Review: Qantas First on an A380 Part 3 – Return from Sydney

As mentioned in my previous post I was able to reserve Qantas First on an A380 again for the return trip to the US. I’ll outline the major differences with this experience here but won’t go into as much detail.

The Lounge

While Qantas does have a First Class lounge in LAX, their “home” Lounge of Sydney is way better. It has all the same amenities (sit-down meal service, various buffets for coffee, pastries, fruits, drinks, etc.) but includes a much nicer view as well as a spa!

First off, it was very quick to get through check-in and pass security. There was a very short security line for “express” passengers (which included first class folks) and so I was through in a bit under 10 minutes. From there, I followed signs to the lounge.

The entryway is just beautiful – some amazing plants planted into a wall curve. The lounge is incredibly spacious and overlooks the main A380 gates – I saw Emirates, British Airways, and Qantas parked there while I ate some breakfast. Also, the check-in area for the lounge has one of those cool flippy signs for all the flights (It was annoying, however, that it showed repeats of flights as codeshares, so one flight would pop up as 5-7 different ones, taking up space).

Probably the most significant thing I did at the lounge was have a free 20-minute massage. There was a side area that mostly quiets any of the noise from the lounge (with some to be desired) but they do an effective job of making it feel special and comfortable. There are some various options to choose from and I’m sure they are all enjoyable. I was called the day before to book my massage because I was in Qantas First but I read reports that if you have access to the lounge in general you can walk up and see if there are any slots left.

Here are some other views of the lounge including meeting rooms, a business area (with computers and printers) and a children’s area.

Otherwise, while onboard I was treated the same way I had been treated 10 days prior: all the flight attendants introduced themselves; I had great meals and a comfy bed; free pajamas and all the other amenities I could need for my 14 hour journey home. I highly recommend Qantas First in either direction over the Pacific, but hope you can get the spa sometime!

Review: Qantas First Class on an A380 Part 1 – Check-in and the Lounge

I’ve read so many times how difficult it is to get award tickets to Australia and New Zealand yet, for some reason, I found myself returning to the sun-burnt country for the second time for less than a few hundred dollars round-trip. Last year my wife and I got to fly on Qantas’ new Dreamliner business class and really enjoyed it. While the pajamas we received don’t make it into my regular rotation, I still remember the trip with fondness.

Here is an example of what I’m talking about.

This time around, though, I was even more lucky. My wife and I knew we wanted to go somewhere far again this winter break so I began looking at our options. While I was trying to find something good to other parts of the world I was lucky enough to see the light purple pop up with Qantas first class award availability right when my winter break began – so we jumped on it.

For the low low price of 110,000 AAdvantage miles + $40.10 in taxes per person, we had a flight down under that would be incredibly comfortable. We booked a first class flight from LAX->SYD and then tacked on a free flight from Sydney to Gold Coast about 13 hours after landing.

Fast forward to the day of travel. We had to position ourselves in Los Angeles so we took a JetBlue flight out to get there (we love the comfy seats, the unlimited snacks, and the fact that we get 50% off all in-flight purchases with our JetBlue credit card). We brought our rental car back to the airport and then went to check in.

While there was a moderate line for the economy passengers, there was only one person in front of us so it took a minute or two for us to bring our bags up front. We discovered – much to our excitement – that our bags would be checked up until our final destination of Gold Coast (we would just have to pick them up in Sydney airport and bring them to the Domestic Baggage Transfer area).

Once through security, we went into one of my favorite places during international travel: the lounge. Qantas has a first class lounge (also accessible to other One World premium customers) with many amenities: plenty of space to sit and read, magazines and newspapers for you to take, a full bar, bathrooms/showers, and table service for a variety of meal options.

 

We sat down to have a relaxing meal with the 45 minutes we had before the flight (even though, of course, we would also eat on the plane). It’s important to remember that these lounges are basically miniature all-inclusive resorts; we could order whatever we wanted in whatever amounts. We kept it light but tasty and had some drinks to boot. My wife even liked my dessert so much she ordered one for herself when we found out our flight was delayed by about 20 minutes.

While waiting for our food to arrive I decided to avail myself of the shower facilities. It was easy enough to walk over to the receptionist desk and have someone show me to an open room. It was very clean and had all the resources I might need. The water pressure was great, the soap, shampoo, and conditioner was nice (although scented, which some may not appreciate).

The lounge staff announced when our flight was going to depart and updated us when the delay occurred. Overall, we had a great and relaxing experience at the Qantas First Class lounge at LAX. If you are departing from there anytime soon, make sure to give yourself an hour to enjoy the heck out of it!

Plaza Premium Temporary Lounge in Toronto leaves something to be desired

On the way home from Toronto on Monday I was ready to spend some relaxing time in the Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal 1 of the Toronto Pearson Airport. My wife, sister, and brother were all with me and we would get some free food, drinks, and nice bathrooms to tide over the hour we had to wait for the plane. Unfortunately, we were greeted by this banner upon getting through customs on our way to the lounge.

Apparently the lounge is going through renovation and so we were only able to get access to a temporary lounge using the Priority Pass Select membership granted to us by the Citi Prestige card that my wife and I hold.

The lounge is located essentially in what should be the regular seating area between gates F55 and F57. Instead, they have put up some partitions, placed some higher-quality chairs, and set up a buffet with some food. There were more limited selections than usual but the food was tasty. They also had a variety of drinks, although a smaller variety than normal. The one major gripe that my family and I had was the the power ports on the chairs were taped over and disconnected from any kind of power source.

We spent about 45 minutes waiting in the lounge and enjoying the food and drink. It was definitely better than paying for food and the chairs had nicer cushions, but this is not the kind of lounge I am used to at this point in my travel career. I hope they complete renovations quickly so that the next visit we have to Toronto has a better lounge for us to access.