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I’m not sure how this trip report slipped through the cracks. In January, I flew Qantas Business Class on an A380 from Melbourne to Los Angeles. I wrote the trip report then but never posted it. Fly along with me on the world’s biggest jumbo jet.

Qantas 93
Melbourne (MEL) – Los Angles (LAX)
Depart: 11:20 AM on Wednesday, January 23
Arrive: 6:45 AM on Wednesday, January 23
Duration: 14:25
Aircraft: A380-800
Seat: 17A (Business Class)

I had booked my Qantas flight 331 days in advance when it became bookable with American Airlines miles. In the intervening 11 months, anticipation had built, so I was ecstatic when flight day came.

Why was the flight a huge disappointment?

Breakfast at the Business Class Lounge

Seating in the Qantas Business Class Lounge
Business Class Seats at Boarding

Get ready for tons of pictures.

The Lounge

I arrived at Melbourne’s airport at 9 AM on January 23, so I could have breakfast in the lounge and catch up on emails before boarding.

Lounges at MEL. I’m always fascinated by the second-language choices at airports when it’s not English.
Entrance to the Qantas Business Lounge

The lounge had a variety of hot and cold dishes for breakfast.

I was definitely most intrigued by this strange Popcake pancake-producing machine. I thought I could handle the instructions, so I gave it a whirl.

Pancakes in Three Easy Steps

I captured the magic of the machine to try to give the feeling of watching a pancake slowly move down an assembly line toward your plate.



As you might expect, the pancake was not good at all. But undeterred, I returned to the buffet.

I did most of my damage on the hash browns and bacon, both of which were delicious. I would say that the breakfast options in the Qantas Business Class Lounge in Melbourne are excellent in taste and variety.

I steered clear of the alcohol selection, which was extensive, since it was a morning flight.

There were several great seating areas in the lounge depending on whether you wanted to eat, work, or socialize. My seating area is pictured first. I used the end tables for my computer and my growing number of plates of food.

Overall, I’d give the Qantas Business Class Lounge at Melbourne International Airport high marks for a business class lounge. There was an appropriate selection of tasty food, solid internet, and nice seating areas. I’m not sure what else you’d need before your flight.

The Flight

Qantas puts its entire 72-seat Business Class and Premium Economy on the top deck of its A380s.

Business class is in a 2-2-2 configuration, and I made a mistake choosing a window seat. The aisle next to me was occupied, meaning I had to disturb my seatmate every time I needed to stand up on the 14 hour flight. I highly recommend getting one of the middle seats, so that you have aisle access, and you’re not blocking anyone else’s access.

Each seat had a small pillow, a duvet, and a mattress pad.

Before takeoff, everyone was brought an amenity kit with Malin and Goetz products and pajamas.

I changed into my pajamas for the duration of the flight and still have them. They’re mighty comfy and feature that sweet ‘roo on the front.

I took a moment to familiarize myself with the seating area. Since I had a window seat, I had two deep cubbies next to my seat.

I didn’t know the etiquette, so I offered one to the person seated next to me. While polite, I’m not sure it was really convenient for either of us because it meant he had to climb over me to get to anything he put in the cubby.

In my deep cubby, I stashed my jacket and laptop.

There was also a cubby under the seat in front of me, perfect for putting one’s shoes. Between the seats, there was a divider that could be raised for privacy or lowered for conversation.

The television was a nice size, but it popped out of the armrests between the seats. I prefer a television in the seat in front of me for several reasons, one of which is that the armrest-TV had to be stowed for takeoff and landing.

The TV remote popped out from the side of the seat.

The seat controls were on my left side and allowed me to customize my recline angle or put the seat into the bed position.

There was ample leg room for me to stretch out my legs, and I’m 6’4″, so space is not a problem in these seats.

Overall, I didn’t like the seat’s design very much. The TV in the armrest and the two cubbies by the window to be shared are both design flaws.

