Review of Qantas flight Melbourne Los Angeles in First

Airline Qantas
Flight QF93
Class First
Seat 3A
Aircraft Airbus A380-800
Flight time 16:20
Take-off 29 Nov 16, 09:15
Arrival at 30 Nov 16, 06:35
QF   #6 out of 87 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 157 reviews
Rewardflying
By SILVER 4871
Published on 19th February 2017
photo qf93 cover

One of the hardest reward tickets to procure is flying Qantas A380 service across the Pacific in first class. Now that I have, my question is, why?

Was it a horrible experience? No, not even close. But it palls in comparison to Etihad first which I flew in on. In fact as I compare the rankings of my recent first class international trips, surprisingly QF sits at the bottom. Thai Airways gets a better mark, can that be right?

photo qf93 fc ratings

Of course these are my opinions so to each their own. I enjoyed the flight and there were a few positives, but overall Qantas didn't stand out to me.

If you arrive by car (I was at the hotel across the walkway) there is a special Qantas first class entrance. This private room serves as your check-in stand.

photo qf93 checkin 1photo qf93 checkin 2

Obviously much more "first class" than this…

photo qf93 checkin 3

After the friendly agent checked my bag and handed me my boarding pass as well as priority screening pass, I headed to the lounge for some brekkie.

The best Qantas first class lounge is in Sydney. I was in Melbourne. Located on the upper level, the lounge was not anything special in terms of decoration. The only service that made the lounge a first class experience was table service offering a full meal.

photo qf93 lounge 0photo qf93 lounge 1

Once inside looking back at the entrance.

photo qf93 lounge 5

The decor was, well, Qantas colors.

photo qf93 lounge 2photo qf93 lounge 3

Workstations if you need to be in the office.

photo qf93 lounge 4photo qf93 lounge 6

Don't they know it's called brekkie in Australia?

photo qf93 lounge food 1

Muelsi and eggs kept it simple as well as a long black.

photo qf93 lounge food 2

Based on my order I wasn't expecting anything special, and it wasn't. But good.

photo qf93 lounge food 3

From my breakfast table I was able to keep tabs on my ride to the US.

photo qf93 lounge 7

Boarding was interesting. The boarding area was on the middle floor of the terminal. That level jet bridge led to the upper deck of the A380. The lower deck jet bridge was on the first floor, an elevator ride down. So let's have a couple hundred folks go down the 12 person elevator. Fortunately I went first.

Where is everyone? Oh, they are upstairs!

photo qf93 boarding area

Sometimes you get wowed, sometimes you don't. This was a don't.

photo qf93 cabin 2photo qf93 cabin 3

No color, just very bland.

photo qf93 cabin 4

Notice the buttons on the leather wrap around head liner, lower right corner.

photo qf93 cabin 5

They are seat controls so the FA can adjust your seat if needed. Nice idea.

photo qf93 cabin 5 seat control

A quick trip to the lavatory found the smallest A380 first or business class lav I've seen, which is the reason for a narrow photo, there wasn't any room to take a wider shot. Nor was it particularly well stocked.

photo qf93 cabin lav 2

But it had a view.

photo qf93 cabin lav 1

Moving on I decided to check upstairs. This would be a nice first class entrance, don't you think?

photo qf93 cabin bc 1

The mini-cabin in front, was empty.

photo qf93 cabin bc 3

Maybe they took the elevator down and got lost.

One person made it in this Qantas upper deck 2x2x2 configuration.

photo qf93 cabin bc 2

Heading back downstairs and the view into the first cabin.

photo qf93 cabin 1

The first class pods remind you of oversized reverse herringbone business class seats. The cabin is not quiet either. You can easily hear the conversations of all passengers, at least while on the ground. Once airborne those conversations ceased.

For an added sense of privacy the pods have moveable partitions. With a 1x1x1 configuration the center and right hand seats share the right aisle, while the left side window seats have the aisle to themselves. Some feel that these left hand seats are more private.

