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A Spacious Seat & Onboard Lounge: Qantas Business Class on the A380

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If you're taking a 15-hour flight to Australia, you'll want to have as much space as possible. Flying Qantas business class aboard its mammoth Airbus A380 is about as spacious and comfortable as it gets.

Sure, there are better business class seats on other airlines – I probably wouldn't put Qantas business class in the same league as ANA business class or Qatar's Qsuites. But if you're trying to get between the U.S. and Australia as quickly as possible, Qantas business class is about as good as it gets – especially if you can fly on the double-decker A380.

With an onboard lounge accessible to both business and first class passengers, it can feel like you're on a ship rather than an airplane at times. Don't get me wrong: Qantas business class isn't perfect by any means. The catering isn't the best and there's no inflight Wi-Fi, but Qantas also has some awesome lounges at home in Australia and even in the U.S. that make up for some of its inflight service shortfalls.

While booking these lie-flat seats to and from Australia with points was practically impossible prior to the pandemic, that's changed in 2023: Award availability has never been easier to find. And since Qantas partners with both Alaska Airlines and American, you can sometimes book these seats with a stash of Alaska Mileage Plan miles or AAdvantage miles from cards like the the AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard from Barclays. Otherwise, transferrable points from cards like the *amex gold* or the *venture x* can get you what you need.

From the booking process to lounge access and the lie-flat seat to inflight service, here's what it was like flying Qantas business class on this colossal aircraft from Los Angeles (LAX) to Melbourne (MEL) last month.



How to Book Qantas Business Class

Cheap business class flights to Australia using cash are pretty much … non-existent. That means you'll want to turn to your stash of credit card points or airline miles to book Qantas business class and save a ton of money.

For example, it typically costs over $6,000 one-way to fly in lie-flat business class to Australia. Or over $10,000 roundtrip. Pass.

australia business class cash fares


While it's no sure thing – you need to find award availability, and that can be tricky for these top-dollar, ultra-long flights – you can book these same flights using points and miles, plus a tiny fraction of that price in taxes and fees. Here's a breakdown of the best ways to book Qantas business class between the U.S. and Australia using points and miles:

  • 55,000 Alaska miles each way: This is easily the best deal by far and one of the best ways to use Alaska miles. But although we've seen far more Qantas business class availability lately, the airline is still incredibly stingy with releasing those seats to Alaska members. Plus, these rates are set to increase in March 2024.
  • 80,000 American AAdvantage miles each way: There's generally better availability to book Qantas business class with American miles compared to Alaska miles, but it can still be a bit of a unicorn. Taxes and fees are low booking with either AA or Alaska miles, at roughly $25 one way or $100 roundtrip.
  • 108,400 to 126,500 Qantas miles each way: While it'll cost you more miles, the airline releases far more award availability when booking with Qantas miles than it does to partner airlines. You'll find the lowest rates from the West Coast, with higher prices from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW). Taxes and fees are higher, too, at about $200 each way. But you can easily get Qantas miles: The airline is a Capital One transfer partner, an Amex transfer partner, and a Citi ThankYou transfer partner, too.
  • You can also book with British Airways Avios or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, but only when Qantas releases award availability to partner airlines. When that happens, you're almost always better off booking with American or Alaska, if you can.

Read more: How to Quickly Earn 145,000 American Airlines Miles (And Why You Should)

In my case, I booked my November flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Melbourne (MEL) way back in February, when Qantas released a ton of award availability. Thrifty Traveler Premium members were delighted when they saw this deal hit their inbox. I know I was!

Thrifty Traveler Premium deal for Qantas business class to Australia


Surprisingly, this flood of award space was bookable with most partner airline miles, but unfortunately, it wasn't possible to use Alaska miles this time. Instead, I redeemed 80,000 American miles and $22 in fees for the one-way flight aboard the massive Airbus A380.

At Thrifty Traveler, we don’t accept freebies. We use our own points, miles, or cash to pay for every single flight or hotel you see reviewed here – including this one.

