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Qantas A380 Business Class DXB-LHR, Shorthaul in Europe, Dubai and Riyadh (Part I)

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  • Qantas A380 Business Class DXB-LHR, Shorthaul in Europe, Dubai and Riyadh (Part I)

    I just completed a combined Middle East and UK/Europe trip which was a study in contrasts. These days, air travel comes in so many shapes and sizes. Some experiences are wonderful, while others are notable for the wrong reasons: usually when the size cannot comfortably fit the shape…

    These days, I seldom fly direct to Europe or the UK. I usually have a good reason to make a stop in the Middle East enroute. Price-wise, with the ME3, this option is usually cheaper as well.

    This trip involved flying Qantas A380 Business Class on the DXB-LHR-DXB sector, and several other flights on Emirates operated by their 777-300ER in Economy. There were a couple of other sectors of interest, including Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling from Brussels to Rome, British Airways from Rome to London, as well as the Eurostar train service from London to Brussels.

    Regulars on this forum must be wondering: “What’s up with yflyer? He keeps saying that he has sworn off EK’s 10-abreast 777’s. Never again he said. And yet there he goes boarding another one…”

    Well, I have had to eat my words. I have had to amend my travel manifesto, "No more 10-abreast 777s!" to add the qualifier "...unless there is no alternative."

    The problem is: way too often, there really are no alternatives. On several sectors on this trip, the EK 777 was, infuriatingly, the only option that fit my schedule. No other choice, unless I was willing to fly an LCC, or an airline on which I had no FF status. Thankfully, I have also developed several mitigation strategies to reduce the unpleasantness of cramming so many people into a 777…

    Several sectors on this trip really wore me down: A BA codeshare operated by Vueling introduced me to an LCC A320 cabin with galley-slave seat pitch, which would have driven me to air-rage had I been any taller. A departure from Rome Fiumicino Airport, still reeling from a fire that shut down part of a terminal in early May, which was a bewildering trek through a terminal still smelling faintly of smoke, where signs, if there were any at all, were all wrong since the passenger flow had to be redirected throughout the terminal to avoid areas affected by fire damage.

    But let us start with the sweet before the bitter, with the Qantas A380 Business Class product from Dubai to London, on QF9…
    Last edited by yflyer; 24 May 2015, 03:10 PM.

  • #2
    My trip began in Singapore on an Emirates red-eye in Y, departing at 1.40am from SIN for a 4.50am arrival in DXB, operated by a 777 configured 3-4-3 in the economy cabin. It was a very full flight, which had originated in MEL. Not much more to say about that flight except that I had picked an aisle seat in the rear of the plane, and was fortunate enough to have an empty seat (one of the few) next to me, which made the flight infinitely more bearable.

    I was also looking forward to my next sector, on QF9 from DXB to LHR, which I had upgraded with Qantas FF points to Business Class. I think the promise of greater comfort on the next leg of my journey gave me the fortitude to endure the MRT of the skies: the 10-abreast 777.

    QF9 departs from Concourse A of T3, which is Emirates’ dedicated A380 concourse. I headed to the Emirates Business Lounge prior to my flight. I’ve covered this lounge in a previous TR, so just a few highlights are noted here. The lounge occupies an entire level in the terminal, above the boarding gates and duty free shopping.

    After entering the lounge to await your next flight, you do not need to leave it again: The boarding dates are within the lounge itself, allowing you to directly board the aircraft from the comfort of the lounge.

    Last edited by yflyer; 11 July 2020, 10:03 PM.


    • #3
      On my previous lounge visit, I had limited time in transit, and did not notice the fine dining area in the lounge. This time I located it: there is a buffet selection, and a proper sit-down dining area.

      I was there in the early morning, so it was a breakfast spread that was offered.

      Bakery items…

      Juices, yogurt and cereal…

      Both Arabic and local starters…

      Asian/Indian and Western mains were offered…

      There was also ice cream available…

      Last edited by yflyer; 11 July 2020, 10:04 PM.