During boarding the partitions are retracted.

photo qf93 cabin 6

In the air they are extended, controlled by the flight crew.

photo qf93 cabin 6 partition

Additionally there is a partition that seperates the seats.

photo qf93 cabin 7 partition

You control this one from your touch pad.

photo qf93 cabin 7

These seat pods were probably designed 10+ years ago. While no doubt innovative back then, today times have passed them by.

The seat faces forward as well as swivels away from the aisle. Forward facing is mandatory for takeoff and landing. (As is the shoulder harness.)

photo qf93 seat 1

I thought the seats were comfortable.

photo qf93 seat 3

Once airborne you can swivel the seat to a herringbone position. Now you are inline with the ottoman, which has a seat belt allowing a companion to visit as well as dine with you. The monitor retracts against the wall. I just don't get the swivel part, leave it swiveled.

Window gazers are out of luck in either position.

photo qf93 seat 4

Notice jacket.

photo qf93 seat 2

Notice jacket again.

photo qf93 seat 2 bin

Typically flight attendants hang jackets for first class customers.

Let's have a look at the command center. A touch screen LCD panel controls lighting and your seat positions. Also one of many air vents as well as the headphone hook and input plug.

photo qf93 seat acc 1

Across the way, on the back of the seat in front is a coat hook and a vent. But if you hang your coat you can't use the tray underneath.

photo qf93 seat acc 3

This small tray is about twice the size of a phone, with the placard holder below.

photo qf93 seat acc 5b

And at foot level, a very odd place for the electrical plugs. Anything bigger than a phone and the device being charged has to go on the other side, meaning if you get up you have to step over the cord, or unplug it.

photo qf93 seat acc 5a

This vent next to your head probably would have been more useful as a reading light.

photo qf93 seat acc 4

But since I'm not an aircraft seat designer I have no explanation for that, or this.

photo qf93 seat acc 6a

A small storage slot next to the seat. Perfect for my ipad, well I have a mini ipad. Fits like a glove.

photo qf93 seat acc 6b

I think I'll swivel my seat, wait, where's my ipad??

photo qf93 seat acc 6c

Flip open the armrest and you find the audio controller. But don't turn the monitor off, because it will come back on at seat 3A on this day.

photo qf93 seat acc 7

There are two "lazy susan" swivel drawers below the small table off to your side. One had the headphones inside.

photo qf93 seat acc 8

The one below I have no idea what to put in it, nor am I carrying anything that weighs 15 pounds (6.8kg).

photo qf93 seat acc 9

The touch panel controls the seats, privacy screen and lighting as well as provides a mini air show. Or you can just use the buttons at the bottom if you like simplicity.



A nice turn down service was provided including a mattress pad, duvet along with a large and small pillow.

Sleep came well. The bed was very comfortable. In fact the most comfortable first class bed for me to date.

photo qf93 seat bed 1photo qf93 seat bed 2photo qf93 seat bed 3

Martin Grant gave me his pajamas, they were ok. Honestly, they aren't hanging in my closet where LH, CX, EY, QR among others hang.

photo qf93 amenity 2

He also gave me this pouch.

photo qf93 amenity 3

Very comfortable eye shades (blindfolds sound too dramatic)

photo qf93 amenity 4

And Qantas headphones that were not Bose but sufficient and comfortable, just unnecessary.

photo qf93 amenity 1

The menu was distributed. Notice the font size.

photo qf93 menu cover 1photo qf93 menu cover 2

Beverage Selections:

photo qf93 menu bev 1

Today there was an insert featuring a couple different champagne varieties. 

photo qf93 menu insert 1photo qf93 menu bev 2

Having little knowledge of champagne, I wasn't familiar with any of the ones on the menu. Airborne the Comtes by Taittinger was offered. I accepted. 

photo qf93 food wine 1

Apparently this one, along with the others, are serious players in the expensive champagne league. 

