Our keen readers will remember that in my last flight review, I flew to Dublin and back for near to nothing with Ryanair. Last week I decided to step it up a notch and booked last minute on a super cheap return fare to Dubai with Qantas on the A380 superjumbo! With Qantas changing their base to Singapore in the coming months I jumped at the chance of getting on the A380 for such a bargain! The stage was set, I was to depart London Heathrow at midday on the Saturday, on QF10 to Melbourne, hop off at Dubai, and return to London 3 hours later on QF1!
It was the big day and I arrived at Heathrow a few hours early so decided to use the pay to enter lounge at Terminal 3, the No.1 lounge, of which I have visited before on my flight to Los Angeles. As it was before, the lounge was quite packed although I managed to grab a nice window view overlooking Runway 27L/09R. No.1 lets you have a free snack, ordered at the bar using your menu (of which you get the complimentary meal/snack). Usually you can pick from the likes of, Beans on Toast, Fish finger Sandwich etc. There are also other cold items on offer, of which you can help yourself. My service was of poor standard today and after a 30minute wait for my beans on toast it was apparent that they had been sent to the wrong table. After explaining this to the barman another one was ordered and after another 20minute wait I had my food. It had seemed they have significantly downsized the portions since my last visit, if I was only paying for entrance for the food, I do not think that at the price of £40 (for 3 hours) this is justifiable.
With 1-hour till boarding, I parted ways with the No.1 lounge and headed to gate 1, where my red A380 awaited me! When I arrived at the gate I still couldn’t believe I was soon to fly on this beast. I have never had the chance to fly the A380 before as most of the long-haul sector is dominated by the 777 and 787, but today was to be different! As I arrived at the gate, I got talking to the lead cabin manager for today’s flight and he sorted me pre-boarding so I could get shots of the empty cabin. Economy passengers are seated in the lower deck (in a 3-4-3 configuration), with a few rows at the back of the upper deck (in a 2-4-2 configuration). The economy product on Qantas is very poor in my opinion, it was designed during a time Qantas was in some tricky water, the seat pitch offered is 31’ and width 17.8’, the seat itself feels very old and the IFE was, well there is no other way of putting this, the worst I had ever used, but I’ll come back to that later.
But one thing I couldn’t fault was the crew – great hostesses made every passenger feel welcomed as they stepped on-board. Furthermore the cabin itself felt very roomy, signature to the A380. Awaiting me on my seat was a blanket, a pillow, and the worst headphones ever. There were some small cracks in the overhead panels above me, of which I could peep through and see the installation. These A380s are starting to show their age. All this was forgiven when I looked out of the window, just WOW! My view from seat 49A was incredible and I had a fantastic view of the 2 left Trent 900 engines! Totally worth the £25 seat reservation.
After a small but concise welcome brief from the captain, we pushed back on-time from our stand at Terminal 3 bound for Dubai. Kudos to the A380, I heard nothing during engine start. Heathrow was using westerly ops for today so it was a 27R departure for us. This was what I paid for, the take-off was spectacular and I was in awe of this huge jet, and the simple fact that it can lift off of the ground at all. Conditions today were not the greatest but after piecing the cloud layer we had crystal blue sky.
It wasn’t long after departure until the crew came round handing out water and a menu for today’s flight. I opted for the beef and it was one of the tastiest meals I have had in the sky however, I was a very disappointed at the amount of food offered, especially when compared to airlines such as Turkish. To eat using this awful seat requires the capability to keep yourself in such an awkward narrow position while attempting to use the fork and knife so you don’t knock your co-passenger unconscious. The petite tray table barely fits the food tray which as mentioned is significantly smaller than most airlines anyway.
As the hours began to tick by I made my peace with the IFE and tried to watch a film, but the process was tedious and the IFE was horribly slow, the selection of films were poor and the remote was very dirty. Considering that Wi-Fi isn’t offered the IFE will be most passengers form of entertainment, Qantas is servery let down by the IFE and that would be a key decision maker in choosing Emirates over Qantas, who are the current leaders in in-flight entertainment (also a direct competitor to QF on this route). After an hour of raging with the IFE I decided to try and get a few hours’ sleep. The blanket provided was larger than I expected and far better quality than ones I have seen before. I was able to get a somewhat decent sleep, despite being in economy. The worst part however is when the person infront reclines their seat. I am quite small at about 167cm but when the seat is reclined, I had close to negative legroom. A very poorly designed seat that induced several backaches throughout the flight.
I awoke 1 hour before landing for the last snack to be offered to us economy passengers. Today it was some kind of weird sausage roll, I didn’t take to it and just left mine in its box. Passing Iran and Kuwait on our way into Dubai we had the most insane view of the blood orange moon. Cruising at 39,000ft also gave us an incredible view of all the bright Arab cities on approach to Dubai, note there was not a cloud in the sky on this night.
We started our descent very close to Dubai itself and I could certainly feel it. The time was now approaching midnight and it was pitch black outside. After making a right turn over the Persian Gulf near Dubai we touched down smoothly onto Runway 30L, and it was a short taxi to our Gate at Terminal 1A. As per all my flights I made my way to the flight deck for a small tour from the captain and then unfortunately disembarked the whale. It was not long, however, until I would be back on-board OQB for the return flight to London!
Dubai airport itself was not as large as I was expecting, there were A LOT of duty free shops in my concourse of which I was expecting. Being a homesick brit abroad I made my way to McDonalds for a snack before my flight back to the UK. However, when about to check out I find out my debit card had been blocked, fantastic news to hear while in different continent thousands of miles from home in the middle of the night. I remained cool and unpassed and just decided to wait at the gate for the next flight and just wait for some food on-board. Before I knew it we were boarding QF1 back to London.
I’m going to spare your time as this flight was near identical to the first but it was dark the entire flight and I was asleep so nothing to really talk about there. I also somehow managed to miss the meal service, leaving me weak and hungry while waiting at immigration back in the UK.
Overall I would call my last minute trip a success considering my primary aim was to experience the A380 which was extremely pleasant, but if I was to fly to Australia and had the choice of Emirates or Qantas, there would be no hope of me ever picking Qantas over such a passenger focused airline like Emirates. The economy product on Qantas’ A380 was very uncomfortable for me, and as I mentioned previously am quite small at 167cm weighing around 50kgs. Now imagine what this will be like for an average sized person. I would fly Qantas again as I could not fault the crew, my flight deck tour on the ground at Dubai was ace and the crew were super engaging and happy to chat, but I will never be booked onto their A380 again unless I can go first class.
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