Qantas QF 94 Los Angeles to Melbourne, business class (5E)
Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
15 hours and 25 minutes
Frequent flyer program
You can earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points aboard any Qantas flight. Qantas is also a part of the Oneworld airline alliance, with partner airlines including American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair and Qatar Airways.
Qantas business class passengers can bring two pieces of checked luggage up to 32kgs each between the USA and Australia. If you have Silver or Gold status with Qantas, that allowance increases to three pieces or four pieces at Platinum/Platinum One.
Arriving well in advance for your long-haul international flight is an unwritten rule. But, it seems I heeded the warnings about flying out of the world’s sixth busiest airport a little too well, arriving a full four hours before my 10:20 pm flight. En route to finding something to do before check-in opened, I happened to pass the Qantas counters, which, to my surprise, were manned and open for early check-in. It’s a small miracle. With just one other couple ahead, I was through to the desk and holding my boarding passes in a matter of minutes.
Momentum was slowed at TSA, with a bottleneck of passengers being diverted through only a handful of open lines. Still, nothing could stop me, and I was through in around ten minutes, seated comfortably at Vino Volo with a glass of Chardonnay not long after. The following few hours were spent buried in emails and furiously refreshing the Qantas app for news of a successful space available upgrade (an upgrade granted only if there are seats available once check-in has closed). That news came with just 20 minutes until boarding, my 55A seat replaced with 5E, and my resignation with elation.
“Can I get you a glass of champagne or some water?” asks Malcolm, one of the bubbly flight attendants, no sooner had I taken my seat. Ten points to Qantas for their diligence. On his return, Malcolm admits that he completely forgot what I asked for, so hands me both anyway. Another ten points for their problem-solving.
Champagne before take-off is standard in most, if not all, business-class cabins; a lovely touch that doesn’t go unappreciated. But receiving a set of branded, 100% cotton pyjamas — like the Qantas ones — isn’t so routine. It’s this that I’m most excited about. Malcolm comes by and hands me a set marked L/XL. They’re excessive for my five-foot frame, but I do a giddy little dance and stash them away in the footwell until after take-off.
I’m in one of the centre two seats, with not much privacy to the aisle and separated from my row buddy by the wide centre console and adjustable screen divider. There are plenty of pockets to stash my magazines and ample space on the console to place my champagne glass and series of in-flight menus. One of them is to be filled out pre-take-off — the morning’s breakfast selection. It’s comprehensive, with eight options for breakfast, seven different teas, and even some low-calorie sweeteners if that’s your preference. I gloss over the buttermilk and ricotta pancakes and instead opt for free-range scrambled eggs with bacon, tomato, and kale and an English breakfast tea with oat milk.
With the formalities out of the way, it’s time to settle in with a movie or five. From corner to corner on the diagonal, the touchscreen entertainment system measures a cool 40cm. If it’s too far to reach comfortably from your seat and scroll through the entire opus of Game of Thrones (as it is for me), the system is also fully controllable by remote. So too, is your seat, with a control panel on the console that allows you to lift and lower the different parts independently of each other. If you’re astute, you’ll notice the in-seat massage button much sooner than I did and reap the benefits of some muscle manipulation well before it’s time to land.
Before dinner service, I pop to the bathroom to change into my plane-issued pyjamas. A quick conversation with the friendly flight attendants in the galley, and they’d swapped out my pyjamas for a more reasonable size and poured me wine for my later return to my seat. I noted the cleanliness of the bathroom, which, pleasantly, was as clean at the end of the flight as they were when I changed. A feat for any flight, any class.
Given the later time of our flight, dinner was served promptly, my table set for the first course around 50 minutes after take off. I opted for the grilled sea bass with Sardinian fregola and wilted lettuce. Where the textures were lacking in the fish and wilted lettuce, the flavour shone through. But it was the smokey, oven-toasted fregola that really stole the show. After some seasonal fruit and one last glass of Leogate Broken Back Chardonnay, the table was packed down, and I went into sleeping mode.
Seat to bed is simple: just a touch of a button, and you’re fully reclined. It’s roomy enough for five foot me, though not the roomiest lie-flat bed in the air. The lack of a topper also means sleeping over seat seams, which was an issue for my sore lower back but won’t necessarily be for everyone. Despite the fact, I still managed a solid seven hours of sleep.
In the final few hours between sleep and landing, breakfast was served (warm and all entirely edible), and another few movies were consumed. All in all, the flight was as pleasant as 15 hours in the air can be. But, as always, it’s the service on board Qantas that truly makes the flight. While the seats themselves were comfortable and nicer than others in the market, they’re not the pinnacle of business-class travel. The staff, on the other hand, were. They were attentive, friendly, and quick to indulge you with some banter.
Oh, and the pyjamas? They’re just about the best part of the flight, an outrageously comfortable keepsake you’ll be wearing for months to come.
Monique received a complimentary upgrade courtesy of Qantas. All thoughts and opinions are her own.