No bumps please.

photo qf93 food wine 2

Later on I opted for the Leeuwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. 

photo qf93 food wine 4

But it's noon, not 5, so I wasn't all that into it. In retrospect it was 5, in LA. Oh well.

photo qf93 food wine 5

Lunch service, there's those fonts again.

photo qf93 menu food 1

The tasting menu choice of spaghetti with prawns (Australian's reference to shrimp) or lamb just didn't fancy any fires with me 

photo qf93 menu food 2

So with a selection of 5 mains I was down to 3 as the tasting menu was on the the regular menu. In fact I fail to see how the "tasting menu" was anything different, not sure of the purpose other than having soup and salad, make that 2 salads. Anyway duck sounded interesting. So let's go with:

Tartlet of caviar with creme fraiche soubise and mushroom and tarragon croquet 
Goats cheese, roasted cherry tomatoes, green beans and hazelnut salad with lemon dressing
Roast duck with Davidson plum sauce, jasmine rice and Asian greens
Warm chocolate fondant with raspberries and creme fraiche
Then later on try the signature steak sandwich with tomato and chili relish while worrying about breakfast in the morning. 

For breakfast I went for:

Cold pressed green juice with kale, silverbeet, celery, apple, cucumber and lemon (for those repulsed the lemon cuts the "green" taste and you think you are drinking lemonade, it's good and healthy.)
Bircher muesli
Free range scrambled eggs on toast with Cumberland sausage, slow roasted tomatoes.

photo qf93 menu food 3

Happy with my choices I was ready to eat. 

photo qf93 food pres 1

Have to love Australian silverware

photo qf93 food pres 2

The disappointments came fast and furious.

The Amuse or Canape. While not advertised as such, this is not caviar as presented on LH or CX now is it? 

photo qf93 food 1

For some reason I chose this bread, tell me not to next time. 

photo qf93 food 2a

The salad?

photo qf93 food 2b

Upon closer inspection I guess so.

photo qf93 food 2c


The main.

photo qf93 food 3a


I'm almost longing for Asiana at this point… well maybe not that…

photo qf93 food 3b

Dessert will make up for it, has to.

photo qf93 food 5a

What do you think?

photo qf93 food 5b

I guess you had to ask for the petit fours or chocolates as they weren't offered, unlike you might find on say Swiss business class, Etihad first class, United Airlines business class. I could go on.

There was little chance I wouldn't be hungry for the steak sandwich, so when everyone was sleeping I was starving.

photo qf93 food 4a

In fairness it was good, just small.

photo qf93 food 4b

Breakfast was served 90 minutes or so outside of LAX. 

photo qf93 food 6a

Unsurprisingly the muesli was the same as was served at the lounge and the green juice was tasty which is good because I needed nourishment at this point!

photo qf93 food 6b

Good morning!

photo qf93 food 6d

I was hungry you know.

photo qf93 food 6e

My last long black for the trip. 

photo qf93 food 6c

The in flight entertainment system for picture quality, selection and air show was below par in my opinion. Plus the monitor is too far away from the seat.

Given this and the menu fonts, do all Australians have good eyes?

A highlight on the A380 is the tail camera view.

photo qf93 ife 1

No updates in 10 years, can that be right???

photo qf93 ife 4

Granted the windows shades are up during the day, but would, check that, could you watch this movie?

photo qf93 ife 5
(If you look real close you can see Ben Affleck's face in Gone Girl.)

I wonder how many times this one has been played.

photo qf93 ife 7

Heading over to the airshow, oops

photo qf93 ife 6

So the interactive map didn't work, but you could select "follow plane". The 4 views that looped for 13 hours, riveting entertainment.

photo qf93 ife flight path composite

You could also view the air show on the control panel. 

photo qf93 ife 2

The most informative screen, except we were still at the gate.

photo qf93 ife 3

The flight attendants were a mixed bag here. Beau was the FA for my seat. A likeable guy we chatted a couple times. He was attentive and if I were to rate the flight just on his service it would be higher. His teammates let him down however.

