Friday, January 24, 2014

Qantas First Class to London on the A380 : Part 1 QF9 Melbourne to Dubai

This past Christmas I gave myself a gift. It was a first class ticket to London on Qantas and flying on Christmas day too! It was to be my first First Class experience on the Qantas A380 and I was looking forward to it for months. Did it live up to my expecations? Let's see....





Well, the trip actually started out up in Brisbane on Christmas morning. I had been visiting family there for the festive season and since the demise of Qantas services to London from Brisbane via Singapore it meant a domestic flight down to Melbourne to meet up with the QF9 Airbus A380 to London via Dubai. This didn't bother me since I like flying anyway but it may be a major detractor for some other people. As my booking was all on one ticket Qantas sent out a chaffeur driven car to pick me up. It was a Chrysler 300C.

Being Chaffeur driven to the airport is lovely
 

The vehicle arrived a few minutes early and the friendly driver took me (and my friend who was flying on the same flight but finishing in Melbourne) to the airport. It is about a 50km trip so it was quite handy to have it included. I did feel slightly sorry for the driver since it was Christmas morning... so I gave him a tip upon arrival at the Brisbane domestic Qantas terminal.


thank-you!


My bags were tagged through to London and boarding passes handed to me for both the business class sector to Melbourne and the first class flight onwards to London. It was then through security and direct to the Qantas Club. Over Christmas the business class lounges are closed and everybody is directed to the club instead. My flight to Melbourne was being operated by one of Qantas' older aircraft, a Boeing 737-400. It had originally been scheduled a B737-800 but was swapped a couple of months prior to travel.

My aircraft being loaded for the flight to Melbourne

It was just a 2 hour domestic business class flight to Melbourne which was pretty standard although there was a slight Christmas theme to the menu with a toasted turkey, brie and cranberry sandwich on offer. A small box of chocolate truffles was also presented to each business class passenger as a Christmas gift.

Upon arrival in Melbourne it's a short walk over to the international terminal to clear passport control and security again.

Departures display for Christmas Day at Melbourne

International Departures this way please
Nice departures board with world weather forecasts. London is the coldest !


VH-OQH is waiting to send me to London

With the formalities completed it was onwards to the Qantas First Class Lounge for some lunch. Along the way I sighted the aircraft operating QF9 to London today. It was VH-OQH which had the name 'Reginald Ansett'. Reginald Ansett was the founder of Ansett Airlines which collapsed in 2001 after more than 60 years of flying. It used to be my favourite airline so it seemed appropriate that 'Reginald Ansett' would be taking me to London today. There was a second Qantas A380 at the airport too, which was a delayed flight to Los Angeles. It was just about to leave after being delayed some 3 hours.

I was greeted in the lounge and offered to have my hand luggage stored if I wished. I declined and headed for the restaurant section to get lunch.

The Menu

Pork Rillettes

Spiced Lamb Flatbread

You can see what I had in the photos above. I considered having dessert too but decided there would be a large meal on board that I should save some room for. I enjoyed a couple of glasses of Taittinger champagne with the meal. Once I was done it was off to the Payot Spa for my pre-organised spa treatment. A member of the Qantas lounge team had called my mobile phone the day before to confirm which spa treatment I would like and what time. This pre-booking of the spa treatments is only offered to First Class passengers although anyone with access to the lounge can still use the spa but they are subject to availability on the day. I had my usual treatment: the mens hot towel facial and upper body massage.



The treatment room after my massage

After the refreshing spa treatment from a lovely young lady I headed back to the lounge for another champagne but only got halfway through it when the flight was called for boarding. I packed up my stuff and headed straight to the gate.

First Class on the Qantas A380 is located in the forward lower deck. The lower deck is wider and as such airlines with the wider suites like Qantas and Singapore locate their first class product there. Airlines with narrower first class seats or suites like Emirates and Thai have their first class cabins upstairs.

