The best Airbus A380 business class on Melbourne-Europe flights

The best Airbus A380 business class on Melbourne-Europe flights

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.

Also read:

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.Qatar Airways' Airbus A380 business class

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…Qatar Airways' Airbus A380 business class

… and with a tempting inflight bar and lounge area where business and first class flyers can mingle:Qatar Airways' Airbus A380 inflight lounge

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.

Also read:

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.

Also read:

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.

Also read:

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.

Also read:

 

42 Comments

  • Mal

    Mal

    10 Jan, 2017 09:54 am

    Great rundown on these five A380 options, Chris. Agree that Etihad is number one and Qatar a close second if only it wasn't let down by the poor Qantas bunker lounge.

    Members who gave thanks

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  • sgb

    sgb

    10 Jan, 2017 09:58 am

    I've been saying that for years and everyone crucifies me whenever I mention it. "Office" is too kind a word to describe it. It's just plain horrible.
    Member who gave thanks

    Tommytravels

  • David Flynn

    David

    10 Jan, 2017 10:03 am

    If you dig up the original concept PR pics there's actually a goldfish tank built into the wall of the lounge..! :P
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  • QFcrew

    QFcrew

    10 Jan, 2017 12:21 pm

    It was a hologram that looked fake and was removed prior to EIS. 
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  • Keen Poon

    Keen

    13 Jan, 2017 03:17 pm

    Agree that the business lounge is pretty terrible but if you're a platinum member the first lounge is probably one of the best I've been to. Great drinks list along with Perrier jouet on offer, fantastic a la carte food (probably the best quality I've had out of the major one world hubs I've flown through), amazing day spa with proper treatments (if you manage to get a booking which is tough), all set out in beautiful decor. 
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  • David Flynn

    David

    10 Jan, 2017 09:57 am

    Some comments have been removed because they chose to discuss the perceived failings of Melbourne Airport rather than the A380 business class options available from Melbourne-Europe. Keep the discussion on topic, please.

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  • jubbing

    jubbing

    10 Jan, 2017 10:30 am

    Qatar's use of the Air France Salon Premiere lounge is a poor example of outsourced lounges. The lounge is absolutely horrible - and is just not up to Qatar standards. 

    I suppose they make up for it by the lounges in Doha - but the point still stands. 
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  • William Forsythe

    TheoSYD

    10 Jan, 2017 11:59 am

    Pictures of Qatar's new lounge at CDG have appeared on Flyer Talk. The lounge opened in December but it may still be in soft launch stage and not officially opened.
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  • Jay

    ausJCP

    10 Jan, 2017 12:34 pm

    Qantas A380 J-class offering is a disgrace from start to finish.

    Their PR machine continues to lie through it's teeth, and assure the public that their J-class remains a competitive product in the marketplace. Simply not true, and literally every business traveler knows it.

    • Dismal IFE system.
    • 2-2-2 seating layout.
    • Inflight "lounge" (/awkward couch) is an oxymoron.
    • The disgraceful Skybed Mk2 would nowadays be far more at home as a LCC (Jetstar, AirAsia, etc) "premium class" offering.
    • No internet.


    On the bright side... QF's A380s are halfway through their operational lifespan, and (if previous behavior is anything to go by) due for a top-down refurbishment soon.


    Of course... until Qantas P.R. is given the green light to announce anything, all they can do is continue to bulldust about their product's adequacy. But you can be sure there are renewal plans in the works.

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  • sgb

    sgb

    10 Jan, 2017 01:09 pm

    Bravo. Couldn't agree more.
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  • mern2001

    mern2001

    10 Jan, 2017 02:42 pm

    Also couldn't agree more with the post from ausJCP. I really enjoy the soft product on QF international. The food and staff are excellent. It is let down by the hard product and it's really the 2-2-2 seating on the A380 that makes me prefer to fly with Emirates or Cathay. 
    Member who gave thanks

