I really enjoyed my first trip to Sydney. I mean, really enjoyed it. Can’t wait to go back. But, one of the big reasons to take this abbreviated trip Down Under was to get the chance to fly first class on Qantas. Here’s a quick flashback to the earlier posts from my trip:
- Which Lounge At SFO International Terminal?
- Qantas Business Class Review
- Public Transportation In Sydney
- Park Hyatt Sydney
- A Look Inside The Luxurious Suites At Park Hyatt Sydney
- Bridge Climb! Bucket List Item
- The Old Clare Hotel, Chippendale, A Member of Design Hotels (SPG Redemption)
- Qantas First And Business Class Lounges at Sydney Airport
I’ve done very little flying in first class internationally. Part of that is because there just aren’t that many airlines still flying 3-cabin aircrafts with first class sections. The other big part is that I’m really okay flying in business class. I mean, who wouldn’t be? I’m insanely lucky to be able to fly in business class when I take trips around the world. There’s really no need for me to spend the extra miles on first class.
But, I’ve always secretly wanted to try out Qantas’ first class product. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’ve never been to Australia. The seats look awesome and I’ve had friends tell me great tales about their experience. Getting an award seat on Qantas in first class using American Airlines AAdvantage miles is kinda like spotting a unicorn.
And yet, a whole bunch popped up last year. So, I snagged one. For a flight longer than any other I’d been on (and IIRC the longest flight in the world at that time) from Sydney to Dallas/Ft-Worth. After spending a few days in Sydney and loving it, I couldn’t wait to try out Qantas first class. It also meant I was only one more stop away from getting home to the family. I’m guessing I’m the only person whoever flew from Washington, DC to Bozeman, Montana by way of Sydney.
To that end, I was one of the first to hop on board so I’d have as much time as possible to explore the seat. We were on the Airbus A380, a full double-decker plane. I’ve flown both upstairs and downstairs on this beast. Today, I’d be flying downstairs in the small, private first class cabin. After a quick walk by the stairway, I turned right and settled into seat 4K. A window seat with aisle access, I had tons of room.
Shortly after I sat down I was greeted by a member of the cabin crew. She made sure I had multiple snacks and a glass of champagne before I had even really settled in. I think Veuve Clicquot is pretty darn overpriced, but the Grand Dame is a solid bottle of champagne.
In some ways, the seat itself felt like a that old recliner your grandfather had, minus the rocking. It was wide and plush; I immediately knew I’d be comfortable for my 14-hour flight. 14 hours! That’s a heck of a long time.
The views from the window on take-off from Sydney were great. Qantas also chose the tail camera option that I’ve seen on other A380s (Lufthansa, for example) which make for great aviation geek TV.
There’s a detailed touchscreen control panel to adjust the seat in numerous ways. In the armrest there’s also a handheld control for the in-flight entertainment system. The seat area has a footrest that can also serve as a seat for a dining companion. The tray table is huge, big enough to fit two people for dinner. I think my kids would get a kick out of sitting with us for dinner on a long flight. I don’t think I’ll be saving up miles for 4 Qantas first class seats anytime soon, but it’s nice to dream!
Here’s a copy of the menus that were featured on my flight. You can choose to the menu as a bajillion-course tasting menu. That’s what I was *supposed* to do. But, I goofed up and ate a nice breakfast in the lounge. Eating a bit on the lighter side seemed like a good decision.
I thoroughly enjoyed the dishes I did sample. I started with the canapés of duck toast with beetroot jam and Osetra caviar tartlet with creme fraiche. They were both quite nice, though I can’t say I’ve ever been head over heels for caviar.
I skipped the soup and salad. Cauliflower soup isn’t really my style. I thought about hitting the carpaccio, but wanted to save space for a couple of plates that looked more exciting. I chose the prawn oil pasta with crab and roasted cherry tomatoes. Hard for me to turn down crab. It was delicious.
For a main course I chose duck a l’orange with spaetzle and grilled broccolini. This was absolutely the highlight of the meal. I can’t say I get the chance to eat duck often.
I don’t drink on planes very often. That may be heresy to some, but I’m generally on my way to a business meeting or on a late flight home where I need to be ready to go first thing in the morning. 14 hours is pretty much a full day’s worth of awake time, so I decided to try a handful of the lovely wines offered onboard. I did have a business meeting when I landed (and two more flights to get to Bozeman), so I didn’t sample all of them. My favorite was the Levantine Hill Pinot Noir from Yarra Valley. It’s an Australian wine and was an excellent choice with the duck.
Dessert was one of those things tasted as good as it sounds, IMO. It was a kaffir lime and vanilla safari with tangelo and soft coconut cream. The tangelo was the best part, sweet, tangy and juicy. There were petit fours afterwards, but I was beyond stuffed.
The Rest Of It
It’s a 14-hour flight, so plenty of time to kill. I reclined my seat into a bed for a long nap at one point, watched a movie, read and worked on my laptop. The cabin crew prepared my bed with a fitted mattress pad and wonderfully comfortable blankets. Over the course of 14 hours the seat was very comfortable. I enjoyed my nap and sitting for long periods of time. I skipped the “breakfast” for our afternoon landing, already stuffed.
The in-flight entertainment system is chock full of movies and there’s even a decent kids section.
The cabin crew wandered through on a consistent basis but weren’t constantly invading to ask if I needed anything. They were quick to refill my water glass anytime it got empty, which was welcomed.
Back To The Real World (And On To Bozeman)
If a 14-hour flight can go by quickly, it did. I was sad to leave the plane. Just like my kids, I got a kick out of taking off from Australia and “landing 30 minutes later” in Dallas given the whole international date line stuff.
I had my short business meeting in DFW after a quick shower to wake myself up. Then, back to the reality of my normal work travel. I boarded an Airbus 319 to Denver, and another to Bozeman later that evening. I landed in Montana for the first time, checked into to my hotel and walked across the street for a drink with my colleagues who were already in town.
I’ve been blessed with the ability to fall asleep in pretty much any time zone. I like to say that my body clock got swapped out for an egg timer at some point. I was asleep shortly after getting back to my hotel half a world away from where I was 22 hours earlier. That will make plenty of folks jealous.
I can only imagine what it must be like to travel this way on a consistent basis. I have friends that do it more than a little. Ben, from One Mile at a Time, essentially lives in premium cabins of airplanes around the world. I’m a bit envious of the ability to be able to travel like that. But, I love my family time as well. I’ll be happy to dip my toe in the lake of luxury from time to time.
A Quick Look At The Math
This redemption cost me 135,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles and $111 in taxes and fees. Business class to Sydney was 62,500 miles. For 10,000 miles more I was able to fly that return from Sydney to DFW. That would have also covered my flight home to DC, but I had to move on to a business trip in Bozeman.
From a value perspective, 10,000 extra miles to fly in first class is a heck of a deal. Finding first class seats to a destination like Australia is pretty tough to do, but a great deal if you ever have the chance.
The subtitle of this post series was 54 hours in Sydney. That was my time on the ground. With all of my flights, it was obviously a longer trip. Here’s a map of the flights I covered as I took the long way to Bozeman, courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.
The post Qantas First Class Review. 14 Hours Of Luxury was published first on Pizza in Motion