Melbourne travellers are spoiled for choice when it comes to flying on the Airbus A380 superjumbo with Qantas, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines and from June 30 2017 Qatar Airways all offering one-stop Airbus A380 flights through to London and Europe.
Australian Business Traveller ranks your superjumbo selections on the Kangaroo Route while also factoring in airport transfers, airport lounge access and sky-high WiFi.
1. Etihad Airways: Melbourne-Abu Dhabi-London
Topping the list, Etihad’s Airbus A380 service from Melbourne to London Heathrow via Abu Dhabi and its Business Studio business class seats.
Before their flights, travellers can relax in the superb and newly-outfitted Etihad Airways lounges, with a la carte dining offered in Melbourne and London and high-quality buffet fare found in Abu Dhabi.
Barber, salon and day spa services are also provided in Abu Dhabi at an extra charge, while all three lounges offer cocktail bartender service, with Melbourne’s bar particularly inviting:
Once on board, stretch out in a fully-flat bed extending up to 204cm, with direct aisle access from every seat courtesy of a 1-2-1 layout:
Then, there’s the Lobby Lounge on board, shared by business class and first class flyers – a great place to socialise or stretch your legs:
Rounding out the offering, complimentary pyjamas and slippers, chauffeur-driven airport transfers at each end of your journey, plus inflight Internet access. A single payment of US$21.95 (A$30.50) covers you for unlimited data across both sectors of your trip.
- Photo tour: Etihad's new Melbourne Airport Premium Lounge
- Etihad inflight Internet review
- Experiencing Etihad's Airbus A380 on-board Lobby Lounge
- Lounge review: Etihad Premium Lounge, Abu Dhabi T1
- Inside Etihad's Airbus A380 Business Studio business class
- Review: Etihad's business class Premium Lounge, Abu Dhabi T3
2. Qatar Airways: Melbourne-Doha-London/Paris
With Airbus A380 flights planned for Melbourne from June 30 2017, Qatar Airways will prove a close second in offering high flyers a one-stop superjumbo sojourn to both London and Paris – let down only by the Qantas business class lounge used in Melbourne.
That’s where you’ll find buffet fare and self-service beverages of an evening – rather than restaurant dining with a bartender at hand:
But once on board, the experience truly rivals Etihad, again with fully-flat beds in a 1-2-1 layout, stretching to 204cm in bed mode…
… and with a tempting inflight bar and lounge area where business and first class flyers can mingle:
Passengers can again remain connected with 10MB or 15 minutes of inflight Internet provided at no charge, with a range of paid plans thereafter, topping out at US$20 (A$28) for either 200MB or the duration of the flight – whichever comes first.
As you continue your journey, take in the grandeur of the Qatar Airways Al Mourjan business class lounge in Doha and its two distinct dining areas, multiple cocktail bars and stunning water features…
… while the Air France Salon Premiere lounge awaits in Paris, as does the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at Heathrow:
Qatar Airways also provides both pyjamas and slippers in business class, in addition to the expected amenity kits.
- Qatar Airways Airbus A380 business class review, Doha-London-Doha
- Inside Qantas' Melbourne Airport international business class lounge
- Review: Qatar Airways' Al Mourjan business class lounge, Doha
- Qatar Airways' Airbus A380 lounge and bar
3. Emirates: Melbourne-Dubai-UK/Europe
Emirates delivers the broadest range of Airbus A380 flights to Europe with multiple daily services from Melbourne to Dubai (some via Singapore) and then onwards to 17 destinations spanning Europe and the UK.
That list includes London, Paris, Rome and Frankfurt, along with Amsterdam, Barcelona, Birmingham, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Madrid, Manchester, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Prague, Vienna and Zurich.
The journey begins with a chauffeur-driven airport transfer and a visit to Emirates’ newly-redesigned Melbourne Airport lounge, before landing at your fully-flat bed on the A380’s upper deck.
However, pyjamas aren’t provided here – nor are slippers – while some ‘passengers of size’ may find the physical seat a tad narrow, measuring 18.5 inches across.
Bed length is less of an issue in the 'A', 'E', 'F' and 'K' seats, extending up to 200cm – but avoid the 'B', 'D', 'G' and 'J' seats if you can, where beds are shortened to just 178cm.
As with its Gulf rivals, Emirates’ A380s too include an inflight bar and lounge area with bartender service, where you can also enjoy snacks and light bites throughout the journey…
… with 10MB of free inflight WiFi also on tap and a further 500MB of data priced at just US$1 (A$1.39).
As you continue your trip, visit one of Emirates’ business class lounges in Dubai and Emirates-operated and third-party lounges across Europe for the voyage home.
- Emirates Airbus A380 business class review, Sydney-Dubai
- Photos: Emirates' new Melbourne Airport lounge
- Emirates rolls out free WiFi on its Airbus A380 fleet
- Review: Emirates' Airbus A380 inflight cocktail bar and lounge
- Emirates, Moet & Chandon open business class 'Champagne lounge'
- The best seats in business class on Emirates' Airbus A380s
4. Singapore Airlines: Melbourne-Singapore-UK/Europe
Another route to Europe is via Singapore on Singapore Airlines, with Airbus A380s connecting Melbourne travellers through to London, Paris, Frankfurt and Zurich.
Without chauffeured airport transfers, pyjamas, an inflight bar or even amenity kits, Singapore Airlines instead boasts the widest Airbus A380 business class seats on the route, measuring at 30 inches wide when upright:
However, that width is lost when flipping the seat forward and creating your bed, with the foot space tapering into a smaller cubby at nap time:
On the plus side, travellers still receive socks, eyeshades and slippers, and can pre-order their favourite dishes using the airline’s ‘Book the Cook’ service, including the scrumptious Lobster Thermidor:
Business class flyers also enjoy access to the Singapore Airlines SilverKris business class lounges in Melbourne and Singapore – with buffet dining and self-pour drinks – plus the SilverKris business lounge in London with a cocktail bar to shake things up, and partner lounges elsewhere in Europe.
There’s inflight Internet too, but which is particularly costly on certain aircraft with charges as high as US$28.99 (A$40) for a mere 30MB.
- Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 business class review, Singapore-London
- Review: Singapore Airlines SilverKris business class lounge, Melbourne
- Inside SQ's SilverKris business class lounge at Changi Airport
- Flight test: Singapore Airlines' Airbus A380 inflight Internet
- The best business class seats aboard SIngapore Airlines' A380s
5. Qantas: Melbourne-Dubai-London
With strong international competition, Qantas lucks out in last place on the ‘Melbourne to Europe’ Airbus A380 stakes, with business class seating in a 2-2-2 layout rather than the more passenger-friendly 1-2-1 configuration used by its rivals.
That means passengers in the window seats must step over their seatmates to access the aisle – so if you do take this route, aim for a seat in the middle pair to avoid being hopped over yourself or doing the same to others.
Qantas is also the only airline on this route not to offer inflight Internet.
And Qantas’ international business class lounge in Melbourne could certainly use with a touch-up, although the Emirates business class lounge used by passengers in Dubai now features a Champagne lounge for a pit-stop tipple.
In London, the British Airways business class lounge awaits your return journey, with passengers also receiving free chauffeur drive service in both Australia and the UK, plus pyjamas to wear when sleeping in their two-metre long beds in the sky.
From March 2017, Qantas will also open its own business class lounge in London, split across two levels with Rockpool dining and a cocktail bar.
Qantas’ Airbus A380s also feature an inflight lounge space, but it’s more like an office than an inflight bar, particularly with a built-in TV screen for giving (or rehearsing) business presentations with your laptop attached.