Why I wanted the world’s longest non-flight to take just a little bit longer.
A surprise upgrade is like winning one of life’s lottery tickets. My boyfriend and I were upgraded to Business Class on one of Qanta’s newer additions to the fleet, the Airbus A380. There is no better way to test the business class comforts than on a flight 16 hour flight. In fact, this is a leg where I couldn’t recommend ‘turning right’ more. If you’re going to spend all that time in the air, you might as well sit back and enjoy the experience.
BUSINESS CLASS LOUNGE: SYDNEY AIRPORT
Due to the speedy check-in procedure for those at the pointy end of the plane, we had plenty of time to enjoy the perks of Business Class Lounge. The lounge at Sydney Airport is a sophisticated affair. Upon entry it has the look of a chic bar and as you venture then further inside there is an large area of lounge type seating for those who don’t want to sit up at the bar. Sunlight pours through the expansive glass windows that allow for views of the runway from most vantage points. The buffet had a spread of fresh salads, warm dishes such a curries and soups and a variety cakes to choose from. I was glad to see the Aussie classic the Lamington was on offer. I made mental note to save room for dessert.
I helped myself to some refreshing pear iced tea to keep hydrated before the flight, and there is a noteworthy selection of wines with a focus on Australian vineyards. A crisp class of Riesling settled my pre-flight nerves and I sat back with a velvety slice of chocolate mouse cake to watch the bustling tarmac activities through the vast glass pane. We were so comfortable it was lucky that flights are called over the speakers. With a gentle reminder we were off to our gate, to be greeted by the friendly Qantas staff and ushered on towards the plane. Once on the aircraft it was a welcome change to “turn left”.
The design of the business class section of this plane is sleek, functional and allows for plenty of personal space. The seats are set in pairs, for which there are three rows across the width of the plane. The rows are not aligned evenly in a horizontal line, but set back from each other which creates a feeling of even more space. Travelling as a couple, we were seated in a pair of window seats. They were close enough that we felt connected and able to talk quietly amongst ourselves. However there is enough separation (with an additional feature of an electronic divider) that if we weren’t travelling as a pair, we would still have sufficient privacy.
There was plenty of room for our on flight luggage, not that we had to carry too much in our personal carry-on as our checked allowance was 40KG per person. An ultra handy compartment to keep personal items located next to the window so you won’t need to access your carry-on from overhead lockers during the flight.
The big question, what about legroom? Both my partner and I have long legs, and typically pay extra for exit row seats when seated in economy purely out of necessity. The legroom here was so ample, even a professional basketball player would be cheering
Once seated, we were offered some refreshments. Champagne? Why not! The flight attendants were welcoming, professional and well groomed. The extra effort of addressing me by ‘Miss Hart’ gave the experience a personalised touch and throughout the flight the flight attendants would politely chat to us and offer advice about our eventual destination.
The hardest thing we had to do all flight was fill out our breakfast cards and make decisions about what we’d like for dinner. These decisions were quite challenging. Firstly, the dinner menu was extensive and everything took my fancy. This is hardly surprising seeing renowned Australian chef Neil Perry had created the menu inspired by his high-end Sydney restaurant (one of my favourites!), Rockpool. What transpired was a three-course meal that felt like we were dining at a fancy restaurant… in the air. Served on sleek white plates and presented with a real attention to detail, it was certainly an in air dining ‘experience’. My steamed duck buns with hoisin sauce and pickled cucumber were a delicious entrée. My only complaint is my first choice for main had already run out, but I settled for the vegetarian lasagne which was creamy and full of flavour. A selection of Australian cheese with fig paste and dried dates was a perfect end to the meal.
Once dinner was finished, the affable Qantas staff handed out light grey, loose fitting pyjamas and stylish flight packs. The girls one was a colourful Kate Spade New York pouch filled with useful goodies such as the ASPAR range of travel essentials including sweet orange and shea hand cream, ultra hydrating face moisturiser and vanilla orange lip balm.
I planned to appreciate every minute of this 15+ hour flight to Dallas. Even though I could have slept easily the whole flight (something I usually find near impossible) I didn’t want to miss out on all the perks. I wandered up to the communal lounge at the front of the plane to select a few up-to-date fashion magazines and see what snacks the self-service bar had to offer. Valrhona chocolate would definitely come in handy as a midnight snack.
One cannot fully pass an opinion on a flight without discussing the in-flight entertainment. The film and television series selection was excellent. It makes such a difference to a long journey to have a few decent films to watch, I was all the more interested as I had recently flown Sydney to LA on American Airlines to be disappointed by the most dismal offering of recently released films. On Qantas there were plenty of recent releases and old classics to choose from. No disappointments there, so definitely refrain from Apple TV or Netflix before you travel Qantas Business. I caught up on Game of Thrones latest season and took the opportunity of being stuck on a plane to finally to watch Disney’s Frozen.
We were soon offered the service of having the mattress fitted to our seats. This provides extra comfort, and once you try laying flat in your ergonomic seat cocoon you might just fall asleep for the entire flight. The pillow was perfectly fluffy and the blanket was more like a light quilt.
It was the best sleep I have ever had on a flight. Laying out completely horizontal with the ‘Fully Flat Skybed’ was such a treat. For this alone I think it’s worth paying extra to travel business, particularly for lengthy flights. That restful slumber you’ll get on the flight means your work trip or holiday will be all the more enjoyable upon arrival at your new destination.
I was so comfortable, well-fed and happy veg’ing out to the in-flight entertainment that I didn’t want to arrive in Dallas anytime soon. My body finally gave into the luxury – that plush mattress, the comfy pyjamas and body massage capabilities of the seat that gently eroded all my earlier stresses of packing. I had a fantastic sleep and woke up feeling refreshed. I can’t believe I can say that about a flight.
The flight attendants were also diligent at ensuring our water bottles were never empty, this was much appreciated, as keeping hydrated is such an important way to feel decent after a long journey. After breakfast the bathroom was occupied, so the staff helpfully directed me to a vacant toilet. I thought of those in cattle class queuing desperately in that morning bathroom rush and felt rather privileged. I used my handy little Qantas travel kit to revive and the hydrating lip balm was a great touch as air conditioning in flights can have a drying effect.
It was breakfast time, and as I had already filled out my order just before take-off I didn’t even have to think about anything except wonder what film I wanted to watch next. The staff served passengers at an individual pace, waiting for each of us to wake up before offering hot drinks and speedily preparing ones personalised breakfast tray. I had fresh fruit, buttermilk pancakes with spelt and almond granola, grilled peaches and honey yoghurt. Washed down with a quality orange juice and fragrant Dilmah jasmine tea. This had me feeling pretty satisfied. My boyfriend opted for the generous cooked breakfast with Merguez sausages, free range eggs and toasted brioche which he devoured heartily.
I was almost sorry to reach our destination, as the flight experience had been the best I’ve ever had. The flight attendants were friendly, consistent and highly professional. It’s as if they thought of our every need before we even had the chance. The seats were comfortable and the overall design was sleek, practical and spacious. Lying fully flat was just bliss and the pod like shape created in the ‘fully flat’ function allowed for privacy as well as preventing any unwanted light or sounds. The food was excellent in quality and generous in portions and the readily available snacks alleviated in boredom-induced cravings. The in-flight entertainment was overflowing with options and had a decent selection of the latest releases.
Qantas Business on the Airbus A380 Sydney to Dallas made my flying experience a breeze. It may have the record for being the world’s longest non-stop flight but in the comfort of business class I was disappointed when we landed.