One of the benefits of American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum status is access to Oneworld First Class lounges when traveling on international flights. I earned this status in September 2015 through a fast-track offer in summer 2015 to fly 30,000 EQM in 90 days. Up to this point I have only been able to use that benefit in British Airways lounges at London Heathrow Terminal 5 and San Francisco SFO, and American Airlines lounges at London Heathrow Terminal 4, Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
Qantas First Class lounge in Sydney was taken into consideration when I booked my flights to Auckland via Sydney.
A flight schedule change to my Qantas SFO-SYD-AKL itinerary went unnoticed when I checked my booking from last April a month ago. It was not until being notified by CheapoAir.com of a schedule change last Tuesday, three days before my departure, I reviewed my Qantas reservation to see the screenshot I took in September showed my flight arrival at 8:00am in Sydney and my flight departure from Sydney to Auckland at 7:55am.
The Qantas page also shows flight check-in 24 hours before departure, but the computer would not let me check in online and the counter agents did not open Qantas counters at SFO until four hours before departure.
Kudos to CheapoAir.com staff. Two times I contacted them about my SFO-Auckland ticket. Both times the customer service agents handled the issue without problems. I contacted CheapoAir the day I ticketed my $238 round trip SFO-AKL flights after I paid $50 for seat assignments, then learned as an AAdvantage Executive Platinum elite I was allowed to book free seat assignments on Qantas.com. My refund credit for $50 posted within a couple days to my credit card. This schedule change also went smoothly, although I did not receive confirmation of the new itinerary until the day before departure.
Best of all with the schedule change is my original 10am departure for Auckland changed to 11:55am. This gave me nearly 4 hours layover time to relax in the Qantas First Lounge at Sydney after my 14.5 hour SFO-SYD flight, before I needed to board the next Qantas plane to Auckland.
Qantas First Lounge entry hall wall of green.
My only other trip to Australia was 2003 when my wife and I spent two weeks touring Melbourne, Sydney and Noosa in Queensland. On that previous trip we tried many kinds of Australian beer and my favorite was James Boag’s from Tasmania. I pulled a James Boag’s Premium Lager from the Qantas First Class lounge refrigerator to celebrate my arrival ‘Down Under’.
I realized it was 8:30am on a Sunday morning. I needed to charge my iPhone and sat at an empty table for a cooked to order breakfast to accompany my breakfast beer.
Qantas First Lounge Spring Breakfast Menu highlights one of the little alterations of international travel to Australia. Christmas decorations were prevalent all around the Sydney international terminal, yet this is also spring season in the southern hemisphere.
Fruit bowl, spinach, mushrooms and eggs.
The view of the downtown Sydney skyline out the Qantas lounge window was delightful on a beautiful Sunday spring morning.
Immediately after breakfast I walked over to the shower area and popped into a private room for a hot shower and change of clothes. No wait at this time of morning. There looked to be about six to eight shower rooms.
I walked around the immense and relatively crowded lounge to the far side where there were few people around and found the unoccupied library to chill out in a quiet space. There are few photos of the large lounge to share due to most spaces being occupied with guests and my respect for others’ privacy.
Never Mind the Bollocks, I’m a true fan
There is a side story to share about being in the Qantas First lounge in Sydney.
On the flight to Sydney, the third movie I watched was The Nice Guys with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. The movie setting is Los Angeles in 1977, a period when I spent some time in Los Angeles in places like Tower Records. Ryan Gosling’s character in the film has a 13 year old daughter. One of the trivia oddities I noticed in the film was the Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks poster on her wall. The album was not released until October 1977. I thought it highly improbable a 13-year old girl would have a Sex Pistols poster on her bedroom wall in 1977, but a possibility I guess. Another poster on her wall was the cover art for The Clash London Calling. That certainly was an impossibility for a teenage girl in 1977 Los Angeles. That Clash album cover photo was not taken until September 20, 1979 at a show in New York.
After watching the movie, I listened to the Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks on the Qantas inflight entertainment system with full headphones at loud volume. I failed to mention in my earlier post on the Qantas flight to Sydney that my economy class headphone jack snapped in half when I got up from my seat to use the toilet. The flight attendant gave me a pair of Business Class headphones I used for the last six hours of the flight to Sydney. While The Clash are the band better remembered for their political songs four decades later, my opinion is Never Mind the Bollocks was a more significant political statement in the context of 1977. Listening to Never Mind the Bollocks again after several years reconfirmed that belief.
Anyway, there was a PA announcement while I was sitting in the Qantas First Lounge for John Lydon on the flight to Los Angeles. I immediately jumped up from my seat and went to the reception desk hoping to get a glimpse of the former Johnny Rotten, the Sex Pistols front man singer. There are not many people I would intrude upon their privacy in an airport lounge, but hey, never mind the bollocks, I was truly a fan of the band. To my disappointment nobody showed up.