My heart sank on checking in for my United Airlines flight to Los Angeles at Sydney Airport. “Sorry sir, there’s a problem with the flight,” said the impeccably polite United Airlines check in clerk.
His next comment made my day. “We’ll be transferring you to the Qantas flight,” and so a few minutes later I had a Qantas boarding pass for QF11 for the 14 hour flight to Los Angeles and access to their Business Class lounge at Sydney International.
Time only permitted a short visit to the Business class lounge which is spacious with a generous range of self service drinks but a somewhat limited range of food. What is available is pleasant and adequate and the lounge is a good place to get some last minute work done or relax with the interesting view of the airport.
Aboard the plane
On the plane there’s a big difference between the two airlines’ business classes; Qantas Flight QF11 between Sydney and Los Angeles is an Airbus A380 with six abreast seats in business class while United’s equivalent is a Boeing 777 with eight cramped seats.
skybed ready for take off
Reflecting this, Qantas’ Business Class lie flat Skybeds are generously wide with a personal lights, privacy screens and personal video. International power sockets are easily accessible at the front of the arm rests.
The plane is a touch grubby and worn which is surprising for such a modern plane. The service itself is very friendly and polite with Business Class passengers welcomed with a choice of soft drinks or sparkling wine.
Flight amenities include a set of simple cotton pyjamas along with blankets and a basic kit that includes toothpaste, eye shades and travel socks.
Shortly after take off, the cabin crew offer to put a thin mattress on the seats to make them more padded and comfortable, particularly for sleeping.
seat controls including the massage functions
The lie flat beds are reasonably comfortable with various lumbar options and a fairly weird massage function that doesn’t seem to do a great deal.
Overall the Qantas Sky Beds allow a good night’s sleep which is the main point of paying for business on a long haul flight.
Cabin service is polite and efficient although the cabin crew have a habit of vanishing. One of the downsides of the vanishing crew is it’s easy to end up dehydrated over the 14 hour journey despite their prompt response to the cabin call button.
early morning coffee and crackers
When called there were plenty of food and drink options although snacks surprising ran out later in the flight leaving only the option of cheese and biscuits with an early morning coffee.
Dinner was served two hours into the flight and the minced chicken on noodles was a reasonable meal although a touch bland, the cheese tray suffered the perennial airline problem of being stingy with the biscuits.
Breakfast ninety minutes out from Los Angeles had a fairly standard range of airline breakfasts – the mushroom bruschetta was a pleasant, light and tasty option.
Surfing the options
The inflight entertainment system is a fairly standard offering with a good range of current and older movies and TV series. The personalised playlist being a bit of a disappointment given it doesn’t automatically move on at the end of each song while the news and current affairs programs are somewhat parochial although that’s forgiven on the Australian flag carrier.
Arrival in Los Angeles was on time with the only draw back being that Qantas couldn’t check bags through to JFK which required collected bags at Tom Bradley, dragging them across to United’s Terminal Seven and re-checking the bags. For connecting flights this is a bit of a hassle although its made easier when you’ve arrived relaxed and refreshed after a good night’s sleep.
Overall, the Qantas A380 Business Class is comfortable product that meets the needs of a business traveller who needs to work or sleep on a flight. If your budget — or that of your employer — can cover the cost then its a choice worth making.