Singapore to London, Qantas A380 First Class
After a day in Singapore I now had the original flight booking that drew me here. This would be my first proper long haul first class experience, no less on the A380, on a thirteen hour overnight flight from Singapore to London. The flight experience was no less than excellent, providing proper luxury and comfort, with a complete choice of how to enjoy the flight. Although the first it was certainly not the last as in the following years I have flown similar and better across many airlines.
I checked in using the premium SATS check-in. It is a separate facility behind the check-in desks that many airlines in terminal one offer to their premium passengers. There are several two shared Qantas/BA lounges, one for business class and a smaller one for First and Emerald status customers. (NB: this has subsequently changed with multiple renovations and changes, one is now a dedicated Qantas facility, the other British Airways.) I utilised both before the flight, in an effort to avoid crowding.
Onto the flight
In Singapore they use three aerobridges for the A380, so First class passengers (and crew) have a direct access without any waiting. This was a nice change after getting through the mess that is security at the gate. You don’t really need much help getting to seat 1A but was nevertheless warmly greeted aboard. I was left to settle in before being attacked with real customer service and introductions. The A380 suites are roomy of course but most of all I am always initially looking for spots to put things like NC headphones, wallets, phones, falsified passports etc. Well the A380 does well, some of the ‘spots’ are tad small but the draws are very handy and there’s a decent place for shoes too. Takes you a few minutes to get your stuff in order before plundering the comprehensive amenity kit.
So after getting settled in the FA who would be taking care of me introduced himself and offered the pre-flight canapé with choice of drink. Today the Grissini came with Eggplant and Kalamata Olives. The same FA takes care of you for the whole journey. I presume they’re splitting up duties between the A/F/K seats. Of course if you hit that call button it’s on for whoever can pounce the quickest. Things such as pyjamas are unwrapped and handed to you, though I declined getting changed until being airborne. Each to their personal first class prerogative, but I prefer getting changed for bed after eating.
You notice how these international flights take a long time to board when you don’t have to queue and have nobody to talk to. Fortunately the gate to gate entertainment system provides the answer and also lets you use watch the tail camera. This wouldn’t be the only airline I’d fly on that has a camera feed but it is standard on the A380. Well after playing with the IFE for a couple minutes it froze up. Oh boy, here we go, at least it didn’t get stuck playing a boy band or something embarrassing. I cautiously hit the assistance button and told them I had broken it already… one of the FA’s hit one of the hidden reset buttons. For the next few minutes I’d have to entertain myself with my iPhone.
Before taking off I was also greeted by the cabin manager, bit of a tough job trying to run the place but also make an appearance in the pointy end. There isn’t any specific acknowledgement or treatment status. Maybe a small note like CX leaves would be nice but otherwise if you were paying $8000 or whatever, you’d hope to be treated rather equally status aside.
Fortunately the IFE came back up and it was time to hit the skies, metaphorically I hoped. Just after take off the touch panel comes up with the time remaining. It would have a wholly different meaning to those not too far behind us. Time until you can get out of Y and breathe versus time until we must leave F and fend for ourselves again.
A lot has long been written on the hard product so I don’t feel any need to give a review of the seat & suite but I will say it is one of the few with a decent massaging function. The multi dimmable lighting options are great. The table is big and heavy, rather too heavy made of solid wood I believe. The spring loading was a bit buggy, yet another problem the table wouldn’t pop-up initially but to the FA’s frustration and later would have troubles going back down entirely. That aside, I would really like to dine face to face in this setup, the opposing seat was comfortable enough for dining when I tried it briefly while sorting out my luggage after boarding. And if your dinner guest ever gets boring you can always activate the screen and have the flip out panel hide their presence.
First class food
As should be expected from a first class service, there is a lengthy menu with a wide choice of dishes. It should be noted, this was the supper service, not dinner. I was on QF9 so there is a ‘light meal’ about midnight then a full breakfast in the morning. Of course premium cabins don’t really abide by those rules…
Food orders are taken by the FA standing to your side, facing you. Give it a few minutes they’ll be back. Obviously they’re heating a few of everything in advance. I discovered later that it takes them about 10-15 minutes to heat something up without notice. They do give you choices sometimes on how things are put together, if you want something served separately for example.
So, sticking to the ‘light’ theme. Main: Honey Dijon Glazed
Also there is a side salad in the background. The food does genuinely taste a lot better that what I’ve experienced in business class, not that you can complain too often about J. All rather impressive if you think how it is pre-prepared and served. Service was excellent from FA. They do a good job with keeping an eye on everyone without much foot traffic – though it does help to be row 1 with the galley distant, between F and Y cabins.
Would of loved to try the duck. Or all of them for that matter. The tough side of travelling alone is not being able to share everything 🙂
The tiramisu was very strong but lovely. I had had enough at this point after eating the snacks, pasta, satay and ice cream in the lounge and now the chicken and fish on the plane! So again it is quite representative of the Qantas I know, it looks a little on the basic side however extremely good quality food. I’d rather something taste fantastic than over the top creations that end up tasteless.
