A friend emailed me the other day, asking me about my experience flying to Australia on Qantas, in August. I ended up writing him a fairly long email, which essentially turned out to be a trip report. I'm going to paste the appropriate text of the email here.
The report isn't very long, and only covers the key points of my trip, but I feel it is pretty informative nonetheless. Comments welcome!
"Yes, I did indeed take a trip to Australia on Qantas, in July. The exact routing was LAX-SYD-CNS-MEL-LAX. Both the LAX-SYD and MEL-LAX legs were flown by 747-400ERs. I really liked the plane--powerful, great interior design. However, I was surprised to find how cramped Qantas' coach cabin was. The service was decent (though at times it seemed a little sparse, given the flights' length of about 14 hours each), but I was pretty horrified by the seat pitch. Perhaps I've been spoiled by American's MRTC, but I could have sworn Qantas gave only 32" at most, and that was nowhere near enough for such long flights.
Thankfully, the entertainment options on our flights were pretty good. In fact, I'd rate Qantas' IFE system as among the best I've seen. I watched a number of movies on the PTV, which also has games, news, and an Airshow map. Still, it is a good idea to bring along a book or magazine (or two or three), and try to get some sleep.
My domestic legs were pretty satsifactory. I flew a 767 from Sydney to Cairns, and a 737-400 from Cairns to Melbourne. Both flights had friendly service, good food, and good inflight entertainment. On the ground, Qantas' terminal facilities were top notch in each airport we were at. Both my dad and I have an Admirals Club membership (birthday present!) and AAdvantage Platinum status each, we were able to use Qantas' first class check-in facilities, as well as their Executive Clubs (lounges). I must say that the lounges were also among the best I've been to. We went to three lounges in all: the Qantas Domestic Lounge at SYD, the lounge at CNS, and the International Lounge at MEL. The lounge at SYD was extraordinary: about as big as a gym, it had a full-service bar, a full buffet, computers, plenty of seating, newspapers, espresso machines, and even a bookstore! Being on a top floor of the Domestic terminal, it also had an interesting (and expansive) view of the tarmac below. The lounge at CNS was small, but also well-appointed. No view of the tarmac, but again a full bar, food, newspapers, as well as an interesting interior design to make it look like a rainforest lodge. Finally, the International Lounge at MEL was adequate, but to me it seemed a little sterile. Still, there was plenty of food, drinks, and seating/computers/newspapers to keep me occupied.
Unfortunately, we flew to Australia before the new joint-American Airlines/Qantas Admirals Club opened in LAX. However, I hear it is a great facility. I'm going to try and route myself through LAX the next time I fly home to San Diego. Terminal 4 itself is nice--clean, aesthetic, though it's not very big and can get a little boring. Qantas has a check-in facility separate from AA, which makes it much easier for Australia-bound passengers.
In summary, while the longhaul flights on QF were a little cramped, the trip is worth it given how wonderful a place is Australia. Still, if you are willing to forego the mileage accrual of a flight down under, it may be worth it to blow 80000+ AAdvantage miles to buy a free, business-class ticket."
Thanks for reading!