The Champagne Mile recently took Qantas A380 first class for a ride.
Read on to find out what you can expect from the pinnacle of Qantas service and discover how you can book it for yourself in 2019.
Booking Qantas A380 First Class flights
I booked my one way Qantas A380 first class award ticket from Sydney to Singapore via the Qantas website for just 90,000 Qantas points plus taxes. While it can be difficult to find Qantas First Class availability, it’s not impossible. It pays to check as early as you can. And shorter routes like Sydney to Singapore and Sydney to Hong Kong often show availability through the year.
It’s important to note that there are a number of other points currencies that can be used to book flights in Qantas first class in 2019, and some of them work out to be cheaper. We’ve put together a comparison breakdown table to highlight the best points currencies for booking Qantas first class at the bottom of this post.
A pre-departure visit to the extraordinary Qantas First Lounge
A few days before my trip, I received a courtesy call from the Qantas first class concierge. I was offered a pre-booked 20-minute spa treatment at the lounge and also asked if I required any on-the-ground assistance.
With a 9 am spa treatment locked in, I checked in online the evening before my flight. I headed to Sydney Airport very early the next morning in order to enjoy as much time as I could in the Lounge.
This space more than lives up to its reputation as Qantas’ flagship lounge offering. Highlights included no less than four non-vintage champagnes on pour (Pommery, Mumm Rose, Taittinger and Perrier Jouet), a Neil Perry inspired a la carte dining menu and a relaxing treatment in the on-site Aurora spa. I certainly wasn’t disappointed!
EDIT: As of early 2019, Qantas has recently cut the Tattinger NV from its First Lounge menu. We’d recommend trying the Perrier Jouet or Mumm Rose NV in its place.
You can find out more about the Qantas International First Lounges here.
The Qantas A380 first class cabin
I was cleared to board slightly early so that I could take some photos before the other passengers arrived. The 14 Qantas A380 first class ‘suites’ are arranged in a 1-1-1 configuration at the front of the A380 lower deck. Upon embarkation, I was warmly greeted by the crew and wandered in to take my first look at the Qantas A380 first class cabin.
The iconic Qantas A380 staircase to the upper deck is situated at the front of the cabin. Ascending the steps, you’ll find a self-service bar and mixed-use first and business class ‘lounge’. Beyond that, the Qantas A380 business class Skybed II seats are found. These are generally considered inferior to the Qantas A330 business class suite and are in line for refurbishment over the next few years.
The ‘lounge’ located at the front of the Qantas A380 business class cabin is quite underwhelming. A long, red leather banquette couch takes up one side of the area, while a long and narrow magazine rack sits opposite, positioned underneath a mid-sized screen. Unlike the Emirates A380 bar, which is accessible to both first class and business class passengers this isn’t an environment that is conducive to mingling or conviviality, and I didn’t witness any passengers using the lounge during my flight. Overall, it feels like wasted space and it’s good to hear that Qantas will be redesigning this area as part of their upcoming A380 refurbishment program.
Features of the Qantas A380 first class suite
The first class suite offers a rotating seat upholstered in beige fabric, enclosed by a light caramel coloured privacy shell.
The seat pitch is 22.5 inches. At 10 years of age, my Qantas A380 first class seat had clearly endured some wear and tear, however, it was still incredibly comfortable and spacious.
During take-off, the seat faces forward. However, it is easily rotated 45 degrees in-flight using one-touch preset options, allowing you to face your dining table and entertainment screen.
In front of the seat, you’ll find an ottoman (packed with luxury Sheridan bedding and pillows), which can also be used as a seat for a dining companion. The 43-centimetre entertainment screen is positioned quite far away and is definitely easier to view once the seat has been rotated. The screen can be closed as part of the sleeping preset mode.
A number of storage compartments are provided in the Qantas A380 first class suite. These include a bank of pull tab drawers, a deep cup holder, drop down mini table (well positioned for housing pre-flight champagne and canapes), and a magazine storage rack. Convenience is at hand with a bank of power and HDMI sockets located under the magazine rack, and entertainment controls located within the armrest.
A centralised suite control mechanism is built into the chair’s privacy shell. From here, you can control everything from the dining and sleeping presets to the lighting, window shades and entertainment. There is even a series of massage presets.
The pull out dining table is located in the armrest of the seat. It’s fully extendable, allowing you to enjoy spacious dining set up with a travelling companion, should you wish to do so.
Qantas A380 first class amenities
A set of Qantas noise cancelling headphones is provided. While these were adequate for watching the in-flight entertainment, I didn’t find them to be of the highest quality. If in-flight noise cancelling is a priority for you, then you’d do well to bring your own.
