QANTAS BUSINESS CLASS A380 SYD – LAX: REVIEW

Flight: QF11, SYD-LAX

Loyalty Scheme: Qantas Frequent Flyer (member of the Oneworld alliance)

Frequency: Multiple daily

Duration:  13.5 hours

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Qantas has a stranglehold of the USA market between the Australian east coast and key cities such as NYC, San Fran, Dallas and Los Angeles. Recently the airline announced it would also be pushing into new routes like Chicago from 2020. With that in mind I knew going to the States with Qantas was always going to be a sound choice. So how did the A380 stack up on the long haul flight from Sydney to Los Angeles? The Australian Traveller hopped onboard at the top end to find out…

The Seat

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Qantas has a stranglehold of the USA market between the Australian east coast and key cities such as NYC, San Fran, Dallas and Los Angeles. Recently the airline announced it would also be pushing into new routes like Chicago from 2020. With that in mind I knew going to the States with Qantas was always going to be a sound choice. So how did the A380 stack up on the long haul flight from Sydney to Los Angeles? The Australian Traveller hopped onboard at the top end to find out…Qantas has a stranglehold of the USA market between the Australian east coast and key cities such as NYC, San Fran, Dallas and Los Angeles. Recently the airline announced it would also be pushing into new routes like Chicago from 2020. With that in mind I knew going to the States with Qantas was always going to be a sound choice. So how did the A380 stack up on the long haul flight from Sydney to Los Angeles? The Australian Traveller hopped onboard at the top end to find out…

One thing that’s instantly noticeable compared to Qantas’ new B787s and converted A330s is that the A380 retains the older generation Skybed II business class seat. This means for those playing at home it’s not very private and is configured in a 2-2-2 seat layout (which means that delicate hop over the neighbour mid flight when they’re reclined and asleep) .

Despite the seats possessing a generous amount of  leg room (78-inch pitch), storage space was seriously lacking around the seat itself. When the bed lays fully flat it offered a sense of privacy thanks to the cocoon of the hard shell surrounding the seat. Sadly the seat was showing its age with the end sagging slightly which in turn made my sleeping position a little uncomfortable at times.

On my seat when I first boarded was a rather charming amenities kit which has all the essentials including some lovely Aspar products as well as a pair of the iconic Qantas pajamas. It was rather ambitious for Qantas to leave a pair there considering they were making an assumption on what size I am.

Entertain me

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Qantas without fail always has a strong selection of film and television to enjoy on their IFEs. All business class seats have a 12.1-inch touchscreen which pops up the side of the seat and then swivelled into position to sit in front of you. The quality of the screen which is perfectly fine to view, is no match for Qantas’ better A330 and B787 business class IFE screens. All business class passengers are provided with noise cancelling headphones.

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For those not wanting to watch a screen and more want to go for a stretch or do some socialising, Qantas has a small lounge space in the front of the top deck. Unlike Emirates and Qatar, the space is a wasted opportunity. There’s no bar but rather a long lounge running along the length of the wall. At the time I entered it was heaving with young children and their mothers. It was clearly not a space I wished to relax in. It’s believed that the new revamp of the A380 will include a new lounge area which I hope will be a lot more aligned with the Emirates lounge space on board than what is currently offered on Qantas.

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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Qantas is one of the best when it comes to food and wine presentation and this flight was no exception. Sure it wasn’t on par with Qatar’s incomparable meal service, it was still a highlight. Being a morning flight out of Sydney, there were two key meal services; lunch and breakfast (in preparation for landing into the US the day same day during the breakfast rush). Prior to take off Qantas offered passengers a glass of still or sparkling water or Duval-Leroy Brut champagne. I went with the champagne as a way to toast in the beginning of my getaway to the USA.

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Lunch was served an hour into the flight. For appetiser I went with the dumplings which were quite succulent and full of flavour. The main followed and the choices were a lot more abundant  from a seared barramundi, a chicken breast with potato gratin and roasted vegetables to a spicy beef tagine. I chose the barramundi. It went nicely with my topped up glass of champagne. Served alongside the main was a simple salad (which lacked any real flavour). Dessert closed the meal off nicely with some seasoned fruit and Maggie Beer ice cream.

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Flight attendant came around with breakfast cards for passengers to fill out before they closed out the lunch service. Being one who likes to start off the day with a big meal to power through I made sure I ticked a few of the boxes before getting in a movie or two and some shut eye.

