Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Route: Sydney to Los Angeles
Seating: Business Class
Flight time: 13 hours 40 minutes
Always smooth and quick, especially when checking in for the return journey from Los Angeles, which is a particularly busy and sometimes fraught airport. The separate entrance to customs is a bonus.
Okay, so maybe a friend of mine who works the first class cabin had worded them up, but is there anything better than being greeted at the door of the plane with the words “Hello Ms Clements, we’ve been waiting for you.”
FOOD AND BEVERAGE
This is where Qantas outclasses them all. Renowned chef Neil Perry has introduced a unique new idea where, instead of being served the traditional choice of dinner or lunch, there is a large and varied menu offered after take off, with a selection of tasty small plates that can be ordered at any time throughout the flight. These can be ordered in any order, combination or quantity, enabling the passenger to create a bespoke menu that will suit both taste and time zone. En route to Los Angeles mid afternoon, the small plate choice included fish cakes with nuoc cham, which were five-star perfect, and so I followed those with another small and complementary Asian dish, wok fried mushrooms with tofu, white noodles and chilli. By providing a selection of seven to 10 dishes, Perry has ensured that you can choose both the portions and the cuisine that you prefer.
This is fine dining quality – even the fresh sourdough on the side was warmed to perfection. Other standouts included cassoulet of Murraylands lamb fillet with white beans and slow cooked duck leg with roast potatoes, trevisso and grapes, but the most popular, on both legs, proved to be chicken schnitzel and Swiss cheese toasted sandwich with coleslaw, perfect with chilled Billecart champagne. My insider friend tells me it is consistently the most preferred item on the menu and why not? It’s like designer comfort food.
The selection of films is constantly updated and vast, but best of all is the personal stop/start so you can settle in with a favourite movie before you’ve even left the tarmac.
The original Marc Newson designed business class pod chair (which allowed you to feel as if you were just about to slip off a cliff the whole time) has made way for a completely flat bed. Helpful staff will make up the chair with a padded cotton mattress early in your flight to make you more comfortable.
No lounge in the world can beat Sydney’s Qantas First Class lounge for luxury (I nearly wept when I dropped back down to Gold status from Platinum) but the Business Class lounge is also top class. Table service is a relatively new introduction, which makes the environment feel more personal.
That I’m currently not Platinum.
ON TIME PERFORMANCE
My return trip was unfortunately rerouted to Melbourne because unseasonal fog in Sydney made it impossible to land. Despite the fact that we had to sit on the tarmac, disembark and board a domestic flight, Qantas ensured we were taken care of and put on the very first flight available. And they make a mean bloody Mary in the departure lounge.