Qantas is famous for its pyjamas, and rightly so. The current Qantas first class pyjamas are designed by Martin Grant. The dark navy sleepwear is constructed from 100% cotton and is light and comfortable. The unisex pyjamas are presented in a drawstring bag with matching slippers.
Opening up the stylish Martin Grant-designed Qantas A380 first class amenity kit, you’ll find a collection of botanical-based products from Aurora Spa Rituals (ASPAR). An individual hand cream, lip moisturiser, facial mist and moisturiser are presented in the female amenity kit, along with a Rexona deodorant, socks, earplugs and toothbrush. A Martin Grant-designed padded ‘3D’ eye mask helps to block out the light when you turn down the covers for sleep.
Qantas A380 first class inflight dining experience
The Qantas A380 first class in-flight menu proudly advertises three high-end champagnes: Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill and Veuve Cliquot La Grande Dame. However, only one champagne, Veuve Cliquot La Grande Dame 2006, was available on my flight. I enjoyed it immensely. The 2006 vintage of this champagne is currently retailing for $250 per bottle at Dan Murphys.
My glass of champagne was presented with roasted almonds and olives. These were delightful pre-departure nibbles.
As we took off, I took the chance to review the menu. The wine list included one champagne, three white wines, three red wines and a sticky wine. While perfectly acceptable, most of the white and red wines on offer retail around the $25-$50 mark, and none held first class ‘wow’ factor for me.
I couldn’t help but think that the wine list would benefit from the inclusion of a flagship Australian red wine to showcase to international travellers. Perhaps something along the lines of a Penfolds RWT or Henschke Mount Edelstone.
Once we’d reached cruising altitude, the crew came around to take lunch meal orders and to present two canapes – a caviar tartlet with sweet onion cream and a spicy lamb and pine nut finger with sumac yoghurt. Both items were delicious.
The crew then dressed my table with fine linens, ready for the proper lunch service. I swivelled my armchair around to the correct position and adjusted the lighting using the one-touch dining preset seat control.
For my entree, I enjoyed grilled prawns with chipotle butter and tomatillo salsa on Mexican rice. The dish was light and bright, the prawns juicy and well cooked.
For my main course, I chose the Rockpool Bar and Grill style beef, served with broccolini and potato and cabbage gratin and a side of horseradish. The beef fillet was clearly a quality cut of meat but was unfortunately overcooked. The creamy potato and cabbage gratin was the hero of the day. Baked directly within the dish, it held rich, luscious flavours, the ultimate in comfort food!
To finish my meal, I enjoyed the Spice Temple inspired caramel, chocolate and sesame ice cream sandwich along with a black coffee.
Qantas A380 first class turn-down service
After my meal, and a three episode binge of Dr Foster Season 2, I decided to try out the turn-down service. Qantas A380 first class passengers enjoy a range of luxurious bedding products created exclusively by Sheridan. The bedding is indeed supremely comfortable and includes a memory foam mattress, super-soft sheeting, a duvet cover made from soft-touch tencel and a 100% combed-cotton woven throw.
Several different pillow options are provided, including the lightweight Sheridan Ultimate Comfort Pillow and soft-touch bolster cushion.
Before long, it was time for our descent into Singapore. I arrived relaxed and refreshed from my journey.
No one likes to travel economy class, and in my opinion, Qantas first class is worth experiencing, even if it’s just once. With Qantas points being quite easy to come by, Qantas first class redemptions are very accessible to Australian based travellers.
The standard of the service offering and hard product don’t match Singapore Airlines, and you won’t quite over the top decadence of the Emirates first class suite. However, Qantas still offers a high-quality first class product, particularly in terms of food and bedding.
That being said, at ten years of age, Qantas A380 first class is starting to look a bit worn and is struggling to compete with the more exciting first-class offerings of other leading airlines. The first refurbished A380 is due to enter service in March 2019, and we can’t wait to try it.
Booking Qantas First Class in 2019
If this review has inspired you to book a Qantas first class flight in 2019, read on. We’ve put together detailed information to help you learn more about what to expect, and how to book it as cheaply as possible.
Which routes offer Qantas First Class in 2019?
Qantas only operates first class on their Airbus A380 aircraft. All A380s are fitted out with a first class cabin, so it’s easy to identify eligible routes. Currently, Qantas is operating first class on the following routes:
|Qantas First Class Route||Flight Number|
|Sydney - Dallas/Fort Worth||QF7 / QF8|
|Sydney - Hong Kong (seasonal)||QF127 / QF128|
|Sydney - Los Angeles||QF11 / QF12|
|Sydney - Singapore||QF81 / QF82|
|Sydney - Singapore - London||QF1 / QF2|
|Melbourne - Los Angeles||QF93 / QF94|
|Melbourne - Singapore||QF35 / QF36|
Routes are subject to variation and are correct at the time of writing. Note that Qantas no longer flies the A380 to London via Dubai. Qantas has a dedicated A380 page where it publishes up to date information about routes. It can be accessed here.