Upon boarding I was escorted to suite 2K by the crew and offered champagne, of course I accepted! While that was being prepared I explored the suite:


Suite 2K - the seats face forward for takeoff and landing then swivel to the side in flight for bed and lounging

The suites are very large with plenty of space for a second person to share a meal with

The TV screen is available at all times but is perhaps a little small

Looking at the seat from the window area - there is an LCD touchscreen which shows the moving map display, time to destination and also the seat controls.
I was pretty impressed with the suite design generally. It is very large, certainly much bigger than the Emirates suite. However there is no closing door so there is no complete privacy. The suites are staggered though so you are not looking directly at the person in the suite on the other side of the aisle. The seat itself is very comfortable for lounging and it swivels around to convert into a large lie flat bed. I did find the lack of a personal wardrobe with clothes hanger somewhat strange as it is standard on both Emirates and Singapore Airlines.

Whilst I was snapping away my champagne arrived with some almonds and olives. The champagne on offer for this flight was the Pol Roger Winston Churchill 2000. This champagne retails for between $240 and $270 (AUD) locally. It is a very tasty drop indeed however I had been hoping for the vintage Taittinger usually on offer. I was also provided with an SKII men's amenity kit and a set of first class pyjamas with socks and slippers.

Amenity kit and pyjamas

Champagne, olives, almonds


Inflight entertainment screen showing flight path

LCD touchscreen for seat controls and also moving map display and time to destination - very handy

The same LCD display showing suite controls

Whilst the boarding process was underway there was time for a top up of the champagne while I sent my last remaining christmas messages to friends and family and updated my facebook status before the 13.5 hour sector to Dubai. After the 350 passengers were on board it was time to close the doors and get this Christmas Day flight underway. The weather was beautiful outside as we taxi'ed to runway 16 and made our departure.

Goodbye Victoria

Amenity kit contents by SKII
Once we were established in the climb the seat belt sign was extinguished and service commenced soon afterwards. The menu offers an a la carte selection or you can opt for the tasting menu to give a whole lot of things a try. I chose the tasting menu but ended up changing the dessert.


This started off with champagne and canapes. The canapes were served on a small plate and included Tea Smoked Duck with Pickled Cabbage in a spoon and a Spanner Crab Tartlet with Lemon and Cumin.

Canapes
There was a choice of balsamic with olive oil or butter to go along with the bread. I chose the olive oil option. To go with it I had a glass of what I hear is Australia's best chardonnay, the Leeuwin Estate Art Series. It's a beautiful chardonnay and I was pleased it was offered just as it had been on my last Emirates first class flight between Auckland and Melbourne.


Next up was the Asian Chicken Broth, and it came in a big bowl with plenty of mushrooms. Really tasty!


I ate the whole bowl of soup and eagerly awaited the next course. The game terrine! I was expecting quite a small serve but I was impressed to find a very large serving arrive. It was just delicious with the crostini and mustard fruits.


Close up of the Game Terrine
 By the time I finished off the terrine I was already starting to get full! I might add that during the meal service my wine was continually replenished and I was asked if I wanted to switch to a different wine or stick with the Leeuwin Estate. As a big fan of that chardonnay I stuck with it.

It was time for the main course and I had selected the Lamb Rack with asparagus and mint jelly, served along side a Potato and Silverbeet Gratin. It also came with a side salad with palm sugar vinaigrette. I was glad that the lamb was not too large otherwise I couldn't have fit it in.

Main course with the gratin served in a separate bowl

Close up of lamb rack

Potato and silverbeet gratin - delicious!

And a salad as well
 The next course was dessert and I was asked by the crew if I'd like to stick with the scheduled baked custard or switch to something else. I ended up switching to a vanilla cream stuffed crepes with fresh fruits and I was not disappointed!



There was a cheese course mentioned on the menu but this was not offered to me. I actually would have had to decline it anyway as I was full to exploding at this point. The meal was incredibly good overall and the team at Qantas' catering division in Melbourne should be very proud.

With my tray table cleared away it was time to start relaxing. During the meal I had been watching Elysium and that was finished around the same time the meal ended. At this point we were over Western Australia with a further 11 hours of flying ahead of us:


I took off my shoes and replaced them with my first class slippers which kind of camouflage with the carpet:


And settled down to my favourite, Downton Abbey:



You may notice in the photo above that I have the windows setup to have a paper shade which reduces the glare but still lets in natural light. You can have this or have the shades completely blacked out. It can all be controlled electronically by the touch screen beside the seat. This touch screen also turns into a full colour moving map display which is handy to monitor the flight progress without having to interrupt your movie.


I decided to get comfortable and have the crew convert my seat into a bed.  A mattress is placed over the seat and a nice comfy duvet and big pillow are set up. Looks comfy right?



