Intro: Building A New Zealand Adventure Around A One Way Qantas Flight
Part 1: Getting To New Zealand Via Asia
Part 2: Spending A Couple Recovery Days In Kuala Lumpur
Part 3: Exploring New Zealand’s Beautiful North Island
Part 4: Exploring New Zealand’s Beautiful South Island
Part 5: A Short Stopover In Sydney And The Ride Home
The flight path out took us right over central Queenstown, Lake Wakitipu, and The Remarkables mountains, that alone making it worth the claustrophobic window seat I had chosen on the tightly packed plane. I was actually quite surprised at how uncomfortably close the rows in coach were on this international Qantas flight and I was thankful it was only three hours.
There were no delays and we arrived on time to clear skies and warm weather. I had spent time in Sydney on a previous trip, so the stopover was mostly to ensure I wouldn’t miss my onward flight home – the whole inspiration for the trip! Besides, who would pass up a visit to Sydney anyway?
The Club Carlson second night free credit card benefit made two nights at the Radisson Blu for 50k points a no brainer. I hopped on the airport train and around thirty minutes later, was checking into my upgraded junior suite. The hotel isn’t on the water, nor does if have any views of note. But its right in the center of everything, five minutes walk either way to shopping or the harbor.
It was late when I arrived, and I had plans to meet up with some friends who also happened to be in Sydney for the night. Which meant I really only had one day in Sydney. I had done all the touristy things on my previous visit so spent a leisurely day wandering around and doing a bit of shopping. I again got lucky with warm temperatures and a sunny day.
No trip to Oz is complete without a few of these!
I turned in early, wanting to be fully rested for the big trip the following day. I checked out the next morning at around 7:30am and headed to the airport. The ride on the train was quick and easy, and before long, I had my boarding pass, my ticket through express security & immigration (which wasn’t very express…) and parked in the Qantas International First Class Lounge.
Special Qantas first class agents greeted me when I arrived, providing a quick orientation around and making sure I had booked a complimentary spa appointment. After, I sat down to breakfast in the full service restaurant I couldn’t have felt more well taken care of or special!
After breakfast, it was time for my spa treatment. Each first class Qantas guest gets a complimentary twenty minute treatment of choice, with the option of going longer for an additional charge. I chose the back and neck massage and it was pretty good!
The lounge is visually stunning, with high ceilings, warm woods and light fabrics throughout. There were plenty of people circulating throughout, yet it never felt crowded.
The entire lounge overlooks the tarmac, with spacious seating and dining areas and floor to ceiling windows, excellent for plane spotting. I soon spied my plane being towed to the gate directly in front of us!
Before long it was time to board, though I could have spent all day in this lounge! The gate was directly below and in no time flat, I was being escorted to my seat, 4A. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was enough room to seat a small family!
Before long, champagne was being served and pajamas and amenity kits handed out. I wasn’t impressed much with the amenity kit, but loved the pajamas. So much so that I asked for and was given a second set.
The plane is beautiful. First class is on the lower deck, business up the stairs on the upper,where there is a small lounge area with 3-4 person sofa, but nothing like the one on the Emirates or Korean Air a380s.
While changing into my PJs, I noticed that the FC bathroom wasn’t as huge as the one on Thai or Emirates, but it did have a window!
After take off, menus were distributed and orders taken. There was a choice of full tasting menu, served with complimentary wine pairings, or a regular multi course full meal. Having used some restraint in the lounge, I had saved my appetite and so requested the full service meal.
Service started shortly after take off, with a small snack of prawn toast and porcini mushroom pate. Served, of course with more champagne!
Next there was a smoked salmon and greens salad, followed by roasted pumpkin and vegetable soup. No personal breadbasket, but FAs circulated with choices from a larger community basket.
I went with the Australian Blue-Eye (Trevalla) fish entree, a local species which I’d eaten previously in Tasmania. It was a bit dry, but with the slightly spicy flavorings still pretty tasty!
By the time I ordered dessert, they were out of my first choice, a caramel and chocolate fudge torte cake of some sort. Feeling full by now anyway, I passed on the other options, and ordered some English Breakfast tea. In super nice gesture, the FAs located as many chocolaty treats they could find as to serve as a substitute, which came with my tea in a proper tea service.
After dinner, my bed was made up and I settled in for the 13 hour ride. The entertainment offerings were pretty extensive, though the video screen was pretty tiny.
A few first world impressions regarding the a380 suite: The seat was so far away from the windows I couldn’t see out! In addition, despite all the room, counter space was limited and awkwardly located, most of it under the windows, which were on the other side of the suite, and not easily reachable. It was also a bit hard to move around when the tray table was out. Certainly nothing to complain too loudly about, yet a bit curious from a design perspective.
An unremarkable breakfast was served about two hours out of L.A. and with some pretty strong tail winds, we landed early. As usual, I was through immigration in no time flat thanks to global entry. I loved this fist class experience on Qantas, icing on the cake of an overall amazing trip! I’m looking forward to flying again, the other way once the lounge opens at the TBIT.