Flight test: Qantas A380 to Dubai
Route QF1 Sydney to Dubai, inaugural flight by Qantas to London via Dubai as part of its new partnership with Emirates.
Aircraft Airbus A380.
Class Business, seat 20J.
Flight time 13 hours, 35 minutes. Qantas flights via Dubai arrive at the Emirates' vast and impressive Concourse A purpose-built for A380s.
Seat width and pitch Qantas's distinctive Marc Newson-designed second-generation business class seat-beds are 24 inches (61 centimetres) wide in bed mode. The cosy, cocoon-like seat reclines 180 degrees and extends two-metres when in it fully-flat bed mode. There are a wide range of adjustable seat positions as well as a massage function.
Seat configuration 2-2-2 in business class cabin
Luggage The new weight limit for luggage is 40 kilograms which aligns Qantas with Emirates' limits. In Qantas business there is plenty of space for cabin luggage on the overhead lockers should you elect to avoid baggage claim at your destination.
Comfort For an airline with a reputation of "packing them in" back in economy, the Qantas business class seat-bed offers legroom in upright seat mode so generous that even a basketball player couldn't quibble about it. There's also a welcome retractable screen between seats to provide a semblance of privacy and thwart chatterers.
Along with the much-loved Qantas-branded pyjamas offered to all business-class guests, the airline, in an effort to the match the amenities offered on Emirates services, has introduced to a "sleep service" which includes a new mattress and a turndown service which apparently is provided on request.
Qantas also offers a pre-slumber T2 brand well-being tea which the airline says has proved popular among its passengers. Can't sleep or craving company? Qantas A380 aircraft feature a small onboard "business lounge" featuring a 58 centimetre LCD screen and a selection of magazines.
Entertainment Pop on your supplied personal headphones and sit back and choose, for showing on your 12.1 inch (30.7 centimetres) personal screen, from 1500 entertainment options including nearly 100 movies (including a selection of the latest releases), more than 500 television shows, 20 radio channels, 80 games, 1000 CDs, audio books and radio channels.
Qantas's on-demand inflight entertainment system also features exclusive Lonely Planet destination guides and a dedicated "Kids Zone." This passenger experienced some difficulties in getting the retractable TV to pop back up.
Service The global style and design arbiter Tyler Brule, founder of wallpaper* and Monocle magazines, recently wrote in his FT Weekend Fast Lane column that Qantas is a great airline - until it gets off the ground. He was presumably referring to the much-debated consistency of service on Qantas services. But overall service on this milestone journey could hardly be faulted with a cheerful and courteous crew.
Food and beverages Qantas's executive chef, Neil Perry, of Rockpool fame, is sitting elsewhere in the business class cabin so we'd best watch what we say ... the airline has introduced Halal cuisine in deference to its Muslim passengers on its new Dubai route. One-half of the new menu is Arabic with a promise that "all meals served on board do not contain pork or alcohol products."
The Perry-designed dishes include "small plates" of cream of broccoli soup with croutons, fish cakes with nuoc cham and a mezze plate "inspired by Emirates", while mains feature pan-fried blue-eyed fillet with black bean and chilli, fragrant rice and gai-lan and lamb cassoulet with white beans and snow peas.
On this flight with a full business-class cabin there was an extended and unexplained delay in the serving of the main meal after the tray-table had been set and a salad served.
Despite the halal menu alcohol still flows freely: there's a choice of Champagne (Billecart salmon brut or Charles Heidsieck brut reserve), premium Australian wines, spirits beers and cognac and liqueurs.
Flight frequency Qantas flies daily to London via Dubai from Sydney as well as Melbourne with one-stop connections from Dubai to dozens of other European cities. A Qantas business class return airfare between Sydney and Dubai costs A$9271 ($11,349)), including taxes, though check the Qantas website or your travel agent as prices may vary as the airline adjusts its fares to match those of Emirates.
Tested by Anthony Dennis, who flew courtesy of Qantas
Sydney Morning Herald