Get a Qantas first class seat for the price of business class

Fancy getting a first class seat for the price of a business class ticket – and not just any first class seat, but one aboard that ‘Queen of the Skies’, the majestic Qantas Boeing 747?

Of course you do! So here’s the skinny on a favourite little ‘travel hack’ of savvy travellers and Platinum-grade frequent flyers.

First up: not all of Qantas’ Boeing 747 jets still have a first class cabin. Most have been upgraded to feature the latest Skybed II business class seats, even in the nose of the jumbo where first class used to be.

But two of its older Boeing 747s continue to fly with their original first class seats, and they’re a blast from the past.

The photos in this article were snapped on one of those ‘classic’ jumbos, which Qantas first flew in 1998 – so what you’re seeing is the way first class used to be almost 20 years ago.

Compare that to the first class suites of the Qantas Airbus A380, which arrived barely ten years later:

You’ll most often find the Boeing 747s with first class seats flying from Sydney to Tokyo and Johannesburg, but from time to time they pop up en route to Santiago, Hong Kong and even Los Angeles.

However, Qantas doesn’t sell first class tickets on these aircraft – only on its flagship Airbus A380s – so the jumbos’ first class seats are assigned to business class passengers.

You’ll still get the same meals, wine and service as everyone in business class, so why the fuss about being in ‘first class’?

1. These old first class seats convert into fully-flat beds, while the first generation of business class Skybeds you’ll find on the same aircraft are angled flat beds or ‘sloping sleepers’ – so you’ll get a much better night’s sleep being at the pointy end of the plane

2. And you’re quite literally at that pointy end: notice how the cabin tapers in at the front, capped by a coat closet? That’s the very front the jumbo jet, and you have to admit that’s pretty cool!

So how do you go about snaring one of these seats?

This is one of those times it really pays off to select your seat well ahead of your flight.

If you’re jetting off in business class on a Qantas Boeing 747, load up your reservation through the ‘manage my booking’ area of the Qantas website, and proceed to select your seats.

Pay particular attention to row 1 – if the only seats shown in that first row are 1A and 1K, then you’re flying on one of the older Boeing 747s sporting these prized perches.

(If the first row shows paired seats side-by-side, such as 1A next to 1B and 1J next to 1K, you’re booked on one of the reconfigured jumbos.)

Selecting your first class seat

There are 14 first class seats up front, divided into four rows.

The first three rows tend to be held for top-tier Qantas Frequent Flyers –Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members – until close to departure time, while the four seats in row 4 are open to any business class passenger.

We tend to prefer 1A and 1K for privacy on those overnight flights where sleep is the priority…

… and 4A and 4K when planning to work.

That’s because both 4A and 4K have a large console between the seat and the window, providing a great place to plonk your laptop or tablet during meal times, or a satchel or books and paperwork to keep everything at hand.

The reason for such indulgence in inflight real estate? Pop the hatch on the side table and you’ll find a large, long bassinet!

(Some passengers even stow small iPad sized-bags in this space for take-off and landing.)

So if you’re planning a business class flight to on routes flown by Qantas’ Boeing 747s, make a point of checking your seating options online: two minutes spent here could make the difference between a sloping Skybed business class seat and a fully flat ‘first class suite’ for 13 hours in the air!

 

Australian Aviation

Qantas swaps Airbus A380s for Boeing 747s on some Los Angeles flights

The Queen of the Skies fills the gaps left by the A380Want to stretch out in first class? You may need to change your flight.

 

EXCLUSIVE | Qantas will replace its flagship Airbus A380s with Boeing 747s on several flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Los Angeles over the next six weeks, with one of the airline’s twelve superjumbos currently out of action.

A Boeing 747 will take the A380’s place through to mid-June. The jumbo is reconfigured with the same fully-flat Skybeds in business class and A380-style seats in premium economy and economy, although comes without first class.

Passengers booked in first class on services affected by an aircraft change – that’s QF11, QF12, QF93 and QF94 on selected dates – will be notified by Qantas and can choose to fly on an alternate date where first class is available, or can connect via Sydney or Melbourne (as applicable) to another A380 service in first class.

There’s also the option of re-routing via Sydney and Dallas/Fort Worth on the A380 at no charge, downgrading to business class or requesting a refund as many flexible first class fares allow.

After the A380 was damaged during maintenance, Qantas has “engaged Airbus technical support to get the aircraft repaired as soon as possible,” a spokesperson for the airline told Australian Business Traveller.

