Qantas is bringing its Airbus A380 back onto the Sydney-Hong Kong route from this week through to February 2024, in a sign of continued demand for travel to the Asian metropolis.
It’s a familiar pattern from pre-pandemic years, with the superjumbo increasing capacity across the peak travel season spanning from Australian summer through to Chinese New Year and beyond.
Compared to the smaller Airbus A330 which usually plies the 9+ hour route, the A380 has not only almost three times as many business class seats when you include the first class suites, which we’ll get to in a minute, and a hundred more economy seats (quite bearable for at least the Sydney-Hong Kong daytime leg), it also adds 35 premium economy recliners to the mix.
The red-tailed A380 from Sydney to Hong Kong will take over from the A330 as QF127 on Tuesday October 31, returning to Sydney as QF128 that same evening.
At the time of writing, the Qantas timetable shows the superjumbo listed as QF127/QF128 for every day except Monday and Thursday – on which days the A330 slots back in – until it becomes a daily A380 service from mid-December through to late February (although we stress that these schedules can change).
It’s a ‘classic’ A380
But unlike its refurbished siblings, which have been upgraded with the same business class and premium economy seats as the Boeing 787s plus a vastly better inflight lounge space, this HK-bound A380 remains in its original configuration dating back to 2008.
In business class, that means the old Skybed business class berths in a 2-2-2 layout.
As for the 14 first class suites, these spacious suites are being sold as business class – with the same meals, wine and service as the 64-seat business class cabin and at the same price as any other business class ticket, even though you’ll be enjoying the A380’s refined first class suites and quieter cabin.
And if you’re flying with a friend stuck in Ye Olde Skybeds, they can join you in the suite to share a meal, a drink or even a game of cards.
So how do you escape the A380’s saggy two-across Skybeds and land yourself in the first class cabin?
As has been the case with these previous A380 first-sold-as-business ventures, the first class cabin is included on the seat selection chart for business class – so it’s just a matter of choosing a seat between row 1 and row 5.
Executive Traveller understands that Platinum One frequent flyers, along with Chairman’s Lounge members, will be the first given the opportunity to upgrade themselves from a business class seat to a first class suite on their booking’s seat selection screen.
For everyone else, use the Qantas T-80 tactic as your departure date nears.
Any suites remaining unoccupied in the days prior to the flight can be assigned by Qantas to selected frequent flyers, or they may even appear on the business class seating chart if you use the Manage My Booking page to check or change your seat.
You can even ask at the check-in desk or the lounge if there’s a vacant suite still up for grabs; on the day of the flight, Qantas will likely offer any unallocated First seats to top-tier frequent flyers.
As to which suite to choose: suites 1A and 1K generally give you that ‘private jet’ feeling, while 2F – also known as the Harry Potter suite – delivers a cosy nest, and 5A and 5K amp up the privacy.
For the best view on the daytime flight to Hong Kong, opt for 4A and 4K, while on the overnight return leg, light sleepers should avoid 5F.
If you’re not flying in business class, note that Qantas will be selling premium economy on the Hong Kong-bound A380s – and again, these will be the original premium economy recliners, not the latest A380 premium economy seats – while of course there’s that delightful economy mini-cabin tucked away at the very back of the upper deck, from rows 32 to 36.
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