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After sleeping six hours I awoke half an hour prior to Qantas commencing their breakfast service, which was abut two hours out from Los Angeles. Instead of the staggered dish serving process of the lunch service, the breakfast meal was brought out all at once.

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The breakfast was akin to what I would be served in an Australian cafe which is quite a delight. The ingredients and food offering looks not only delicious but rather healthy. I went with the poached eggs with pearl barley, kale and spinach salad as well as a serving of the buttermilk pancakes with baked rhubarb and cinnamon yoghurt. I accompanied the dishes with a cappuccino which came out nice and frothy, a green juice and a final glass of champagne (because it was 12pm somewhere in the world).

All in all the food and drinks were solid, tasty and the best part of my flight experience. If Qantas was a restaurant I would give it 4.5 out of 5 stars for its culinary side alone.

Verdict

I was initially apprehensive to fly the old Skybed II to the States. The idea of hopping over someone mid flight, let alone the lack of privacy was a concern. That said the seat was surprisingly still comfortable ten years on despite a little sagging in parts. I slept a solid six hours and felt rejuvenated for the rest of the day once I landed.

The entertainment was good but slightly disappointing due to the screen showing its age. The highlight however was the meal service for both lunch and breakfast. Qantas has a reputation for its dining and it did not falter. With the A380s set for a revamp later this year to the new business class seat, I cannot wait to see what a difference a better seat will do to enhance what is an already enjoyable experience. I will definitely be back onboard with Qantas if given the chance in the future!

Comments

Have you experienced flying business on the Qantas A380? Did you love or dislike the flight? Hit up the comments section as I’m keen to hear your thoughts…

Qatar QSuite – Seat Comparison Roundup (B777-300ER) vs A350-900)

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Last year TAT compared the variants of Qatar business class seats that were being operated from the herringbone of the A380 to the forward facing, 2-2-2 hop over configuration of the A330. A year on and this time around due to the opportunity of flying back to back on two QSuite flights, we thought we’d compared the experience of the A350 vs that of the B777. So how does the QSuite experience fair between aircraft? Is the overall flight journey on par across the board or are no two QSuites the same? TAT took to the skies to find out…

A350

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The seat

The A350 features 46 QSuites in its business cabin, which are configured in a staggered 1-2-1 layout that offers each passenger direct aisle access. There are different types of seating configurations, with odd-numbered rows featuring rear-facing seats and even-numbered rows having forward facing ones.

The QSuite is beautiful designed with shoulder height doors that close while at the same time not making the space feel claustrophobic. On this flight I sat in 3A, which was a rear facing window seat. All suites are adorned with grey upholstery, hand-stitched Italian leather and satin rose gold finishing. Despite each seat having a width of 21.5 inches (55 cm) which extends to a 79 inches (2m) long bed, I found the seat generally a little tight in terms of comfort. Due to this being a relatively short 3 hour flight, I didn’t have the opportunity to test the lie flat bed.

Also in the suite was a hard shell BRICS amenities kit which contained the usual suspects for long haul travel, such as socks, eyeshades and ear plugs as well as some nice skincare items from Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio.

Entertain me

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Entertainment is the best of the Oryx One system by Qatar. It’s a comprehensive but not exhaustive range that’s on offer here. Entertainment is delivered on a large and clear 22” HD screen. Control also via the screen or remote by the seat. Oryx One branded noise-cancelling headphones were also provided during the flight.

The A350 also offers onboard WiFi. On this flight, the first 60 minutes of WiFi is complimentary and for those who wish to surf the net beyond this timeframe there’s a handful of wifi plans depending on your usage/ needs. Using the complimentary wifi, I found that just general browsing without downloading anything was quite slow. If this was the case for the paid option too I would feel frustrated and frankly ripped off.

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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Qatar’s soft product is just as amazing as their hard product. Despite being a three hour flight, the food and drink options were not skimmed over. A lot of detail and attention was placed on the food and beverage presentation and taste. On this flight was a simple a la carte menu. To properly compare service, I order a three course dinner onboard by having the seared scallops for starter, the grilled prawn and cod fish for main and the fresh berries with almond syrup for desert. I complimented this with the delectable Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rose which enhanced the dining experience with its lovely raspberry and salmon hues.

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All of the dishes were tasty and beautiful presented (I loved the quality dishware used). On the A350 the service was speedy but attentive. Given the relatively short flight I could understand the FAs sense of urgency however that did not impact the warmth or friendliness of the onboard service.

777

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The Seat

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The first thing one notices about the QSuite on the B77 is the sense of space, especially compared to the A350 layout. In this aircraft there are 42 Qsuites spread across two minicabins. Like the A350 the cabin is a 1-2-1 configuration, offering each passenger direct aisle access. Like before I was seated in 3A and facing the rear on the plane on the window side.

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Due to the timing of my flight being overnight, my suite contained two pillows, a blanket, amenity kit and set of headphones at the seat. The seat itself was quite comfortable, measuring 21.5 inches wide and 79 inches (2m) long, roughly the same as the A350. Despite the seat being the same in size the suite itself felt larger.

After the a la carte meal service I reclined to a full flat position to get some sleep during my nine hour flight. Whilst I didn’t have an FA do a turndown service for me, I found simply laying on my back with a blanket over me on the seat more that comfortable and didn’t require the mattress topper at all.

Pyjamas from The White Company were provided for this flight as well as the hard shell BRIC amenities kit, which contained the same toiletries as the A350 leg.

Entertain me

Without trying to sound repetitive, entertainment is provided through the Oryx One system. Again what was on offer was comprehensive but not exhaustive. Entertainment is delivered on a large and clear 21.5” HD screen which can be controlled via the screen or remote by the seat.

Also like the A350 there was wifi onboard with sadly the same connectivity issues.

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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Being a nine hour flight two meals services were issued. Being a late night flight the menu had an emphasis on late night dining through some lighter dish options. On this flight I order the mixed garden salad, prawn wonton noodle soup and the baked coconut pudding with chilli chocolate. I accompanied my dishes again with a glass of the Laurent Perrier rose. Yes there were other options in terms of some great NZ and Napa Valley whites and reds but that Laurent Perrier seems to pair well with anything! All of the dishes went down a treat and like the A350, all beautifully presented on charming dishware.

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The breakfast service was equally impressive. I’m a sucker for an arabic mezze and order that alongside a platter of seasonal fruits, a glass of mint lemon juice and an assiette of cold cuts. To toast in the last hour or so before landing I chose to go a champagne breakfast with a glass of the Pommery Brut NV.

Service throughout the flight was outstanding and despite the relatively full cabin the flight attendants had strong attention to detail.

Conclusion

Qatar is a highly regarded airline, and the reputation is justified. Its Business Class products are well designed, comfortable and for the most part offer a consistent experience despite the seat variations. The pillows and blankets provided are lush and comfortable. Amenity packs universal and pyjamas are comfortable to lounge and sleep in (when provided). Food on board is always to a high standard and service generally warm and attentive.

It was a struggle to decide which aircraft I liked more as the service, seat and food/ beverage options were all on par. In fact I was surprised they aligned so well considering I’ve been on different aircraft for another airline and their service/ seat was worlds apart. I’m calling this one a tie. You are on a winner regardless of which aircraft you fly the QSuite on!

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Comments

Have you experienced flying QSuite on either the A350 or B777 or both? Did you love or dislike the experience? Hit up the comments section as I’m keen to hear your thoughts…

 

 

BRITISH AIRWAYS B777 CLUB WORLD LHR-TLV: REVIEW

Flight: BA167, LHR – TLV

Loyalty Scheme: The Executive Club (member of the Oneworld alliance)

Frequency: Multiple daily

Duration: 5 hours

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Unlike a number of people, I don’t have a real axe to grind with British Airways. Perhaps I’ve been fortunate but my flying experiences with the airlines have been genuinely pleasant and dare I say it, even enjoyable. Due to some fortunate operational reasons, BA quietly upgraded my LHR – LTV flight prior to check in from a not so bad premium economy seat to their Club World cabin. For a five hour flight this was quite a nice way to arrive in Ben Gurion Airport and an upgrade is an upgrade. I was keen see some of the changes that BA announced last year to their Club World cabin. Sure the new direct aisle business class seat wasn’t on this flight but some of the ‘soft improvements’ that they touted were now in operation. So how did BA’s Club World fare? TAT took to the skies to find out…

The Seat

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The first thing one notices upon entering the cabin is the weird yet crowded business class layout of the cabin which is configured 2-4-2 (8 seats abreast in a 56 seat cabin). Now in today’s business class flying terms, that’s rather ancient in terms of layouts. The middle central seats are couple seats whilst the rest are staggered individually (either facing forward or backward). On today’s flight I had a direct aisle, centred seat. The seat felt quite exposed and lacked privacy. Not only could those walking down the aisle see me clearly but also those with their partitions down in the central part of the Club World cabin. Those fortunate to be seated on the window seats had more of a privacy cocoon.

