opt for an ‘A’ seat where you’ll share an aisle with just four other travellers, whereas you’d have to contend with eight others over on the ‘F’ and ‘K’ side. Passengers in the centre ‘F’ seats also don’t have lockers of their own, and instead share with the ‘K’ side: There’s nowhere to store cabin bags within the Qantas first class suites, so ‘K’-seated passengers may be easily disturbed when the centre passenger opens a locker directly above their head.
The best all-round suite in Qantas first class: 3A We’d peg 3A as the best all-rounder – you’re sharing that left aisle with only four other travellers and the crew, the overhead locker is virtually your own and you’re equidistant from both the rear galley and the forward closet and lavatories, making for a quieter journey. Better yet, you’re poised to make a speedy exit whether the superjumbo pulls up at a true A380-style gate with three aerobridges, or a more traditional dual gate with only one aerobridge for each deck.
From 3A, there would only be only two people ahead of you in either direction, making for a perfect getaway when you’ve a tight onward connection or are heading straight to a meeting upon your arrival. Light sleepers should avoid 5F If you’re not great at sleeping on planes at the best of times – even in a fully-flat bed in Qantas’ luxurious first class – aim for somewhere other than 5F.
The seat looks innocent enough, but right on the other side of that rear wall is a refrigerator unit… We’re told by the crew that most passengers don’t tend to notice any noise or ever-so-slight vibrations in that seat, but that the disturbance is often enough to wake very light sleepers. There’s also the shared aisle to the right and the other aisle to the left, and although that left aisle can’t be accessed directly from 5F, the neighbouring suite in 5A doubles as bassinet seats to accommodate well-bootied babies.
While the bassinet wasn’t put to use on our flight, the passenger in 5F could unluckily wind up amidst a screaming infant and a humming refrigerator, which doesn’t make for a solid rest for even the heaviest of hibernators. For light sleepers, we’d suggest 3A, or failing that, 3K. Do you have a favourite first class suite aboard the Qantas A380, and if so, what makes it special? Share your thoughts in the comments box below! More on Qantas first class: Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter – we're @AusBT