      • #4
        Although it was breakfast time, the full bar was open, with a good selection of wine and liquor.

        I took the opportunity to have a shower. The private shower rooms are no longer brand new, but are large, clean and well maintained. The shower rooms in the Concourse A business lounge have shower and WC. Whereas the Concourse B J lounge has showers only.

        While there is seating throughout the lounge area, I found that the ends of the lounge were quieter, and airier as well on account of the high ceiling.

        Last edited by yflyer; 11 July 2020, 10:04 PM.


        • #5
          It was soon time to board my flight, directly from the lounge.

          Last edited by yflyer; 11 July 2020, 10:04 PM.


          • #6
            The Qantas A380 J cabin occupies the forward section of the upper deck. This is laid out 2-2-2, with seats that go fully flat.

            My seat was a window seat towards the rear of the J cabin. When I got to my seat, the menus had already been handed out, and the privacy partition between the seats was already raised.

            The seat back has a shell-like cover which provides some level of privacy, and a cosy feel, when the seat is fully reclined.

            The seat has a retractable reading light, and a slim compartment for magazine and other reading material.

            The IFE controller is in the armrest, with the screen itself stowed within the armrest, and released by pressing a button on the top of the armrest.

            The seat controls make it fairly easy to recline the seat all the way from upright to fully flat, and to make small adjustments as necessary.

            There is A/C power and there are also 2 USB ports.

            Last edited by yflyer; 11 July 2020, 10:05 PM.


            • #7
              Pre-take off drinks were offered…

              Attractive amenity kits were handed out...

              There were different amenity kits for ladies and gentlemen. The men’s kit is shown in the previous picture. The ladies’ kit was designed by Kate Spade, and is the attractive multicoloured case shown below.

              We waited for the Emirates A380 at the next gate to push back before we did ourselves.

              Busy day at DXB…

              As we taxiied for take-off, another Qantas A380 taxiied alongside…

              It was none other than VH-OQA Nancy-Bird Walton, operating QF2 to Sydney…

              Knowing the history of this plane, I always get goosebumps spotting her at airports.

              By pure coincidence, the two Qantas A380's were taxiing alongside each other on parallel taxiways from the terminal until we got to the runway. This must have been quite a sight for anyone viewing the tarmac from within the terminal.

              Today’s flight time was 7 hours.
              Last edited by yflyer; 11 July 2020, 10:05 PM.


              • #8
                Hot towels were offered, as well as bottled water.

                Each seat came with a large and very soft pillow, a thick blanket, and a grey duvet cover to fit over your seat.

                After take-off, the cabin crew came round to help passengers fit the duvet cover over the seat.

                The cabin crew member in our section of the cabin was a warm, cheerful young lady who bore a passing resemblance to Eva Green.

                This was intended to provide extra padding and comfort while sleeping, but was perfectly comfortable for seating as well.

                This is the seat in fully lie-flat position. I would characterize it as almost horizontal…

                The IFE screen emerges from the armrest at the press of a button…

                Qantas offers full AVOD in DVD quality widescreen. There is a great selection of movies, TV and music.

                Noise cancelling headphones are provided, but I still prefer to use my own Shure in-ear headphones (Adapter required).

                Last edited by yflyer; 11 July 2020, 10:06 PM.


                • #9
                  I had a look at the menu…

                  On this 9.10am departure, lunch was provided, followed by a hot snack prior to landing.

                  I began with a glass of St Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon…

                  Meal service began with a green side salad, offered with a choice of dressing…

                  …and a selection of bread from the bread basket…

                  Salt/Pepper came in a disposable plastic pack – no fancy salt and pepper shakers here…

                  I opted for the fish course for my main, and switched to a glass of Chardonnay for my next glass of wine…

                  Last edited by yflyer; 11 July 2020, 10:07 PM.


