Passenger Nathan Lump
Aircraft Boeing 747-400
Route Los Angeles-Auckland
Class/Seat No. Business/3A
Departure Time 8:30 P.M.
With no line to wait in, check-in was fast (and friendly). The lounge, however, which Qantas shares with Japan Airlines, was a disappointment, with just one person on duty, worn carpeting, and public bathrooms outside in the hall that were no better than the regular ones in the terminal. Boarding was efficient—business and first class have a separate line, so I breezed right onto the plane.
Tucked into the 747's front, the cabin was spacious and serene. Although the Marc Newson-designed Skybeds don't recline to a fully horizontal position, I actually found the 8-degree angle pleasant; with some flat beds, you feel like you're sleeping on the floor. The bed's wraparound design created a sense of security and privacy, and lots of controls let me find the right position.
A highlight. Granted, with a half-full cabin, our attendant had time to lavish us with attention, but, still, his ministrations were skillful. What's not to love about being told, "You're allowed," with a wink, when you hesitate over an extra glass of wine?I also applaud the airline staff's effort to minimize noise and unnecessary disturbances—I didn't lose a minute of sleep on this overnight flight.
Food and Drink
Qantas's menus are created by Australian chef Neil Perry, which pays off in surprisingly good food. Okay, the tuna-and-soba noodle salad was a little bland, but the lime chicken with corn polenta had a nice zing. I appreciated the good selection of both Australian and New Zealand wines, and my Riesling was served, amazingly, at the proper temperature—not overchilled.
All seats are equipped with PC power outlets as well as 10.4-inch screens for watching movies and TV shows and playing games; programs, sadly, are not on-demand. The video and audio selections were adequate, though I might have liked more than just one Australian movie to choose from. The best part: great headphones, real noise-cancelers that give you a much quieter ride.
Qantas made the long flight over the Pacific painless. The only real drawback, for me, was the airline's extremely limited choice of flights to other points in the U.S.: if you're not based in L.A., you'll most likely fly on a domestic carrier as well. Business-class service on American Airlines (Qantas's code-share partner) isn't comparable, making the entire journey far from seamless.