My flight from Sydney to Los Angeles was on a Qantas A380, and after spending time in the lounge, I headed down to the gate, ready to board.
I can’t recall the gate number, but it was one of those tucked away in a corner, and therefore the area gets quite crowded. There is nowhere to sit, and you can’t actually enter the gate area until the flight has started boarding and you have gone throught a boarding pass and passport check. The queue for economy was quite long and as there was another flight boarding from the adjoining gate it was a bit chaotic. I had used Frequent Flyer points to upgrade to Business, so was able to push past the economy queue straight to the dedicated Business lane. Boarding pass scanned and it was up the ramp to the Business and Premium Economy door. Qantas runs its Business and PE cabins on the top deck of the A380, with First and economy on the lower level. They are slowly reconfiguring all the A380s to have less Business class seats, more PE seats and a small economy cabin on the top deck, behind PE. For the flight to LA, I was on a plane that had yet to be reconfigured so it was only Business and PE up top.
I was in row 22, the last row of the second Business cabin. There was a third small Business cabin behind us, this is the one that has been removed with the new configuration. I was in seat B, on the aisle. When doing seat selection I could have chosen the A seat, and therefore had the window, and also the excellent under window storage bins, but when flying long haul by myself, I prefer to be in the aisle so I am not disturbing the person in the aisle when I get up (which I do frequently). When the seats are upright, there is heaps of leg room so I could easily pass, but when the seat is fully reclined there is a bit of clambering over to be done.
This was the view from my seat.
Looking straight ahead…
The wrapped items underneath the seat in front of me were the duvet (red) and the mattress, which are offered as part of Qantas’ sleep service. They were on my seat, but I moved them so I could sit down.
I am not going to go into all the details about the seat, storage etc. You can find this in my Melbourne to LA post.
I was seated next to an older gentleman who, along with two of his colleagues, were travelling back to Seattle where they work at Boeing. And yes, he was aware of the irony of travelling on an Airbus.
The flight attendant offered us a pre-departure beverage and we both had the Charles Hiedsiek champagne.
Usually the breakfast and other menus are to be found on the seat but they were missing and the flight attendants said they would hand them around later.
After take-off, a pre-lunch beverage was offered along with spiced almonds and wasabi peas. BoeingMan suggested to the attendant that to save him ringing the call bell and them having to bring the champagne bottle back, they just serve us two glasses of champagne each, which they did!
I settled in to catch up on some TV viewing on my iPad. I confess that I did not even look at the inflight entertainment on this flight.
(for those that watch it, the above episode of Survivor is the one where Brandon goes nuts and is voted off at the challenge – craziest episode ever!)
Menus were finally passed around, and this is the pretty breakfast menu. You complete the order form on the back and hang it on a hook on the back of the seat in front of you and the flight attendants collect them and then serve everyone individually when people want breakfast before landing in LA. There is an express option if you want to sleep longer.
I did note that the other menu was not the normal open like a book style, but just one page, with a picture on one side and the food options on the other. Another cost cutting measure?
Amenity packs and pajamas were handed out. Still the old amenity packs on this route, and I was told the new ones would be rolled out at the start of April.
The meal cart was rolled down the aisle and orders for drinks, entree and main were taken. I stuck with champagne. I noticed that neither myself or BoeingMan were addressed by name for the duration of the flight. Nor were the crew proactive in filling water or wine glasses.
All set up for a late lunch or early dinner…
I had the cream of leek and potato soup, which was excellent. I have always enjoyed the soups on Qantas flights.
Now, BoeingMan and I had enjoyed a few glasses of champagne, but it would probably would not have been the equivalent of a bottle. When BoeingMan asked for a refill he was told they had run out.
We were only a few hours (if that) into the flight.
There are three possible explanations for this. One is that they weren’t restocked properly and had genuinely run out. Which is poor service.
Another explanation is that other people were having a good crack at the champagne, and again, they had genuinely run out. Not their fault.
Or they could have decided that they didn’t want to serve us anymore. Which wasn’t the case as they were more than happy to provide some dreadful pink stuff to us.
Main course was served and I had the crumbed free range pork with fennel jam, potato gratin and roasted carrots.
It was a bit average.
Normally I am a dessert person but I did not like the sound of the one on offer, Nice Cream yoghurt ice cream with rhubarb compote, so I had the cheese selection instead.
BoeingMan had the dessert, and offered me a taste. It was a lot better than I expected.
I also complained about the champagne situation and asked for a glass from First Class. The flight attendant said she would have to ask her boss, but she came back with the good stuff.
After a bit more TV it was time for bed. Qantas offers a sleep service in which they put the mattress on your seat for you, and they also come around with T2 sleepy time tea. I had declined the tea earlier on, and ended up putting the mattress on myself. I have read it is a requested service, but from what I saw on this flight, and on my return flight, it seems to be up to the crew whether they voluntarily help people put the mattress on or not. Some people on this flight, those being served by another team across the aisle, all got assistance with their mattresses, whereas there was no sign of the crew on my side of the plane.
I managed, with the help of a sleeping tablet, to get eight hours sleep. Some people find the new duvets too hot, so I slept in the pajama bottoms and a singlet top, and I was fine. The mattress is quite thin but helps smooth the lumps and bumps out of the seat.
I had selected orange juice, Jasmine tea, toast with vegemite and baked French toast with serrano jamon, cheese and herbs served with braised beans.
It wasn’t quite what I expected but it was edible.
After breakfast, everyone was getting prepared for landing, and I noticed the crew on the other aisle helping people put their mattresses away and straighten the seats up etc. No sign of anyone on my side, and I am pretty sure my mattress was still on my chair when we landed. BoeingMan also commented that we had the B crew. He said on his flight to Australia he had an excellent crew.
While I didn’t find the crew to be as great as on previous flights, the purser was good about coming and seeing everyone who had connecting flights to make sure we knew where to go after clearing customs and that there would be express custom passes waiting for us upon disembarking (we were landing late).
It was a smooth landing and after a delay in disembarking I was off to clear immigration, customs and catch a flight to San Francisco.
To be continued…