Flight test: Qantas business class

Sleep easy ... the Qantas A380's fully flat Skybed in business class.
Sleep easy ... the Qantas A380's fully flat Skybed in business class.

Route Sydney to Hong Kong return.

Aircraft Boeing 747-400 to Hong Kong in downstairs aisle seat 26D, business; A380 to Sydney in window seat 22A, business.

Flight time 9hr 20min to Hong Kong; we take off 6min late but land 18min early; 9hr 15min to Sydney, we take off 39min late but land 8min early.

Seat width and pitch The most noticeable difference between aircraft is easily seat pitch (legroom): the 747's 60 inches is eclipsed by the A380's 80 inches. Business seats in both aircraft are 20.5 inches wide.

Seat configuration In the 747, 2-3-2 downstairs and 2-2 upstairs for a total of 52 seats; in the A380's upper deck, 2-2-2 for a total of 72 business seats (Qantas's 12 A380s will be reconfigured by April to have fewer business seats and more premium-economy and economy seats).

Luggage allowance Three pieces of checked luggage up to 32 kilograms; two pieces of hand luggage up to seven kilograms each.

Comfort The seats' angles and length can be adjusted in small ways on both aircraft; on the A380's fully flat Skybed, I sleep easily. The pop-up partition between seats offers extra privacy.

Amenities Kits feature a design by Florence Broadhurst, the Australian of wallpaper fame. They hold socks, eyeshade, earplugs, toothbrush and paste, Malin+Goetz lip balm, moisturiser and hand cream. The overnight flight home includes grey Peter Morrissey-designed PJs.

Entertainment The 747's seat-back system is having one of those days. About 2½ hours after takeoff, a reboot loads just three films. On the A380 flight, 18 premiere movies on the 12.1-inch in-arm screen are available.

Service Friendly and laid-back.

Food and beverages On the 747, a pre-take-off glass of Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve. For lunch, there's an entree of prawns with zucchini salad, and the irresistible-sounding hot, sweet, sour and numbing Kurobuta pork with snake beans and rice from the Neil Perry-designed menu. After a glass of Grosset Rockwood Riesling, De Bortoli's amber-hued Noble One sticky accompanies the cheese plate. Heading home, dinner comprises a tasty zucchini soup with parmesan chunks and duck pappardelle. Breakfast is pre-ordered before lights out and eaten by reading lamp in the dark; the vanilla and honey smoothie is a highlight.

Flight frequency Qantas operates 11 direct flights a week from Sydney to Hong Kong, four of them on the A380, and daily direct flights from Melbourne. Return business-class airfare from Sydney and Melbourne is from $5660.

Online See qantas.com.

Tested by Katrina Lobley, who flew courtesy of Qantas.

This story Flight test: Qantas business class first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.