Trip Report: Qantas First Class A380 LAX to MEL (QF 94)

QF 94
Los Angeles (LAX) to Melbourne (MEL)
Depart: 11:30pm
Arrive: 8:20am +2 days
Duration: 15h 50m
Aircraft: A380 (Phyllis Arnott)
Seat: 2A

After leaving the new oneworld lounge, I walked to the gate and admired both the new TBIT terminal and all of the A380s sitting at LAX. I think I saw China Southern, Korean, Lufthansa, and British Airways, in addition to the Qantas A380 that I’d be flying.

Why hello thar

Why hello thar

Boarding was delayed by 15 minutes at first, then again for another 5 minutes. In general, the boarding process seemed like a bit of a mess.

When I boarded, I was welcomed on board, but I wasn’t shown to my seat. I know this is a trivial thing because I clearly know how to find my seat, but I’ve found that it’s a decent barometer of how good the crew is. As in, if they don’t show you to your seat in first class, you probably have a pretty bad crew (spoiler alert: this crew was pretty bad).

I took a couple of pictures of the cabin before it filled up, and I also snuck upstairs to take some pictures of the business class cabin as well. The first class seats are a little interesting in that they swivel, so they’re forward facing for takeoff and landing but get angled when you’re lounging/dining/sleeping. The seat was plenty spacious when angled, but it wasn’t very impressive when facing forward. Qantas also puts 14 seats in their first class cabin on the lower deck of the A380, which is on the higher side.

Center seats in first class

Center seats in first class

My seat, 2A

My seat, 2A

Unusual design for first class seat

Unusual design for first class seat

Seat control and air vent

Seat control and air vent

Upstairs, they have a small lounge in the “dead” area on the A380s (where Emirates places their showers), which didn’t seem to get much use throughout the flight. I went up a couple of times and just stole snacks from the business class bar (mostly because the service was so bad in first class that I couldn’t get the attention of the flight attendant so it was easier to serve myself from the business class bar).

Stairs up to business class

Stairs up to business class

Business class seats

Business class seats

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Upstairs lounge area

Upstairs lounge area

Drink and snack bar in upstairs lounge

Drink and snack bar in upstairs lounge

Upon returning to my seat, I was offered a pre-departure beverage, pajamas, and amenity kit. The amenity kit is made by SK-II, which I have since been told has really nice toiletries. The pajamas were pretty nice and quite similar to British Airways first class pajamas, but Cathay Pacific still has my favorite airline pajamas.

Pajamas and amenity kit

Pajamas and amenity kit

The amuse bouche was crackers, hummus, and olives. Basic, but satisfying. It was a smaller portion than I’ve seen on other trip reports, but the meal service on this flight is generally slightly abridged given that it’s a night flight, which could have explained the smaller portion. I’ll also say that there weren’t any refills offered, even though we had a half-hour delay on pushback.

Amuse bouche

Here are pictures of the menus for the flight. Again, it’s a slightly abridged menu given that it’s a night flight, so there’s no tasting menu on offer, although you can make your own sort of tasting menu by ordering as much food as you want.

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Supper menu

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Breakfast and hot beverage menu

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More beverages

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Champagne menu

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Wine menu

Only 6 out of 14 seats were assigned the day before the flight, but the flight went out 13 out of 14 in first class. The left side of the cabin is definitely more private given that the center seats are open to the right side (similar to Cathay Pacific’s first class cabin on the Boeing 777). In general, the cabin felt a little generic and sterile to me.

Seat storage

Seat storage

Tail cam ftw

Tail cam ftw

Privacy shields down

Privacy shields down

We ended up taking off around 12:30am. I decided to try to stay up a bit to start to adjust to the destination time, so I had the meal service. The service was slooooow. It took me 45 minutes after takeoff just to get some water. And it was even longer just to get a place setting. And the pacing between courses was super slow.

Anyway, onto to food itself. I really liked the bread service, given that they had a pretty tasty sourdough. I had the warm duck salad to start, which was quite good. It was quite large, and it was slightly odd in that the the duck was warm and the salad was cold, but it was good, flavorful, and the duck was decently tender. Easily the best salad that I’ve had on a plane, and I wouldn’t have complained if I had eaten this in a restaurant.

Tasty bread service

Tasty bread service

Pretty good salad

Pretty good salad

Next up was the famed Qantas steak sandwich, and I can see why people like it so much. It makes a great in-flight snack. The relish is potent, which is good when your sinuses are dried out from flying since it’s harder to taste. The bread is nice and soft, the arugula gives the illusion of healthfulness, and it’s a sizable amount of steak. One half of my sandwich was overcooked, but I enjoyed the non-overdone half. I could also see this being sold in a restaurant.

Steak sandwich

Steak sandwich

For my entree, I had the gnocchi. It was better than most airplane pastas, but that’s not saying much. It was clear that the plate had been heated for way too long, but the gnocchi were fluffy and fine.

Gnocchi

Gnocchi

For dessert, I had the orange saverin. It was a bit like angel food cake. I was warned that the ice cream might be a little hard, but that was an understatement as it was served rock hard. Throughout the entire meal, I didn’t get my drink refilled once, even though I asked multiple times.

