Review: Qantas First Class A380 Sydney To Los Angeles

Filed Under: Qantas

Qantas 11
Sydney (SYD) ā€“ Los Angeles (LAX)
Wednesday, November 26
Depart: 3:00PM
Arrive: 9:45AM
Duration: 13hr45min
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 2A (First Class)

At the forward left door we were welcomed by one of the first class crew members and pointed to our seats, 2A and 3A.

Qantas’ first class cabin is rather unconventional, as it’s the only A380 first class product with three seats per row (in fairness, Etihad has two seats per row, though). šŸ˜‰

Qantas A380 first class cabin

There are five seats along the window on each side of the cabin, and then four seats in the center section.

All the seats angle away from the aisle, though it’s worth noting that the center seats use the right aisle. Therefore I have a strong preference for sitting on the left side, since the aisle and overhead bins are only being shared with five passengers, while the right aisle is being shared with nine passengers.

Qantas A380 first class cabin

I had assigned myself seat 2A and my dad seat 3A. I sort of have mixed feelings about Qantas’ first class hard product. It’s not a fully enclosed suite, though does feel quite private.

Qantas A380 first class, seat 2A

During takeoff and landing the seat faces forward, though during the flight the seat swivels towards the window, so that you can use the ottoman and easily watch the entertainment screen.

Qantas A380 first class, seat 2A

On one hand the seat is definitely innovative, though on the other hand I’m not sure I prefer it to just a standard forward facing fully enclosed suite.

Qantas A380 first class, seat 2A

Qantas A380 first class, seat 2A

It’s also worth noting that if you’re seated on the left side, there’s a high screen along the center section which goes up after takeoff, so the left aisle does feel very private.

Qantas A380 first class, view from seat 2A

On the left side of the seat was the entertainment controller.

Qantas A380 first class entertainment controls

Immediately above that was a screen which controls many of the seating functions. The screen can be removed from the console for easier use, given that the angle at which it’s positioned makes it difficult to use if seated.

Qantas A380 first class seat controls

Waiting at my seat were a pillow and blanket.

Qantas A380 first class pillow and blanket

There were also some cheap noise cancelling headphones. It always pisses me off when airlines have cheap headphones, especially when they’re the kind with three prongs (since that makes it tougher to use my own headphones).

Qantas A380 first class headphones

Immediately in front of the seat when in the forward position is the magazine pocket, and then above that is a small fold out table which is perfect for a drink, bottle of water, etc.

Below the magazine pocket are the power outlets.

Qantas A380 first class magazine pocket

The seats are very private due the angle they face, and they get even more private after takeoff, since the “shields” between seats near the window raise.

Qantas A380 first class view of rows

Anyway, shortly after settling in Matt introduced himself, who would be the flight attendant working our aisle. He offered us drinks to get started. I ordered a glass of champagne, which was served with almonds and olives.

Qantas first class champagne and nuts/olives

Shortly thereafter we were offered pajamas, slippers, and amenity kits.

I love Qantas’ pajamas — they’re light, comfortable, have a big kangaroo logo on them, and come wrapped in a bow.

Qantas first class amenity kit, pajamas, and slippers

Qantas’ amenity kit is also top notch, with SK-II products.

Qantas first class amenity kit

The boarding music on this flight was rather odd and eclectic. For the most part they played oldies US music, which I found extremely annoying. Then just before departure they played “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap, which more than made up for all the other crap music:

At around 2:55PM the captain came on the PA for his welcome aboard announcement and to inform us of our flight time of 13hr5min, which he anticipated would put us into Los Angeles on-time.

Qantas A380 tail camera

After the captain’s announcement the customer service manager, Jayson, came around to introduce himself and welcome us aboard. He was awesome, and appeared throughout the flight to see how everything was.

Our pushback was delayed by a few minutes as we waited for bags to be loaded, and at 3:15PM we finally began our pushback with a completely full first class cabin.

Qantas A380 Sydney Airport

The safety video played as we taxied to the runway. It’s worth noting that Qantas’ A380 first class seats have a shoulder harness that has to be worn during takeoff and landing.

Qantas A380 tail camera taxiing Sydney Airport

Qantas A380 tail camera taxiing Sydney Airport

Our taxi to the runway was reasonably quick, and at 3:30PM we were airborne on runway 34L.

Qantas A380 tail camera taking off Sydney Airport

Qantas A380 tail camera taking off Sydney Airport

You’ve gotta love the tail camera on the A380, especially for a longhaul flight which isn’t sheepish about using up as much runway as it damn pleases.

