Lucky enough to have a half-empty plane and a row to myself, flying and reviewing Qantas economy on the A380 was a pleasant way to start my 10 flight, 14-day journey to Aspen and back, via Vietnam and New York. I paid for this flight in cash, but it can be bought using 28,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points + $160 in taxes. This is a pretty poor redemption at that rate as you can regularly find this fare for around $600 return when paying cash.
Qantas Flight 35
Melbourne (MEL) to Singapore (SIN)
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Seat & Seat Selection
The seat-map for my flight looked very empty when selecting seats, so I opted for an empty row in the hope it wouldn’t fill up. When boarding was complete, I was left with a row all to myself and parked myself on the aisle in 61C. If that wasn’t an option, I would’ve opted to put myself upstairs in the mini-economy cabin, or in the throne seat of 71D which doesn’t have a seat in front of it.
In my opinion, the 17.5 inch wide Qantas A380 seat is the best international economy seat in the world, and this flight further reinforced that opinion. It’s got a 31-inch recline with a sliding bottom, nice padding for your bum and back, and a very nifty little foot basket which not many people know about.
They’ve been flying this product for more than a decade now, so it could definitely do with a refresh and isn’t as futuristic looking as Qatar’s Economy for example…but I still prefer it over just about any other…in fact it’s basically the same as BA’s long-haul premium economy.
If I’m honest with you, I’ve flown Qantas Premium Economy a few times – and if given the choice between 3 economy seats and a PE seat (particularly the trash Dreamliner Premium Economy seat), I’d choose to sit in economy every time.
Entertainment & Wifi
Qantas usually has a pretty comprehensive range of film and television and this flight was no exception. They did lack many ‘blockbuster’ films with Bohemian Rhapsody and Crazy Rich Asians the exceptions – but Qantas’ ‘Classics’ selection on its IFE never fails to please with a massive range of absolute bangers from the last 30 years.
I watched Kevin Hart’s latest film, ‘Night School’, another shocker in a string of shockers from the American comedian as well as ‘The Meg’ which again is a shocker from Jason Statham. The entire Marvel & Harry Potter collections are a nice addition and a great way to tick off a whole film series in one hit.
While route competitors Emirates and Singapore Airlines provide WiFi on this route, Qantas never intends to offer inflight WiFi on its A380 services which is a shame and a decision changer for some.
For lunch, we were offered a choice of three mains (Roast Chicken Salad, Beef Blade Steak with vegetable, and a vegetarian Noodle Stir Fry). I opted for the cold Roast Chicken salad which looked and tasted healthy, and wouldn’t have been out of place at your local healthy cafe. It was accompanied by a garlic bread roll and a chocolate mousse both of which were a bit meh.
The mid-flight snack was a Weis Bar which is always a winner. The pre-landing snack was a choice between a Mushroom Pizza and BBQ Pork Buns. Keen to get as much a flavour of Asia into my belly over the course of my 36-hour stay, I went for the Pork Buns. They were dry and tasted pretty average. I actually usually look forward to the mid-flight and pre-landing snacks when flying Qantas Economy – unfortunately, on this occasion, it was a 4/10 at best.
I was personally welcomed by the Customer Service Manager as a Gold FF which is a small touch, but one a lot of airlines neglect. One thing I’m regularly impressed with on Qantas International flights is the consistency.
A flight attendant noticed I walked to the back of the plane to the economy snack bar and from then on came by to check if I needed anything else.
I find it’s service like this that keeps me coming back to Qantas – although it’s certainly not on every flight, it’s much appreciated when someone keeps an eye on you. Having said that, it’s definitely rarer on a full flight than one operating at 50% load.
Ambience & Amenities
Qantas’ earth tone colour scheme is perfectly nice and not an affront to the senses in any way. Just the way it should be in economy.
My pet flying peeve was back at it again on QF35, with an arctic cabin that had everyone around me rocking double blankets – I literally have no idea why airlines around the world find it so hard to get the temperature right. Just set it to 21 degrees and you’re sorted…any. Last year I was almost boiled alive on a trans-pacific Virgin Australia flight, and it seems like Qantas struggle to get it right too. I know it’s not impossible, as the Cathay flight I took two days later absolutely nailed their cabin temperature.
There was no amenity kit on this flight, nor is there really a need on a day flight like QF35.
For an 8 hour day-flight where the aim of the game is watching a movie or two and getting some work done, Qantas’ A380 Economy product is great. If they could introduce WiFi onto these flights and get the temperature sorted out, it’d be verging on perfect – particularly given the low cost of a cash-ticket.