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The seat also lacked storage and I found myself having to leave my mobile charging on the floor next to my seat. Against the power outlets was a small compartment underneath the centre console. I’d struggle to put anything in there other than a slim tablet. Due to the flight not being an overnight flight, bedding was not provided but the seat does convert into a fully lie flat bed. A lovely Elemis amenities kit was handed out by flight attendants which contained the usual suspects such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, cream, etc.

There’ were four restrooms allocated for business class and during the flight when I did need to go there was never a line up for the bathrooms.

Entertain me

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The seat had an odd 12 inch flip out flat screen, which was poorly aligned for those who wish to recline back a little to enjoy their entertainment viewing. Aside from this small gripe the actually catalogue of movie, TV and music options was rather decent despite it being no Emirates ICE. Moreover with the screen being surely around for some 10+ years, the resolution and sound from the entertainment system was still surprisingly strong. All seats also came with noise cancelling headphones to enhance the viewing experience.

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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Upon seating down a flight attendant (FA) approached me to offer a hot towel and champagne or water. I went with the NV champagne which was from the house of Canard-Duchêne (the drop is also served in their first class lounges). Once airborne the FA came around again tom take meal orders as well as top up drinks. I decided to switch my champagne to the Besserat de Bellefon brut rosé champagne, which had some rather lovely smokey notes fused with a delicious salted almond, lemon meringue flavour. 

Other drinks on offer was a selection of Austrian, Argentinean and NZ white and red wines as well as a host of teas for those seeking a belated British afternoon cup of tea.

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Gone were the trolleys as part of the new Club World revamp late last year. Instead FAs would come out dish by dish with people’s selections. Traditionally I’m a three course man on a business class flight so the progressive dining service was a nice touch compared to the all in one service delivery of old. For starter I went with the Loch Fyne smoked salmon which did not disappoint. The dish was followed by a Scottish beef short rib main, which was equally impressive and wasn’t dry like some beef dishes I’ve experienced on other airlines. To finish I had the apple and blackberry compote which had a delicious almond crumble. All up the dining experience whilst a little delayed between dishes was very good. The promise of BA lifting their business class dining standards was very evident on this flight, from the presentation to the taste of the dishes.

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Verdict

I honestly didn’t know what to expect with this flight. The cabin isn’t as horrid as some of the stories I’ve read online but then again isn’t anywhere near as good as some its rivals like Qatar’s superior QSuite and Emirates’ direct aisle A380 business class suite. Overlooking the lack of privacy, the seat was comfortable and the entertainment offering was solid. The stand out for me was the food and drink service which felt personalised, well presented and more importantly tasty. The rollout of soft improvements around the dining service was clear and made all the difference (even if it seemed minor on the surface in terms of enhancements). You could say the flying experience overall was a pleasant surprise. I would have no hesitation flying the Club World cabin again on BA should the option arise.

Comments

Have you experienced flying business/ Club World on British Airways? Did you love or dislike the flight? Hit up the comments section as I’m keen to hear your thoughts…

 

 

 

 

 

 

EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SYD – BKK: REVIEW

Flight: EK418, SYD – BKK

Loyalty Scheme: Emirates Skywards (partner with Qantas)

Frequency: Daily (sadly axed now)

Duration: 9 hours and 30 minutes

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The lustre of first class never fails to excite me. Airlines such as Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Korea, Lufthansa and Cathay are renown for their superior F product. Recently Emirates launched their new first class suite but sadly the roll out of that product has been slow. Normally I fly J, especially in reward bookings but my connection between Sydney and Bangkok was a struggle with only F showing up in my searches. Surprisingly the amount of points required for the current F on Emirates was quite reasonable and the idea of flying their highly regarded first suite sipping unlimited Dom Perignon was quite the lure, so naturally I booked. Does Emirates first (even if it isn’t the newly launched suite) stack up? Is the experience truly first class? TAT hopped onboard to find out…

The Seat

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The first thing I noticed upon entering the first cabin was amount of space. The lack of overhead lockers provides more ceiling height. The storage space is instead cleverly crafted around the seat itself with ample space around the foot area and as well as a larger storage compartment on the side against the window. Unlike the business class layout on the B777, first class has a much more passenger accessibility friendly 1-2-1 configuration.

