Flights Oneworld Reviews

Review: Qantas A380 First Class

Two weeks after they re-introduced the A380 to Singapore, we tried out the Qantas First Class service for ourselves

Stairs

After a five-year hiatus, Qantas are once again flying to three major cities every evening from Singapore on their Airbus A380 aircraft. We covered the reintroduction in a separate article, but just a couple of weeks after services with the superjumbo were recommenced through Singapore we booked a redemption flight to see whether their First Class product is worth considering on your trips to London, Sydney or Melbourne.

Qantas A380
Qantas returned to Singapore with the A380 on 4th March 2018.

Flight Details

  • Flight: QF81 Sydney T1 International to Singapore Changi T1
  • Class: First
  • Seats: 2A & 3A
  • Aircraft Type: Airbus A380-800
  • Aircraft Registration: VH-OQB
  • Aircraft Age: 9.7 years
  • Date: 19th March 2018
  • Departure / Arrival: 11:35 / 16:45
  • Flight Time: 8h 10m
  • Cost: 80,000 British Airways Avios points + S$190.00 per person
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Check-in

After glimpsing the outside windows of the First Class lounge from the approach road we proceeded straight past the automatic check-in desks towards the dedicated First Class check-in area. Screened off from public areas, it features 4 desks and a small seating area with large red leather armchairs, which are slightly worn but you won’t be waiting long.

Qantas Sydney First Class Check in
Dedicated First Class check-in area. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

With your boarding card in hand, you are given an express pass to proceed through a slightly more expeditious channel of immigration and security. It was still a little chaotic, to be honest. After that, you must wind through the duty-free shop before finding the first set of escalators which lead up to the Qantas first and Business Class lounges.

Express
‘Express’ Path… (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Lounge and Boarding

We spent a good deal of time in the excellent Qantas First Class lounge that we have comprehensively reviewed here. Needless to say, it’s worth a lengthy visit if you are eligible for entry.

Qantas First Lounge - Restaurant
Beautiful panoramic airport vistas from the lounge. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The gate for our flight was directly below the lounge which was very convenient, however, upon reaching the gate, the queue for first and Business Class was almost as long as that for economy passengers.

The reason is the very high number of status card holders who are also permitted to board from this lane – many of whom were travelling in Economy Class. A bit disappointing as it loses the exclusivity you expect from a dedicated First Class lane.

Qantas First Lounge - Window Shot
VH-OQB was parked directly below the lounge being readied for the trip to Singapore. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Crew

We were greeted at the door of the aircraft and shown to our seats. After settling down, Tim, the crew member looking after the 5 seats along our aisle in First Class came to introduce himself.

Throughout the flight all crew were excellent but in particular – Tim managed to provide a level of service that was personal, thoughtful and extremely attentive. Helpful suggestions, good product knowledge, humour and personality – all made for a really excellent ‘soft-product’ experience.

We usually use Singapore Airlines service as the benchmark to which other airlines may be compared and, as we have said it the past, it is consistently excellent. The personable and warm touches that the Qantas crew provided on this flight drove the standard to the next level.

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The Seat

The Qantas A380 First Class cabin is configured in a 1-1-1 configuration. That’s broadly similar to the Cathay Pacific First Class product on the 777-300ER (see our review), but remember this is on the main deck of the A380 which has 62cm more width – so you get an idea of the space involved.

Seat 2A
Seat 2A. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The middle ‘F’ seats are angled towards the left side of the cabin. The other seats are angled towards their respective windows.

Qantas A380 First Class Cabin
The ‘F’ seats. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Pro Tip: The middle ‘F’ seats only access the right side aisle, along with the right side window seats (meaning 9 seats share the right side aisle). This leaves the left side aisle exclusive to the remaining 5 left side window seats – quieter, less footfall and easier cabin service. See our Seat Recommendations below for more detail.

Qantas A380 Cabin A seats
The ‘A’ seats. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Settling In

Tim came to ask us if we would like a glass of champagne. Naturally, we agreed. We should mention, other drinks are also available if vintage champagne isn’t for you.

Qantas A380 Boarding Champagne
Veuve Cliquot La Grande Dame 2006, olives and almonds on boarding. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Since Qantas serve any one of 3 different types of champagne onboard, we awaited his return with bated breath. Any of the 3 would have been fine although I was quite happy to see a handsome bottle of Veuve Cliquot La Grande Dame 2006 arrive. It really is a special drop and if you like the standard Veuve Cliquot, you will love this.

Qantas A380 Champagne Menu
Qantas First Class champagne menu. Only one of these selections is loaded for each flight. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The champagne was served with warm almonds and marinated black olives. There is a small drinks table directly in front of you in this seat position, within easy reach.

Traveller Tip: If an airline opens alcohol on the ground before closing the doors then that bottle usually attracts local taxation according to its value. Some airlines try to avoid some of this tax by offering a cheaper Champagne on the ground than that served once airborne, or simply not offering an alcoholic option at all.

Emirates will often serve Moët on boarding and Veuve Cliquot once airborne. If you have any doubts – ask to see the bottle.

Qantas A380 First Class Windows
Suite windows can be fully open, have only the day blind lowered, or be fully closed, and can also be stopped at any intermediate position. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Storage Options

Below the drinks table, directly in front of the seat, is a magazine pocket where the usual paraphernalia can be found.

