3rd February 2014 at 13:28 #581973
Anonymous3rd February 2014 at 13:28 #581974
We booked online at ba.com and used Avios to pay for our flights. We were then able to go to qantas.com and select our seats (1J and 1K) using the booking reference generated by the booking on ba.com. Qantas offers online check in -24hrs which worked without a hitch. We arrived at Sydney Airport two and a half hours before our flight and dropped our bags at the Business Class counter. The check in attendant gave us our departure immigration Fast Track passes as well as instructions on how to reach the First Class Lounge. Being just after the Australian summer school holidays the airport was absolutely deserted. We were through passport control and central security within minutes.
Using our OneWorld Emerald status we headed to the Qantas First Class Lounge. I had heard very positive things about the First Class Lounge and I can only agree with those comments. After walking past the ‘living wall’ of plants that line the curved hall leading to the lounge we arrived at reception and presented our boarding passes. The lounge was quiet and is a vast space with phenomenal views over both the active runways and the Sydney skyline. Our first stop was the spa to see if we could book a treatment. Anyone whom has access to the lounge has access to a free spa treatment. QF calls passengers booked in First Class in advance to offer them an appointment, for everyone else it’s first in first served. We were both able to secure treatments for a back massage about an hour later (the massage was fantastic and lasted half an hour). Then it was on to check out the rest of the lounge. In terms of food and drink there is a central bar which also doubles as the barista station. Opposite is a full service restaurant. Either side of this area is the main lounge, broken up into sections by large ceiling mounted wood beams. There are some great trendy recliner chairs that overlook the tarmac. The business centre and ‘library’ are at the opposite far end to the spa. There are also a couple of self service buffet station offering nibbles. We got ourselves a table at the restaurant and were blown away by the food. Instead of a starter and main I choose two starters – the kingfish sashimi with ikura and the salt and pepper squid. These were both absolutely delicious. The lounge certainly is worth raving about. What isn’t though unfortunately is the service. Like most airlines, Qantas has subcontracted the management of it’s lounges, in this case to Sofitel which you would expect to be pretty top notch. Unfortunately for me, it fell short. No-one was particularly friendly or welcoming, a few actually quite brusque. But on the whole it was very perfunctuary. There was little pro-activity in offering anything. Personally I feel subcontractors feel they are less invested in a brand than an airlines own staff and don’t quite deliver. indeed most airlines subcontract lounge operations, but what I noticed about Qantas (unlike say BA or Cathay in their lounges) is that apart from the reception desk there was a total absence of Qantas staff.
Boarding/first impressions/pre take off:
Soon enough it was time to head to the gate where boarding started on time. Business Class and Qantas/OneWorld elites were invited to board first although the load on this flight was so low it literally took about ten minutes to board everyone. We were warmly welcomed at the door of the aircraft by the crew and first impressions of the cabin were better than expected. Despite it being an ‘old’ product it seemed very spacious and well maintained – especially when comparing it to the Malaysia Airlines Business cabin we flew in on the same aircraft type. There are five rows of standard pairs of two seats, six abreast. They are fixed into a large grey shell. The seat itself was extremely comfortable for sitting and personal space felt great. The IFE monitor is in the seat in front of you (or in our case on the bulkhead) and the table comes out from a side stowage. There were some pre set seat functions although you could also move the various seat parts individually. A Universal power plug was available. Storage is not fantastic – there are compartments for water bottles and shoes although everything has to be overhead for take off and landing. If you are travelling solo privacy is also lacking. There is a pretty useless tiny partition you can slide out. The crew were extremely welcoming and immediately offered us a glass of champagne, juice or water. Soon menus and basic washbags were given out. And unexpectedly all of the crew working in Business introduced themselves to us, explained the menu and that we must call upon them should we need anything. This was a nice touch, mainly because it seemed a genuine desire to make us feel welcome. We pushed back on time and were airborne shortly after.
Which seat to choose:
We chose seats 1J and 1K which were the first row as we thought they may offer a little more space. in reality all the seats seemed equally spacious. At row 1 you have the toilets and wardobes in front of you. The last row you have the galley behind you.
