Qantas A380 Business Class

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Background

Qantas and Emirates launched a five-year partnership on 31 March, ending Qantas’s joint services agreement with BA. It includes co-ordinated pricing, sales and scheduling, but for Qantas passengers on the route between Europe and Australia, the biggest change is a connection at Emirates’ Dubai hub rather than Singapore. Qantas has also introduced free chauffeur services on the London-Dubai-Australia route, and turndown service in Business Class, while Emirates has added a Platinum tier to its Skywards scheme.

Check-In

My companion and I arrived at Heathrow T3 at 18h15 for our 21h30 flight. We were seen immediately at check-in, had our bags checked through to Sydney and used fast-track security.

The Lounge

 Qantas still uses BA’s Galleries at T3. It was fairly busy, but there were plenty of seats. Food on offer included Bombay potato soup, beef bourguignon and Thai vegetarian curry. The flight was called to Gate 1 at 20h50.

Boarding

We boarded right away and went upstairs to seats 22A and B. Drinks, pyjamas and amenity kits were offered. We taxied on time and took off at 21h45.

The Seat

Business Class on the A380 is configured 2-2-2 and is at the front of the upper deck, across two cabins (rows 11-13 and 15-22). I last reviewed this seat on the delivery flight in 2008, and the design has aged well. The stylish fixed-shell seat turns into a 20.5-inch-wide, 80-inch-long fully-flat bed and has plenty of storage.

Which Seat To Choose?

Window seats have extra stowage bins, but otherwise I would probably avoid them, to avoid having to climb over your neighbour. Our seats were probably the least desirable, as they were right at the back close to the toilets, which also meant we got served last. Opt for the three-row section at the front for more privacy.

Flight One

When the seatbelt signs went off, crew started the turndown service, offering to fit a mattress to the seat by hooking it around the headrest. I put it on myself later, which was fairly simple. My companion’s IFE system wasn’t working, so a crew member reset it and it was operational in ten minutes. The cabin service manager explained the new transit procedures in Dubai, and I then watched some recent films. Supper menus said “meals served on board do not contain pork or alcohol products” – a new addition since the Emirates tie-up. I had the saag paneer (excellent). Other choices included chicken schnitzel and pot roasted duck leg. Breakfast was served one-and-a-half hours before arrival.

The Connection

We landed in Dubai at 07h25 and were told that the connecting flight would depart from Gate A10. Qantas and Emirates are the only airlines to use the new A380-dedicated Concourse A. We went through security quickly then took a lift to the Business Class lounge, arriving at 07h40. There are several food and drink areas – we headed to the far end where the gate was. I freshened up in the washrooms before boarding the 09h20 flight at about 08h50.

Flight Two

We had seats 21B and E on either side of the aisle, but the person in seat 21F offered to swap so we could sit together. Connecting in Dubai on the way to Australia from the UK means a much longer second leg than via Singapore – about six hours longer. I decided to stay awake for a while and eat. My chicken salad starter and seared bass main were pretty bland. I watched a film before reclining and sleeping lightly for four or five hours – the bed was comfortable, with a nice enclosed feel. Breakfast was offered before arrival.

Arrival

We touched down at 05h15 and quickly disembarked. Our bags were among the first out.

Verdict

An excellent service from start to finish, with attentive crew. The quick connection and modern facilities in Dubai make this a compelling proposition. 

Mark Caswell

Contact

qantas.com.au/uk

Note: Qantas operates the B747 between Johannesburg and Sydney, and not the A380.

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