As I played with my seat, I was offered a pre-departure beverage. A flight attendant carried a tray of champagnes, orange juices, and waters for people to select. With 72 Business Class seats, most of which were full, there wasn’t time to take everyone’s order before take off, so the tray would have to suffice.

I grabbed a champagne and water. It was almost 5 o’clock in Los Angeles, so I didn’t feel guilty.

Shortly, menus were distributed which read as follows:

For lunch, I selected the pea and mint soup and the lasagne. I very much enjoyed the soup.

The lasagne wasn’t very good, and I wished I had ordered the chicken, which looked better. The vegetables were flavorless as if they had been steamed for a long time before being added to the lasagne.

The cheese, crackers, and fruit were a nice way to end the meal. The fruit was fresh and sweet, and you can’t go wrong with cheese.

After lunch, I took a tour of the cabin. At the front of the Business Class cabin is a small lounge with a television. Lounges on planes always sound cool to me, but usually lack in execution.

Throughout the flight, a few people watched TV up there, but it didn’t seem like a great use of space. An on-board bar, on the other hand, like Emirates has, would be a more fun use of the space, since you might actually be able to have a conversation.

I went down the front stairs to get a glimpse of the First Class cabin that I had desperately hoped to get a seat in. Only one of the 14 seats was taken, but no award space had ever opened up for me.

After the empty First Class cabin taunted me, I headed back to my seat to check out the entertainment system.

The movie selection was excellent with a good mix of recent and older movies. The coolest category was Oscar Classics, which had an enormous selection of Oscar winners. Qantas had the best selection of critically acclaimed movies I’ve seen on a plane. I watched a few movies and TV episodes, whiling away the 14 hours.

The strangest thing I saw was a Simpsons episode where a bad flight was part of the plot. The episode had this disclaimer on screen:

After about seven hours on board it was 6 PM according to my body and 11 PM in Los Angeles. I decided to try to sleep, which I thought would be very possible because I’d only gotten two hours of sleep the night before.

I converted the seat into a bed and made my own bed. [I believe there is now turndown service in Qantas Business Class.]

The cabin was dark, but I tried to snap a picture of the bed to show it.

I’d always seen the Qantas bed marketed as “fully flat,” and SeatGuru agrees. But I can assure you that while the bed is flat, it is not parallel to the ground. Instead it is slightly angled. I hated the angle and didn’t fall asleep at all.

While the bedding and pillow were adequate, the bed’s angle was awful. Since the bed is the most important part of a 14 hour flight to me, this is a serious problem. Because of the Qantas Business Class bed, I highly recommend skipping Qantas Business Class to Australia. United BusinessFirst (business class) is a much better option with a very comfortable fully flat and parallel-to-the-ground bed.

After lying in bed and failing to sleep for about four hours, I decided to go looking for some food. Snacks were available for the duration of the flight, and I ordered the tomato, olive, and cheese calzone, which was tasty.

An hour later, it was time for breakfast, which we had pre-ordered with room-service-style cards.

I ordered the big breakfast with eggs, bacon, toast, and beans.

Everything was delicious, and I finally had a chance to try Vegemite, which I hadn’t gotten around to in Australia.

As I finished breakfast, the captain came on to inform of us of our descent and on-time arrival in Los Angeles. We landed in darkness at LAX. I rushed through customs and immigration with Global Entry and was on the curb less than ten minutes after the aircraft’s doors were opened. How can you not have Global Entry when it’s a free perk of any AMEX Platinum?

Overall

This was a very disappointing flight. I had built up Qantas Business Class on an A380 for 11 months, and the product did not deliver.

The bed’s angle relative to the ground made sleep impossible for me despite my extreme weariness. Not having direct aisle access made me a nuisance to my neighbor. His not having a storage cubby made him a nuisance to me. Some dishes were good and others weren’t.

But it all comes down to the bed. The bed failed me, so I won’t be flying Qantas Business Class again in the future. Instead I’ll look for fully flat options to Australia like United BusinessFirst, United Global First, and Qantas First.

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