Well that was supper. I settled in for the night or early morning as it now was to finish watching a show before heading off to sleep.
Time for sleep?
For sleeping they pull out the lambs wool mattress + sheet + blanket + duvet from the cupboard to make your bed. You do have to get out the way so it makes a perfect time to get changed into your PJ’s. Nothing too special about the lavatories on QF but then you hopefully don’t spend much in there.
While they were making my bed I headed upstairs to the business lounge for a bit of a stretch. It was completely empty at the time and one does wonder how utilised the space it. There is a television and seating for a few people and also a small self-serve food + bar facility.
Back down to my seat. Sorry, bed. Seriously comfortable. This is potentially one of the best beds in the sky, the overall padding is just about perfect, allowing for an easy sleep. Luckily (I think) I awoke after a few hours, still half way through the flight. I thought about it for a little while but decided why not get up and stumble toward the galley. A few people were still awake watching movies but most of the cabin was well asleep.
Pushing through the certain I found 2 of the FA’s chatting, both quick to jump up and offer me various things.
They have to one side a small counter setup with a few of the snacks off the menu. Hand made chocolates, small cakes, biscuits, fruit of course and a jug of water. The menu is also left there pleading to be read.
I also had a chance gave me chance to chat to the crew, something I try to do even if there’s a quiet moment. While the light meals on the menu are the designated anytime offerings their view was if they had it they would serve it, as it is first class. The light meals offered don’t sound super light, including a calzone or steak sandwich. The FA suggested the latter, so I went with the former holding an option on the sandwich. I returned to my seat and it was not long before the Calzone was ready.
Have to say I’d agree with the FA. It just did not hold up too well on a plane, and reheated. Although taste is subjective, I didn’t finish it. Nevermind, steak sandwich get!
This doesn’t only look much more appealing but also tasted much better. This is promoted as a signature dish for the airline, so one should expect nothing less. The meat was tender and the relish was just right. And finally, why not sample nearly the whole damn menu, I opted for the ice cream.
Must say I was a little disappointed when it came out but was probably more what I needed portion wise for my second, actually third dinner + dessert. Really nothing special and personally I much prefer the Maggie Beer ice cream Qantas serve domestically in business class. I thought the Jetstar ice cream on the prior flight was more fitting. You would of expected something a bit more… plated. But who cares, first world/class problems.
I just had a dozen courses of food so better sleep it off before breakfast. Was a slight hitch as now my seat controls had frozen. Oh no again! There are a handful of reset buttons on the contraption which the crew tried to find. I went for another walk upstairs… still empty. Good to stretch the legs around the staircase, you’re away from the crew and not disturbing any passengers. The slippers they give you may be cheap but are rather comfy in place of bare feet. The Frankenstein seat was alive again. So after being up for about an hour I headed back to the dream world, though I think reality was a tad nicer.
Good morning! Another few hours had passed. All up I had slept a good 6-7 hours very comfortably. Think I may have been woken up by some foot traffic but I was sleeping lightly. This gave me the chance to laze about for a while enjoying the warmth of the duvet. Wasn’t too long before I was noticed and asked if I’d like to begin breakfast. Well why not, back to the menu.
As far as eggs, sausages and the like go I figured either the AArivals lounge or later on the BA lounges in T5 would have me covered. Start with the smoothie (though never as good as what NZ offers). Blueberry pancakes from the SYD first lounge are fairly good so let’s see how they go on a plane.
Honestly, best meal I’ve had on a plane (big call!). Having been on board for 10 hours at least, it tasted extremely fresh. Much better than the first lounge. I don’t even like so many strawberries usually. The plate was empty in a minute or two. So why hold back, one last meal – a mix of things including yoghurt over the toasted muesli, which they were happy to put together for me.
The electric windows can be controlled independently on their touch controls or you can put them up or down from the remote. The half blind lets a bit of diffused light in and you can see outside using the camera.
Well with that we were near the end of the journey. Everything was cleaned up, I changed back to street clothes. Could then just sit back and watch the decent. A little sad, I wish I had to travel to Europe all the time, a lot more entertaining than the domestic junket.
Upon landing we were greeted with the efficiency of Heathrow. Three aerobridges greeted us but only two were being manned for arrival. Then the gate operator just has to figure out which door, M1L or M2L or at least where it is on the plane. Or is this a plane, actually what is a plane. Just do it already! It was like they were trying to enter a cheat code on the control terminal. Eventually M2L it was.
Sad to leave but all the crew came around and said thanks and goodbyes. Walking back towards the door, for that one moment I glanced back into the depths of the aircraft, through a multitude of robes now encasing the walls I saw an army of zombies a hundred deep. The staff did their best Gandalf, holding back their passage preventing our rapture. I escaped to find myself in the catacombs of Heathrow. I could make it sound adventurous but really it’s just walking a bloody long way in circles up and down.
Epilogue: Yes I survived. Yes I ate in the BA First lounge. No I didn’t eat again for some 30 hours.