I recently had the opportunity to fly Qantas A380 First Class from Los Angeles to Melbourne on a trip to visit family.
Despite travelling quite often to Australia, this happened to be my first time flying with Qantas, and I was keen to see what Qantas First Class was all about.
Qantas A380 First Class – Booking
Securing a seat in Qantas First Class for long-haul flights using points is indeed quite a challenge. In fact, snagging an award seat usually requires a bit of luck and keeping a close eye on availability.
In my case, I booked a flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne in Qantas First Class using 110,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles, plus a very modest $30.20 (CAD) in taxes and fees.
I was very pleased with the value from this redemption, especially since this flight runs just shy of 16 hours. As is the case with any ultra-long-haul flight, comfort is key, and I looked forward to adding another A380 First Class experience (and set of pajamas) to my repertoire.
While opportunities to book Qantas First Class on points are rather fleeting, the availability of award seats surfaces sporadically, offering great value if you can manage to snag one.
Your best bet is to use the calendar search function on the American Airlines AAdvantage website, or set an alert using your favourite award search website.
Qantas A380 First Class – Ground Experience
Even though my flight was set to depart in the latter part of the evening, I arrived at the airport in the early afternoon to enjoy an extended lounge visit.
I happened to be travelling with checked luggage this time, so I had to wait until the Qantas staff arrived so I could check my bag and head through security. A line had formed in the economy and business class lines; however, I waltzed to the front of the separate First Class line, and was through the formalities in no time.
I then headed through security and straight to the Qantas International First Lounge Los Angeles, which ranks as one of the best in North America.
Situated in the Tom Bradley International Terminal, the lounge is a sprawling 17,500 square feet. It features a modern design and a good variety of seating arrangements.
During my visit, I found myself immersed in a chic and stylish space.
I was particularly drawn to the unique, retro-futuristic chairs and the cozy armchairs near the entrance. The honeycomb pattern, a dominant theme throughout the lounge, enhanced its futuristic vibe.
Dining in the lounge was a highlight. I indulged in the lounge’s signature salt and pepper squid and the delightful baja prawn tacos. The meal was complemented by a choice of Taittinger or Mumm Champagne.
Aside from the exceptional dining and seating options, the lounge facilities, including the shower rooms, were impeccably maintained and showcased a commitment to providing an elevated environment.
After an indulgent seven-hour stay, I walked around the terminal for a while before heading to the gate to be the first to board.
Qantas A380 First Class – Cabin
The First Class cabin at the front of the mammoth Airbus A380’s lower level is luxurious and unique. It features 14 private suites in a 1-1-1 configuration.
Upon entering, I was greeted with a soothing palette of neutral tones, including grey and blue with wood accents. The suites sprawl out, favouring spaciousness over seclusion.
There’s an airy feel to the cabin, with privacy that’s achieved through cleverly placed partitions and screens, rather than sliding doors. Upon boarding, a partition in the middle row of suites is lowered; however, it’s raised upon reaching altitude to provide a more private experience.
For added privacy, suites on the “A” side of the aircraft are particularly desirable. After takeoff, once the partition is raised, you share the aisle with anyone else seated in row “A”. On the other side of the aircraft, the aisle is shared between those in rows “F” and “K”.
Couples travelling together might want to consider selecting either a middle and a right-side window seat in rows “F” and “K:, or opting for two window seats one in front of the other.
Although conversing directly with each other might be challenging due to the suite’s layout, it’s a small compromise for the luxury offered in this expansive and well-appointed First Class cabin.
Suite 2F, which is set underneath the staircase to the upper deck, is whimsically nicknamed the “Harry Potter” suite. Consider selecting this suite if you’re looking for some extra novelty.
This time, I took up seat 1A, situated at the front of the aircraft. It’s one of the most private suites, as it doesn’t share an aisle with the middle “F” seats, offering a higher degree of privacy thanks to the partitions that are raised during the flight.
Qantas A380 First Class – Seat
The Qantas A380 First Class seats boast a classic design characterized by clean lines and a neutral colour palette, lending an atmosphere of understated luxury.
They’re adorned with a monochromatic array of greys, highlighted by crisp white accents and deep blues.
The subtle texture of the upholstery adds a tactile dimension, enhancing the overall visual appeal of the seat.
Upon boarding, the seats are aligned to face forward, and face the wall in front. Once cruising altitude is reached, the seats swivel electronically into a herringbone configuration.
At the beginning and end of the flight, passengers may find it somewhat uncomfortable facing the wall. Additionally, the seat’s position is notably distant from the window, which limits the enjoyment of outside views.
Delving into the seat’s specifics, it boasts ample padding for comfort and a shoulder harness for added safety during takeoff and landing.
