web Musings of The Global Traveller

Monday, October 13, 2008

New Qantas First Class (A380)

I blogged previously that I'd been invited* by Qantas on a promotional A380 flight before scheduled service begins. What I didn't dare hope for, though, was that I'd be seated in their new first class for the flight. Woohoo.


I'd seen the publicity materials from Qantas when the new product was launched, and had been underwhelmed. Perhaps it was because Emirates and Singapore Airlines had both taken the opportunity to add fantastic new first class products on their A380s that expectations were too high.

Having sat in the seat for a couple of hours I think the pictures do not do it justice. For sure it is not as good as the top notch suites, but it is much better than the current Qantas First Class. I'd rank the new first class upper quartile rather than leading.

The cabin most definitely family unfriendly - you cannot easily see a small child in another seat, and also cannot reach across to refasten belts. While not enclosed ala Emirates or Singapore Airlines, there is a reasonable amount of privacy at least while seated or laying down. Stand up and you can see all.

I've posted a full review on Flyer Talk.

Here are a few snippets.

... overall the cabin is of airiness.

The seat faces forward for take-off and landing. There is limited legroom but with plenty of knee room in this position. Other than take-off and landing, there does not seem much point in the forward-facing position. All the other features of the seat are best used when the seat is swivelled.

There are plenty of places to put little things, but only 1 spot to put a laptop bag or similar - under the ottoman. There are two swivel triangular drawers under the small shelf at far right. A couple of cubbies up against the seat when swiveled. The lower one of these is partially blocked when in bed mode, but as a secure place to put things while sleeping it is inferior to BA first and business, or NZ business, for example.

The main table is inbetween the cubbies and the shelf and well positioned for eating alone or with someone else at the ottoman. The table however is not as large as NZ or CX business class, so it will be cosy for two.

There is a recessed drink/glass holder in the shelf, and also behind the head when in bed mode. Good for putting a water bottle in, but watch out if resting a glass on the shelf!

There is a pop-out coat hook to hang your jacket when you first arrive while waiting to hand it to an attendant, or on landing after being handed it back. There is also a hook on the seat wall to hang the headphones so you don't need to stuff them into a cubby or have them loose on the tray table or shelf.

In swivel mode there is decent legroom regardless of how far reclined the seat is. In bed mode the length is reasonable, the bed is flat (arm rests drop to lie fairly flush) and reasonably comfortable.

The master controller is wall mounted, and can also be lifted out of its socket. It reminds me of the one Emirates has in first class on A345 aircraft. The controller operates IFE, seat positions, blinds, lights, privacy screen, etc. It is touch screen, but also has buttons for preset seat positions, overhead lights and a crew call button. There are 7 different directions the seat can be adjusted (including massage functions), and 5 preset seating positions.

* The invite was offered due to my frequent flyer status, not for any publicity in this blog or elsewhere.

The Qantas A380 also has a new IFE system, which appears to be much better than the existing system. More on this later.

No comments: