After landing in Sydney, I turned right around the next morning and flew back to Los Angeles on the A380 in first class on Qantas. The flight was solid, but Qantas falls short in two key areas.
Qantas A380 First Class – My First Impressions
First, let’s talk about what Qantas does well. The ground product is above average and I enjoyed an invigorating spa treatment (facial) followed by a hearty breakfast with superb coffee before my flight. The first class lounge in Sydney has not changed at all since before the pandemic and that is a very good thing.
Onboard, the first class seat is extremely comfortable and the bedding is also excellent. I ended up sleeping for more than half of the flight and found the seat ideal for sleeping (and with a large personal air vent and a cool cabin, it was great to snuggle up under the blanket).
I like the A380…I went up stairs and thought the lounge area was probably wasted space, but it does hearken back to a different era of aviation.
The food beat my expectations. From the canapés to the cheese, each course was decadent and also nicely presented.
The tomato soup with crab was very nice but the runaway highlight of the meal was the lamb cutlets, which were perfectly cooked (medium) and covered in a savory herb crust.
Coffee onboard was a treat and I had an affogato for dessert and a double shot flat white before landing. Qantas gets coffee right (even in premium economy).
Breakfast was also quite lovely – I had an egg white omelet and avocado toast. Fresh-squeezed orange juice and cold-pressed Pink Lady apple juice as well.
Finally, the pajamas were great…I took them with with me and am wearing them at home.
But there were two shortcomings, one major and one more minor. The major shortcoming was the service, which was well-intentioned but was not on the first class level. It was slow…with 14 seats in the cabin it took two hours for lunch service to even begin after takeoff.
But more importantly, the service was not attentive. Dishes were not promptly cleared, glasses were not refilled, and when I woke up from my sleep it took a flight attendant nearly 30 minutes to notice. Even American Airlines and British Airways are not that bad in first class…
The flight attendants were extremely busy during the last hour of the flight and perhaps they did notice I was awake but ignored me because too many other passengers were ordering breakfast. Even so, a quick “good morning, can I get you something to drink?” goes a long way. Passengers were never addressed by name, but perhaps that is a not a thing on Qantas?
During the lunch service, a flight attendant spilled balsamic vinegar on my tablecloth and my napkin. She just shrugged and left it. On Lufthansa or Air France or Singapore Airlines, the tablecloth and napkin would have been immediately replaced. I think the same would have been true on most carriers in business class…
As for the minor shortcoming, it is almost 2024 and Qantas still has not installed wi-fi onboard its A380 jets. As much as it is nice to unplug sometimes, that is simply not competitive and it stressed me out to get all my work done ahead of the flight because I knew I would be offline for 13 hours.
At current staffing levels, it appeared to me that the 14-seat first class cabin on Qantas is too large: the service onboard resembles an average business class, not first class. But everything else about the product was nice and indeed first class: great food, seating, amenities, and bedding.
A disclaimer is perhaps necessary. I was flying first class…yes, it was wonderful compared to economy class. I’m incredibly thankful I get to fly at all. But since I do fly and review first class products, the comparative criticism is not meant to make a stink, but to help you understand what to expect, especially if you are used to flying first class.
I will have a lot more details in my full review and also would not hesitate to fly Qantas again. But Qantas First Class is not in the top-tier if my flight was a typical one.