“Due to the complex technical nature of the repair, we expect the aircraft will be out of service for about six weeks,” with the spokesperson adding that the near-identical reconfigured Boeing 747 will be utilised “to ensure there is minimal impact to our customers (travelling in business class, premium economy and economy).”

Qantas’ other Airbus A380 routes are unaffected and continue to utilise the superjumbo on all flights, including both Sydney and Melbourne to Dubai and London, plus Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth.

 

Australian Business Traveller

Cathay Pacific mulls new first class for Airbus A350, Boeing 777-9X

Cathay Pacific is considering its options for new first class suites on the Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 777-9X, but might remove the primo cabin from some of its Boeing 777s as the newer jets take over on popular routes.

While the airline is now finalising the design of a new business class to debut in February 2016 on the smaller Airbus A350-900s, the shape of the new first class seat “has yet to be determined” says Cathay Pacific product exec Toby Smith.

That’s because Cathay’s A350-900s will be only a three-class aircraft of business, premium economy and economy cabins. Only the larger A350-1000s due from 2018 will have a first class cabin.

Cathay’s not about to turn away its highest-revenue passengers, with Smith quick to assure Australian Business Traveller that “we’re keeping first class. We just need to work out what fleet type is the most optimum, on the A350-1000s, whether we keep it on the Boeing 777s, and obviously we have the Boeing 777-9X coming.”

A 2018 debut for a new first class suite on Cathay Pacific’s flagship A350-1000 would be in keeping with the timeline for the current first class design, which was introduced in 2007  and given a ‘mid-life refresh’ in 2013.Cathay’s first A350-1000 will be followed from 2021 by the Boeing 777-9X , a next-gen update to the best-selling Boeing 777 family combining ultra-long range capability with a 10% saving in fuel.

The airline is likely to fit first class only on some A350-1000 jets and outfit others with an enlarged business class cabin, similar to what’s already done with its Boeing 777-300ER fleet.

“There are clearly a small number of ultra-long haul markets with a high demand for first class such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and London” James Barrington, Cathay Pacific’s Director of Corporate Development, told Australian Business Traveller in an interview last year.

“We tailor the aircraft type to the market and the demand with a mixture of four-class and three-class aircraft.”

A350 destinations

With a total of 48 Airbus A350 jets plus 21 of the Boeing 777-9X, Toby Smith says the muscled-up fleet is about both “fleet renewal and growth.”

Smith says that upon its arrival in February 2015 the first A350-900 will “do some route proving on short-haul regional flights” before being tasked to open up corridors to new cities in Europe.

“We’re looking at places like secondary European destinations, and there may well be existing destinations which we we decide to swap out (for the A350).”

The A350-900 will also be kitted out with satellite Internet and used to run technology and pricing trials.

 

Australian Business Traveller

Should Qantas open an exclusive first class lounge in Sydney?

Should Qantas open an exclusive first class lounge in Sydney?

TALKING POINT | Qantas has arguably the world’s best first class lounge at Sydney Airport’s T1 international terminal. But should it go one better and add an exclusive lounge available only to those flying first class?

The question was raised in tangent by AusBT reader petrhsr when commenting on our story about Cathay Pacific’s new The Pier First Class lounge at Hong Kong.

 

Petrhsr suggested that Cathay Pacific should open a lounge with access restricted to the airline’s first class passengers.

No top-tier frequent flyers from the Marco Polo Club or their equivalents on Oneworld partner airlines. Not even first class travellers on other Oneworld members such as British Airways. “Just CX F, and only CX F” he stated.

“I see no reason why airlines shouldn’t have facilities that are for the exclusive use of the customers who spend the most for their tickets.”

It’s not an unheard-of concept. British Airways has its BA First-only Concorde Room at London Heathrow’s T5. Singapore Airlines has the SQ First-only haven in The Private Room at its Changi T3 hub.

Lufthansa goes a step further with an entire First Class Terminal at Frankfurt Airport.

(Admittedly it’s also open to HON Circle card-holders in the airline’s Miles & More frequent flyer scheme, but the need to clock up 600,000 miles in two years flying only business or first class on Lufthansa airlines makes this a very hard card to earn).

Should Qantas join that exclusive club?

There’s no doubt that Sydney’s flagship Qantas First Lounge gets very busy during peak periods of each day (geared around the airline’s morning and afternoon departures), and doubly so during school holidays.

The lounge’s award-winning restaurant is a significant drawcard, and there’s often a waiting list just to get a table.

But that list can include a traveller paying $7,000 to fly first class to London, as much as a Platinum-grade frequent flyer with Qantas (or any Oneworld) airline holding a $240 ticket to Auckland.

