Unlike many people I’m not a huge Qantas fan. Although their A330 business class isn’t so bad, I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly their A380 long haul in business as other carriers offer a far superior product. However, when Qantas announced a temporary aircraft switch on the Sydney to Singapore route, I didn’t hesitate to book myself seat 1A in first class on the A380!
- Route: Sydney – Singapore
- Airline: Qantas Airways
- Cabin: First Class
- Aircraft: Airbus A380
- Points Used: 90,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points
- Points required can be earned easily by taking advantage of the Amex Ultimate 100,000 Qantas points sign up offer.
Pre Departure Qantas Experience
The Qantas A380 First Class experience starts the day before your flight when the Qantas First team call you up to check if curb-side luggage assistance is required and whether you’d like to book in a complimentary spa treatment at the First Class lounge. On long haul routes (London or USA) Qantas also offers a complimentary chauffeur drive.
Qantas First Class Check In Sydney Airport
Upon arrival at Sydney International Airport the following day I checked in at the first class counter which is hidden away from the main check-in area and right by the express lane entrance through security.
Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney International
After the duty-free area, there is an escalator going straight up to the first class lounge entry (which is a review in itself!). Since this was a morning flight I opted for some breakfast (ordered way too much food) and coffee and champagne…because why not!
The first class lounge has a selection of champagnes on offer (which is more than you get on board), although it’s nothing like the Private Room, it’s nice to see some variety.
Qantas First Class Spa Sydney
My spa appointment was booked in for 8:30 AM which is the earliest available time slot. As a first-class passenger, you get first dibs when it comes to booking the spa. I highly recommend you do it before arriving in the lounge as availability can be snapped up by platinum status holders.
The hydrating 20 minute facial and neck massage combo wasn’t nearly long enough, but it’s a must and a unique benefit when it comes to the Qantas Sydney First Class Lounge.
Boarding was chaotic as per usual with Qantas, but luckily they allowed me to board before other passengers to shoot some video and get a few pictures of the cabin. Nothing worse than a tourist with his camera invading your privacy 😉
Qantas A380 Best First Class Seat
I had selected 1A which is the best seat for “that private jet” feeling as you won’t see any other passengers in front of you. The A (left) side is the best pick regardless of the seat number since it’s not shared with those located in the centre seats thus making it more private and offering more overhead luggage space.
For the all-around best seat, go for 3A since it has the most windows, and it’s positioned perfectly away from both the lavatories and the galley. If your preferred selection isn’t available; go the K section unless you like to sit in the middle.
Qantas A380 First Class Cabin & Seats
The Qantas A380 First Class cabin is laid out in a 1-1-1 configuration, and it’s the only A380 first class cabin to not have a 1-2-1 configuration (except Etihad and the new Singapore Airlines A380 suites). First class is located on the lower deck, unlike other carriers who chose to go for the upper deck which gives them the chance to do something “lavish” with the bathrooms since space is more restricted downstairs. There are 14 seats in total; 5 down each window side and 4 in the middle.
The open suites are very spacious and upholstered in neutral tones of beige with textured wooden surfaces offset by the dark grey leather detail at the top of the chair.
It’s all paired with silver details, and even though the age of the cabin is starting to show, it’s still stylish and very much first class.
The Qantas First Class suites on the A380 are designed to have parties of 2 dining together; very much like the Cathay First Class seat where the footrest turns into an ottoman complete with a seatbelt.
The chair itself is probably one of the most configurable seats in the sky, and pretty much every angle can be adjusted via the seat control pad attached to the side. During takeoff, the seat faces forward and can be turned towards the window and the TV monitor while in flight.
The light beige privacy shell wraps around the seat and provides enough cover, so you don’t have to see your fellow first class guests. When you’re sitting in the middle seats, a large privacy divider can be raised after takeoff.
Considering the age of the seat, they have aged well and were pretty comfortable for the journey from Sydney to Singapore.
Regarding storage; there’s plenty of it in the overhead bins and on the side of your chair where Qantas has included a couple of drawers to store your small items; it’s also where you will find the headphones (which unfortunately are not noise cancelling!).
Even in bed mode, the drawers are still accessible, and there’s a convenient gap between the bed and the wall where you can keep a bag for easy access.
Qantas A380 Entertainment Options
Entertainment wise the Qantas A380 First Class seat comes with a 43cm touch screen that can be folded away if required.
