How do you survive a seventeen hour flight?
With wonderful food, amazing staff, a comfortable bed and some fabulous wines and champagnes.
At the time of writing, this is currently the third longest commercial flight in existence. On my particular day, our trip took 16 hours and 50 minutes, that’s longest I’ve spent on a single sector.
The ground experience at Dallas Fort/Worth is actually pretty poor. There are two lounges for you to choose from, the Admirals Club or the airport run lounge which Qantas uses. This is also the exact same lounge that British Airways use, it just turns into the Qantas one after the BA flight leaves about 18.00.
It’s a small cupboard, albeit with nice views over the apron and not a lot of food and drink. By contrast, the Admirals Club in terminal D is a pretty large area, plus with the addition of the new Flagship Dining room, which I received an invitation to. By contrast, the Qantas First lounge at Los Angeles is probably one of the best in North America.
Boarding was called with families with children under five been pre-boarded. Then it was the turn of First class customer and oneworld emerald equivalents.
Boarding was through 1L and was greeted by a very friendly member of the crew and escorted to 1A. Emma was going to be looking after me today, and tomorrow, and the next day.
Pre-departure champagne and amuse bouche was handed out on the ground with several top ups forthcoming without needing to ask.
Pushback was on time and we slowly lumbered around the airport before taking off to the south on what was probably the longest take-off roll and slowest climb out I’d experienced. We settled out at 30,000 ft and then Emma came around to ask what I’d like to eat and drink for dinner.
The champagne today as the Veuve Cliquot 2006 La Grande Dame. For dinner, I chose the French onion soup, then on to the world renowned Qantas steak sandwich and then for my main course picked the braised lamb. Pudding was then offered which was devoured too.
By this point, given I was still an hour ahead from my time in D.C., I was pretty knackered so got changed in the toilets in the lovely pyjamas. By the time I got back, my bed was already made with a bottle of water there too. The crew also came around with petit fours which I felt would have been rude to decline.
At this point I conked out for a good eight hours in possibly one of the most comfortable beds in the sky, I’ve ever slept in.
I woke up over Christmas Island, with about seven and a half hours to go. In need of liquid refreshment and a e.g. stretch I popped to the galley in search of a Gin & Tonic.
After two, some salted nuts and a bit of a natter with the crew, I popped back to my bed for a bit of a doze.
Breakfast was served about two hours out from Sydney and Emma was back from her rest. As an aside, I really don’t know how the crew manage sectors as long as this. It must be bloody hard going and my hats off to them.
Well, I was treated to Vegemite on toast to start with, never having tried this Australian delicacy. As my UK readers will know, we have a similar, but different variation on yeast extracts, called Marmite, which I’m not really a fan of. However this was pretty good, I suspect due to the large amount of butter on the toast!
For the main meal, I just asked for some bacon, tomatoes and scrambled egg on toast. The eggs appeared freshly made and tasted delicious.
Before long, it was almost time to land, albeit asked to hold a further twenty minutes by air traffic to regulate the flow into the airport. Before disembarking the crew very kindly let me a have a quick look around the flight deck.
I have to say, I’ve flown quite a few carriers in first class and this was pretty close to faultless. The hard product is superb – in the same area as British Airways with the same number of seats, the hard product seems fare more spacious and well thought out.
However what really made it for me was the service from the crew. It was anticipatory, it was friendly, it was appropriate, it was superb.
Qantas really have an excellent product here; one I’d love to try again.