Qantas business class Sydney – Hong Kong
Middle Eastern carriers have dominated the news when it comes to the Airbus A380 recently, with extravagant features like Etihad’s ‘The Residence’, complete with private bathroom and personal Savoy-trained butler.
Qantas has been flying the double decker for years, and while some changes have been made to its configuration (more on that in a moment), it’s become a very recognisable aircraft for the Australian carrier, for most of the world associated with some of the ultimate long-haul flying to get Down Under. Where you find the A380 has varied, with the most consistent routes being those between Melbourne/Sydney and Dubai, and onwards to London. Sydney to Dallas, one of the longest routes in the world, started seeing an A380 not too long ago. It used to be a regular between Sydney and Hong Kong as well, which is where I experienced it, but like other Australasian routes (Singapore, Bangkok), it’s been mostly downgraded to either a Boeing 747 or Airbus A330.
My flight left Sydney Kingsford Smith (SYD) at 09.50am, arriving at Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok (HKG) at 17.20 the same day.
At the Airport
Having arrived on a flight the night before, I stayed at the Rydges Sydney airport, conveniently located across the street from the international terminal. I didn’t have any bags to check in, so I made my way straight to security. There is a separate fast-track line for business/first class passengers and eligible frequent fliers.
Qantas has both a business class and first class lounge. I’ve previously said that SYD is one of the airports where I’m happiest having Oneworld Emerald status as it gives you access to the fantastic first class lounge, so that’s where I headed. I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before heading to the gate.
Boarding and First Impressions
The latest Qantas A380 has 484 seats across four cabins: first, business, premium economy, and economy. An earlier configuration had first and economy on the lower deck, with business and premium economy on the upper deck. The premium economy cabin, already one of the best products out there, was located at the rear of the upper deck and had some choice seats with unlimited legroom and plenty of space.
Alas, Qantas decided to reduce capacity in business, move premium economy forward, and add an economy section at the rear of the upper deck, leading to the configuration that remains today. First class is an extremely spacious 1-1-1 across downstairs, with outstandingly private suites. The rest of the lower deck is taken by the majority of economy seating at 3-4-3 across. Business class upstairs is split across two cabins, one small front cabin of three rows of three seat pairs, and a larger cabin of eight rows behind it. Premium economy is 2-3-2 across, with a tiny economy cabin of just 30 seats completing the upper deck.
Business class has the latest version of the Qantas Skybed, which is a traditional forward-facing seat that reclines fully flat. It’s great when traveling together as a couple, but if you are in a window seat you will have to climb over your neighbour to get to the aisle. A pillow, blanket, and thin mattress are provided to get comfortable on long-haul (overnight) flights. The design is tasteful and understated, mixing dark greys and reds. My personal preference is for a window seat in the small front cabin.
Each seat has a large personal video screen that folds out of the armrest and gives access to a range of movies, TV series, and the like. Not quite as lavish as the lounges you’ll find on Emirates or Qatar, the Qantas A380 has a small seating area at the front right of the upper deck where you can socialise with other passengers.
I’ve flown Qantas probably a handful of times, and have always enjoyed their service – friendly but relaxed, personable but professional. I still remember a flight in Premium from years ago with one of the best crews I’ve probably ever experienced. The crew on this flight did a great job as well. Meals are nicely presented on white linen, with a lunch served a few hours into the flight. I opted for the pasta with mushrooms as my main course, which was nice if not particularly memorable. There is an extensive wine list, but I rarely drink when flying.
We arrived at Hong Kong airport on time. A separate airbridge for the upper deck got us off the plane without much delay, but I had enough time to catch a connecting flight to Europe anyway.
Another solid Qantas flight. The business class seats are comfortable, if not quite as private as what you’d find on competitor Cathay Pacific on this route. Combined with the pleasant service, I’d happily fly the QF A380 again.