For that matter, even a cheeky $79 fare on one of the Jetstar Boeing 787s which fly from Sydney to Melbourne using each airport’s international terminals is enough to get a Platinum card-holder into the Qantas First Lounge.

Is this a reflection of a relatively egalitarian approach, or should Qantas make special allowances for those high-revenue passengers sitting at the pointy end?

This wouldn’t need to be a separate space outside of the confines of the Qantas First Lounge.

Perhaps the ‘lounge within a lounge’ concept would work best, with part of the current lounge being walled off (but with very classy walls, of course) to become a first-only haven with its own restaurant tables, its own seating, a top-shelf bar and a doorman to keep the ‘riff-raff’ out. (I’m joking about the ‘riff-raff’).

Nor would this arrangement be in breach of the Oneworld alliance rules.

British Airways’ Concorde Room, the arrivals lounges at BA and Cathay Pacific’s home ports on Heathrow and Hong Kong, and Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at  London Heathrow T4 are all restricted to passengers booked into their parent airline’s first class and business class cabins.

The first-only room within the Qantas First Lounge (should it be called The James Strong Room? The Hudson Fysh Room? Or ‘The Red Room’, after The Red Roo?) would be no different.

I fly extensively with Qantas and its Oneworld partners, both as a Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum card-holder booked into business class and sometimes using my points to sit in first class. So sometimes I’d be sitting in that exclusive first-only room, but most of the time I’d be on the other side of the frosted door.

 

 

Source : Australian Business Traveller

New Qantas first class inflight menu for Spring

New Qantas first class inflight menu for Spring

Flying first class with Qantas over the next few months? Then you’re in for even more of a treat than usual as the seasonal menu turns to the flavours of Spring.

Earlier this week we shared the pre-flight delights of the latest menu in the award-winning Qantas First Lounges, but there’s plenty of sky-high dining to enjoy if you’re at the pointy end of the plane.

“Many of the dishes are new to this particular menu” says Roger Barstow, one of four chefs from Neil Perry’s Rockpool Group who work with Qantas to shape its international inflight dining.

“That includes the lobster and chervil tartlet, the beef carpaccio and caramel crème dessert.”

Here are some of the highlights from the menu for QF1, Qantas’ flagship Airbus A380 service to Dubai and London.

A lobster and chervil tartlet joins the lamb kibbeh with cumin spiced yoghurt as a pre-dinner canapé.

Next, choose between the asparagus, goats curd, green peas and Ligurian olive salad with lemon vinaigrette (which is also offered as a Small Plate on the new business class menu)…

… or the beef carpaccio with marinated mushrooms, parsley and parmigiano reggiano.

The first class Small Plate selection includes snapper laksa (which features as a Main Plate in business class)…

… and prawn tortellini with pine nuts, preserved lemon, sultanas and burnt butter.

(There’s also that fave of frequent flyers, the ‘signature steak sandwich’ with tomato and chilli relish.)

Let’s assume you’re not already full from adding those lighter dishes on top of dining at the Qantas First Lounge, and that you’ve still got room for a Main Plate.

The star of the new Spring menu would be the pan-fried Patagonian toothfish served with zucchini, chilli and tomato scapece, polenta and pine nut pesto.

The toothfish is from “Glacier 51”, a sustainable fishing zone in the Australian ares of the sub-Antarctic region.

Also on offer:

  • a salad of roasted red capsicum and pumpkin with farro, corn and borlotti beans
  • chicken breast poached with spring vegetables, Dutch cream potatoes and seeded mustard
  • seared snapper with shaved fennel, snow peas, lemon and olive oil
  • the famous Rockpool Bar & Grill-style braised beef cheek with Mac and Cheese, broccolini and your choice of horseradish, seeded or hot English mustard

If that’s not enough, there’s an additional dish which isn’t listed on the menu but will be suggested to first class travellers by the cabin team.

This is the Market Inspiration plate, which combines best-of-season ingredients but is typically available for only four weeks at a time.

Right now it’s a delicious Fraser Island spanner crab served with Pepe Saya truffle butter and spaghetti.

“It’s all driven by seasonality, so we’re using produce when it’s at its best” Barstow says of the dish, which will be offered only through to September 28 before another special plate takes its place.

Other Rockpool favourites now appearing on the first class menu of other Qantas flights will include

  • snapper poached in coconut milk and garam masala with fine egg noodles and snow peas
  • beef fillet with green beans, potato and cabbage gratin
  • roast lamb rack with roasted rosemary potatoes and a choice of harissa or minted jelly
  • and for dessert, a caramel crème served with strawberries

The Qantas First Class Tasting Menu

If that’s all just too much to choose from, Qantas offers a classy alternative: a tasting menu which takes you from canapes to chocolates in nine courses, with sommeliers to pair up each dish with the perfect wines.