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As soon as I’m seated down a flight attendant (FA) is there on hand to offer me a glass of champagne which I happily apologise even if it Moet and not the Dom Perignon (they don’t serve the grand dame until after take off). Aside from the bevy of storage compartments on hand, there’s a nifty little mini bar for those who don’t want to disturb the FA mid flight. Personally whilst a nice to have, with the drink list on offer, I’m more inclined to have an FA make up a drink for me.

Now for those wanting to look a little ‘Hollywood glam’ after their flight, Emirates has you covered with its flashy ‘open and closed’ lit up makeup mirror. Inside the mirror case is a personal spa kit consisting of various Byredo branded creams, mists and oils. Sure this doesn’t make up for the lack of onboard shower that makes the A380 a much more enticing option, but it will ensure you don’t leave the flight looking like you’ve been rolling around in the hay.

Now flashy distractions aside, let’s talk about the seat. The rather well padded, leather seat has a width of 29 inches and possesses some fabulous setting to recline or lie flat to, especially with the massage option on. Speaking of the lie flat mode, the seat transforms into a 201cm (79-inch) fully-flat bed, which the Emirates crew will happily make up with a mattress, duvet and pillow (whilst leaving slippers, eye shade and pyjamas on top for a nice touch).

All in all quite impressive and makes for quite a nice way to recline into for a short or long journey.

Entertain me

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The first class suite comes with an impressive 32 inch touch screen TV, which provides access to a variety of movies, TV shows, games, music, and the aircraft’s external cameras. I found the clarity and sound great with my entertainment system although as per usual the IFE in general lacked a large choice of entertainment options (something that Emirates has continuous performed poorly in for years).

 

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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I love my food and for me especially in premium, this can make or break an experience. In my time I’ve had some really poor premium fare and thankfully today, Emirates was all class. I guess you could say it all started in the form of an arabic coffee and date sampling upon boarding, which for me always puts me in a happy mood. It’s a great pairing. On the ground Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial NV is poured but once in the sky the Dom Pérignon 2009 was waiting to be popped and I was onto it like Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous (minus the embarrassing side antics). I think I enjoyed at least a bottle of the prestigious NV.

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What sets the first class dining experience apart is naturally the canapes and appertisers. On offer was caviar and I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to enjoy it with the iconic french bubbly. The caviar was well presented and was an absolute treat. The only downside is that there simply wasn’t enough on the dish to enjoy! A true first world problem!

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Settling into the rest of the menu I went to my go to arabic mezze (which didn’t let me down) and for main enjoyed a succulent and well cooked lamp chops dish that was seasoned with lavender chimichurri. Upon finishing that dish I was on the verge of full but I couldn’t complete my meal without at least savouring a desert. I decided on something (somewhat light) with the apricot frangipane tart). Coupled with the vanilla bean and raspberries, I found myself in desert heaven without my stomach feeling like it was in food hell.

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Throughout the meal service and whenever I requested a snack, the FAs were more than friendly and welcoming to my requests. They were highly attentive and were more than obliging to happily posing with a bottle of the Dom Perginon for this review story. If anything I found that my biggest regret from the meal service was that I didn’t have enough room in my stomach to sample more of the dishes on offer. The dining was truly first class!

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Verdict

The flight overall was simply heaven. Words cannot describe the feeling of being in that seat. It was first class without the attitude. FAs were a standout the entire flight and were attentive to most of the needs. The food and drink options were standouts.  Whilst I stuck to the Dom Perginon and water that flight, there was an excellent selection of wine, beer and cocktails on the menu. The food served onboard not only matched but exceeded my expectations. The quality was quite exceptional and delicious! If given the opportunity I will definitely get onboard again with this great Emirates F product.

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Comments

Have you experienced flying first class on Emirates? Did you love or dislike the flight? Hit up the comments section as I’m keen to hear your thoughts…

 

 

 

 

 

DAN LOUNGE BEN GURION (ISRAEL) REVIEW

Alliance: N/A

Location: Ben Gurion International Terminal 3, after Passport Control follow signs to Concourse C.