So it was time to crawl into bed with my Qantas provided pyjamas and just relax with a movie. At some point I fell asleep for a while. When I woke up I decided a cappuccino was required. It came with some chocolate macarons and a chocolate:



The customer service manager on board brought it to me and also gave me a welcome as I had been in the bathroom earlier when he was doing his rounds. He was a great fellow and said if there was anything I need to just let him know.

At some point I ordered a peppermint tea which came on a lovely silver tray in a pot with a packet of biscuits. I liked the presentation:


Yes I am still watching Downton Abbey. It's dark outside at this point
I was very comfortable and fortunately the flying conditions remained smooth throughout. With about 2 hours 25 minutes remaining it was time to consider eating again and I had the crew take away my bedding. I ordered a tagliatelle bolognaise and the cheese plate from the menu.



Here was the pasta - quite nice and I am back on that lovely Chardonnay

Cheese plate with accompaniments
Both the pasta and the cheese were really nice! It was enough food for me as I was going to have a snack in the lounge in Dubai as well. With the meal service completed the crew came around with a large box of caramel truffles for each passenger and the customer service manager came around to shake hands and thank me for flying with Qantas. I believe the chocolates aren't normally given out but were a gift for Christmas.
With almost 13 hours of flight behind us it was time to descend and commence the approach into Dubai where it was close to midnight. I watched from the tailcam:


The lights of Dubai outside

We arrived in Dubai on schedule and disembarked. The friendly crew members wished me a pleasant onward flight and then it was out and through transit security and into the Dubai Emirates First Class Lounge. The airport was very quiet and being first off meant getting through security was very quick.

Stay tuned for the final leg from Dubai to London in my next post....










16 comments:

  1. Fabulous reading!

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  2. I've been waiting for this post and so excited to read it!! The food and seat looks amazing! I've been doing a bit of Business Class flying of late with Qantas and a few others so have been eager to se what the First Class cabin and service was like. I can't wait for the next part! Thanks AussieFlyer! :)

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  3. Not going to Lie. This was great to read and was a wonderful christmas present to give yourself. I need to try this.

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  4. Another great review Daz. And of course something I might only ever experience if Mr Tattersall is nice to me. So envious.

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    Replies
    1. Oh and business class on a -400 would be interesting compared to the NG.

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  5. Hi
    Just read through your report and wanted to say thank you. I have got some flights with EK/QF next month in business and ok I'm not flying first but reading this I'm starting to feel a bit excited.
    Alex

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  6. Were you satisfied with your experience? Was it worth the money you paid? Would you recommend? I thought this was supposed to be a review

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  7. As a veteran flyer, I find the Qantas First Class on the A380 one of the best transportation experiences ever. The First Class lounge in SYD - best calamari around, the champagnes excellent, good service, spa is under new direction, am uncertain how that will work. The suite is comfortable - great use of freq. flyer points if your blessed enough to gain access.

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    Replies
    1. I have not yet tried the new spa, will have to go give it a go asap

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  8. Excellent trip report. I am heading on the exact same trip mid September, but the timings have changed now where departure is 10.55pm out of Melbourne. I havent been on QF long-haul for probably 15-years so am quite looking forward to it. Redeemed 80K AA miles and paid $70 in taxes, so thought it was good value. Keep up the good work, great photos and an excellent summary of the product.

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    1. do let me know how you enjoyed the flight.

      I believe the meal out of Melbourne is now a supper service, followed by breakfast in the morning.

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  9. Thank you for this post. As a result of your post, I have booked Qantas London/Sydney RT First Class. Your post is consistent with what I have read about Qantas First Class, which sounds like a better overall deal than the over-priced Emirates First Class (the private door aspect is not worth the extra $6,000 rt). Thanks for what seems to be an unbiased glowing report.

    Paul A. Rossi, Esq. U.S.A.

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  10. That was an awful lot of champagne for the time span! You must have been quite drunk or at least quite tipsy, and totally going against advice not to drink alcohol on flights, due to the dehydrating effect.

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    1. I dont think I was drunk, tipsy yes! Well I can't refuse good champagne

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  11. Good for you. Drink as much champagne as you want. What an idiotic comment above - is he/she the booze police? Do gooders have a lot to answer for...

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