At the time, these weren't bookable on AA's website, but it was possible to book by calling American and booking with an agent over the phone or an online chat. First, I made sure there was availability by checking British Airways' website.

LAX-MEL Qantas via British Airways


After that, I started an online chat with an AA agent – which you can do online at AA.com or via the airline's smartphone app – to check if I could book that same date with American miles. It was a success and I was even able to pay the taxes and fees through a secure form online. It was a pretty slick process.

AA booking via chat


Thrifty Tip: Just type “representative” in these online chats to bypass the chatbot and get an agent to help you.

Lately, it's been easier to book these Qantas business class awards online at AA.com – assuming there's award availability, of course. But American's website has been finicky over the past year, so you may still need to book by phone or via chat.

For my return flight, I got incredibly lucky and was able to book a Qantas business class seat from Melbourne (MEL) to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) on a 787 Dreamliner for just 55,000 Alaska miles. With Alaska miles, it generally doesn't make a difference if you call: What you see available on the website is exactly what an Alaska Airlines agent sees.

Dallas to Melbourne Qantas business class with Alaska miles


Can You Upgrade to Qantas Business Class?

This question always comes up when travelers are interested in flying business class. The short answer is: Yes, it's possible to bump yourself up to Qantas business class. But it's complicated, and there's never a guarantee the option to upgrade will be available for your specific flight.

If you purchased your original ticket in economy or premium economy directly with Qantas and it has a Qantas ticket number, you may have some options to upgrade to business class before your flight. The cheapest discounted cash fares are generally not eligible for upgrades. However, if you booked your flight with Qantas miles, you still may have an option to upgrade.

You won't be able to upgrade using partner airline miles, so be prepared to pay cash or have a stash of Qantas miles available to upgrade. And it'll require a good chunk of miles for that upgrade, too.

Qantas' upgrade reward calculator shows that an upgrade to business class from a premium economy ticket booked with Qantas miles would require 73,500 points on the route from Los Angeles to Melbourne. That's more than half the cost of booking a Qantas business class award from the start.

upgrade from premium economy to business qantas


Considering a premium economy award ticket costs 81,300 Qantas miles on this route, you'd be spending quite a bit more points to upgrade rather than just booking a business class ticket with points from the start. But since it hinges on finding award availability in business class, upgrading afterward may be the only way – even if it means forking over a lot more points.

While sitting in the onboard lounge during my flight, I met a couple who had done just that, upgrading to business class from premium economy by using Qantas miles. They told me it cleared for them 24 hours before their flight.

So while it's possible to upgrade to Qantas business, it'll cost you more and can be difficult – if it's possible at all. For more information on upgrades, visit Qantas' flight upgrades page.


Checking In & Qantas Business Class Lounge LAX

When I arrived at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles Airport (LAX), there was no line to check in. But you should never have to wait very long if you're flying business class as Qantas has separate lines for each class of service.

Check in LAX Qantas


I had a separate ticket flying Qantas from Melbourne all the way over to Perth (PER) after my long-haul flight. Luckily, the Qantas agent at LAX was able to check me in for both flights, which was nice since I ended up having a tighter connection than expected due to a delay. I also had the agent enter my Known Traveler Number (KTN) for TSA PreCheck since it didn't initially appear on my boarding pass.

Read more: Why Didn't PreCheck Show Up on My Boarding Pass?

After clearing security, I went upstairs to visit the impressive Qantas business class lounge. It's a much bigger space (and a huge step above) the Amex Centurion Lounge in the basement of the terminal. Qantas shares this lounge with its Oneworld partners.

