Sitting in upper deck business class is an almost private jet like experience, as Qantas only seat 24 people there. Originally titled, “1100km/h In A Qantas Skybed?!” this report was written in 2008, a couple of days after the flight. Interestingly, less than two weeks later the aircraft I was on experienced an explosive decompression, luckily with no injuries. Upstairs is the best place to be on the jumbo, apart from the nose of course!

QF2 – Bangkok to Sydney (BKK-SYD)
12 July 2008
Boeing 747-438 – VH-OJK – “City of Newcastle”
Seat: Business 11K
Departure 20:00 Arrival 07:30

I had arrived in Bangkok on Royal Jordanian, which you can read about here. Once off the flight, I immediately proceeded to the Qantas/British Airways Business lounge in order to get my boarding pass for my next sector. I’d booked the flight in Economy Class, and I had put in an upgrade request to both Business Class (40,000 points) and Premium Economy (25,000 points). I assumed I wouldn’t get Business Class, as this is a busy time of the year…

When I checked my account while in transit in Budapest, I noticed my points had been taken and that I’d be flying in Business Class on the sector. Naturally, I was very pleased with this! While checking in, I asked if any upper deck business class seats were available and they had one left – 11K – first row window. I’ve only ever sat in row 11 and row 16 (exit row) on the upper deck, so I was very happy with this. These rows have pull out PTVs, as opposed to them being in the seat in front – and they also have more legroom. Next, I was informed that the flight was delayed by 2 hours – this was also no problem.

Relaxing In The Bangkok Lounge

The lounge looked as it always does, and I made a call to my parents to let them know I’d be late into Sydney.

As I’d been travelling for 24 hours at this stage, the first thing I did was to hit the showers. The shower rooms have a sink, toilet, shower and Molton Brown products – and a hair dryer. I had a lovely shower, and then grabbed a coke and sat down for some free wireless Internet.

Quite frankly, it was as slow as a 56k dialup connection and I was most disappointed. Even when the lounge emptied of people (who were travelling on the on time BA9 to Sydney) it was still slow. I decided on a little snack, and hit the very well stocked food section. As the Internet, was so slow, I decided to see if the PCs in the lounge were any quicker – after all, it might have been my laptop acting up.

Alas, it wasn’t – they were just as slow. After a while, I decided to hit the toilets. Hand wash and cream are also Molton Brown. The lounge filled up around 7pm, which meant that our aircraft had arrived from London and people were hitting the lounge during the turnaround.

Around 7:20pm I left for the gate. My bag was scanned at one checkpoint, and then at the entrance to the gate people had a bit of a rifle through it. Being free of contraband, I was allowed to proceed to the gate lounge.

Upper Deck Business Class On A Qantas 747

Soon enough we were permitted to board. There are dual aerobridges in Bangkok, so First and Business passengers board through L1 and Economy through L2. I was quickly on board and proceeded upstairs, where my boarding pass was checked. I threw my bag into the overhead locker, and took a quick snap of my seat.

Once on board, we were given our amenity kits, I quickly hit the toilet, and then sat down. Menus were already on our armrests, and I filled in the breakfast card. These are like the ones in hotels – you tick off what you want and they bring it at breakfast time. Very nice! I had a pre-take off champagne, and next we had the safety demonstration.

It sounds like a cliche, but it’s like being home already once I am on board a Qantas flight. While waiting for take off, I took advantage of the Skybed’s massage function for a bit of a back massage.

On The Way To Sydney

Soon enough, we were in the air. Upper deck business passengers also get storage space beside them.

Being security conscious, there is a camera in the roof so that the cockpit crew can see who is knocking on the door. The door has a keycode to allow entry as well.

As soon as we were in the air, I had my PTV out and I decided to watch Stop Loss, which has one of my favourite actors in it, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. After a little while, we were handed our immigration cards for Sydney, along with a Fast-Track immigration card.

Qantas now give out pyjamas to Business Class passengers on overnight flights, and these are by Australian designer Peter Morrissey who also created the Qantas uniforms. The pyjamas are grey, with the Qantas kangaroo in black on the front.

They also have a handwritten message from the designer printed on them, which says “I wish you beautiful travels to dreamland”. Many people changed into their pyjamas; I kept mine for later.

Qantas Business Class Dinner Service

Hot towels were distributed, and dinner was served next. The entree (appetizer to the Americans) was Salad of Hot Smoked Salmon with Caper Relish. Apologies for the lighting in the next pictures – the LED lighting had changed the upper deck business class cabin to fairly dim by this stage and I didn’t think to use my in seat light.