I changed into Martin Grant's clothes before departure. As I exited the lavatory a younger female flight attendant was standing at the front door. I asked if I could hang my shirt. Instead of taking it for me, she pointed to the closet. Of course my jacket in the overheaed bin didn't win any praise either.

In the middle of the flight when the cabin was dark and I was ready to sleep I asked for some water. I was given a small glass that was placed on that little tray. Ok, it's water. How about a bottle so I don't spill it. It wasn't until almost 10 hours into the flight that I was given a bottle of water. In fact that meant 15 hours of flight time before being handed a single bottle of water on Qantas flights. None on MEL-SYD, none on SYD-PER and now 10 hours in on this one. Maybe for economy, but business and first? Am I being unrealistic or too modern world entitled? Maybe.

This Qantas A380 first touched the skies in June of 2010. 

photo qf93 flight path

United rolled out before us and beat us to LA even though we had twice as many engines!

photo qf93 plane other 1

Next is the TBIT Qantas First Class lounge and the final American Airlines flight back home.
See more

Verdict

Qantas

5.5/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew7.0
Entertainment/wifi3.0
Meal/catering5.0

Qantas First Lounge International

7.8/10
Comfort7.0
Meal/catering8.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Services8.0

Melbourne - MEL

8.0/10
Efficiency8.0
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Los Angeles - LAX

7.6/10
Efficiency8.5
Access5.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

This RTW trip included 3 flights on Qantas featuring their premium services. I was not impressed by any. Let's be clear, they WERE NOT terrible or unacceptable. However when comparing them to competing products Qantas simply didn't stack up in my opinion. I was mostly taken back by the quality of their catering. There was not a single course, including dessert, that I really enjoyed. The snack steak sandwich was good, but extremely small. The rest you could have.

Qantas reminds me of a legacy carrier that is hanging on to its past glory while the new bred competition swamps it. For my money (or points) QF is not on the return list.

Related

12 Comments

  • Comment 386500 by
    FFlyerCDG 3112 Comments

    Thanks for this report !
    Too bad you weren't impressed by the QF product...

    First of all, I totally agree when you wrote that the QF bed is for sure the most comfortable bed in the sky if I compare it to my previous experiences on LH, TG, BA or JL among a few others.
    Even nicer to the CX one which is a bit narrow at the bottom...

    When it comes to food, QF and Australia isn't for sure the best place for gourmet meals but, again, nothing too different if you compare to CX F class except the caviar.
    Not the best in the world - nothing to compare with the Iranian one - but, at least, you can have the experience.

    Too bad you didn't try the cod instead of the meat because fish is really the best choice on QF... Have a look to my FR about my SYD-LAX and you'll see what I mean.

    To make a quick sum up, QF First is the best product for a real good night sleep and that's all what I'm looking for :-))

  • Comment 386505 by
    Rewardflying SILVER AUTHOR 494 Comments

    Hi FFlyerCDG, yes, looks like you got the better of the two trips. You take great photos! However since this trip I've flown United first class and with the new Polaris bedding it beats Qantas for a good nights sleep. The mattress pad, sheets and pillows they have are something you'd put on your bed at home. That good. Whether that will be true in business class remains to be seen as they are dumping first.

    Back to QF, the lounge in Sydney looks pretty nice. If Melbourne had a spa no one told me. Same menu. Looks like a nicer facility but still a lot of similarities.

    I will say the photos of your food look much more appetizing, except for the salad and the amuse. My meal was marginal business class fare. And after great business class meals on Qatar, Virgin Australia and a decent first class meal on Etihad, QF was not in the same league, business or first class.

    I found it interesting that you could remove the audio/seat controller from the wall. 14 hours on the plane and I didn't figure that out!

    Thanks for reading!

  • Comment 386517 by
    Razza_Pr 216 Comments

    Hello, rewardflying, and thank you for this FR!

    I spotted a typo. You typed in "Coats cheese" as opposed to "Goats cheese" ;)

    Martin Grant is certainly a change from Kate Spade. Was the pyjamas at least comfortable to wear?