If you're flying Qantas business class, you'll have access. Qantas has a separate lounge just for its first class passengers … or travelers who have Oneworld Emerald status.

qantas business class lounge entrance


There are several different seating areas in this lounge ranging from workspaces, lounge chairs, and seats with tables for dining. The black and beige color scheme matches the Qantas brand.

qantas lounge lax seats

Qantas lounge seating LAX


There's a large bar near the entrance where you can order any kind of drink you'd like. The bar area was very spacious – not the case in the Amex Centurion Lounge at LAX.

qantas lounge lax bar


You'll have plenty of food to eat at the buffet. I found several salads, chicken dishes, vegetables, pasta, popcorn, cheese & crackers, and a few desserts. Simply put, you won't go hungry here. I'd recommend eating a decent meal here before the long flight to Australia: The inflight meals aren't nearly as good as the food you'll find in the lounge, if you ask me.

salads qantas lounge lax

potatoes qantas lounge lax


The salads were quite tasty and there's even a ramen bar full of different toppings to add to your noodle soup. I made myself a bowl of spicy ramen and washed it down with a German pilsner from the bar.

ramen bar qantas lounge lax

spicy ramen soup at lax qantas lounge


There are also showers available in the lounge, though there was a waitlist during my visit. You can get your name on the list for a shower suite with an agent at the check-in desk.

My favorite seating area in the lounge was the circular bench surrounding a fireplace. I found the large lounge chairs on the outside to be the most comfortable. Tucked behind the bar, this was one of the quietest areas of the lounge.

fireplace seating in LAX Qantas lounge


The boarding gate was just a short, five-minute walk from the lounge. I went to the gate about an hour before departure. Unfortunately, boarding was delayed, but that gave me time to take a peek out the window at the bird I was about to fly. The A380, affectionately dubbed “The Whale,” looks massive when you're up close.

Qantas A380 at gate in LAX


We finally boarded about 20 minutes after our scheduled departure time. Interestingly, Qantas had passengers line up by class of service before boarding. Maybe it was to expedite the process due to the delay, but I ended up standing in line for a while before we started to board. Passengers with small children boarded first, followed by first class, business, and so on.

boarding Qantas flight at LAX


Boarding was quick and efficient, taking just 30 minutes to get everyone on board and the doors closed. The cool thing about flying business class on the A380 is that you get to board directly into the upper deck at LAX. This meant going up a set of escalators after scanning my boarding pass.

boarding the upper deck on Qantas A380


Qantas Business Class Cabin

I was pretty impressed when I first walked into the business class cabin aboard Qantas' A380. The cabin is quite spacious, super clean, and the color scheme is pretty slick.

Qantas business class cabin A380


Both business class and premium economy are on the upper deck of the A380, while first class and economy are below. Business class is split into two sections, divided by a galley: A mini-cabin at the front with just five rows of seats and the larger cabin with the remaining 13 rows of seats. All told, there are a whopping 70 business class seats on Qantas' A380.

No matter where you sit, the business class cabin is arranged in a 1-2-1 layout, meaning all seats have direct aisle access. I chose a window seat, but couples may want to choose seats next to each other in the middle section seats E & F. There's also a privacy divider in these seats, in case you don't know your neighbor.

qantas biz class middle section


Since the seats are staggered by row, some seats are more private than others. If you want to sit as close to the window as possible and have a buffer between your seat and the aisle, try to pick A or K seats in rows 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, or 28. I chose seat 20A, which is great since I'm right-handed. If you're a lefty and want a seat like this, you may want to pick a K seat in one of these rows.

Qantas business class seat 20A


Alternating rows will have the seat closer to the aisle and your console table at the window. These aren't as private but it's still a great seat. You can check Aerolopa for a detailed seat map of the Qantas A380-800.

Qantas business class odd row seat


If you're traveling with an infant, try to pick seats 17E and 17F. These seats are just behind the galley separating the two sections of business class and include a bassinet at the front of your seat. These seats are also a bit more spacious, with more legroom and wider footwells.

