Airline: Qantas | Aircraft: A380-800 | Class: Business | Flight: QF36 (SIN-MEL)
Airlines typically do not allow you to change your flights for free if the only change is an equipment swap but thankfully in my case, there was also a schedule change and therefore, I was able to move my Emirates flight to Qantas instead. While I really do like Emirates’ A380 product (as well as the complimentary Chauffeur-drive service that you get in Business and First Class), I really did not want to fly on the 777-300ER to Melbourne. By switching to Qantas, I was able to travel in a 2-2-2 cabin (which is not great but probably better than Emirates’ 2-3-2 layout) and more importantly, I managed to cut my layover in Melbourne Airport down to 6 hours from 13 hours. Passengers traveling on Qantas’ Business Class will have the option of going to either The Qantas Singapore Lounge (which is great but gets really crowded) or The Emirates Lounge (which was just refurbished last year). You may also use the British Airways Lounge which is located right next to the Qantas lounge.
Since the boarding gate for this flight was located towards the end of the Terminal 1, I had to wait quite a while in line for security screening. Even though there is a dedicated line for Business Class passengers, I still had to stand in line for at least 10 minutes before getting through security. Flight QF36 from Singapore to Melbourne is operated by an A380-800 and this 9-year old aircraft (VH-OQF) that I was on was definitely showing massive signs of age. The Business Class product on Qantas’ A380-800 does not look good aesthetically (but hey the product is more than 10 years old now) and the cabin is arranged in a 2-2-2 layout.
I personally do not like seats in the middle since I always prefer a window seat (in Business Class at least) but the 2-2-2 cabin configuration meant that I actually have to climb over the other passenger (if he or she is sleeping) to get to the bathroom. The seats in the middle however have direct aisle access so they are not actually bad in this situation. As I have mentioned earlier, the decision to switch my flight from Emirates to Qantas took place rather last-minute and therefore, I was only left with a number of seat choices at that time - I eventually opted for Seat 21K which is a window seat.
Welcome drinks (including Champagne) were offered on the ground to Business Class passengers and one of the cabin crews then went around to distribute the amenity kits as well as pyjamas. In the event that you share a similar build to me and would like to know which size of pyjamas to go for, Large is definitely a bad option since it is massive. I would personally recommend going for Medium instead. My meal orders were also taken shortly after the amenities have been distributed but I was informed that my choice was unavailable - in fact, I overheard that at least three of the passengers did not get their meal choice for dinner. The flight was scheduled to depart at 7:40PM but due to delays on the ground, it only took off eventually at 8:30PM.
I was slightly taken aback when I saw the seat controls at first glance - they were unintuitive but thankfully it did not take me too long to figure out what each button does. Once you have gotten quite comfortable in the position that you are in, you have the option of saving that configuration - you can then retrieve it by pressing the recall button. There is also a massage option which I have found to be quite novel but honestly did not see much value in.
Since this was my first time experiencing Qantas’ Business Class product on the A380, I did not know where the in-flight entertainment screen was. Honestly, if you are used to flying on Singapore Airlines, you will notice plenty of differences in the way service is being managed on the flights. Once the flight actually took off and the seatbelt sign has been turned off, I noticed that the entertainment screen can be released by pushing a button next to the seat - there is also another button that raises and lowers the privacy divider between seats.
The in-flight entertainment screens are quite small for Business Class and for some reason, I was not able to find a power outlet or USB charging port. However, I do believe that they are available (since Economy Class seats actually feature them) but I have absolutely no idea where they are. In any case, I just wanted to complete meal service as soon as possible before getting some rest prior to landing. Knowing that this is a redeye flight, one of the cabin crew came by quickly to set up the mattress as well as cotton duvet for the passengers shortly after take-off.
Headphones are provided but I highly recommend for you to bring your own - the adapter is detachable so your 3.5mm audio jack will fit easily here. I do not like the ones provided at all since they feel extremely filmsy and they are not exactly comfortable for prolonged use.
Approximately 30 minutes after take-off, the cabin crew went around to set up the tables for meal service. While the seats are supposed to be cleaned before each flight, the person sitting next to me (who is also a friend from work) had an awfully dirty tray table - it was littered with what looks like pastry flakes and bread crumps. Upon bringing this to a cabin crew’s attention, her exact response was ‘that’s alright, I will just put this (table cloth) over it’. Shocking. Honestly, I do not know what the right response is but I am confident that even a passenger traveling in Economy on Singapore Airlines will not receive such a treatment. I later also found a used food wrapper in the storage space of my seat so you can only imagine how detail-orientated the staff are.
The Champagne served on this flight was a NV Brut Reserve from Duval Leroy which is in my opinion better than what Emirates serve on a similar flight (think M&C). The bread was served cold but hey at least the butter was salted. I did however like the salt and pepper shakers provided (even though they were disposable) since it allows you to actually pinch the salt (which is the only way you should ever salt your food).
I have initially opted for the Barbecue Duck Dumplings with Aromatic Broth, Shiitake Mushrooms, Egg Noodles and Asian Greens but that was apparently unavailable. As such, I went for the Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Green Beans and Chipotle Lentil Sauce - the cabin crew offered to make it ‘extra special’ for me since I did not manage to get my meal choice but I am not sure what it actually meant since it looked fairly ordinary. Meal presentations are also not one of Qantas’ strong suits and I have probably been spoilt silly by Singapore Airlines. The food was actually ok taste-wise but nothing much to shout about. In any case, I was really looking forward to get some shut eye after the meal.
For dessert, I was offered a choice of either the Apple and Vanilla Crumble with Cinnamon Cream, the Ice-cream or some seasonal fruits. I went for the Häagen-Dazs Ice-cream which was already melting when it came to me - not sure if that was the intended effect but I personally like my ice—cream frozen.
In spite of the fairly lacklustre Business Class product and service levels on the flight, I did manage to get about 3 hours of solid sleep. The pyjamas is definitely a nice touch since it ensures that your shirt remains relatively uncreased during the flight and the seats actually made decent beds. There is also plenty of storage space around so I could stow my belongings without having to get my bag from the overhead compartments. It is definitely worth noting that there is no WiFi (paid or otherwise) on the plane which is not exactly a bad thing if you wish to get some sleep. To be honest, I will probably never opt for Business Class on Qantas’ A380 again. I have actually seen a number of good reviews for this product but I guess there is an obligation to say good things when flights are sponsored (thankfully I am on a revenue ticket). I can’t believe I am saying this but the 777-300ER Business Class product on Emirates is actually better in comparison to this.