The Refurbished Qantas A380 Experience - Flying Economy Class to Los Angeles
How's the experience of Qantas refurbished A380 like, in Economy Class?
I was honoured to fly on the first refurbished Qantas A380 on one of its first flights after the revamp (in fact, the first flight to Los Angeles after a series of QF1 / QF2 Sydney-Singapore-London runs).
So lady luck shone on me on this upgraded A380, aside from the fact I was flying in Economy Class - which had seen a minimalist revamp versus the luxury touches to First Class, Business Class or even Premium Economy Class (for more information on the product upgrades, see the Qantas A380 refurbishment factsheet here).
Route: Sydney to Los Angeles
Operating aircraft: A380-841
Registration: VH-OQK "John Duigan"
Departure from Sydney: 10:35am / 10:59am*
Arrival in Los Angeles: 06:20am / 06:04am*
Flight time: 13h45 / 13h5*
(*denotes actual timings)
The whale I was flying with today was VH-OQK "John Duigan" - named after an Australian pioneer aviator who built and piloted the first made-in-Australia aircraft.
Despite flying on this mega plane, boarding was surprisingly fast - could have been a lighter-than-usual passenger load on this flight - many passengers enjoyed an empty seat next to them.I was seated on aisle seat 74C, also blessed with an empty middle seat next to me on this long-haul journey.
The entire Economy Class cabin is now in a maroon hue, with new cushioning. Tragically, there are no more Economy Class section in the Upper Deck on this new A380.
See the difference versus the previous A380 product (taken on VH-OQB, as flight QF35, from Melbourne to Singapore)
Comparing the two seat designs, the new A380 seat cushioning is more sleek and streamlined (note that it doesn't feature a headrest cover).
Aside from that, the front (well, back) of the seat is similar.
Headsets, blankets and pillows are already set on each seat.
Funny story, my headset was broken, as with the one on the empty seat next to mine! After take-off, I requested from a friendly flight steward who then teased me about breaking headsets and for the rest of the flight - tormented me each time he served my row or I passed him by at the galley, "don't be breaking any more headsets". He sure made my journey quite fun. Thanks for that, mate!
Other features remained very similar to the previous design, including the entertainment screen size. No change to that, though content had been updated to match the B787 entertainment.
Versus the below previous A380 iQ entertainment (onboard VH-OQB, QF35 MEL-SIN)
Though Qantas news release (see here) highlighted this as an improvement to the inflight entertainment, I found the touch sensitivity and navigation far too laggy and the tail camera view was sorely missed on my flight. Two of the passengers in my vicinity had their entertainment jammed mid-way during the flight. I was fortunate
Ability to juice up your electronic gadgets inflight is still pre-refurbishment status quo, with USB port at the arm rest and a shared AC power port under the seats (note an adapter may be necessary depending on your device).
Menu cards were distributed after the boarding. How nice to have at hand the service details onboard this long-haul flight.
MENU (AUSTRALIA TO NORTH AMERICA)
Salad of smoked salmon with edamame beans, zucchini and black bean noodles
Braised wagyu beef with mushrooms and baby onions, polenta and roasted carrots
Pot roast chicken with rosemary jus, barley, carrots and broad beans
Garlic, sea salt and oregano focaccia
Coconut and rosella jelly lamington cup
Weis ice cream
Baked mini rolls with tomato sauce
White chocolate and coconut cookie
Cheese and biscuits
Leek and potato frittata with bratwurst sausage, bacon and creamy spinach
Seasonal fruit plate
Carrot and oat loaf
Traditional Greek yoghurt with blackberry, acai fruits and granola
A selection of premium Australian wines
Gin and tonic
Vodka and ginger beer
Finlandia Vodka, Finland
Beefeater London Dry Gin, England
Barcadi White Rum, Puerto Rico
Bundaberg Dark Rum, Australia
Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, USA
Jameson Irish Whiskey, Ireland
A selection of premium Australian beer
Kirin Ichiban (on flights to and from Japan)
Tsingtao (on flights to and from Beijing/Shanghai)
Cadbury hot chocolate (available on selected flights)
Amenities are available on your flight, please ask your cabin crew.