Qantas A380 tail camera taking off Sydney Airport

Qantas A380 tail camera taking off Sydney Airport

Our climb out was gradual and smooth, and about 20 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off.

Qantas A380 tail camera climbing out of Sydney

Qantas flight path

I took the opportunity to browse the entertainment selection.

Qantas entertainment selection

Qantas entertainment selection

I decided to watch “Mom’s Night Out,” which was about as exciting as it sounds…

Qantas entertainment selection

The menus were distributed shortly after the seatbelt sign was turned off, and shortly thereafter meal orders were taken.

Qantas first class menu

The menu read as follows:




And the beverage list read as follows:







So in the past Qantas had a spectacular dedicated tasting menu which had things that weren’t otherwise available on the menu. But it seems they got rid of that, and the tasting menu is now simply them choosing which of the items on the regular menu they serve you.

About 45 minutes after takeoff drinks and canapes were served. I had a glass of champagne to drink.

Qantas first class champagne and canapes

The canapes were quite good, and consisted of a lobster and chervil tartlet and lamb kibbeh. They were both quite good.

Qantas first class lobster & lamb canapes

It was another hour after drinks were served before my table was set for lunch (at this point it was 1hr45min into the flight), which seemed awfully long. I guess that makes sense though since this is a longhaul departing in the afternoon, and most people aren’t going straight to sleep.

I had the cauliflower soup to start, which was good though unmemorable.

Qantas first class lunch: cream of cauliflower soup

Qantas first class lunch: cream of cauliflower soup

Meanwhile my dad had the beef carpaccio to start, which he didn’t especially enjoy.

Qantas first class lunch: beef carpaccio

I was a bit confused by the difference between small plates and main plates. So per the flight attendant’s suggestion I ordered a small plate as a starter. Specifically, I had the prawn tortellini, which was quite tasty.

Qantas first class lunch: prawn tortellini

Then for the main course I had the seared snapper, which was borderline vile. It was completely dry and tasteless. I tend to think the best fish is served without a sauce, but if you’re going to serve dry, rubbery fish, at least have some sauce with it (or just have some good fish to begin with!).

Qantas first class lunch: seared snapper and side salad

Qantas first class lunch: seared snapper and side salad

The main course was served with a side salad.

Qantas first class lunch: side salad

My dad had the braised beef cheek for his main course, which he wasn’t a fan of either.

Qantas first class lunch: braised beef cheek

His beef was served with mac and cheese, which was delicious, at least.

Qantas first class lunch: mac and cheese

For dessert I had ice cream, which was served on a stick.

Qantas first class lunch: ice cream

Qantas first class lunch: ice cream

I also tried the caramel creme with strawberries, which was good.

Qantas first class lunch: caramel creme with strawberries

Meanwhile my dad had a cheese plate for dessert.

Qantas first class lunch: cheese plate

Lastly, to finish off the meal I had a cappuccino.

Qantas first class cappuccino

It was three hours into the flight before the meal service was done, leaving about 10 hours to go to Los Angeles.

Frankly the meal service was rather disappointing. Not only was there nothing about the food that was “first class” to begin with, but the execution was just terrible. The snapper I had was among the worst fish dishes I’ve had on a plane in a long time.

And even the good stuff, like the caramel creme, lacked any creativity in presentation.

Service throughout the meal was fine. Service was reasonably good when it actually happened, though I kind of felt like I only saw the flight attendant every 15 minutes or so.

Simply put, the meal was business class at best. And even if I were in business class, I would have still been disappointed by the execution of the main course.

After the meal I asked for my bed to be made. I wasn’t quite tired, but I remembered Qantas’ bed being among the most comfortable in the sky, so figured I’d watch TV from there.

While my bed was being made I quickly headed to one of the two first class lavs, located in front of the cabin. It’s a nice enough lav, though there’s nothing special about it, unlike what some other airlines offer on the A380 (Emirates, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar, and Thai). Admittedly that’s primarily a function of the other airlines having first class on the upper deck, where there’s a bit of “free space” in front of the cabin.

Qantas A380 first class lavatory

Qantas A380 first class lavatory

Qantas A380 first class lavatory toiletries

After that I took a quick walk to the upper deck. Qantas has among my favorite A380 stairs thanks to the iconic kangaroo logo at the top of them.

Qantas A380 staircase

Qantas A380 staircase kangaroo

There’s a small lounge area on the right front side of the upper deck with seating for five.

Qantas A380 business class lounge

Qantas A380 business class lounge

Then there’s a small self serve bar, and in front of that is the customer service manager’s office.