Qantas business class row 17 with basinet


One downside to the upper deck on the A380 is that the overhead bins along the windows are quite small. My smaller backpack barely fit. I had to put my larger carry-on bag in the overhead bin above the middle section. It's not a huge deal since there is a ton of storage overall, but it's something to keep in mind.

overhead bin A380


There are a total of six lavatories on the upper deck alone. The two bathrooms at the back – between the business and premium economy cabins – are quite small, but they serve their purpose.

qantas small bathroom upper deck A380


I preferred heading down to the lower level and using one of the larger bathrooms in front of the first class cabin. There's a window and a large diaper-changing table that folds down from the wall.

qantas larger bathroom first class


Above your seat, you'll find air vents if you want some temperature control. I found the cabin to be a little warm, but not uncomfortably so.

The best part about flying the A380 is all the real estate: There's just a ton of space. I overheard one flight attendant mention that she loves flying this plane for that reason – that it feels more like a premium service on this plane compared to the 787.

qantas business class cabin from behind


I have to agree. On my return flight aboard the 787 Dreamliner, the cabin definitely felt a bit cramped, even though the seating was quite similar. If you have a choice, I'd choose to fly on the A380.

And there's one thing that really sets it apart.


Onboard Lounge on Qantas' Airbus A380

At the front of the Qantas A380 business class cabin, there's a dedicated onboard lounge where you can stretch your legs. In fact, there are two sitting areas.

On one side, there's an L-shaped couch to relax in and socialize with others.

qantas onboard lounge A380


On the other side, you'll find two separate seating areas with a table and a small lamp. There are power outlets at these seats if you need to power up your devices.

qantas onboard lounge seating

Qantas onboard lounge seating


The lounge was never too busy. It was empty when I first checked it out while, when I returned later on, just a few others were enjoying the space.

Other airlines have done far crazier things on the upper deck of the A380. Emirates and Qatar Airways offer onboard bars for first and business class passengers, while Emirates and and Etihad First Class are renowned for offering passengers a shower at 30,000-plus feet.

While it's simpler, I appreciated the lounge a lot. Even with a spacious seat to sleep in, it was a nice change of scenery and a chance stretch my legs in a lounge setting during the 15-hour flight to Australia. While there's no Wi-Fi onboard, this can be a great place to get some work done if you're able to work offline.

qantas lounge work desk


In the middle of the onboard lounge, there's a set of stairs that lead down to the lower level. It's always pretty neat to see stairs on an airplane. It kind of feels like you're on a big boat rather than an airplane.

qantas A380 stairs


At the top of the stairs and in the middle of the lounge, you'll find a large screen that displays the moving map throughout the flight. I was just happy to see that I crossed the international date line while I was in the lounge.

qantas onboard lounge moving map


You'll also find a small fridge with snacks and drinks inside the lounge. It includes still and sparkling water, soda, wine, chips, cookies, and fruit. Flight attendants also stop by now and then and ask if you'd like anything from the galley. I just had a cookie and sparkling water while I took a break in the lounge.

qantas onboard lounge snacks

chillin in the lounge on the Qantas A380


Qantas Business Class Seats

The Qantas business class seat looks very sharp. Even without the a closing door like you'll find in business class on more and more airlines, this was one of the most private business class seats I've flown.

Qantas business class seat


Every seat has a nice storage area to keep inflight essentials along with a convenient water bottle holder and a place to hang your headphones.

Qantas business class seat storage


On the A380, window seats also have a ton of extra storage along the window. These are great for storing your bedding until you're ready to sleep. I also found it useful to store my clothes here when I changed into pajamas for the majority of the flight.

qantas business class from above

Qantas A380 window storage


When these bins are closed, they double as extra table space for passengers seated at the window. I was impressed with the amount of personal space I had in this seat.

qantas extra space at window


On the other side of your seat, you'll have a console table along with seat controls, power outlets, and a reading light.

qantas business class seat desk


There's a massage function on the seat control which I thought worked pretty well for an electronic massage. The universal power plug should work for any device you have and there's also a USB charging port. The headphone jack is here as well.

seat control qantas

power outlet qantas seat


Your tray table pulls out from the console on the side of the seat, offering plenty of space for meals or a laptop. You can adjust it forwards or backwards. The curved shape allows you to pull it as close as possible to you when it comes time to eat.