                  • #10
                    My main course, seared sea bass with wilted spinach, spiced potatos, and cumin yoghurt, looked really appetizing…

                    The fish did not disappoint. The firm, smooth and white flesh of the sea bass tasted delicious, as did the spiced potatoes and spinach. The dish was served very hot, and remained hot till the very last bite.

                    For dessert, a selection of cheese, fruit and/or ice cream were offered from the trolley…

                    The cheese went very well with a glass of sweet wine…

                    I finished with a lemon mint sorbet…

                    Last edited by yflyer; 11 July 2020, 10:07 PM.


                    • #11
                      Cabin ambience during the flight…

                      It was daylight during most of the flight, however over Europe it was mostly cloud covered, so there weren’t too many opportunities for photos out the window.

                      In the next picture, in the lower part of the frame, there is an airport (Not sure which) somewhere over Eastern/Central Europe…

                      UPDATE: I didn't know which airport it was in the picture above at the time I took the picture. Out of curiousity today, I checked out for the flightpath of my flight and based on that, explored Google Maps and managed to find the airport. It was none other than Flughafen Wien, Vienna International Airport, which is just south of the banks of the Danube River.

                      Coffee and chocolate…

                      With less about an hour plus of the flight to go, a hot snack was served. This was served in a delightfully quirky way. Little boxes (Reminiscent of those Chinese take-out boxes you get in Western countries -- but not in China...) filled with either fried rice, noodles with beef, or parmesan cheese fritters…

                      I opted for the noodles (You had a choice of fork or chopsticks…)

                      Very tasty, although the portion was not very large. There were many slices of beef, but I could have eaten more of the noodles.

                      Last edited by yflyer; 11 July 2020, 10:08 PM.


                      • #12
                        Soon it was time to descend…there was some open sky as we crossed the English Channel…

                        Airspace over Heathrow was busy as usual…I spotted a BA A321 fairly close by. OK it was just a small dot in the sky. I was only able to identify it as a BA A321 when I viewed the photo later. (It was taken using my Olympus EP2 with telephoto lens.)

                        We landed at Heathrow from the east, with cloud-obscured views of London out of the right hand side as we descended. The clouds only cleared as we passed close to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, with the Royal Albert Hall visible in this picture, to the south of the gardens.

                        A BA Concorde was also visible out of the right hand side during approach.

                        Other aircraft spotted on a busy afternoon in Heathrow included this Germanwings Airbus…

                        …and this Royal Brunei 787…

                        Qantas uses Heathrow T3. Queues were not long in the early afternoon, and I got through the Fast Track lane fairly quickly, before catching the Heathrow Express train to Central London, and then the tube from Paddington station to St Pancras, to catch the Eurostar to Brussels…

                        To be continued!
                        Last edited by yflyer; 11 July 2020, 10:10 PM.


                        • #13


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by egondo View Post
                            Thanks, egondo! Will try to get the remaining segments out quickly


                            • #15
                              I was very happy with my experience on QF's A380 Business Class.

                              While the 2-2-2 seat layout does not give you the privacy or personal space that the SQ A380 J cabin (1-2-1 layout) gives you, the overall cabin ambience was open and spacious. I felt that the hard product was very good: The seat was very comfortable, both for resting and for sleeping. IFE was excellent. I thought that the wine and catering were top notch as well. Cabin service was warm and attentive.

                              Window or aisle? A window seat means that you need to step over your seat mate to get to the aisle if his seat is fully reclined, but it is possible to climb over without too much difficulty. One bonus of having a window seat is the side storage compartment, which is very handy for stowing small items.

                              There is a small mini J cabin in front of the main J cabin, and also an onboard lounge area ahead of the J cabin, which I did not use on this flight. On my return flight, I would snag a J seat in the first row of the mini cabin, and check out this mini lounge. More on that on the return segment, QF10 LHR-DXB, later in this TR.