On Thursday 11 February I had the opportunity to fly Premium Economy on Qantas’s brand spanking new Airbus A380 from Singapore to Sydney and just like the Singapore Airlines A380 aircraft which I experienced more than a year earlier this aircraft promised to deliver much more in the areas of space, comfort, in-flight entertainment and most importantly service.
To begin I won’t be shy in pointing out that I absolutely love reporting on any Airbus A380, not just because it’s an ultra modern aircraft but also because of the modern features and amenities which airlines are implementing, and are a true generational step up from the upgrades airlines have previously put in place in the last decade.
Our day started off as a normal day in the air, we got to Singapore’s Changi International Airport well in advance of boarding, so I could catch up with the latest world news, do some work and chill out for a while prior to the flight.
Check-in at the Qantas Club/Business Class check-in counter was fairly straightforward as usual no problems with the excess baggage we had from Shopping in Saigon and Singapore.
Next part of the morning prior to boarding was at Changi’s joint Qantas/BA Business Class lounge, now this lounge has never been my favourite airline lounges in the world but it is adequate to get work/emails and/or rest before an onward flight. Every time I have visited this lounge it has always been extremely quite which is a pleasant change from Qantas’s domestic lounges here in Australia.
Staff has always been friendly and professional. The only complain from fellow lounge dwellers was the lack of orange juice.
Boarding time was near so we headed down to our gate, and as we got closer I could not help but notice the size of the A380, it’s a massive aircraft dwarfing a nearby Boeing 747-400, a real mammoth piece of engineering
Not long after clearing the security check point at our gate and taking some snaps for this review, our flight was called for boarding. Passengers in need of assistance or with young children were asked to board first followed by First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Oneworld Emerald/Ruby Frequent Flyers.
Since Premium Economy is located on the upper deck behind Business Class I was not surprised when Premium Economy was called to board with the First and Business Class Passengers, and not at the same time as Economy.
On the very long walk down to Premium Economy we pass by Business Class, the seats even though the same as in the Qantas media shots which I published earlier on this site, that received such a bad rap by the general public look so much nicer when you are walking past one, I am sure they would be even nicer to sit in for a long flight from Sydney to LAX.
On observation Qantas’s A380 Business Class seats don’t look quite as wide as Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class seats, but they look as comfortable, and out do SIA in terms of leg room, if you are a very tall person and cant fork out the dosh for First Class a Business Seat on the Qantas A380 would be more than adequate.
Qantas A380 Premium Economy
Finally we are at Premium Economy, the first thing that impresses me most about Premium again like Business is leg room. There is more room than what I would have expected in Premium Economy which was a great relief.
Whenever I cannot fly Business Class domestically or internationally, Lack of Leg Room has been my biggest enemy. Having that extra leg room made the entire journey so much enjoyable.
Overhead locker space is more than ample, also window seats are equipped with stowage compartment between the seat and the window similar to what you will find in Business and First Class on Qantas’s 747 aircraft.
Prior to take off we were offered pre-take off drinks (Australian Sparkling wine, Orange Juice or water) A short time later it was take off time, looking out at the wings as our A380 taxied to the runway, I could not get over the wingspan of this massive aircraft nearly as wide as the runway!
The Qantas A380 Premium Economy Cabin is configured in a 2-3-2 seat configuration with 32 seats in total, in my opinion the best seats in this cabin are window seats on the front row (34) or 38 J/K. 38 J/K has the best legroom because it is an exit row, however a word of warning there is no under seat stowage and it is in close proximity to the Galley and Self Service Bar (May be an advantage depending, if you like a short walk to the chips and drinks) Unfortunately the self service bar does not include alcohol; you still need to request this from a flight attendant.
What about Premium Economy Flight attendants? There were at least to for our small 32 seat cabin and they were fabulous, very quick, able to help with all of my requests and very knowledgeable about the Qantas A380 aircraft, I spoke with one of them for 20 minutes or so about the aircraft and its features.
In-Flight Entertainment System
Just after the aircraft had taken then levelled off, flight attendants offered passengers hot refresher towels, I then decided to check out the A380s In-flight entertainment system. Qantas Premium Economy is equipped with a 26.9cm (10.6in) touch screen unit, its picture quality is outstanding beating the picture seen on most in-flight entertainment screens prior, I am sure this is because it using a digital as opposed to an analogue system, which
provides a static free image.
The in-flight entertainment system is easy to operate but I found on some screen selections you need to double tap the item as the first tap highlights the item (Providing more information) then the second tap activates or plays that item.
The range of entertainment options was huge, everything from movies, TV series, music, documentaries, games and even business and language learning programs, Qantas claims to have over 1,000 audio and video on demand options, and I was not doubting them or taking the time to verify.
Noise cancelling headphones similar to ones found on other regular Qantas Business Class and Jetstar Star Class services were provided. They did a reasonable job of cancelling out unwanted noise but did not match the noise cancellation of either my Sennheiser PXC-250 or PXC-450 sets, so I quickly changed back to my PXC-450 set.
After playing with the in-flight entertainment system, it was time to catch up on some work, take notes for this review, and test out the laptop power.
Plugging my laptop into the in-seat power then attempting to power up my laptop, the first thing I noticed was the power light on my laptop power cable failed to light up laptop. From previous experience this generally happens if your laptop during start up draws more power than the outlet can supply, a laptop will generally draw 10Ampers or more at start-up. The trick here is to power your laptop up first, and then plug into the in-seat power outlet. After doing this the power light on my laptop’s transformer/brick lit up and I was in Business.
There has been much mentioned about Qantas’s cached and very limited internet service, but not having an network cable I could not test this out. This is something I will check and report on when I next get a flight on a Qantas A380 aircraft, hopefully by then Qantas will be offering a full internet service.
Our Lunch option for the flight back to Sydney was Lamb curry with rice or Asian style chicken with noodles, served with bread roll, green bean salad, and a wide selection of wine, spirits, beer and soft drinks, in all honesty I found lamb curry to be a little bland, the stir fry chicken which my wife had was much better.
During the flight our flight attendants regular came thru asking if we wanted desert, drinks and/or snacks even though the mini-bar was not far away.
Trip Summary and Rating
If I am every in a situation where I cannot fly Business Qantas Premium Economy is a great option, the service was great, the aircraft fabulous, the seat and in-flight entertainment system far better and than I expected and I always have high expectations. Put simply I would be happy to fly Qantas A380 Premium Economy on any trip, and highly recommend for anyone who wants more than what standard economy offers, without having to pay for a Business Class fare. I rate the experience better than both British Airway’s and Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy product. Full marks to Qantas and Airbus for making this flight a memorable experience.
My Score for the Qantas A380 Premium Economy Experience
Have you flown on Qantas’s A380 in either Premium Economy, Business Class, First Class or Economy? How was your experience, we want to hear about your experience. Why not leave a comment below