Lounge Rating: 2.5 Stars 

 

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Enter a quick search online and you’ll be quick to find stories floating about the Dan Lounge in Israel and the poor hospitality it offers. To have such a reputation, especially outside of Israel for the wrong reasons is quite concerning. Naturally due to my frequent flyer membership, lounge access to the Dan Lounge was offered and being curious, TAT simply had to try some of the best and worst there was to offer in terms of aviation experience. So how did Dan Lounge fare? Was it as horrifying as some bloggers have made out or was it more a storm in a tea cup?

Lounge access options

  • Lounge access is available for passengers who are:
    • Higher tier members of frequent flyer programs/ alliances
    • Priority Pass
    • Paid entry

Lounge location and opening hours

The lounge is located in Terminal 3. After clearing Passport Control follow the signs to Concourse C. The lounge is open 24 hours.

Ambience

 

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One thing you notice upon entering the lounge is how small the space is. Considering the lounge is accessible to pretty much anyone from frequent flyers on alliance airline programs to paid entries, this lounge can easily get quite full and in the case of my flight that morning it did. I initially struggled to find a seat and had to stand around ten minutes before some people cleared for a flight that was called.

In the lounge there’s a handful of toilets, a small buffet area and mostly seating. Those looking for a shower mid transit or prior to a flight will have to look elsewhere as I couldn’t find any in this lounge.

 

Refresh Me (Bathroom/ spa facilities)

As mentioned prior there are no shower facilities and limited toilets. I found whenever I went to the bathroom there was a line for the toilet (no good). Bathrooms were generally clean but nothing outstanding in my opinion.

Bread and butter (food and drink)

 

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The food and drink section here was very underwhelming. The buffet area was tiny and only offered a handful of food options from salads (sorry mostly salads), some pastries and eggs. On the drinks side of things, there was sadly nothing alcoholic that could help you erase the memories of spending time in this lounge. Instead fridges were stocked with soft drink, juice and water. Also on hand was a couple of coffee machines that looked like they had seen better days. I noticed a couple of patrons struggled to get boiling water to pour from these machines and the coffee from them didn’t look too enticing either.

If there was a redeeming feature about the food/ drinks section it was the large glass bottles of sparkling Perrier water on offer. Simply take the bottle to your table and enjoy. For me this was certainly not a bad way to hydrate oneself prior to boarding.

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The area could be dramatically improved with a wider range of options and more space but again this is something that would require a total lounge redesign/ revamp.

Verdict

Dan Lounge sounds appealing on paper as a 24 hour lounge, giving those in transit an option to relax instead of sitting around the rather unfriendly Ben Gurion Airport for hours on end. However the food and drink options were disappointingly slim and lack of seating and time spent waiting around for seating to free up was terrible, especially after getting up for an early flight. In general the lack of space and poor seating design makes this lounge fall flat in terms of an enjoyable experience.

If you’re not a Priority Pass or top tier airline alliance program member I’d avoid this lounge as I wouldn’t pay entry for this lounge, instead looking at a the range of food outlets within the airport for a drink/ snack. Overall the lounge isn’t as horrifying as some of the stories online but it certainly doesn’t shake some of the key negative aspects that have been echoed on these forums either. A very average experience not worth arriving at the airport earlier for.

Comments

Have you experienced the Dan Lounge in Ben Gurion Israel? If so how was your experience in the lounge? Love to hear your thoughts and what you think has been your best lounge experience to date.

 

EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS CHRISTCHURCH – SYDNEY: REVIEW

Flight: EK413, CHC-SYD

Loyalty Scheme:  Emirates Skywards

Frequency: Once daily

Duration: 3 hours and 20 minutes

 

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I’m a creature of habit. If I like something strongly enough I will naturally be inclined to return for more. In this case it’s Emirates and their SYD-CHC route. As a fifth freedom route, for many including myself it is the number one option when it comes to flying to New Zealand’s south island from Sydney. Emirates previously also serviced flights to Auckland from Sydney and Melbourne but they were culled by the airline a couple of years ago in favour of their partner Qantas. Sadly the experience and joy of flying with Qantas on the same route is the same. Again thank goodness for Emirates flying to the south island (for now). Nine months on I was keen to seeing if lightning struck twice in terms of a good business class experience on the same route – then again are all business class flights equal? I flew Emirates CHC-SYD on the biz to find out.

