Crashing Business Class - My First Qantas Journey
Thursday, May 19
We left our flight from Chicago feeling defeated and broken. We were mostly separated on the plane, with two of the four of us stuck in middle seats for the four hour trip. The journey had barely started and we were tired. But fate had a way of making sure we were feeling ok about this whole long journey. A Business Class Upgrade.
Our flight landed at LAX in Teminal 4. Following the signs to the Tom Bradley International Terminal was easy. An escalator here, moving walkways there. I had read a blog post in yesterday's frenzied Internet research about Qantas Business Class to know the terminal was relatively new. And walking to the terminal was quiet, but quick.
At this point, we didn't actually have tickets in our hands. They couldn't be released when we checked in a few hours earlier. So my main goal was to figure out where to check in. As we walked through the terminal on Level 5, we began passing by the lounges. The first being Qantas First Class. I know this wasn't where we were able to hang out, but I went in to figure out our next steps.
The guys at the First Class Lounge assured me I was not in the right place, but they directed me where to go. I asked about getting our boarding passes at the Qantas Business Class Lounge and they said I would be able to do this. So a few more minutes of walking and we were in the lounge.
After a few seconds of misunderstandings ("you don't have a boarding pass??"), our person figured out our issues. She brought us all in back and began working on the passes both to Sydney and our connection to Cairns. I sent the rest of the crew to sit down in the lounge and grab some drinks and food. In hindsight, I should have told them it was all free.
While the rest of the family was wandering the lounge, wondering what I had gotten them into, I asked the most important question. "I'm traveling with a 20 year old. Once we leave US airspace, is it legal for him to drink??" The staff smiled and said yes, but that most people flying don't know or realize that. So Elias could have a little beer with dinner. Perfect.
Boarding passes in hand, I found the family huddled around a few little tables. The lounge was really busy and people were moving around almost frenzied. I sat with our belongings while I sent up the rest of them to get some food and drink. I wasn't sure about them, but I was hungry. We had a late lunch in ORD, but skipped over the dinner hour. I knew we'd also have food on the flight, but I didn't want to get to a crazy hunger point.
Once Dad got back to the table, I took off. And with all of my talk about being hungry, food was not my first stop.
As you walked into the lounge, the bar loomed large. And at the bar were rows and rows of champagne flutes. That was my first stop. I walked up to the bar and stood there for a second, wondering what was what. The bartender looked at me, smiled and said, "Self Serve." The bucket of wines should have been a clear giveaway. I grabbed two glasses, poured some champagne, and walked back to our table.
Now both glasses weren't for me. Had I been traveling with others (*cough* Adele *cough*) it might have been. But I'm trying to not look like a total lush on Day 1 to the parents. Day 4...that's another story. This second glass was for Mom.
Mom and Elias were still at the buffet, so I dropped off the glass and went for my own food next. The options were fine enough. I grabbed a few nibblies and finally sat down to relax.
The lounge itself was lovely. A bit busier than I'd have expected. Though if you are giving away access to the lounge for anyone with Business Class tickets, I guess it would be busy at certain times.
We didn't have a ton of time to sit and ponder the gravity of our lives. One drink, a few bites and it was almost time to take off. The lounges are on Level 5, the gates are on Level 4. A short walk out the door and an escalator down one level and we were back, rubbing elbows with the normies again.
At our gate, there were four doors and four agents checking people into the flight. We went in second, you know, because we had Business Class seats. We made our way to the second level of the gate itself, where we then boarded the plane. On this particular flight to Sydney, all of the Business Class seats are on the second level of the plane. We never saw the bottom level of the plane. Not once.
Once we boarded the plane, we were directed to our seats. All four of us were in Row 11, the first row of Business Class. Two of us were next to each other, the other two were next to each other, but with an aisle separation. Elias and I were together again. It just happened that way.
Our Flight Attendant came by immediately to provide pre-flight drinks and service. Of course I started with champagne (later finding out the bottles are $200 each). This time on the plane was the time we all needed to figure out what was going on here. Here's where we adjust the seat. Here's where we store our belongings. Water can go here. All of those types of things to figure out. This was also the time when our flight attendants came by with amenity bags and pajamas. I was fine with this. We ordered our breakfast and talked to the Flight Attendant about drinking after leaving US airspace.
Soon enough, it was time to leave. The 14 hour flight was beginning. We strapped in and the giant plane defied the laws of gravity and took to the skies. That's when the real fun begins.
Once airborne, the bell went off and we were free to start moving about. Not moving, moving. Not yet. But we could start adjusting our seats. And that was what I wanted to do most of all. At home, my greatest joy is to sit with my feet up. They are propped up on the ottoman, flung over sides of chairs, or just spread out on the couch. Obviously, I was going to do the same thing here.
The video screen was stowed for takeoff, but you hit a button and it popped up from its hiding place. The movie choices were vast. I watched Deadpool and Star Wars. There was enough TV to keep you going as well. Though I would have appreciated more episodes of You're the Worst. Maybe for the flight home, Qantas?? Elias partook in most of the music on the plane. He said they had the Florence and the Machine albums on the list (we see Florence when we get home, so we are pre-gaming now).
Almost immediately after we took off, people started going into the lavatories to change into their jammies. Obviously, there is not a lot of room for changing, but we did what we had to for comfort. The jammies, as much as we could tell, were two sizes. M/L and L/XL. We also dug into the Amenity Kit. Happily, the first thing I saw was a toothbrush and toothpaste. I had kind of forgotten about brushing my teeth today. That is another story and one no one should care about.
As the last of the people were changing into their jammies, they began serving dinner. We had many choices of food. I went with the seared beef with sauce. And a roasted pumpkin farro salad. Our Flight Attendant came by with the drink cart. She gave Elias a beer and I had a great Shiraz (Penfold's Bin 28, I believe). And we at and drank our way across the Pacific Ocean.
So what do you do for 14 hours in Business Class?? I stretched out and watched movies. Then there was a nap. And more movies.
At a certain point, I wandered into the lounge near our seats. It was a small area to sit and chat with other travelers. You could grab drinks and snacks or you could just sit and read magazines.
You could ask the Flight Attendants for anything. You want some tea?? They'll get it for you. How about a meatball sandwich?? Done. It was this moment when I learned that in Australia (or at least in Qantas), black tea with milk is known as White Tea. Which makes SO MUCH SENSE!!
Seriously, how do I come back from this?? Cause I'm not sure I can.
Breakfast was served about two hours from touchdown. We had ordered in advance, but if you wanted anything else, all you had to do was ask. Mom didn't quite care for her food, so she got a few nibblies instead.
After breakfast, we all started changing back into our regular clothes. The jammies moved into our carry-ons along with our new Amenity Kits.
About an hour before The Force Awakens was over, we began our decent into Sydney. I was both ready and not ready to get to our next destination. We had one more leg of our trip to go before we were done. But at least we were more refreshed than we would have been in Coach. And for that, I thank Qantas very much. I also let them know we'd be happy to get this treatment on the way home.