Directly opposite the seat, a neatly designed tray table unfolds, offering a convenient surface for the early rounds of drinks and snacks served by the flight attendants. This clever feature enables a more intimate setting without the need for deploying the full-sized table.
Just below, the literature pocket offers easy access to in-flight reading material.
The inclusion of both AC and USB-A outlets below the literature pocket makes powering your devices a bit awkward due to its location. Plus, it’s worth noting that USB-C outlets are becoming the norm, making this setup a bit dated.
Once the seat pivots to face the entertainment screen, you can adjust it into a variety of positions for relaxing.
On the opposite wall from the seat, the generously sized ottoman doubles as a “buddy seat” for shared dining experiences.
Above, the entertainment screen is innovatively designed to flip out for viewing, and can be recessed flush into the wall for a seamless look when not in use.
The main tray table, which extends from the armrest beside the seat, impresses with its large size and sturdiness, although manipulating it requires some effort due to its weight.
Adjacent to the seat, two rotating compartments and a lower storage area provide convenient spaces for stowing away small items, such as phones or wallets. This is also where the noise-cancelling headphones were stored upon boarding.
Above this, the surface space features an integrated beverage holder, ensuring a secure spot for your drink.
Beside the seat, is a rack for storing headphones, as well as a detachable tablet that puts control at your fingertips, allowing you to manage the seat’s settings, lighting, and other features with ease.
This tablet not only tracks flight progress but also controls the window shades – equipped with electric curtains and dimmers – thus ensuring your comfort is seamlessly maintained while you enjoy a show on the main screen.
The seat’s armrest discreetly houses an entertainment controller.
Notably, Qantas A380 First Class suites feature a number of air nozzles, which are great for controlling the temperature to your liking.
In terms of privacy, there’s a small partition that rises during the flight to block off sight lines from your rearward neighbour. Without a door, the suite is open to passersby; however, my view was mostly of the staircase to the upper lounge, and the aisle didn’t get too much traffic.
As I was playing around with the various features in the suite, I was pleasantly surprised by the robust and invigorating massage function. It’s surely the best one I’ve experienced on a flight, and I found it particularly pleasant towards the latter part of the flight, after I’d been sitting and laying down for a very long time.
Overall, I was happy with the amount of space and comfort available in the Qantas A380 First Class suite. While it’s by no means a cutting-edge product, it was plush and comfortable, and came with an ample amount of storage space to settle in for an ultra-long-haul flight.
It’s worth noting that the seat showed some signs of age, and is certainly due for an update in the near future. However, with Project Sunrise and a new fleet of Airbus A350-1000 aircraft on the horizon, Qantas’s First Class products are surely getting a significant upgrade.
Qantas A380 First Class – Amenities
Upon arriving at my seat, I was greeted with a number of items: an amenity kit, headphones, bedding, and slippers, all neatly laid out and waiting for me.
The amenity kit eschewed the conventional hardshell for a large, fashionable pouch adorned with a geometric pattern and navy blue highlights.
This chic pouch could double as an ideal toiletry bag or a handy holder for personal effects.
Nestled within is a plush sleep mask, cozy socks, and an array of LaGaia Unedited products, including lip balm, moisturizer, and hand cream.
Lastly, a dental kit and earplugs were included, although it’s worth noting that the restroom is also stocked with amenities.
Upon taking my seat, the in-flight dining experience began. I was greeted by Daniel and Zladko, who would be looking after the First Class cabin on this flight, and was then served a caviar blini with Vermont creme fraiche and a Meredith goat’s cheese crustini with olive tapenade for canapés, accompanied by a glass of Duval-Leroy 1996 Femme de Champagne.
The flight attendants were attentive from the get-go, and offered to top up my drink a couple of times before take-off.
Although our flight experienced a slight delay due to refueling, the pilot kept us well-informed, and maintained a good sense of humour throughout the delay.
Qantas A380 First Class – Meal Service
The meal service commenced shortly after reaching cruising altitude, as it was getting quite late in the day.
As I settled in, each item was carefully placed on the linen-clad tray table one after another, and I enjoyed watching the setup take place.
The table had extra space for a companion, though I was travelling solo on this occasion.
Initially, I was disappointed to find that my first choice for the appetizer, tingling prawns with green chili, didn’t get loaded on the plane, and I had to opt for my second choice. The flight attendants apologized for this, and delivered the news with a good sense of humour.
While the signature steak sandwich was tempting, I opted for the grilled quail breast with tomatoes, basil, and summer beans instead.
It turns out that this was a great choice for an appetizer, and I soon forgot about my first choice.
For the main course, I selected the beef fillet with polenta, which was served with braised silverbeet and capsicum sauce. It came with a Mesclun salad with a choice of dressings, and I opted for an aged balsamic vinaigrette.
