Qantas A380 Returns to Service

Qantas A380 lands at Sydney Airport
Qantas Airbus A380 at Sydney Airport. Photo: Qantas.

Qantas has brought its double-decker Airbus A380 back into service earlier than anticipated, with the first Qantas A380 passenger flight in almost two years jetting off from Sydney to Los Angeles on Tuesday night. But there have been some teething issues, with the in-flight entertainment not working on the very first flight.

The first aircraft to be brought back into service has not yet been refurbished, meaning it still has the old SkyBed Business Class seats. Qantas is also not yet selling First Class on these flights – but that’s only a temporary, and in the meantime some lucky Business Class passengers are being seated in the First cabin.

After conducting many crew training flights around Sydney over recent weeks, VH-OQB (named Hudson Fysh) took off from Sydney Airport as QF11 at 10.07pm on Tuesday, 11 January 2022 for the 13-hour, 23-minute flight to Los Angeles. There were quite a few empty Economy Class seats on board, but Business Class was close to fully booked.

Passengers booked on QF11 were advised a day before departure that in-flight entertainment would be unavailable “due to a technical fault”. They were given $50 worth of vouchers to spend at the airport before boarding as compensation.

11 of the 14 First Class seats were occupied on departure, having been offered to top-tier frequent flyers. People sitting in the First Class seats only received Business Class meals and service. But based on the currently loaded fares, Qantas will resume selling these seats as First Class (and bring back the full service to match) from 27 March 2022.

AFF member NSun happened to be on the flight, and posted this on the forum after landing in Los Angeles:

It was great for the crew to have the superjumbo back and I was happy for them too. I also saw quite a few plane spotters when we landed at LAX and can already see some pics on social media.

Obviously the biggest con of the flight was the lack of entertainment. I went in thinking “at least there’ll be a flight map” because even on some 737 flights without entertainment in 2020/21 at least there was a map. There wasn’t even that so I was left to checking the time on my phone to see how long we had to go. Nothing was mentioned over the PA about it but my seat mate asked the CSM near the end of the flight and they didn’t know what had happened to the system.

The F cabin did have some people sitting there but it wasn’t full – the other 2 business cabins were full although Premium economy was only at 50%. Meals were standard international J meals although dinner was just a main course and dessert not the “small plates/large plates” option that existed pre-COVID.
NSun, 12 January 2022

Qantas A380 back earlier than expected – but it’s not refurbished

Qantas had originally planned to operate daily Boeing 787-9 flights from Sydney to Los Angeles over the coming months, bringing the A380 and First Class back onto the route from July 2022. But due to a shortage of Boeing 787-9 pilots – many of whom have been in quarantine – Qantas is now scheduling 3x weekly Airbus A380 services on the Sydney-Los Angeles route over the coming months. There’s also a supplementary Boeing 787 Sydney-Los Angeles service running on Saturdays, bringing the route frequency to 4x weekly.

The reintroduction of the Qantas superjumbo is great news for Airbus A380 enthusiasts. But for Business Class passengers, the older-style SkyBed seats are a bit of a downgrade compared to the newer Business Suites found on the Boeing 787s and Qantas’ refurbished A380s.

Qantas A380 SkyBed seats
Qantas’ older A380 SkyBed seats. Photo: Qantas.

Qantas was in the process of refurbishing all of its Airbus A380s with new Business Class and Premium Economy seats when COVID-19 grounded the entire fleet. A majority of planes have already been upgraded, but for whatever reason, Qantas has chosen to restart A380 flights using one of the aircraft yet to receive a refresh.

New Qantas A380 Business Class cabin
New Qantas A380 Business Class cabin. Photo: Qantas.

Still, the older configuration is good news for lucky Economy passengers who are able to select a seat in the prized upper deck Economy cabin. This more private Economy cabin was removed from the refurbished aircraft to make way for a larger Premium Economy cabin.

Qantas will eventually bring back 10 A380s

Of the 12 Airbus A380s in Qantas’ pre-COVID fleet, 10 will eventually return to commercial service. Most are still parked in the Californian desert, but VH-OQD did also return to Australia last week. This particular aircraft has been refurbished and does have the newer seats, but it’s not currently scheduled to operate any passenger flights for at least the next month.

Qantas will reactivate an additional three A380s by 19 June 2022, when the superjumbo aircraft will also take over from the Boeing 787 on the Sydney-London route. (This flight is currently operating via Darwin, but will be operating via Singapore again by then.)

Several other airlines also started reactivating their Airbus A380s in late 2021 including Singapore Airlines, British Airways and Qatar Airways.

Emirates has continued to fly its flagship A380s throughout the pandemic, but hadn’t been sending any to Australia until December 2021 when it resumed A380 services between Sydney and Dubai. The Emirates A380 is popular for its upper deck bar and First Class showers, although unfortunately the Dubai-based airline’s famous onboard bar is temporarily closed at the moment due to COVID-19.

Emirates A380 bar
The Emirates A380’s on-board bar is temporarily closed. Photo: Emirates.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: QF A380 back in service from January 11

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

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Community Comments

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Nice to see it back, but I wonder about the crewing situation there too. I guess nobody from Qld will be flying it.

Reply 1 Like

Nice to see it back, but I wonder about the crewing situation there too. I guess nobody from Qld will be flying it.

It’s only for a couple of weeks until they hit 90%

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It’s only for a couple of weeks until they hit 90%

Did someone from Qld promise that...?

Reply 2 Likes

Did someone from Qld promise that...?

😆 possibly

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I am booked on QF11 on January 11. My booking is still showing a 787 at this stage but it'd be something special to be on the first A380 flight since 2020.

Reply 4 Likes

OK my booking has now changed to an A380. However the seat map is currently showing as non-refurbished in that I've been given 25J which if it was refurbished would be in business. Y+ on the new A380 starts at row 31.

I knew VH-OQB came back un-refurbished but I thought it was going to be done back in Australia before re-entering service. If I can get upgraded to J then of course I'd want a refurbished bird but if I'm still in Y+ then I much prefer old Y+ seats because I found the foot-rests on the new ones far less comfortable because at 5'9 I have to "stretch" to reach then whereas for the old ones they're built into the seats.

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OK my booking has now changed to an A380. However the seat map is currently showing as non-refurbished in that I've been given 25J which if it was refurbished would be in business. Y+ on the new A380 starts at row 31.

I knew VH-OQB came back un-refurbished but I thought it was going to be done back in Australia before re-entering service. If I can get upgraded to J then of course I'd want a refurbished bird but if I'm still in Y+ then I much prefer old Y+ seats because I found the foot-rests on the new ones far less comfortable because at 5'9 I have to "stretch" to reach then whereas for the old ones they're built into the seats.

It ain't getting refurbed in Australia sadly. Will most likely be AUH.

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It ain't getting refurbed in Australia sadly. Will most likely be AUH.

I thought the major checks were being done at AUH, with the refurb in Dresden. I wouldn't expect that to change. They won't start the services with just one aircraft, so I'd expect to see a couple more come back soon.

Reply 1 Like

Dunno - looking at the timetable the forward schedule of the A80 hasn't been published, but the flight times might indicate the A80 will be operating Tue/Thu/Sat. This will be a pain as it will be the second cancellation in a row of my QF flights to the USA. Hope I'm wrong!

Reply 1 Like

I am booked on QF11 on January 11. My booking is still showing a 787 at this stage but it'd be something special to be on the first A380 flight since 2020.

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