Today there were only nine of us occupying the Business Class cabin on the 7.5 hour flight. Soon the crew were out offering hot towels and bottles of water. A drinks service followed and we had a delicious Australian pinot served with packed nuts. Our glass was never left empty. The crew then came to confirm our meal order that we had previously made online. The pre-order is a relatively new feature for QF and has now been extended to Premium Economy on most long haul routes. The Cabin Manager then came for a chat. He was a very jolly fellow and thanked us for our loyalty ‘as Emeralds’ and asked if he could place a mattress protecter on our seat to ‘smooth out the lumps and bumps’. This mattress protector is amazing! It made a huge difference to the comfort of the seat in both the lounging and flat mode. Soon it was time for our tables to come out. Gone are the hideous grey trays that QF used to use in Business. Instead a table cloth was laid and a small ceramic side tray laid which contained the salad bowl and condiments. We were offered delicious fresh sourdough or rye bread along with more drinks. Soon after my starter of prawns arrived. The prawns were massive and tasted fresh and juicy. My Sri Lankan fish curry followed which was also delicious although daringly spicy for an airline. I opted for cheese and biscuits instead of dessert and passed on tea or coffee (espresso and cappuccino also avialable). Soon all the service items were cleared and the mood lighting was set to a relax hue. I reclined my seat and watched a couple of interesting documentaries. This is not Qantas’ newest IFE system although there is plenty of recent films to keep one entertained and it is useable gate to gate. The seat was actually very comfortable. I was actually so comfortable in the I nodded off which I have never done in one of the angled lie flat products before. About an hour out of Singapore the excellent crew then came and asked us if they could get us anything to eat. There is no ‘set’ second service offering, I think they basically use the left overs. On offer were fruit plates, ice cream or cheese plates. Although I was still full from dinner I allowed the steward to twist my arm into having a delicious raspberry ice cream. More hot towels and we were on approach and landed exactly on time. Before landing, all the crew that worked in Business Class again came and thanked each passenger individally and had a brief chat about plans for Singapore etc. In fact the crew were the most outstanding aspect of this flight. They were the most friendly, professional, thoughful, genuine crew I have ever experienced on any flight on any airline. The personal introductions and farewells. Our names used constantly throughout the flight. And just small thoughful touches. For example I had an aisle seat but fancied a window seat just for the landing into Singapore so moved to the empty window seat behind my partner. One of the crew noticed this and immediately offered to call the pilots and find out which side of the aircraft would have the best view into Singapore. They were just superb.
‘Small plates’: Cream of mushroom soup with thyme croutons
Yamba prawn salad with green beans, tomatoes, artichokes, olives
Game terrine with Mustard fruits, watercress and crostini
Mozzarella, roasted capsicum and radicchio pizzetta
Main plates: Big bowl of linguine with anchovies, garlic, lemon, chilli, capers and parsely.
Pumpkin arancini with tomato sauce, pesto and parmesan.
Chicken schnitzel and swiss cheese toasted sandwich with coleslaw
Sri Lankan fish curry with coconut cream, basmati rice, snake beans and seeni sambol.
Herb crusted lamb rack with white onion puree, thyme roasted potatoes and sauteed spinach.
Dessert: Selection of cheese served with accompaniments
Baked orange custard with pistachios
Nice cream ice cream
As per usual in Singapore immigration was swift but even so our bags were on the carousel by the time we reached it which could have only been 15-20 minutes after landing. Impressive.
A superb flight, five stars. From start to finish, the whole journey was outstanding. The angled lie flat bed was more comfortable than expected. The crew were absolutely first rate. Food was good and the lounge excellent. Qantas is in the process of installing a new fully flat Business Class seat to all it’s A330’s along with new IFE. I honestly believe Qantas can give Singapore Airlines a run for their money on the route providing it can provide the same level of service it did to us consistently.14th February 2014 at 18:47 #581975
RF thanks for the detailed review.
I’ve generally found Qantas good to travel with up front especially in comparison to the other ‘western’ carriers.
The problem Qantas has though is consistency. I’ve had my best and worst flights on Qantas.
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