If you are travelling with Qantas, the awesome thing is you will be able to pre-select your choice of main (for the first service) before your flight, from 7 days to 1 day before your flight's departure! Taking advantage of this service, you will be able to enjoy a guaranteed choice of main - even when flying in Economy Class! I seriously wish more airlines will offer this. To pre-select your meal choice, you may do so under Manage Your Booking.
Though each of the three choices offered sounded tempting, I decided to pre-select the wagyu beef option. Can't go wrong with Australian beef, I reckon.
After take-off, bottles of water were provided, alongside amenity kits and customs forms.
With those out of the way, meal service commenced with the distribution of special meals and pre-selected meals (in my other flights with Qantas, pre-selected meals were served with the rest of the standard meals though).
I honestly can't sing praises about the visual appeal of my main course, but it was a hearty, abeit messy, dish of well-braised streaks of beef and juicy mushrooms, served with creamy polenta. Though not quite as I imagined when I pre-selected the meal, the menu description did hit the nail on the head.
Trying a vodka with ginger beer from the menu with my meal. How refreshing for my thirsty tastebuds!
You could request more drinks from the friendly crew during the clearing of trash - a row of miniature Australian wines were prominently displayed on the clearing cart.
Thereafter, the cabin crew came round the cabin to offer hot drinks, which includes Cadbury hot chocolate, topped with a marshmallow, and served with a toffee candy! Qantas sure spoils her passengers.
And if that's not enough, the cabin crew also came round with ice cream later on.
That's not all, what's really great about flying Qantas is the MASSIVE amount of food they feed you, even when flying coach.
A bar, fully stocked with snacks like Tim Tams and muesli bars, and a nice range of soft drinks, is located at the back of the A380, for passengers to help themselves to!
My next favourite thing about flying Qantas are the warm and friendly cabin crew, who are ever so helpful whenever you make requests from them. Really awesome service! The cabin crew also made frequent water runs, using jugs of water with slices of lemon for wee zest.
And more snacks!
Half-way to Los Angeles, Baked Mini Rolls, were served. They were totally delish with a spinach ricotta roll and a sausage roll. The sausage roll (Italian pork and beef mini roll) totally satisfied my carnivorous palate.
Time definitely flew fast (quite literally): I napped, then enjoyed movie binges with the complimentary snacks and drinks, then napped again. About three-quarter of the journey through, I discovered the box sets channel in the Qantas entertainment, which feature complete seasons, including Riverdale! Wished I knew about this all-seasons feature earlier - would have kept me glued to my screen devouring episode after episode!
About 1.5 hours prior to landing, breakfast was served. There was an option for a hearty English breakfast or a lighter option of a fruit plate. As with the first service, I decided to go with my understanding on the quality of Australian fresh produce and opt for the fruit plate.
My intuition was right, the assortment of fresh cut fruit, including passionfruit, melon and strawberries, was the best start to a new day! The aromatic miniature loaf and creamy yoghurt were oh-so-good! The Qantas breakfast definitely put the start of my Los Angeles trip on a high.
After breakfast, we descended pre-dawn into the City of Angels, ending 13 hours of a comfortable flight with the Spirit of Australia.
So flying the refurbished A380, there weren't much surprises to the new Economy Class, aside from the updated entertainment and cushioning of the seat, which could be a good thing as Qantas did retain the best of its current offerings - the well, free-for-all snack bar, pre-flight selection of your main, delicious Australian cuisine and wines, and the good, old Australian service.
Side note: QF11 passengers continuing on to New York have to disembark, collect their luggage and clear immigration before re-checking in for their next sector, which is flown on a different aircraft (a Boeing B787). Despite the notoriety of LAX as a transit airport, Qantas ground staff and clear signage in the terminal help facilitate a smooth transfer process.
Watch below the full QF11 flight video experience onboard the refurbished Qantas A380, Sydney to Los Angeles PLUS bonus footage of Tinsel Town!
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