Qantas A380 business class bar

By the time I got back to my seat the sun was starting to set, and we had about 10 hours to go to Los Angeles.

Tail camera enroute to Los Angeles

Sunset enroute to Los Angeles

My bed was every bit as comfortable as it looked. Qantas unarguably has one of the most comfortable beds in the sky. The mattress pad is nothing short of heavenly.

Qantas A380 first class bed

Qantas A380 first class bed

I decided to watch the movie “Blended.” I have a dumb sense of humor, so I found it to be quite amusing for an airplane movie. I actually only managed to watch about five minutes of the movie before falling asleep, as I ended up then getting about five hours of rest. But I finished the movie when I woke up.

Qantas entertainment selection

While I was still full from dinner, I couldn’t fly Qantas and not eat their famous steak sandwich, so I ordered one of those.

Qantas signature steak sandwich

I also ordered a pot of tea, which was served with some chocolate.

Qantas first class tea and chocolates

I watched a couple more sitcoms, and before I knew it we were only a couple of hours from Los Angeles.

Qantas A380 tail camera

Qantas flight path

About 90 minutes before landing the breakfast service began.

The breakfast menu read as follows:


I ordered a smoothie and cappuccino to start, and also ordered some fruit and bircher muesli.

Qantas first class breakfast: fruit, muesli, cappuccino, smoothie, and orange juice

Qantas first class breakfast: smoothie and orange juice

Qantas first class breakfast: muesli

Qantas first class breakfast: fruit

My dad ordered the waffles, which he said were pretty bad.

Qantas first class breakfast: waffles

My scrambled eggs with trout was quite good, though.

Qantas first class breakfast: scrambled eggs

Soon enough the California coastline was in view, and about 30 minutes before landing we began our descent into Los Angeles.

View approaching the US west coast

I packed my carry-ons, changed out of my pajamas, and turned on the tail camera to watch our approach.

View approaching the US west coast

We touched down on runway 24R at 9:55AM, and from there had a roughly 15 minute taxi to our gate.

On approach into LAX

Touchdown LAX

Touchdown LAX

Funny enough the only two planes at Tom Bradley International Terminal where two rival A380s that had just landed from Seoul Incheon.

Taxiing LAX

Arriving at gate LAX

Qantas A380 first class bottom line

Qantas’ first class hard product is quite good, while their bedding is excellent. So in terms of getting sleep on these longhaul flights, Qantas offers a very good product.

That being said, I wasn’t at all impressed by the soft product on this sector. The food was downright disappointing for international first class. The service was well intentioned, though really not as attentive as I’d expect for international first class, given both how long the meal took, and also the lack of “proactive” service during the meals.

Still, Qantas hands down offers the best first class product between the US and Australia (the only alternative with first class is United, after all), though to be honest I’m not really dying to fly them again… which is unfortunate, because I have about 45 hours booked in Qantas first class in the coming weeks

If you’ve flown Qantas first class, what was your experience like?

  1. Another excellent report. Sorry it was disappointing though, even from the pictures the food looks underwhelming.

    I didn’t see it mentioned in the post, which champagne of the 3 were they serving?

  2. Ben, how come you are not fat? Haha not to be rude, but you guys do eat a lot in those travels, ae?
    Besides that, loved this trip with your father!

  3. I’ve flown QF premium cabins many times, and I never fail to be disappointed. I don’t know why it’s so highly rated in some of the ‘top 10’ lists. Flight attendants couldn’t give a damn about service. I’d rate QR, CX, SQ and EK above QF any day.

  4. @ Front office — Still have to give the nod to Qantas for more personal space and better bedding, all else being equal.

  5. @ Bernando — Haven’t been gone about it lately (too much flying!), but when I’m on the ground and in one timezone I try to work out every day. Could lose a few pounds at this point from way too much travel. šŸ˜€

  6. Do the various privacy shields raise automatically or is it up to each passenger? (I could imagine, for example, that a center passenger might prefer to have their shield down to feel less claustrophobic and/or be better able to see out the windows, but then that makes it a less private experience for the people on the left aisle.)

    Also, I assume you already know this but it isn’t clear from your review — when an airline uses three-prong headphones, the third prong is smaller than the other two and simply provides power to the noise-cancelling feature on the headphone. You can use your own noise-cancelling headphones with a standard two-prong airplane adapter in the two larger prongs, and it will be just the same as any other use of your own headphones in an IFE system.

  7. ” It always pisses me off ” – really? that intense?

    also, did you look at the seat map the day before? was F full because of upgrades? or do they really sell out their F cabin?