The Seat

On this flight I was seated in 9K, a window seat. All business classes have direct aisle access on this 1-2-1 configuration. The seat offer a 48 inch pitch and 18.5 inch width. Upon sitting down I can’t help but notice that signature Emirates use of buried wood trim around the seat. Whilst a tad OTT, it’s nonetheless distinctive and adds a touch of class. Surrounding the seat there’s a console housing an entertainment tablet and mini-bar. Underneath the console are the seat controls which include the all important ‘lie flat’ configuration button. With no overhead storage areas on the window seats side, there’s handy storage bins against the seat.

Awaiting on my seat is an array of amenities including a pillow, blanket and noise-cancelling headphones.

Entertain me

 

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Every seat has a touch-screen Wireless Integrated Passenger Seat Controller which not only handles seat position but also the in-flight entertainment on a 17-inch screen. With more than 1100 channels of entertainment, I was spoiled for choice but settled in over my meal to catch up on the movie Venom.

One winning advantage the A380 has over it’s B777 counterpart is it’s knockout onboard.  Serving a range of drinks and canapés, the space is a great way to mingle with new found friends or for those wanting to catch up live sports and entertainment, there’s a large flat screen TV for their viewing pleasure.

Complimentary Wi-Fi is also provided but it’s for a very small amount of data. If you wish to get download heavy on your flight, you’ll need to take out one of the priced options.

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

 

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Prior to departure I was offered by the flight attendant a choice of juice, water or champagne. On today’s flight was Moet & Chandon Brut NV, which was naturally my go to option. I continued to enjoy another glass of the Moet after take off before my order for dinner was taken. The service was surprisingly slow for a half full flight.

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On this flight for main I had three choices; roasted salmon, coconut braised beef ribs or the chicken fillet. I went with the beef and the beef was cooked to my liking. It packed a punch in terms of flavour thanks to the star anise and ginger. Accompanying my main was an appetiser of poached prawns. To finish I enjoy a deliciously velvet espresso mascarpone creme, which went down a treat.

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Drink wise, the choice was strong but sadly the service was lacking when it came to matching my drinks to my meal. I requested the Bordeaux red but it never came. When it came to my dessert I managed to get the attention of a flight attendant and asked for the 1994 Graham’s Single Harvest Tawny Port. The port had a lovely texture with subtle dried fig and toffee notes.

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I wanted to retire to the onboard bar for a drink following my meal but found it was closing up earlier than I anticipated in preparation for landing.

Verdict

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Emirates business class on the A380 really is the way to fly between Australia and New Zealand. When on sale, it’s often quite the bargain in comparison to a 1 hour Qantas business flight between Sydney and Melbourne. Despite the service not being as attentive as my previous business class flight on the same route, the food and drink was on par and of good quality. I would have liked to have again experienced the onboard bar but the early close was a bit of a disappointment an hour out from landing in Sydney.

Overall an enjoyable flight that I’d happily do again if given the opportunity.

Service: 4 Stars

Seating: 5 stars

Food: 5 Stars

 

Comments

Have you experienced flying Business with Emirates from NZ? Did you love or dislike the flight? Hit up the comments section as I’m keen to hear your thoughts

 

EMIRATES BUSINESS CLASS CHRISTCHURCH TO SYDNEY: REVIEW

Flight: EK413, Christchurch to Sydney (11 June 2018)
Loyalty Scheme: Skywards (partnership with Qantas FF)
Frequency: Daily
Duration: 18:05 – 19:25pm (3 hours and 20 minutes)
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Emirates has the largest fleet of A380s compared to any other carrier globally and for an Airbus fan like myself the odds of getting a seat on one are extremely high at the time of booking, particularly when the only other option is a B777. Over the Queen’s birthday weekend, I thought I would do a quick trip across the ditch from Australia to NZ to see the South Island. Last year Emirates removed flights between Sydney – Auckland and Sydney-Wellington, instead creating direct flight to Dubai rather than via Sydney and Melbourne.