    To be fair regarding the portion of the food they serve, their tasting menu is rather extensive. They probably expect passengers to want to try as many food options as possible before their bellies are stuffed. Then again if that is the case, they should at least try to make it look appetising..

    Australians don't just have good eyes, they have g'days, too! (I can't resist the pun, and I'm not the slightest bit sorry)

    How was the steak on their steak sandwich cooked? Looks well done to me, though I do hope I'm wrong?

    The eggs breakfast you had looks the prettiest, but I don't see salt & pepper shakers anywhere there. Did they offer you any?

    Thanks again for this FR!

  • Comment 386525 by
    Rewardflying SILVER AUTHOR 494 Comments

    Hi Razza_Pr, Now you know why I complained about the fonts, glasses hence typos!! But yes, the Aussies are super nice people.

    As I sit in my CX pjs I don't recall the Martin Grant version other than they were more like a tight fitting t-shirt. They are now sitting in the bag in the closet.

    Good catch on the salt and pepper, not one to use it I didn't notice. The main had little bowls of s/p. At least they weren't the paper packets served in business to Perth.

    As far as the sandwich, as much as I remember it was more like a braised piece of beef, not "steak" as we might think. So it probably would be better called a beef sandwich. It was only 5/6 bites,, maybe. And no fries like Etihad!!! Not even a chip.

    Thanks as always!

  • Comment 386637 by
    SKYTEAMCHC GOLD 8436 Comments

    Thanks for your very detailed report. Having read FFlyerCDG report before i expected this flight to receive better grades and comments. I agree with you on the cabin that is not really "First" for me except for the huge space available. It should be more intimate and cosy. The meals look ok to me but may something more sophisticated could be expected in First. Thanks for sharing with us !

  • Comment 386681 by
    eminere™ 274 Comments

    A fair review. I hope QF management is reading. Unless I had a gazillion points to burn I really wouldn't bother with QF F.

  • Comment 387073 by
    hometoyyz SILVER 542 Comments

    Thanks for this report, although it's disappointing to read that QF didn't live up to expectations.

    The breakfast looked okay, but yeah, the "main" meal sure looked like it left a lot to be desired. And even the steak sandwich, while getting a good review, sure lacks the visual factor of the Etihad First Class steak sandwich. Every time I see a report that includes that Etihad steak sandwich, I find myself trying to figure out a way to get on Etihad F some day.

    As much as it's disappointing that the flight was so below expectation, I have to admit I did find some of your snark quite entertaining. So thanks for the report... and for moving QF F quite a few notches down my "figure out a way to fly it" list.

  • Comment 387110 by
    Rewardflying SILVER AUTHOR 494 Comments

    Ha, my guess is the snark doesn't sit well at times with some. But I call em as I see em. And you never know until you try. Maybe they will step it up when they start flying the 787. If they fly that to Chicago I may try them again down the road. Look forward to your next post.

  • Comment 387111 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5458 Comments

    Oh goodness, you are squashing my QF dreams with these reports! Haha.
    I'd been hoarding my AA miles and QF A380 F was at the top of my list, but now I'm rethinking that. I'm just afraid to be disappointed :-/

    It's too bad because I like QF, but when you are spending so many miles that take so long to earn, you don't want to take a risk of an Intl F experience not living up to high expectations.

    Maybe I'll just save the miles to do Intl F to Australia the long way on QR or EY. That sounds like a safer bet.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Comment 387113 by
    Rewardflying SILVER AUTHOR 494 Comments

    Sorry KevinDC. I was lucky blowing the pre deval on this flight. Spending 110k would have been really disappointing. I did the wrong way going on QR and EY with business in 350 and first in 380 as you probably read. Can't have it better than that. It's 170k aa points vs 110k IF you got qantas.

    Another way is JL in first for 80k then either CX or JL down in business for 40k. Take a few days in Tokyo Much better use of points.

    For me to fly qf in first again they'd have to upgrade the seats. Ife was terrible. Pod is glorified business class seat. I could go on.

    Thanks for reading!

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