qantas biz class tray table


Built into the seat in front of you, you'll find a literature pocket with a very clean look. It holds safety information cards and a Qantas magazine. I always enjoy looking at the route maps in these magazines so I love it when an airline still provides them – they seem to be disappearing.

qantas literature pocket


The seat itself is fairly average by business class standards at 23 inches wide. But I had no trouble getting comfortable in this seat. There's plenty of legroom in front of you to stretch your legs.

qantas business class seat legroom

Qantas biz class legroom


While you need to stick your legs into a footwell built into the seat in front of you, the footwell itself was nice and wide. I felt like I had plenty of room to move around when I reclined the seat to lie-flat bed mode.

footwell qantas business class

lie-flat mode on qantas


Speaking of lie-flat mode, when it came time to sleep, the seat converted to a comfortable bed in the sky. This is the most important aspect of a business class seat in my mind – especially on such a long flight to Australia. I was able to sleep soundly in this seat.

lie-flat mode in qantas business class

qantas business class bed


There's an additional seat control in these Qantas business class seats that I love. When laying down, there's a small control panel you can use to raise the head of your seat to better see the entertainment screen. This control is hidden when the seat is upright.

Qantas head rest control


When it was time to get ready for landing, I was finally able to get a glimpse of the seat in daylight. The Qantas business class seat was wonderful all-around.

Qantas business class seat daylight


Amenities & Entertainment

The amenities for Qantas business class passengers are fairly basic, though pajamas are a nice touch. As for entertainment, there are plenty of movies and TV series to watch … but a big caveat to flying Qantas is that there is no inflight Wi-Fi.

When you arrive at your seat, you'll find a mattress pad, duvet, and pillow. The mattress pad is nice and soft, which makes for a more comfortable sleeping surface. The duvet was nothing fancy, but good enough for a decent night's sleep. The pillow, though, was fairly flimsy.

pillow blanket qantas business class


You'll also find an amenity kit in a nice tan pouch from Koskela, an Australian company known for its low environmental impact. The kit included socks, eye mask, hand and face cream, lip balm, earplugs, and a toohbrush with toothpaste – all individually wrapped in paper.

qantas amenity kit


While there was plenty inside, the products themselves were nothing special. I wound up using my own eye mask, as the one provided was not the most comfortable. Still, it's nice to have these basic amenities if you don't want to dig into your carry-on bag to find your toothbrush.

Qantas amenity kit


My favorite amenity provided in Qantas business class were the pajamas, which flight attendants passed out shortly after boarding. I've never really traveled with pajamas before but it really helps to get comfortable for sleeping on the long flight to Australia.

Plus, it was pretty funny that business and first class passengers were wearing nearly identical pajamas. It was a pajama party in the onboard lounge!

Qantas pajamas in business class


The headphones provided by Qantas seemed a bit cheap and flimsy. But they were still quite comfortable to wear and had decent sound.

business class headphones on Qantas


Although the entertainment screen is touchscreen, you'll also find a remote control under your armrest. This is helpful for when you're in lie-flat mode or lounging in your seat and want to pause or pick something new. To my surprise, there was also a mirror when you flipped up the armrest to get the remote.

remote control in Qantas biz class

remote control Qantas


As for entertainment, the 15 1/2-inch touchscreen display provides plenty of options to keep yourself entertained. The screen itself seems a little small compared to how much space you have at your seat, but it's big enough to watch a movie.

Speaking of movies, there's a wide variety of categories ranging from Premiere, Australian, Bollywood, and more. Steven Spielberg even gets his own section!

entertainment screen in Qantas business class

Qantas movies


There are also games and a good selection of audiobooks and music to listen to. Being an Australian airline, I wasn't surprised to see Silverchair's Frogstomp on the list of rock albums. I gave it a listen before we landed for a bit of nostalgia.

