Qantas’ A380 First Class between the US and Australia is one of the hardest flights to book with miles. We checked for award availability impulsively for weeks on end. Occasionally we’d find a single First Class seat departing from LA. We were going to split up between First Class and Economy, or maybe even travel on different days so we could try First Class separately.
Then a miracle happened. Two First Class seats magically appeared on Qantas’ Dallas-Sydney route. It must have been a last minute cancellation.
Although the LA-Sydney route is a more logical choice from the West Coast, we wanted to fly out of Dallas. The Dallas-Sydney flight, at 8,578 miles, is the longest commercial flight in the world. It also departs earlier in the evening than the LA flight, which means a fuller meal service and a more complete First Class experience! 🙂
Qantas occupies two full gates at DFW for their daily flight to Sydney, both of which are probably needed to get 500 people onto the A380.
In the final minutes before boarding hordes, of Economy Class passengers swamped the counters in the hopes of a last minute upgrade. Gate agents were turning down the requests, saying that all upgrades had to be done 24 hours in advance.
Boarding was extremely orderly. One of the two gates is reserved for First Class and Platinum/Platinum One passengers, while the other gate is shared by Business, Premium Economy, Economy and every other status, although that gate had plenty of capacity with two boarding pass scanning stations.
The First class boarding gate funneled us to the very front of the plane. I had ogled over so many pictures of Qantas’ First Class cabin, boarding the plane was like stepping into a fairy tale…
Here are some close-ups of the seat:
And some more…
We were greeted immediately by a extremely friendly and professional flight attendant who got us set up with champagne and canapes. I was impressed with the systematic attention to detail in all aspects of the service, which was consistent throughout the flight.
The Qantas A380 First Class seat is so fancy, it takes a digital tablet to control the seat. The seat can swivel between two positions – facing directly forward, which is required during take-off and landing, and the more comfortable lounge position facing the ottoman.
Apart from the swivel, the seat has your standard adjustments, spread out over four different screens. The seat controls weren’t very intuitive and I struggled to get the tablet screen to register my taps. I personally found the massage functions to be quite weak, though I do applaud the effort.
A tour of the plane
Shortly after take-off we embarked on a self-guided tour of the plane. The A380 is huge, and if it’s your first time, you might think you’re on the Starship Enterprise. Let’s start upstairs.
There’s a small lounge accessible by First and Business Class passengers. Although it was cool to stare at the metal kangaroo in the display case, I’m not sure what the purpose of the lounge is, as it’s far more comfortable to sit in your own seat. I suppose if you’re traveling in a group and want to converse. I’m sure Economy Class passengers would love to use it if they could.
Premium Economy (Left) And Economy Class
I was so hungry I could eat a hippo. All the clanking of dishes from the galley wasn’t helping. I fiddled with the seat and entertainment system to keep myself busy while I waited for dinner service, but it wasn’t easy thinking about all the lovely things on the menu…
We normally like to try everything on the menu if we can, but we’re often met with strong rebukes. On Qantas, we had no resistance asking for second helpings or appetizers. Naturally, we wanted at least one of every course. Here’s a sampling…
Salmon Tataki Appetizer
Duck Leg Confit
Baked Cinnamon Custard
The duck leg confit was out of this world. It was so good, we asked for a second helping. We couldn’t be bothered to try one of the other entrees. We were two very happy campers.
Duck Leg Confit #2
Dinner was followed by a choice of coffee, “drinking chocolate” or tea
At this point, we’d barely left the continent and still had most of the Pacific Ocean left to go
Our flight attendant swept away our dinner settings and offered to make our beds.
This was a good time to freshen up in one of three lavatories in First Class, which were nice but not all that special.
I returned from the lavatory to find my bed nicely made, pajamas and amenity kit waiting. I was extremely impressed to the meticulous attention to detail throughout the flight.
The Qantas First Class bed is really, really comfortable. It might not beat your bed at home, but it’s as good as airplane beds get. The secret sauce is the supportive sheepskin pad that makes it feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud.
Seven hours later, I awoke from a dream, barely remembering I was on a plane. I grabbed my amenity kit and headed to the restroom to freshen up. When I returned…
My bed was magically transformed back into a seat, my clothes neatly folded onto the ottoman. I looked around in case my mom had sneaked onto the plane, but no, this was the work of our endlessly impressive flight attendant. We were about two hours from landing and it was breakfast time.
Yogurt and Muesli
Waffle and Mascarpone
Fruit and Yogurt
The waffles were to die for. We would have eaten three portions each except we’re both trying to stick to low-carb diets. It didn’t working on this flight though.
After breakfast, we kicked back in our comfy seats and enjoyed endless pots of tea. We were enjoying ourselves so much we didn’t want to land. But all things must come to an end…
Landing in Sydney
That must have been one of the fastest 16 hours in my life. I was crestfallen that it was over already. I’m not sure most of the Economy Class passengers would agree though 😉
Our flight attendant asked is if we’d like to take a tour of the cockpit after landing. Ummm… hell yes!!
I’ve flown in many premium cabins and Qantas First Class is probably the single most amazing experience I’ve had to date. Our awesome flight attendants played no small part in this.
Qantas First Class is extremely difficult to come by, but it’s well worth it, and probably my favorite AA redemption so far. Watching award availability like a hawk can pay off big time. Sometimes seats open up last minute, as they did for us.