Qantas A380 First Class Seat Storage
Seat side storage. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

To the immediate left of the seat base is a small storage for suitable for phones, passports etc but, be warned, this area disappears from view and access as the seat swivels to face the window for dining, lounging and bed positions.

Qantas A380 First Class Seat Storage
The top compartment of the seat side storage becomes accessible again when the seat is converted to bed mode. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
Qantas A380 First Class Seat Storage
Sliding storage compartments to the side. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The console next to the seat has a bottle holder and underneath, two deep sliding storage compartments, the upper one contains the headphones. Below the console is a small gap suitable for placing shoes.

Privacy Screen
The generously sized ottoman seat. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Angled opposite to the seat is the ottoman. In the pictures, it may look similar to that found in British Airways First Class or Singapore Airlines 2006 Suites – but don’t be deceived, it is much larger and far more comfortable. So large in fact we think you could be happy sitting there for an extended period of time with your travel companion.

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Under Seat Storage

Under seat seat storage is limited to items that can be placed underneath the ottoman. A large backpack or even a Rimowa Topas carry-on will fit comfortably, as will a typical rucksack. Otherwise ample overhead storage is available.

The Amenity Kit and Pyjamas

Qantas A380 First Class Amenities
Presented at boarding. His/Hers options available (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The amenities and pyjamas are designed by Martin Grant for Qantas First Class. The amenity kit is small but thoughtfully designed. The eyeshades, in particular, are great as they don’t press on your eyelids. A small selection of Aurora Aspar ‘travel essentials’ are included (the same brand as used in the First Class lounge spa). Then the usual suspects are also present.

Qantas A380 First Class Amenities
Amenity kit contents. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The pyjamas are available in two sizes – Medium/Large or Large/Extra Large. We found even the Medium/Large quite baggy but that’s typical of our experiences with other airlines. They were cool and comfortable and came with a sturdy pair of slippers.

Qantas A380 First Class Amenities
Pyjamas and slippers. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Toilets

Two toilets for First Class (7:1 passengers to toilet ratio) are located in the forward galley at either side. They are both a standard size.

Qantas A380 First Class Toilet
Loo with a view. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

They feature a sleek, modern round sink. Also, notably each has a window which is automatically dimmed as you enter. After you lock the door the window becomes clear and the beautiful “loo with a view” effect is realised.

Qantas A380 First Class Toilet
Sink. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Additional amenities are available along with cloth towels.

Qantas A380 First Class Toilet
(Photo: MainlyMiles)

Wi-Fi and Connectivity

There is currently no Wi-Fi connectivity available on the Qantas A380 fleet. We would imagine plans are in place to retrofit this functionality in 2019 alongside a host of other ‘cabin refreshments’ to bring the product up to date, but it has not been mentioned by Qantas to our knowledge – so maybe not.

Traveller Fact: The Qantas A380s were delivered with in-flight Wi-Fi capability but the customer response was poor with the service reported as expensive, unreliable and slow. As a consequence, Qantas deactivated the service.

Below the magazine pocket is an AUS/US style power socket, two powered USB sockets and an ethernet port (not currently in use).

Qantas A380 First Class Plug Socket
Power sources. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

In-Flight Entertainment

The A380 First Class seat has a motorised retractable IFE screen. It is a standard definition 17 inch screen, and we found that scrolling through the options was quite slow and clunky. Playback once selected was smooth.

Qantas A380 First Class IFE
17″ IFE screen. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The screen has touchscreen capability but there is also a physical controller hidden in the armrest which is more useful as the screen is quite far from the seat.

Qantas A380 First Class IFE Control
(Photo: MainlyMiles)

The headphones are noise cancelling and reasonably comfortable but we prefer the Bose type offered in numerous other premium cabins.

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Seat Positions

All seats are initially pointed straight ahead in the takeoff and landing position. Once inflight the seat can be swivelled towards the ottoman. There are then numerous seating options available.

The presets are a good start and then refinements can be made depending on your personal preference.

Qantas A380 First Class Seat Control
Suite controls via the touch screen take a bit of getting used to at first, with some of the more common presets in simple button form underneath. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The seat can also move forwards towards the ottoman and dining table if you wish.

Qantas A380 First Class Seat Control
Seat adjustments. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The seat reclines fully flat into a long bed which should accommodate even the tallest passenger very comfortably. More on the bed later on.

Qantas A380 First Class Bed
Bed mode. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Middle Seats / Window Seats

All seats are good for solo travellers, but the preference would primarily be for the left aisle ‘A’ seats. Middle seats are kept private from the left-aisle with large retractable screens that are raised after takeoff.

Qantas A380 First Class Dividers
Middle seat privacy dividers lowered during boarding (left) and raised after takeoff (right). (Photos: MainlyMiles)

Privacy between rows is also ensured with another smaller tractable screen. There are no couple seats and instead, companion travellers will have to settle with using the ottoman if they want to spend time together or ‘buddy dine’.

Buddy Dining

Another great feature of this seat, although not uncommon in the latest First Class products, is buddy dining.

Qantas A380 First Class Dining Table
Dining table set up for lunch. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The tray table has two additional sleeves that can be unfolded to offer a very large dining space, easily big enough for two including all of the relevant table dressing. The ottoman also features a seatbelt to keep your companion secure.