Here’s the Spring 2014 tasting menu for QF1 from Sydney to Dubai:

  • Lobster and chervil tartlet
  • Lamb kibbeh with cumin spiced yoghurt
  • Cream of cauliflower soup with toasted hazelnuts, eschalots and breadcrumbs
  • Beef carpaccio with marinated mushrooms, parsley and parmigiano reggiano
  • Pan fried “Glacier 51” Patagonian toothfish with zucchini, chilli and tomato scapece, polenta and pine nut pesto – or –
  • Rockpool Bar & Grill style braised beef cheek with “Mac and Cheese”, broccolini and your choice of horseradish, seeded or hot English mustard
  • Salad of baby cos, radicchio and frisée with palm sugar vinaigrette
  • Caramel crème with strawberries
  • Selection of cheese served with accompaniments
  • Cacao handmade chocolates

Australian Business Traveller‘s Chris Chamberlin sampled the Winter 2014 tasting menu in August on a Qantas A380 from Sydney to Hong Kong, and described it as being “closer to something you’d expect from a Michelin-starred restaurant on the ground than flying high at 40,000 feet.”

 

Source : Australian Business Traveller

Qantas extends Sydney-Hong Kong Airbus A380 schedule

Qantas extends Sydney-Hong Kong Airbus A380 schedule

Qantas will bring the Airbus A380 back onto the Sydney-Hong Kong route across selected dates in February and March 2015 “to cater for strong demand over the Chinese New Year”, the airline says.

As of September 29 flights QF127/128 will be flown only by the older Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets, except for 11 December 2014 to 26 January 2015 when an A380 returns onto the daily roster to handle higher demand during the holiday period.

Qantas now advises that the superjumbo will also be seen on Sydney-Hong Kong flights on 14 and 15 February 2015 as well as from 27 February to 2 March 2015 inclusive.

(Chinese New Year Thursday falls on 19 February 2015).

Given that Qantas will no longer sell first class on the Sydney-Hong Kong route once the Boeing 747s take over, many top-tier frequent flyers booked into the A380s business class will find themselves upgrades to the A380’s first class cabin.

They’ll still receive standard business class meals and service but will enjoy them from the comfy confines of the superjumbo’s 14 first class suites.

PREVIOUS | Qantas has confirmed that its flagship Airbus A380s are being withdrawn from the Sydney-Hong Kong route as of September 29 this year.

The daily QF127/128 service will be flown by an older Boeing 747-400 instead, with the A380 being used to launch Qantas’ new superjumbo service between Sydney and Dallas.

However, a Qantas spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller that the Airbus 380 would return to the Sydney-Hong Kong route “from 11 December 2014 to 26 January 2015 to accommodate the seasonal demand.”

This seasonal superjumbo service will not see a reduction in any other A380 flights, the spokesperson said.

“Between flight patterning and no A380s in maintenance at this time we are able to facilitate the A380 Hong Kong schedule.”

As previously reported, Qantas won’t operate first class on the A380 flights to Hong Kong, opting instead to treat the superjumbo’s 14 first class suites as a primo business class cabin reserved for top-tier frequent flyers.

Previous | Qantas will no longer offer first class tickets on its Sydney-Hong Kong flights from later this year as the airline shuffles its Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 fleet to cater for its new superjumbo service between Sydney and Dallas.

Qantas currently flies its flagship A380 between Sydney and Hong Kong five days a week, from Thursday to Monday, with the Boeing 747 rostered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with first class cabins available on both those aircraft.

However, from September 29 – the same day that the A380 makes its Dallas debut – Qantas has withdrawn the sale of first class seats to and from Hong Kong.

“We’re currently finalising the mix of A380s and B747s flying between Sydney and Hong Kong in order to facilitate the upgrade to Dallas services” a Qantas spokesperson confirmed to Australian Business Traveller.

The changes will also see Qantas replace the older Boeing 747 currently used for Hong Kong flights with one of its reconfigured versions with the dedicated first class cabin in the jumbo’s nose replaced by more of the Skybed II lie-flat business class seats, “meaning no First Class cabin” the spokesperson explained.

A380 flights factored on “seasonal demand”

Qantas has not revealed the fate of its flagship Airbus A380 on the Hong Kong route, but has promised “more detail on this in the next few weeks.”

“As well as aircraft availability and patterning, the other factor we’re looking at in determining this mix is seasonal demand. Given the capacity difference, the A380 would make more sense at peak times.