Fruit and orange saverin

Fruit and orange saverin

After the meal, I had my bed made. The bed is comfortable, and the mattress pad is super soft. It felt a little exposed to the aisle (and I could easily hear someone in the cabin snoring quite loudly since the seats don’t insulate sound at all), and I wish that the foot area were slightly wider, but these are major #firstworldproblems.

The cabin was also a little on the warm side, but there are air vents at the seat. At first, I thought the air vents were lights, but some of them do in fact blow air.

Bed mode

Bed mode

I rang the call button a couple of times throughout the flight since the flight attendants never went through the cabin checking on people, and I usually had to wait several minutes before anyone answered the call button. Heck, I’ve had faster responses in coach.

For breakfast, I started with the fruit salad (which was marinated in mango juice) and the bircher muesli. Bircher muesli is always so tasty.

Bircher muesli and fruit salad

Bircher muesli and fruit salad

I then got the scrambled eggs with none of the sides, which were fine.

Scrambled eggs on toast

Scrambled eggs on toast

Finally was a toasted bagel with cream cheese, lox, and avocado. I can’t remember ever having avocado on a plane, and the avocado was decently ripe, so that was novel.

Bagel and fixings

Bagel and fixings

After I finished eating, I waited. And waited. And waited some more for my plate to be cleared. After waiting for over 20 minutes, I ended up clearing my own dishes and bringing them to the galley. And the flight attendant working in the galley didn’t even say anything.

Seats with privacy shields up

Seats with privacy shields up

Anyway, if you’re flying from the US to Australia, there are only two choices for nonstop first class. Qantas has nicer amenities and better food than United, but the service on this flight was pretty terrible. The flight attendants were largely absent and extremely slow, and I’ve never had to bus my own dishes on any flight in any class of service. While the nonstop flights are convenient (especially since going through Asia adds a LOT of travel time to get to Australia), this flight was pretty underwhelming for international first class. Given how hard these flights are to get on awards, I would not worry about missing too much.

7 thoughts on “Trip Report: Qantas First Class A380 LAX to MEL (QF 94)

  1. MEFR

    After reading a couple of trip reports for both United GlobalFirst and Qantas First Class, I’d rather spend my miles/money on Delta One o Virgin Australia’s business class seats. I don’t sea why people rave about Qantas first.

    Reply
    1. Edward Post author

      Yeah, I really don’t understand why people rave about Qantas first. The hard product is fine, but the service was just so terrible that I don’t feel a desire to fly them again. Virgin Australia seems to be the way to go if you have the correct miles to redeem for it.

      Reply
  2. Joey

    First off, congratulations on scoring one of the hardest awards to find! I looked at LAX-MEL or LAX-SYD the past year and it was like looking for a needle in a haystack! After reading several lackluster reports online on QF F, I decided to just spend less AAdvantage miles and book DXB-LHR later this year. It’s only 6-7 hours but I think that’ll be enough for me.
    I heard a lot of non-revs get QF F so perhaps that’s why your flight left with only 1 seat unoccupied.
    I guess the crew is a hit or miss. Were they slow even after you pressed the FA button?
    Thx for the review. I didn’t realize the chair swivelled. Quite odd to watch a safety video from a screen that’s not in front of you.

    Reply
    1. Edward Post author

      Yes, I would press the FA call button and it would take a couple of minutes for them to respond. I bussed my own plates after having pressed the call button multiple times and waiting 20+ minutes.

      Reply
  3. Min

    Great post on the Qantas FC. Just appalled at the notion of having to bring your own dishes to the galley and the flight crew not even blinking an eye.

    If you had paid for this flight, would you have done / acted differently for the lackluster (horrendous) in flight service? Did you have a chance to speak with the purser prior to disembarking your flight? Or have written a complaint/suggestion letter to Qantas?

    I have had similar experience on Emirates and Etihad where I had to wait and wait for crew to respond. I think the level of service starts with the flight crew manager/purser who usually sets the tone for the level of service to be imparted onto the passengers.

    Well, your post and others’ have dissuaded from taking a chance with Qantas on future flights. I’ll rather go with other alternatives.

    Reply
    1. Edward Post author

      The purser essentially disappeared after going around greeting people, so I didn’t get a chance to follow up with him. I did tweet at Qantas after the flight, and they said they’d look into it, but I never got a follow up response.

      Reply
  4. Steve R

    Thanks for your report, sounds honest (unlike many useless hack bloggers on the ‘pay to print’ payroll). Shocking, shameful service situation! Have never flown Q J or F. Have flown ANZ J class. While OK, I sometimes am suspicious of the myriad of awards they get. Rather I can understand why ANA and JAL (have flown both in F and J) are recognized. I didn’t have to wait but 2 seconds in ANA F when I hit the
    bell before the stewardess showed up. And they did come through during the night to check on the pax.
    Simply disgraceful; I cannot understand why, why doesn’t airline management get off their backsides and simply fly incognito their own F and J to see what is going on. But that’s par for the course in the modern
    managerial world, i.e. sit behind a closed door and see nothing, hear nothing, know nothing, so they don’t have to do nothing! The purser is afflicted with the disease as well. Simply shocking and unacceptable service out of Qantas F. Your report should have been sent to the Sydney Morning Herald, Telegraph, and Daily Mail Australia. This is absolutely a black eye on Qantas who advertise through their teeth that they’re the best. Shabby!

    Reply

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