For main course (entree to the Americans) I had Thai Beef Stir Fry with Chillies, Jasmine Rice and Asian Greens. It was rather nice!

Dessert was Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake with Lime Syrup. I finished it, then remembered I should have taken a photo! Oh well, it was that nice. I had red wine with the meal, and this was topped up a couple of times along the way.

Exploring The Boeing 747-400!

Once my movie finished, I decided to watch Bucket List. By now the lights were dimmed down all the way. Partially into the movie, I got restless so I decided to have a bit of a look around the aircraft, since most people were now asleep. On my way downstairs, I found the cabin lighting panel. I didn’t touch it though!

I went downstairs to have a look at the Business Class bar setup. This is self-service, so you can get drinks and food without having to ask.

While downstairs, I popped into the loo. They’re kitted out with flower arrangements, for that quality feel.

Moving back upstairs, I took a couple of photos of the Upper Deck galley, as the flight attendant was away fixing someone’s PTV issues.

Things are well stocked for midnight snackers who come visiting requesting more champagne, wine, or food.

In The Middle Of The Night

I chatted to the flight attendant for a while, and he was kind enough to get me a couple of gifts for a friend in Scotland. They basically filled up my bag. During our chat, I found out he’d been with Qantas for 13 years and had previously been a school teacher. A friend of his recommended he go for the job, and he got it and started work 9 days later – he believes because he speaks German.

I went back to my seat and tried to restart my movie and it didn’t work, so I put the Skybed into the flat position and had a bit of a nap. God it was comfortable! Even though the bed is angled, it feels flat as the aircraft flies slightly nose up. Such a contrast to the RJ seats!

After a while, I tried my movie again and it didn’t work. I popped back to the galley and the now female flight attendant told me that the AVOD for the entire aircraft was out. She was very apologetic and offered me a drink so I took some champagne. She also said that it happened all the time, which I’ve also heard.

Not 5 minutes later, my seat mate managed to spill my champagne all over me while trying to get his PTV out to see the map. Not happy Jan! I got a refill. I decided to take a quick picture of the water bottle holder, light and privacy screen in the Skybed.

Time For Breakfast

By now people were beginning to get up, and it was time for breakfast. The ubiquitous non-slip grey Business Class tray contained a croissant, a fruit salad with yoghurt, coffee and a smoothie.

I noticed that our ground speed was particularly fast, at one point reaching 1,100 km/h, so of course I took a picture to prove it! The flight was scheduled to be over 9 hours, however we were told on departure that it would be 8 hours – so presumably we had a nice tail wind.

Soon enough, the cabin was cleared, and we descended into Sydney. On arrival, the CSD apologised for the AVOD not working. Apparently only a reboot on the ground could have fixed it. He also apologised to the passengers who had come from London, as the same thing had happened on that sector. Needless to say, I’ve sent a mail to Qantas asking what compensation I can expect. As we taxied to the stand, we passed an SQ A380 and other assorted aircraft.

In the end, we arrived an hour and a half late. This was a blessing in disguise, as it meant we missed the usual rush. I was through Passport control in less than 5 minutes, and then waited at the carousel. While there, my immigration card was stamped by a roaming officer, and the quarantine roving officer also marked my card. They advised me to go through the “D” line for domestic passengers, which meant I missed all of that hassle. We touched down at 7:30am and I was out of the airport and at home at 8:30am. Not bad at all!

Overall Thoughts

Qantas once again rammed home how different a top quality airline is compared to a “normal” airline. After flying RJ and MA previously, the difference was chalk and cheese. The Skybed is still wonderfully comfortable. The LED lighting, general service, pyjamas and all the rest really help to set the airline apart from its competitors. The whole service oozes quality, and while not perfect (AVOD not working), it was certainly head and shoulders above the other airlines. Of course, Qantas do charge appropriately for the additional quality, and I have to say that it’s worth it. Can’t wait to try the new product on the A380 – but that won’t be until next year.

Please feel free to leave comments and questions – I enjoy reading them – it makes the reports worth doing to know that people read them. Cheers!

So that is how I wrote about the Qantas upper deck business class experience on the Boeing 747-400 back in 2008. I always found the bespoke Skybed that Qantas used to be a really nice seat. Today, you can still find it on the Qantas 747, however the newer version is now completely lie-flat.

The Australian airline has just six Boeing 747s in service and these are scheduled for retirement during 2020. If you want to have the upper deck business class experience, you’d better do it soon!

Have you flown upstairs on the jumbo with Qantas or another airline? What do you think of it? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Adrian Pingstone via Wikimedia Commons.