FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Check in was swift and efficient. Qantas passengers are invited to use the British Airways lounge at Hongkong International Airport’s Terminal 1, which is to the right, after clearing security check.
The facility houses both Business and First Class lounges with seating for 173 and 86 in each respective section. Both had their own self-service food bar with hot and cold food and beverages. Being Wi-Fi enabled was a benefit a number of passengers took full advantage of.
BOARDING: Drinks and headsets were quickly handed out once we had stored our handcarry away and given up our coats and jackets to the attendants to be hung.
THE SEAT: Designed by edgy designer Mark Newson, who recently created new First Class lounges for the airline in Sydney and Melbourne (as well as came up with a line for Samsonite), Skybeds in the Business Class follow the cocoon prototype.
In a rich aubergine shade, which lends itself to putting the occupant instantly in relaxation mode, the seat features include a privacy screen, user-friendly control panel (with large directional arrows) on the armrest, two lights for reading and setting the mood, laptop 110v AC power connections (not requiring adaptors), SMS-enabled in-seat phone and storage for reading material, water bottle and other personal items. Although not fully flat, the product still offers uninterrupted rest with even a back massager function for the hard of sleeping. The personal monitor measures 21cm and is a touch screen.
THE FLIGHT: Australian cuisine and wine are world renowned and Qantas has always been instrumental in promoting these aspects in very attractive and innovative ways. Celebrity chef Neil Perry of Sydney’s Rockpool restaurant – a byword in the international culinary world – is the airline’s partner in presenting some of the country’s most outstanding examples of local produce.
Following the personalised dining experience trend, Qantas offers passengers a choice of eating soon after take off or later in the journey. I opted for the former, picking the Spicy Braised Beef, Tomato and Tamarind with Shitakes and Baby Corn over the Seared Snapper with Sauce Vierge and Olive Oil Mash and Vegetable Soup with Coriander Yoghurt. This was served with Green Leaf Salad with Feta and Beans. For dessert, my sweet tooth got the better of me, and I went for the ice-cream and biscotti with no regrets, but I passed on the Valrhona chocolates (one has to show will power at times!).
If one got peckish in the wee hours, they could raid the inflight bar for fresh whole fruit, biscuits and chocolates.
Before snuggling down, I put in my breakfast order of a peach energiser drink, croissant and sausages with scrambled eggs and sautéed spinach.
Before I knew it, one of the attendants was gently nudging me awake to tuck into what I had asked for. Still drugged with sleep, it was quite an effort to wake up, but the stirrings of neighbouring passengers soon did the trick.
ARRIVAL: It was the peak morning period when we landed in Sydney at the height of summer. The airport was chock-a-block with travellers who were browsing around the shops or queuing up for a meal at various restaurants, while waiting for their connections.
Luckily, I was able to escape the crowd with my access to the spacious Qantas lounge where I settled down to wait for the connection to New Zealand, which wasn’t for another five hours. A nap at my seat, which looked out onto the runway made the time fly though.
VERDICT: No better way to fly Down Under. Meals should merit special mention for the freshness of ingredients and presentation.
PRICE: Return Business Class flights Hongkong-Sydney, from US$4,188.
Margie T Logarta