QF94 Los Angeles to Melbourne, Qantas.
UP THE BACK OR POINTY END
First, seat 4K.
TIME IN THE AIR
Fourteen hours and 20 minutes. Our departure was delayed 45 minutes by a missing passenger and a small technical issue. We landed on time in Melbourne.
THE SEAT STUFF
At 73.6-centimetres wide, the seat resembles a big, well-padded armchair. In lie-flat mode, it is 212-centimetres long, creating a more-than-adequate fully flat single bed. Seat configuration is 1-1-1 in first class. All seats face forward and once you have offset and reclined your seat, you cannot see any other passenger.
Qantas allows first-class passengers three bags of up to 32 kilograms each, and a fourth for Platinum members of its frequent flyer scheme. Overhead bin storage for carry-on items is plentiful. Each cubicle has generous shelf space and two storage drawers.
During takeoff and landing, legroom is curtailed to economy cabin proportions by the seat back in front. Electrically rotate the pew 45 degrees to the side after the seatbelt sign is switched off to access the deep cubicle that also accommodates the bed. At the far side of this cubicle is a small shelf that can be used as a footrest. The electric seat has almost limitless adjustment via a wall-mounted, computer-controlled keypad. Supplied bedding - a mattress, fitted sheet and quilt - creates a bed you can snuggle into. You're also offered a set of pyjamas.
The Q Entertainment system in first class is the same as the one enjoyed by economy passengers, with a choice of almost 150 movies, plus TV, music and game selections. However, first-class passengers watch it via a 17-inch fold-out screen. Also, you can watch one of the greatest shows in the world: a view from the plane's tail-mounted camera of the A380 coming in to land.
Friendly and thorough, with a greeting by name upon boarding from the first class cabin's two flight attendants and the customer service manager. Drinks are promptly offered and topped up, while meals and snacks arrive quickly. Hot towels only come after takeoff and before landing, not after meals.
Taittinger bubbly is served before takeoff and our late-evening departure dictates a light dinner. From a Neil Perry-prepared menu, I select a zesty roasted tomato soup, pan-fried salmon with a beetroot relish, and a baked caramel custard with spiced strawberries. All set a lofty standard for airline food. From a choice of seven wines, I select a sauvignon blanc with the main followed by a super-sweet iced riesling with dessert, both from Tasmania. For breakfast I choose scrambled eggs and bacon - the best egg-based meal I've had in flight.
Qantas flies daily direct from Los Angeles to Melbourne.
Qantas's first class service ticks a lot of boxes - it's attentive, and the food is exceptional. Yet the legroom restrictions on take-off and weird seating arrangement have an awkward feel, and service elsewhere has felt warmer and more genuine. Still, the Red Roo's offering sits comfortably in the top bracket that I've been fortunate enough to experience.
Tested by Steve Colquhoun, who flew courtesy of Qantas.