Qantas A380 First Class – Main course
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Qantas A380 First Class – Main course
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Qantas A380 First Class – Main course
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Qantas A380 First Class – Main course
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I found the beef fillet to be quite delicious, beautifully blending flavours and pairing nicely with a tasty polenta.
Prior to the flight, I’d enjoyed a few meals in the lounge, and opted out of dessert this time around. However, there was a nice selection of cheeses, a vanilla bean panna cotta, a three-milk cake, ice cream, handmade chocolate truffles, and fresh fruit available.
It’s worth noting that there wasn’t a wine list offered on my flight. Rather, Daniel let me know which wines were available, and we wound up doing a bit of a sampling.
I stuck with Australian wines, and particularly enjoyed a red from the lesser-known Beechworth region.
Qantas A380 First Class – Bed
After the satisfying dinner, I headed to the restroom to prepare myself for bed, and requested turndown service from the flight attendants.
I was pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness throughout the flight and amenities provided in the restroom, including a unique touch of Qantas First Class deodorant.
The lie-flat bed stands out as the most comfortable I’ve experienced in air travel, boasting a thick memory foam mattress and spacious layout.
I managed to get a restful six hours of sleep, undisturbed except for a brief encounter with light turbulence.
Upon waking, I was greeted by Zladko with the offer of a flat white and a Tim Tam.
Rather than enjoying them in the comfort of my suite, I opted to head upstairs to the lounge for a change of scenery.
Qantas A380 First Class – Lounge
The lounge, which is located upstairs, serves as a shared area for both First Class and business class passengers. This space is distinct from other A380s, where large bathrooms and showers are typically found.
The lounge strikes a welcoming balance between chic and snug, with smooth wooden curves and leather green seating inviting you to sink right in. The lighting is soft and subtle, which adds to the relaxing vibe.
The lounge offered a variety of self-serve snacks and a comfortable seating arrangement. However, it remained largely unused by other passengers during the flight, and I was the only person there on several occasions.
I found the lounge to be certainly inviting for a long-haul flight, and I thought it’d be a great place to enjoy with friends in the future, perhaps during the next team bachelor party in the skies.
Qantas A380 First Class – Entertainment
Qantas A380 First Class suites are equipped with a 17-inch high-definition entertainment screen.
The in-flight entertainment included an extensive selection of movies and TV shows, ranging from current and classic options, new movie releases, complete seasons of popular TV shows, and a selection of box sets for binge-watching,
Although I usually don’t spend much time with in-flight media, the absence of Wi-Fi on this 16-hour flight led me to immerse myself in an HBO series.
It’s worth noting that Qantas plans to install Wi-Fi in the near future. While it’s currently a notable omission on a long-haul flight in a premium cabin, its upcoming implementation will be a welcome move for frequent flyers on these lengthy routes.
Qantas A380 First Class – Breakfast
As we made our way towards Melbourne, I was informed about the upcoming breakfast service, which allowed me to prepare myself for the meal.
With a full day in Australia on the horizon, I opted for a hearty start: a tangy chia and coconut pudding with berries and toasted coconut, a vibrant cold-pressed juice to shake off sleep, a buttery croissant, and a standout warm leek tart with smoked salmon, Vermont creme fraiche, and arugula.
I was particularly pleased with the tart, which certainly hit the spot. With its creamy base and fresh arugula, it was just the right mix of comfort and zest to fuel up for the day ahead.
As we approached Melbourne, I felt satiated and very relaxed, and ready to continue onward with my day of travel.
Overall, I very much enjoyed my flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne in Qantas A380 First Class. One of the signs of a great flight is that time passes by very quickly, and I certainly felt this to be the case.
Most remarkable from my flight was the comfort of the bed, which sits at the top of my list of comfortable sleeping experiences in the skies to date. It was spacious, soft, and welcoming, and I’d recommend it as a great option for anyone who has difficulties sleeping on planes.
The seat is slightly unconventional in its orientations; however, it’s quite roomy, and the massage function was memorably invigorating.
I enjoyed the food and beverages served on the flight, but when I compare the experience to other First Class experiences I’ve had, it felt more like a nice business class meal, rather than an exquisite First Class dining experience.
On the other hand, the First Class cabin crew were lovely and warm, and I felt very well looked after throughout the flight. They balanced checking in often enough to anticipate my needs without feeling overbearing, and I appreciated the conversations I had with them.
I’d certainly fly Qantas First Class to or from Australia again. While it may not be the most luxurious or cutting-edge product, it’s a very comfortable way to fly, with a massive amount of personal space and an outstanding bed for ultra-long-haul flights.