  8. @ Lantean — Nothing “intense” about it. I like when airlines have good headphones.

    Was, cabin was mostly full a couple of days out, though Qantas is also one of the few airlines which seems to allow employees into first class with some regularity.

  9. Ben,

    I love the steak sandwich and you didn’t comment on whether it tasted good. If it was great, like I remember, than the soft product goes up in my estimation.

    I also loved all the starters and ordered two of them so my experience differed from you greatly.

    I also thought the service was superb — extremely friendly and happy-to-be-there FA’s.

  10. Ben, did you use a different camera for these pictures? The pic quality is rather poor compared to previous posts, particularly the menu pictures.

  11. What is your general opinion of QANTAS business class between SYD or MEL and LAX, and then on to NYC on the 747? Thanks.

  12. @ Mike — I’ve heard good things about Qantas in business class, and really enjoyed my flight between Los Angeles and New York. Stay tuned for more on that.

  13. I’m bored now. Always the same airlines, same hotels and geek pictures galore (10+ on board camera photo’s, 5+ photo’s of the IFE).

    What I’m really waiting for are reviews of Garuda’s F and other less known but potentially great products, more business class instead of first, more non-suite reviews….

  14. @ ralf — It has been about five years since I’ve reviewed Qantas first class. Sorry you’re bored.

  15. Couldn’t agree more with Ralf. Give us them Garuda F, Kuwait F, EgyptAir J, LCCs, Economy Class in general and more.. are really missed here.

    Why don’t you make one trip where you use them all? Perhaps LCC domestic US, MS JFK-CAI, Kuwait CAI-KWI-(KUL)-CGK, Garuda whatever you like.

  16. At the end of the day we are all probably far more familar with many airlines Economy class products! I read these posts to give me aspirations of a more luxury travel experience! That said, I would like to see reviews of Turkish, Sri Lanka, Garuda, and any other not so mainstream airlines business class. Or links if they have already been done please.

  17. @ Abdel / @ Ralf — Lucky doesn’t usually review Y flights (at least, domestic US). Periodically he solicits feedback on what products to review and I think in the past year he has done some new flights (just not everything has been posted on the blog yet).

  18. I didn’t mean to be negative. But rather sooner than later, I guess most readers will become uninterested by yet another Emirates F, LH F,…, report.

    And reviews of a new aircraft with the same hard product do not add much value either, although I probably underestimate the number of airline freaks here.

    Perhaps not by you, but Qantas First was again reviewed this or last week on boardingarea.

  19. @Ivan. I know Lucky focuses on luxury travel. But a great C class is that too.

    I’m not interested in Y reviews. There is hardly any differentiation between Y products, they are all terrible, and plain torture with Lucky’s travel patterns.

  20. Ben, you only flew QF F in the SYD-LAX direction. I find that the food is much better in the LAX-SYD direction. I usually get fish and it is much better LAX-SYD. I find that to be the case on other airlines as well – better out of LAX.

    And I do miss the DOM that QF used to fly in F.

    Now Ben – with all that food – how do you stay so slim? I guess it is called youth.

  21. Qantas F always seems to be full. They offer points upgrades for 45,000 Qantas points for SYD-LAX for passengers traveling on business class fares, and enough people take it. After all, it is a much better bed in F than in business.

    Apparently there are always plenty of staff around entitled to sit in F when it is empty, but we have no first hand experience of that happening.

  22. I enjoy Ben’s reviews of luxury products and I love lot’s of pictures. Gives me realistic expectations of the product. Keep up the good work Ben!

  23. I can assure you that fish dish cannot be worse than the one I had on my SQ SIN LHR flight last year, though it was in coach. It sorta smelled of something like it wasn’t fresh and it was tasteless.

  24. @ Christian — In practice there’s not really a difference between “lunch” and “dinner.” It would be the same thing. But agree for a 3PM departure you’d think they would call it dinner.

  25. Australians have a “thing” about fish being cooked until it’s a brick bat that requires a knife to cut… Even if one pleads with a restaurant to undercook the fish, it still tends to come out one way. Contrasting this is the Etihad flight from SFO-AUH on Jet Airways in F in which the fish was perfectly done, and fell into flakes with a touch of the fork. How they did this in an airplane galley is beyond me. The food (mainly Indian-themed as one might expect) on Jet Airways was even better than that on Etihad metal from LAX-AUH in F.

    The Qantas hard product looks plain and a little tacky compared to EY or EK.