Which routes will offer refurbished Qantas first class?
Qantas has announced that it will be putting the first of its refurbished A380 aircraft into service in March 2019.
We can expect a ‘light’ refresh of the open A380 first class suite, with improvements to include contoured cushioning in each suite, a larger HD video screen and an overhaul of the shared business and first class lounge.
Qantas has not yet advised which route will be first to receive the refurbished A380, however, we’ll be updating this post when we find out! All twelve A380s are expected to be refurbished by the end of 2020.
Which Qantas first class routes provide Chauffeur Drive?
Qantas provides access to a Chauffeur Drive service on selected, long haul first class routes.
At the time of writing, transfers are complimentary for customers travelling in first class and business class on long-haul sectors such as between Singapore and London, Hong Kong and London and between Australian cities and London.
How does it work? Passengers are collected in a luxury vehicle at a pre-booked time and driven to the airport ahead of their flight. The service is repeated on arrival at the destination, where passengers are met by another chauffeur service and driven to a nominated destination within the agreed mileage limit.
You can access a list of eligible chauffeur drive destinations and the service terms and conditions here.
Which seat should I choose in the Qantas First Class cabin?
Each Qantas A380 first class cabin is fitted out with 14 first class suites across three rows. Regardless of which seat you choose, always opt for the ‘A’ side, if you can. This is because A seats don’t share an aisle, so there’s considerably less foot traffic and more privacy than you’ll get on the other side of the cabin in ‘F’ and ‘K’ seats.
For privacy: choose seat 1A, As you’re facing forward at the bulkhead of the cabin, you won’t have your eyes on any other passengers, and you’ll be cocooned in a sense of tranquillity. However, the first class lavatory is located in front of this seat. You’ll need to be prepared for slight disruption from the foot traffic of other first-class passengers answering the call of nature.
For views: If you’re travelling on a day flight and want to spend your day gazing out at the clouds (perhaps with a glass of champagne or two!) choose the ‘A’ or ‘K’ seats in row four. These seats boast three windows – as opposed to two – and are an airy place to perch and watch the clouds go by.
For sleep: If you’re easily disturbed and are looking for the quietest seat in the cabin, 3A is our pick here. It’s located in the low foot traffic ‘A’ section and is removed from the hustle and bustle of both the front and rear galleys.
Which points currency is best for Qantas First Class?
Many Australian travellers will use Qantas points to book Qantas first class, primarily because the Qantas Frequent Flyer points currency is easy to earn and redeem here. However, it is possible to book Qantas first class award flights with a range of other airline loyalty schemes – namely Oneworld airline partners and Emirates Skywards.
And it’s worth pointing out that it can sometimes be significantly cheaper to book Qantas first class using another point currency scheme, both in the points outlay and the accompanying taxes.
To highlight this, we’ve put together a comparison table for Melbourne to Singapore in Qantas first class, breaking down the points required and the taxes levied across the four key loyalty schemes:
|Airline loyalty program||Points / miles required||Approximate taxes (AUD)*|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||90,000||$331.73|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||75,000||$260.38|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||50,000||$108.20|
As you can see, the points cost for redeeming Qantas first class is equal highest for Qantas Frequent Flyer and Emirates Skywards. Both command 90,000 points plus over $300 fees/taxes.
In second place, Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles offers the redemption for 75,000 points, plus slightly lower taxes. The Asia Miles currency is easy to obtain in Australia through transfer partners like American Express Membership Rewards, which is offered through credit cards such as the Amex Explorer and Amex Platinum Edge.
However, American Airlines comes out as the clear winner here, at just 50,000 points, plus significantly lower taxes. While it’s difficult to directly earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles in Australia, it’s often possible to buy miles at competitive rates, as we’ll cover in a separate post.
The best way to earn enough Qantas points for first class
While some travellers will look to use flexible loyalty programs to book Qantas first class, many others, particularly those based in Australia, will understandably opt to use Qantas Frequent Flyer points.
With a journey starting at 90,000 points (Melbourne – Singapore and Sydney – Singapore), there are a number of Qantas credit card sign on offers that could get you well on your way to a trip in Qantas first class.
Note that eligibility criteria, minimum spend, terms and conditions and fees and charges may apply. The Champagne Mile has published a round-up of other Qantas Frequent Flyer credit card deals here
We hope we’ve inspired to embark on Qantas first class flight in 2019. If you’d like to be amongst the first to read about the Qantas A380 refurbishment, make sure you sign up to our email list below – you’ll also get first access to our Qantas Frequent flyer tips and guides, plus first and business class flight reviews!