I found it to be at a slightly awkward distance as you can hardly touch it from your seat (which is the easiest way to operate it). The TV can also be controlled by the entertainment unit (big silver detachable box) or from the classic aircraft remote in the armrest.
Qantas A380 First Class Bathroom & On-board Lounge
When it comes to first class bathrooms onboard the Qantas A380… you will be rather disappointed if you’ve flown Emirates, Etihad, Singapore airlines or anyone else for that matter! The bathrooms were a close resemblance of what would be served to guests in economy and crew didn’t seem to mind that the business class passengers upstairs came down frequently to use them.
Qantas has a small lounge on the upper deck (the spot where they could have built a bathroom of epic proportions to rival their competitors), which is the saddest excuse for a lounge; it’s essentially a red leather couch in an awkward corner.
Pre-Departure Champagne & Snacks
During the boarding procedure Qantas crew will typically offer a round of champagne or other beverages before takeoff with some nuts and olives. However, somehow I was ignored and when I asked I was simply told the doors were closed and to wait until after takeoff. Not a big deal but small details like this is what make first class, first class.
Qantas First Class Food & Beverage
After the seatbelt signs turned off, I was promptly presented with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame which is a nice drop. On the menu, Qantas lists a few more champagnes, but I learned that they only have one type of champagne available depending on the flight. The rest of the wine list was also slightly underwhelming and far from first class standards you would find on Singapore Airlines or Emirates.
Not long after we reached our cruising altitude, the lunch menu started off with a couple of canapes. A spicy lamb and pine nut filled filo pastry finger and a small tartlet of caviar and sweet onion cream; both were delicious.
As a starter, I decided on the “chopped salad with poached salmon, fennel, radish, chickpeas and lemon dressing” which was light and very tasty.
For the main course, I couldn’t go past the “Rockpool Bar & Grill style beef with potato and cabbage gratin” paired with a glass of Shaw + Smith Balhannah Shiraz from 2014.
Ordering steak on an aeroplane is one of those tests you can do to establish the overall quality of the food. Naturally; my steak was way overcooked but still tender and enjoyable overall.
To finish off the lunch service I enjoyed a vanilla pannacotta with strawberry salsa and pistachio wafers with a glass of the Lillypilly Noble Blend 2015 from NSW.
Although the complete Qantas First Class menu is probably more like business class on Singapore Airlines, I did enjoy the food, and the presentation was very well executed.
Qantas A380 First Class Bed
After a morning of indulgence it was time for a nap and with 4 hours left of the flight, what better way to try out the Qantas A380 First Class bed!
I must give this one to Qantas, their mattress pad provided to first class passengers is the thickest and softest in the game, and the Sheridan linen and pillows are very comfortable too (only Cathay Pacific comes close regarding bed-softness in my opinion.
After changing into my Martin Grant PJ’s I had a great sleep in my first class bed before touching down in Singapore.
How to book Qantas First Class
I booked my flight using Qantas Frequent Flyer points, and in combination with an Emirates Business Class flight coming from Christchurch, this made it slightly more cost-effective.
For a straight out redemption, you would be looking at 90,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points for a one-way ticket + taxes.
Alternatively, you can also redeem Qantas flights using my favourite program; Asia Miles. In this case, the cost is only 70,000 Asia Miles. For those that have American Airlines AAdvantage points (hint: you can buy these, and they go on sale pretty often) you would only need 50,000 AAdvantage points + taxes.
Getting the points required is pretty easy; right now you can take advantage of a few great bonus offers from American Express (such as the Qantas Ultimate card with 100k bonus) or St. George who conveniently offer 90,000 bonus points which is the right amount to get you back to Sydney! For those who prefer flexible programs such as Asia Miles; the Amex Explorer will offer you 75,000 Asia Miles which is also enough for a one-way ticket worth $3000+
Alternatively, the SPG points sale is still on if you hurry (sale ends 16th March). Points from SPG can be converted to American Airline AAdvantage miles. The total cost for a one-way ticket would be roughly AU$1025 give or take… much more palatable then the $3000+ price tag Qantas is looking for.
Qantas A380 First Class Conclusion
Would I purposely seek out and fly Qantas on their flagship A380? Probably not! Considering all the other amazing first and business class products out there, Qantas just isn’t that appealing.
I personally think Qantas Frequent Flyer points are much better spent on flights with Emirates; especially in first class which I still rate as one of the best. Overall I did enjoy the flight and the service from the crew, but for now, I think I will wait until Qantas has completed their planned A380 refurbishment program.