    Tommytravels

  • fxdxdy

    fxdxdy

    10 Jan, 2017 08:00 pm

    I agree as well.
    My guess would be they will think about a business class overhaul when the planes come up for their next D-check, if that isn't too soon.
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  • sgb

    sgb

    10 Jan, 2017 01:22 pm

    Just imagine escaping to the on board QF A380 lounge and putting up with some dude practicing his Business presentation with his connected lap top to that TV screen, Yuck. It needs a fully stocked bar and snacks.
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  • Keen Poon

    Keen

    13 Jan, 2017 03:11 pm

    Yeh that area is neither here or there and is really a waste of space. Nobody uses it other than to stretch your legs. 
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  • Koru17

    Koru17

    10 Jan, 2017 01:24 pm

    In my opinion Qatar's J is slightly better than Etihad's and their DOH/LHR/DXB lounges are excellent. But both (and SQ's) are still fantastic products, especially if you live in Australia and can A380 all the way to Europe.
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  • Antherny

    Antherny

    10 Jan, 2017 01:49 pm

    Qantas a380 J product is just woeful. Don't know how they can justify charging almost double compared to Qatar. 
    Members who gave thanks

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  • TheHawk

    TheHawk

    10 Jan, 2017 01:54 pm

    Worth mentioning how bad Singapore's lounges are in general, the one on Melbourne is particularly awful.


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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    10 Jan, 2017 06:53 pm

    Their new lounge at LHR is pretty good...i like their semi-private seats when travelling alone.  Changi lounge is fine and they're getting a new lounge fitted there.  However MEL dungeon is terrible.
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  • Marky Naidoo

    Naidoov

    10 Jan, 2017 07:11 pm

    Agreed - SQ's Silverkris lounge in Melbourne is pretty dismal. Would be nice to see them renovate it to their new 'home away from home' theme
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  • ajstubbs

    ajstubbs

    10 Jan, 2017 04:55 pm

    I could live with 2-2-2 if the QF seats were still flat but alas. I love their soft product and safety but have now looked past them for EU until they update. Overall I think QR and SQ are my top picks on this route although I wish they had chauffeur drive! 
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  • Glen Tucker

    Tommytravels

    10 Jan, 2017 05:37 pm

    When you stop and think about this topic, these are really all first world problems. As tired as the Qantas A380 product may seem, it's still way better than your normal run of the mill economy most of us have to use.
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    Brackenboy

  • ajstubbs

    ajstubbs

    10 Jan, 2017 07:10 pm

    I agree with you entirely that these are minor complaints in the scheme of things but I suppose when you're forking out $6k+, the minor details start mattering especially by comparison to other airlines. I also think it's reasonable to compare what airlines can offer in Y (not on this website, just in general)! $1000+ for a flight is still a lot of money and there's room to consider what are and aren't good offerings in exchange.
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    Mal, 1Worldfreqflyer

  • Tim Saunders

    Tim Saunders

    10 Jan, 2017 08:33 pm

    True that worst business class here is certainly better than the best economy or premium economy, but all the same, we are talking about business travellers who pay $6,000 and upwards so they should expect to get the best value for their money.
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  • Alex Moris

    Alex Moris

    10 Jan, 2017 06:02 pm

    As an ex- Platinum FF with Qantas , I have flown with them  on numerous occasions internationally in all cabins. Unfortunately, I do agree that QF hard products are a complete let down in comparison to their competitors. Their First and J class are now an embarrassment the grey Interior, "A380 lounge"- LOL and outdated sky beds which now show their age is not comfortable. I have expressed my thoughts to QF but it's obviously had fallen on deaf ears. QF were the pioneers of J class and led an elite premium product but over the years their management continue to cut costs. I remember I really noticed the difference once connecting to QF in Dubai after using Emirates. However, QF continue to charge a premium amount.  In fairness to Qantas they are only carrier out of their competitors that is not government owned/subsidised, also they don't have  the advantage of cheap non-union based workforce like the middle eastern carriers. In conclusion  QF food and crew are great but just their hard products are such a disappointment, that I now have taken my business to Qatar, I find their hard products and crew are consistently better. 
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  • Rusty1

    Rusty1

    13 Jan, 2017 03:49 pm

    And let's not forget that Qantas removed two toilets from the A380 J Class to fit more seats, changing the original ratio of 1 toilet to 18 pax up to 1:41. That's effectively the same as in Y Class which is 1:46.  If you include J pax sharing the 2 toilets in W Class, the ratio is worse at 1:73.