However, even when the Airbus A380 does fly between Sydney and Hong Kong, Qantas passengers won’t be able to buy tickets for first class travel.

With the first class-free Boeing 747 being “the aircraft we’ll be using most of the time on this route, we won’t be offering First Class on the A380 when it does on operate to Hong Kong” the Qantas spokesperson toldAustralian Business Traveller.

Instead, top-tier frequent flyers booked into business class will find themselves ensconced in the superjumbo’s luxe first class cabin.

They’ll still receive business class meals and service, but will enjoy them from the comfy confines of 14 first class suites.

“Seats in the First cabin will be allocated to our most Frequent Flyers travelling in Business” the Qantas spokesperson said, “We already do this on our non-reconfigured B747s, which have a First cabin.”

Qantas’ sole competitor on the Sydney-Hong Kong route is Oneworld partner Cathay Pacific with four daily flights between the cities, although none of these offer first class.

Virgin Atlantic axed its Sydney-Hong Kong service earlier this month, with the Richard Branson-backed airline describing the route as “no longer considered profitable” due to “increasing costs and a challenging economic environment.”

 

Source : Australian Business Traveller

Qantas axes Airbus A380s from Sydney-Hong Kong

Qantas axes Airbus A380s from Sydney-Hong Kong

Qantas has confirmed that its flagship Airbus A380s are being withdrawn from the Sydney-Hong Kong route as of September 29 this year.

The daily QF127/128 service will be flown by an older Boeing 747-400 instead, with the A380 being used to launch Qantas’ new superjumbo service between Sydney and Dallas.

However, a Qantas spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller that the Airbus 380 would return to the Sydney-Hong Kong route “from 11 December 2014 to 26 January 2015 to accommodate the seasonal demand.”

This seasonal superjumbo service will not see a reduction in any other A380 flights, the spokesperson said.

“Between flight patterning and no A380s in maintenance at this time we are able to facilitate the A380 Hong Kong schedule.”

As previously reported, Qantas won’t operate first class on the A380 flights to Hong Kong, opting instead to treat the superjumbo’s 12 first class suites as a primo business class cabin reserved for top-tier frequent flyers.

Previous | Qantas will no longer offer first class tickets on its Sydney-Hong Kong flights from later this year as the airline shuffles its Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 fleet to cater for its new superjumbo service between Sydney and Dallas.

Qantas currently flies its flagship A380 between Sydney and Hong Kong five days a week, from Thursday to Monday, with the Boeing 747 rostered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with first class cabins available on both those aircraft.

However, from September 29 – the same day that the A380 makes its Dallas debut – Qantas has withdrawn the sale of first class seats to and from Hong Kong.

“We’re currently finalising the mix of A380s and B747s flying between Sydney and Hong Kong in order to facilitate the upgrade to Dallas services” a Qantas spokesperson confirmed to Australian Business Traveller.

The changes will also see Qantas replace the older Boeing 747 currently used for Hong Kong flights with one of its reconfigured versions with the dedicated first class cabin in the jumbo’s nose replaced by more of the Skybed II lie-flat business class seats, “meaning no First Class cabin” the spokesperson explained.

 

A380 flights factored on “seasonal demand”

Qantas has not revealed the fate of its flagship Airbus A380 on the Hong Kong route, but has promised “more detail on this in the next few weeks.”

“As well as aircraft availability and patterning, the other factor we’re looking at in determining this mix is seasonal demand. Given the capacity difference, the A380 would make more sense at peak times.

However, even when the Airbus A380 does fly between Sydney and Hong Kong, Qantas passengers won’t be able to buy tickets for first class travel.

With the first class-free Boeing 747 being “the aircraft we’ll be using most of the time on this route, we won’t be offering First Class on the A380 when it does on operate to Hong Kong” the Qantas spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller.

Instead, top-tier frequent flyers booked into business class will find themselves ensconced in the superjumbo’s luxe first class cabin.

They’ll still receive business class meals and service, but will enjoy them from the comfy confines of 14 first class suites. 

“Seats in the First cabin will be allocated to our most Frequent Flyers travelling in Business” the Qantas spokesperson said, “We already do this on our non-reconfigured B747s, which have a First cabin.”

Qantas’ sole competitor on the Sydney-Hong Kong route is Oneworld partner Cathay Pacific with four daily flights between the cities, although none of these offer first class.

Virgin Atlantic axed its Sydney-Hong Kong service earlier this month, with the Richard Branson-backed airline describing the route as “no longer considered profitable” due to “increasing costs and a challenging economic environment.”

 

Source : Australian Business Traveller