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Qantas 747 LA-JFK Business Class Review

Carla Grossetti

The Airline: Qantas

The Flight: QF 107 Los Angeles to New York

The Equipment: Reconfigured B747

The Cabin: Business Class

Date: 9/05/2012

Overview: Australian industrial designer Marc Newson has created the luxury interior for a reconfigured fleet of B747s, which replicates the interior of the A380 aircraft. Business class is now replete with Skybeds and, put simply, these purplish-grey pods are supremely comfortable (and a great way to begin a romantic getaway if you're travelling as a couple). In a GFC-defying move, the airline has eliminated first class from the equation and revamped the 747s to include business class, premium economy and economy. There are now six newly fitted 747 aircraft operating on long-haul Pacific routes, including New York, LA, Dallas and Santiago.

Check-in: A business class ticket means slipping into the fast lane to check into the Qantas Lounge an hour before our 6.50pm departure for New York. The décor at the LA Lounge is a tad dated, but that is a minor quibble given the way the highly efficient staff take our business needs on board: a glass of bubbles on arrival, free wi-fi, an internet connection and quiet space to work in. We also indulge in a restorative cup of coffee, which was decent by American standards. For those who prefer a space that is more seriously swish, hang tight: a lounge three times the size of the current one is now under construction. In the meantime, the current lounge is vast enough to find a space to curl up for a micro sleep.

The service: You can’t fake friendliness. There seems to be a prerequisite that all the staff tending to passengers on board this business class flight must be enthusiastic and caring; and this bunch were right on-brand. Led by our lovely flight service attendant, Lucia, the team doled out glasses of NV Billecart-Salmon Brut bubbles on arrival, made helpful suggestions of movies worth watching and gave wine-savvy suggestions that matched well with Neil Perry’s menu. Some of the stewards are graduates from the airline’s Sommelier in the Sky program. And it shows. As well as demonstrating exemplary knowledge of the food and wine, it was the crew’s attentiveness and ability to interpret the needs of an eclectic mix of passengers that elevated the overall experience.

The Food: The first thing we notice when we get on board in the Business Cabin is the mood lighting: which mirrors the breaking of dusk and dawn in a rainbow of orange, yellow and pink hues. There is also a self-service snack bar, which means those who have eaten in the Lounge, can catch up on sleep and then enjoy a range of snacks and drinks at any time throughout the flight. The Neil Perry-designed menu keeps it simple: organic Fulton Valley chicken and cos salad with palm hearts, fingerling potatoes and pine nuts is a light and healthy option, while the seared halibut with almond couscous is fall-apart tender and given a zing with a preserved lemon vinaigrette. Although the treacle pie with clotted cream is tempting, we are steered, instead toward a glass of Grosset Springvale Riesling from the Clare Valley served with biscuits and a selection of artisan cheeses.

The Seat and Entertainment: The plane was a newly reconfigured Boeing 747, fitted with A380 interiors. Here, on the luxe side of the velvety curtains, the comfortable seat and entertainment line-up is something to shout about:  the new configuration means business class is cut into three parts and runs 2-3-2 across. The seats are so good they have won awards for their design and the entertainment line-up featured more than 1500 content selections and choices ranging from up-to-date new releases to Oscar classics and Australian gems. But, frankly, it is the flat-bed factor on this newly flitted fleet that really upped the comfort quotient. Despite being on ‘the red-eye’, we got plenty of shut-eye. There is a lot of leg room, a fold-out footrest, ergonomic cushioning, a massage button and a wide TV monitor.

The verdict: Travelling at the pointy end of a plane on this long-haul flight was like a pleasure overload. What was it that set this airborne experience apart? For starters, it was the high-end amenities and stellar service: the beds convert to being fully flat, the tables are ergonomically designed, the aisles are roomy and, as well as being impossibly friendly, the stewards seem only too happy to be at your beck and call. Despite being a full flight, staff on the LA to New York leg did everything they could to cater to the needs of all on board – from a leggy model with diva-like dietary demands to an overtired mum travelling with her three-month-old son to a harried businessman playing computer games back-to-back.

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