    Whilst this might be viewed by some as another first world problem, when it comes to medium to long haul flights and the cost of J Class fares, you don't expect to have to queue for tens of minutes, especially at peak times.  The industry standard amongst reputable medium to long haul carriers in J Class is around 1:14.

    I stopped flying Qantas A380 J Class after their refurbishment.  It just doesn't compete with the other carriers discussed in this article.
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  • Michael Gibbons

    rowwdy

    12 Jan, 2017 06:05 pm

    Looking forward to a similar article in a few years time comparing all the a350 and 787 J offerings from MEL-LHR:)
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  • 1Worldfreqflyer

    1Worldfreqflyer

    13 Jan, 2017 03:53 pm

    QF business class is bad if not one of the worst together with MH, they have no luxury and no comfort to offer on any aircraft or route, not when compared to other carriers which are still competitive pricewise but leave them for dead when it comes to offerings. For business class not to even have an array of magazines it's just ridiculous and this is just one of many other shortcomings, we're all being scammed and ripped off badly by QF (and MH for that matter) and yes, if I am forking out so much money to fly business or first I expect comfort, luxury and a whole range of offerings or I might as well fly economy, pay less and get offered pretty much the same. As for QF crew, they are tired and can't be bothered, with a few exceptions, especially the young crew on new contracts who seem to be genuinely nice and genuinely happy to provide a great service unlike their more senior colleagues who feel we owe them a favour! and like someone pointed out QF really cares very little about any kind of feedback!

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  • John McCubbery

    RickBlain

    13 Jan, 2017 04:14 pm

    I have flown all these options except Qatar but have to stick with Qantas.  As was previously stated "...they are only carrier out of their competitors that is not government owned/subsidised, also they don't have  the advantage of cheap non-union based workforce like the middle eastern carriers." I just can't support those airlines and the conditions under which they operate and it costs me financially and in comfort terms to do so. But it just feels wrong supporting the others any more, I can't do it.
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  • traveller99

    traveller99

    13 Jan, 2017 04:56 pm

    Qantas A380 Skybed is a disgrace.  Zero personal space (can barely even fit two glasses on the ledge between seats), zero privacy (the divider does nothing), and the bed itself is uncomfortable and sags significantly.  No Wi-Fi.  The only saving grace is the food which is good, but not amazing unlike how some hardcore rusted on QF fanboys go on about it, like it's from some high class restaurant.  To be honest, I find most airlines business class food to be no better than a decent cafe.

    Qantas really need to do something about the Skybed.  It's had its heyday and now it's a dismal last.
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  • Melbsdr

    Melbsdr

    13 Jan, 2017 10:03 pm

    I am not a QF apologist but... the reason I don't fly QF J-class to Europe is the EK leg. The EK seat is the most uncomfortable J-class seat around unless you are a midget. And I have only had one in six EK legs where the staff are acceptable; mostly surly with a 'WTF are you bothering me for' attitude. Yes, MEL QF lounge is pitiful. Yes, QF 2-2-2 config is unacceptable. But at least I can sleep in the seats and interact with the cabin crew.
    FWIW, why is isn't CX in the list?
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  • Mal

    Mal

    13 Jan, 2017 10:52 pm

    "FWIW, why is isn't CX in the list?"

    If you're asking why Cathay Pacific isn't on a list of the best Airbus A380 business class from Melbourne to Europe, the answer should be self-evident.
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  • Jay

    ausJCP

    13 Jan, 2017 10:55 pm

    Spoiler, for those playing at home:
    CX doesn't have A380's
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  • Melbsdr

    Melbsdr

    14 Jan, 2017 07:20 am

    Yes, yes, carried away in the moment
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  • robwillett

    robwillett

    14 Jan, 2017 02:51 pm

    [Deleted by admin - personal remark]