The biggest losers out of the change were Australians who lost the easiest way to nab an A380 flight for a bargain for what would be deemed a domestic flight in terms of the flight time (it takes longer to fly east-west Australia than it does from the east coast to NZ). That said there is a loop hole (for now) where you can still enjoy the quick A380 hop but it means that you would need to go to Christchurch for the privilege. So how did my flight fare for the handful of hours spent up in the air and in the bar on the second deck?

The Seat

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One thing I love about the A380 business class as opposed to their B777 is that comes in a 1-2-1 layout, providing each passenger with direct access to the aisle. Additionally, the seats feel like a mini private suite, particularly for those along the window and when you are dining or laying down for a snooze, the aircraft noise is whisper quiet. Next to my seat was sizeable side table and a room temperature mini-bar stocked with water and soft drink.

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If there was any gripe about the seat is that it felt a tad dated and I use the word tad loosely as the quality is still strong but when you are comparing it to the newly released Emirates Business Class seats, you notice the difference. Also, be prepared for lots of faux wood. Emirates has a habit of loving bling and may have gone a little overboard here in that area.

As it was a short flight there was no point in trying to use the flat bed service particularly by the time the dinner service rolled through.

Entertain me

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All business class suites come with a 17-inch touchscreen that’s packed with over 2,000 ‘channels’ of movies, TV shows and audio. I struggled with the amount of choice to select a film as there were quite a few good flicks on offer (I ended up investing my time watching The Black Panther). On the other hand, the music selection was rather slim and the choice predominantly Arabic (which is great if your music tastes wonder that way).

There was also wifi on board for a charge but I did not consider this service offering to be able to report on it.

However those forms of entertainment pales in comparison to the inflight cocktail bar and lounge for business and first class passengers. Located at the end of the plane the area is a great place for stretching the legs, enjoying a few mojitos and socialising with fellow passengers.

I’ve been on a few Emirates flights where the bar provided a relaxing space to unwind but this flight was sadly a little different. The bar was overcrowded and standing room only. I blame the fact that many people who were upgraded from the flight being oversold decided to spend the time in the bar as it was their first time ever in business class. There was one woman who was getting a little drunk at the bar and was telling passengers she was on her seventh champagne. Geez how embarrassing! I didn’t know if I was on Emirates or at the local pub. Again, having experienced the bar and lounge on flights prior I know this wasn’t the norm but wouldn’t be impressed had it been my first time.

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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I’m greeted before take-off with a glass of Moët & Chandon Champagne, the inflight menu and a wine list. Despite the short flight it was still a full service, three course meal like the type you would experience on a Sydney to Dubai leg.

The meal service was awfully slow and took almost an hour before they came to serve me. In fact, I actually had to get their attention as the flight attendant accidentally skipped my seat when taking orders. The attention to detail was seriously lacking here. I didn’t know if it was due to the FAs having to deal with a full flight, particularly in business class as a lot were upgraded last minute or that the crew was understaffed. Nothing was personable about the service which is a shame because my last Emirates flight in business was the complete opposite.

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By the time the dinner was served I was already halfway through my film. The flight attendant brought out bread, a seasonal salad with balsamic and olive oil dressing and a seafood appetiser. The appetiser of smoked salmon and prawns was delicious, fresh and left me wanting more.

For mains there was a choice of salmon massman curry, pan fried beef fillet and grilled chicken with herb butter. I went with the beef. The beef was slightly tougher than I had expected despite requesting it medium rare. That said the thyme jus, potato gratin and mushrooms helped pack this dish with some flavoursome punch.

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With a bit of room left I decided to have dessert and went with not one, but two dishes – the lemon tart and a seasonal fruit platter. The lemon tart was on point and succulent to eat. The smooth texture of it was superb and was my favourite dish of the flight.

Drinks wise, I kept the flow of the Moet coming until the main where I then switched to a lovely but quite heavy red from Chateau Moulin Riche. It was a 10 year old drop that had lovely aromas of blackberry and prunes and was a great accompaniment to my beef.

Other than the slow service, the food itself was quite good.

Verdict

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Being a public holiday, the flight was busy as a result of being oversold. People who were in economy were upgraded for free and in turn made the bar quite crowded for an area that traditionally is a bit quieter and more relaxing. Besides the slow service the experience was overall pleasant and a great way to spend a few hours kicking back with a Moet. Would I do it again? Even with the crowds? Absolutely!

Comments

Have you experienced Emirates business class? Did you love or dislike the product offering? Hit up the comments section as I’m keen to hear your thoughts…