I was notified about 24 to 48 hours before my flight to Sydney that I’d received my points upgrade request to First Class on the long haul from Sydney to Dallas Fort Worth. Woohoo! I’ve travelled First Class between Australia and the US just once before (last March ), but that notification only came at the gate as I was boarding. This time I knew in advance, so was able to take advantage of the Qantas First Class Lounge–and all it had to offer–at Sydney International Airport.
What an experience that was!
As a First Class passenger, I could check in at any time on the day of departure. The flight left at 3:30pm, but I’d stayed overnight at the hotel at Rydges at the Sydney International Airport terminal (just 50 m from hotel reception to the departures check-in area), so I decided to check in early and take advantage of the First Class Lounge.
The day before, I’d booked a spa appointment (back massage) in the Lounge, so I knew that was going to happen. The rest of the day was mine to enjoy! And enjoy I did.
Check in for First is a whole new level of experience. In addition to extra luggage and very personalised service, you have a private area to fill in any immigration forms etc. as well as express passage through to immigration and security screening. Once airside you have access to the Qantas First Class Lounge.
That’s another level of experience altogether! There are the free spa treatments, restaurant-style meals served by wait staff at proper dining tables and chairs (none of this balancing food and drink on a tiny low table as you have to often do in the Business/Qantas Club lounges), fabulous food, sublimely quiet atmosphere, attentive service, and super comfy chairs. I’m sure there are other things too (like business meeting rooms) but I can only report on the things I tried/experienced.
My back massage was wonderful, the food was fabulous, and the entire experience was memorable.
Eventually it was time to board the flight to Dallas Fort Worth (that SYD to DFW flight is the longest commercial flight in the world, I believe, at an average of about 16 hours, though head or tail winds can add or subtract about 90 minutes either side of that estimated time).
As I had experienced First Class once before I knew pretty much what to expect—an area of only 14 individual and roomy ‘suites’, with fabulous food, lambswool mattresses, crisp cotton bed linen, plenty of space to store your stuff, etc.
Despite all these accoutrements, I upheld my usual pattern of not sleeping on the flight. My best effort is very light cat napping. And so it was for this flight. There was NO turbulence at all (a first), which was a bonus, and we landed in Dallas after 14.5 hours flying time.
First Class gets no more or less privileges than anyone else on arrival into the US. However, we are first off the plane and thus to Customs and Border Protection. DFW has the automated kiosks for Visa Waiver countries and they were a breeze to operate. It took me 30 seconds to cross the border into the US!! First and Business Class bags come out on a different baggage carousel, and after collecting my bags, and getting through Customs (also super quick) I was in my hotel at the airport in less than 15 minutes after getting off the plane. That was a record for me!
Update: I got a First Class upgrade on the DFW to SYD flight home too! How lucky is that????