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    16 Jan, 2017 11:10 am

    Rob: Please be reminded of AusBT's comment policy, which asks users to discuss the topic of the article, rather than discussing the users engaged in that discussion. :)

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  • ajstubbs

    ajstubbs

    16 Jan, 2017 01:20 pm

    I have to agree on the EK point. Other than trans-Tasman flights, I am not a fan of their J offering at all and if it was a choice of the two, would always fly QF who have the added bonuses of better staff (IMO) and food.
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  • worldwanderer

    worldwanderer

    14 Jan, 2017 12:09 am

    When I flew J on QF A380 to LAX in 2009, I thought it was the bees knees, but sadly they really haven't kept up with the ME carriers.

    However I still chose QF for my trip earlier this year after 5 consecutive flights on EK where one or more of the following happened on each sector:

    -the staff were surely (4 out of 5)
    -service slow and disjointed (4 out of 5)
    -the seat broken (2 out of 5), 
    -toilets not cleaned or serviced (2 out of 5) - no toilet paper, 
    -all 5 sectors late (5 out of 5)
    -unsafe practices observed by cabin crew (3 sectors), 
    -unhygenic practices by cabin crew, 
    -tray table filthy (twice)
    -cabin not cleaned between sectors (twice)
    -cabin staff disappeared for entire overnight flight and not even water available for several hours, call bell ignored (2 sectors)

    On my last trip home from LHR on Qantas in Y the crew couldn't have been more attentive and friendly and visited my seat at least every 20mins in cruise with water or juice or a snack.

    Yes; the QF hard product in J is so dated that it is a national embarrassment, but safety, and cabin service even in Y, I find magnificent.
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  • robwillett

    robwillett

    14 Jan, 2017 04:44 am

    Flew recently from MEL to DOH on QR on the 777. Good to see they are now changing to the 388. Although QR's 777's are great, the 2-2-2 configuration is no problem whatsoever as the bed is low and therefore easy to step over. ( Take a look Qantas )


    As for the Lounge in MEL, as Platinum QRPC I used the QF F lounge. Not up to scratch if you compare it to LAX or SYD even. I had forgotten how surly Australians in the hospitality industry can be. I was quickly reminded of this in the MEL F lounge. Attitude kids, attitude, get rid of it. It's unbecoming of being Australian [shortened by admin to remove remarks that could be considered racist]
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  • Jay

    ausJCP

    14 Jan, 2017 05:18 am

    "I used the QF F lounge. Not up to scratch if you compare it to LAX or SYD even."

    I was taking you seriously until this point. Have you actually visited the lounges you're commenting on? If you honestly believe QF LAX F is better than QF MEL F, then you are operating on some completely different level of reality.

    QF LAX F:
    - Has no exterior windows.
    - The food selection is far poorer.
    - Consistently, the service is friendly at the start and then you never see your waiter again.
    - The wifi is bad.
    - No spa.
    - Overcrowded and loud.

    What on earth would place this above MEL? In fact I would rather QF MEL F over its SYD counterpart too. Far fewer OW members, quieter and far more intimate feel. SYD is loud and draughty, with a constant irritating clang of cutlery.

    I absolutely could not agree less with your comment.
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  • robwillett

    robwillett

    14 Jan, 2017 02:46 pm

    I guess it all comes down to personal experiences of which mine are vast and varied.

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  • John McCubbery

    RickBlain

    16 Jan, 2017 11:47 am

    I completely agree. I have used the MEL, SYD lounges for some years and the LAX lounge twice. Not in the same league. Your list of the things done better is excellent. And somehow I have had nothing but excellent service in Melbourne each time I have used the First lounge.
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  • flyingroo82

    flyingroo82

    20 Jan, 2017 01:11 pm

    Great comparisons Chris. I've only flown EY and QF (A380 in J) so I can't speak for the rest, but overall I found EY a far superior product and experience. Most notably the hard product (greater privacy, better bed, huge TV screen). However I found the QF crew much more friendly and less 'stiff' than EY, and the J lounge in LAX was superb. I envisage that the gap will narrow if/when QF upgrades its A380 to the new business suite. 
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21 Aug, 2017 08:03 pm

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