Qantas music selection


Since there's no Wi-Fi onboard Qantas' A380s, you'll be disconnected from the outside world for the entirety of your flight. This can be a blessing for some and a dealbreaker for others. But if you just want to chat with friends on the flight, you can do so through the seatback screen. The remote even has a QWERTY keyboard on the backside if you want to type your messages easier.

seat chat on Qantas


Qantas Business Class Service & Dining

Qantas' inflight service in business class was pleasant enough. But the food was fairly forgettable. Same goes with the service.

Shortly after boarding, flight attendants came around offering orange juice or champagne. I went with champagne to start celebrating my vacation to Australia.

sparkling wine in Qantas business class


Menus were left at each seat with instructions to place an order for breakfast ahead of time so you could sleep as long as possible.

qantas inflight menu in business class

drink menu in qantas business class

breakfast menu in qantas business class


Dinner service started with a simple green leaf salad and a slice of bread. The light vinaigrette dressing for the salad was tasty and even though it looks very simple, the bread was good as well, with a crunchy crust I enjoyed. I started dinner with a glass of Shiraz and sparkling water.

salad and bread qantas biz class


For my main course, I went with the beef fillet with potato gratin, broccoli, roasted carrots, and barbecue sauce. The sauce was nice and tangy … which helped, because the meat itself was pretty dry.

Qantas business class meal


Overall, the meal was decent. I can't say it was anything too special, but it sure beat most meals I've had in economy.

For dessert, there was a choice of ice cream or a simple cheese plate. You can't go wrong with ice cream: I went with the vanilla Haagen-Dazs.

dessert flying qantas business class


The service was pretty speedy, which I appreciated since it was such a late departure and I wanted to get as much sleep as possible. It did seem like the flight attendants were a bit rushed at times, but it wasn't disturbing.

I wound up sleeping throughout most of the flight. When I took a break in the lounge during the middle of the flight, I thought about trying one of the mid-flight snack choices – I really wanted to try the toastie. But I wasn't too hungry after eating a good meal in the lounge before boarding, then another meal after takeoff.

Around two hours prior to landing, breakfast appeared at my seat. I had ordered the kale and barley salad with red rice, poached egg, pepitas, and spiced yogurt dressing.

To be honest, it was bland. There wasn't any salt or pepper to spice it up, and a stale croissant didn't help much, either. The best thing on the plate was the fruit and yogurt as well as the juice.

Qantas business class breakfast


In hindsight, I should have just ordered the granola. And if I did it all over again, I'd just order the coffee black and ask for the milk after the fact. It was lukewarm by the time I got to it.

After breakfast, I ordered a green tea to soothe a headache and prepare for our arrival in Melbourne.

The flight attendants were a mix of friendly and … seemingly just anxious to get home themselves. I found it odd that they didn't pick up my empty water bottles throughout the flight. I eventually brought them to the galley myself before landing to throw them out.

But flying business class is really all about the seat. Even at the end of a 15-hour flight, I felt refreshed and ready to take on a time zone a world away.

A lie-flat bed and an onboard lounge to stretch out even more made all the difference.

qantas business class seat from above


While the delay caused us to arrive 40 minutes late, I still had time to enjoy the business class lounge at the domestic terminal in Melbourne before my connecting flight to Perth. Best of all, there were several showers available – and no waitlist.

It was nice to be able to take a quick shower after the long-haul flight before I continued onward to my final destination.

Qantas lounge in Melbourne

shower in Qantas lounge melbourne


Bottom Line

Qantas business class is an excellent way to fly nonstop to Australia – especially if you can fly aboard the Airbus A380.

The seat itself is extremely comfortable, spacious, and private, even without a door. The onboard lounge was a highlight. While Qantas lost some marks for fairly mediocre food, filling up with a better meal in the lounge meant I had even more time to sleep inflight.

The next time I'm looking to fly to Australia, I'll definitely be watching for business class award availability like a hawk to see if I can catch a ride on Qantas' A380 again.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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