  26. I flew QF First last month on an AA award ticket. Having only experienced BA and AA First previously (also on award tickets), I’m probably not as jaded as someone who travels like this for a living. I still marvel at being able to partake in the miracle of flight in a First Class space, and the soft product on any of them is light years more extravagant compared to daily life. I suspect it will be a while before I can say things in international First Class “piss me off” or are “disappointing”, or quibble with the soft product because of “a lack of attentiveness”.

  27. A while back I asked you which two F seats you would recommend on this flight and you suggested 2A & 3A. I was able to get both of these seats and have to say that they were perfect! Loved having aisle access with only a couple other people on that side of plane. Thanks for promptly answering my question and for providing quality tips, tricks, and information that has allowed my husband and I to travel first class while spending the money that we used to spend on coach. Actually, many times our trips are less expensive than economy flights and hotels!

  28. It would be telling to read what corrective action the crew offered if told the fish was hockey puck material. On the other hand, serving a protein so obviously overcooked does not show attention to details. The only way to rescue that fish is to toss it in a salad and drown it in dressing. The fact the FA did not pick on the body language clues showing lack of enthusiasm for the meal leaves a lot to be desired about training and promotion screenings. I’ll spare you my thoughts about the ice cream on a stick.

  29. I have flown MEL-LAX in F two years ago. I had an excellent experience on QF First Class. Not quite Etihad, but a very good product indeed. I loved the toast, eggs and salmon for breakfast; and I thought the tasting menu was pretty cool.

  30. Ben,
    how did you manage to get 2 QF F class tickets on the same flight using AA miles. From your earlier posts I understand that getting 1 is very difficult.
    Can you explain your planning for this leg

  31. Great review, how do you rate Qantas first compared to British Airways first? I recently flew in first with BA to JFK and wasn’t impressed one bit with their so called first class product. The only good part was the Concorde lounge in LHR.

  32. Great Review, Was just looking at the breakfast menu….smoked ocean trout…I mean it looks nice but…isn’t trout meant to be a freshwater fish… “ocean” doesn’t quite make sense haha

  33. Keep up these fantastic reports Ben!! I’m a loyal follower, here and on instagram.. And I’m always comparing notes with you. Good stuff šŸ™‚


  34. @Lucky

    For an LHR-DXB routing would you go QF in F or QR in J or F? I don’t mind the connection in DOH and I guess the new Al-Safwa lounge should be worth checking out later this year.

  35. @ Dan @ Brad — I’d probably go with Qantas first class, assuming it only costs marginally more miles. It’s a direct flight, so seems worth it for the convenience.

  36. @Lucky

    Were you pretty happy with your seat selection for this flight? I keep seeing some prefer 2A and some prefer 3A for a solo traveler. Would you have rather had 3A for this flight?

  37. @ Dan — Not sure there’s really a difference. 2A & 3A are basically the same, in my opinion.

  38. Hi Lucky,

    Just wondering for the route from Sydney to London would you prefer QF(A380), BA(B777) or EK(A380) in First Class?

  39. No bueno- looked liked an american carriers business class product-wretched. No way quantas. Improve or go under.

  40. Hi, loved your review. Soon to fly F class Qantas with my wife. Are there any seats you could recommend where we could at least see each other in flight. I kw we can dine together but I was hoping that the config would enable us to see each other. Thanks.

  41. I’ve always heard great things about QF but the F cabin looks quite plain – all beige and molded plastic – certainly nowhere near as “First Class” as say, Qatar’s A380 cabin. As for the food, I’m surprised. Again, one hears great things about the QF tasting menus but from your description, I might do better to chow down at the excellent restaurant in the First Class lounge at SYD. Thanks for the update though. I’m thinking I’ll probably not fly Qantas First but instead go with its Business Class.

  42. Interesting review. Can’t agree with the music comment. I guess they mostly play old stuff because its mostly oldies in the cabin. If I had to listen to more than a couple of minutes of that Imogen Heap stuff, I’d be ripping my hair out. Dreadful. But I want to know where you get all these points from. I’ve been a travel consultant for over 40 years and certainly don’t have points to fly 400,000 miles a year. I guess you actually don’t do much consulting otherwise you wouldn’t have time to do all those miles. Lucky is definitely a good moniker.

  43. Not being funny, but animals gave up their lives and you both have the temerity to complain about the quality of them.

  44. I’m looking at either booking Qantas First Class, or Emirates First class from Singapore to Australia (now that the Qantas a380 is visiting Singapore again) . How would you rate QF F over EK F? i’ve flown EK F in the past and loved it, but i was thinking of trying out QF as its a product i’ve never tried in F before.

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