I ate the first Gluten Free meal on the A380



Ahead of me the giant plane quietly reverses out of the gate, towering over a nearby 747 and seemingly running over the top of a mere 737 that is taxiing ahead. All around the tarmac workers stop and watch in awe, camera phones in hand, it is the first time they have seen the world's largest passenger aircraft. I'm am lucky to be watching the show on a 17" LCD screen, which is taking a direct feed from a camera mounted on the front of the A380's giant tail. Slowly the plane trundles onto the runway, straightens up and takes off at speed but without the usual associated noise that you would expect for such an enormous machine.

Minutes later the seatbelt sign goes out as we level off, still staring at my personal screen, I have to pinch myself as I remember that I am actually sitting in the front row of this incredible engineering feat! Yes, right now I'm in first class with my feet up just marvelling at my surroundings. A quick pause in proceedings as a pot of T2 English breakfast arrives, "A Cacao fine chocolate with your tea Mr Horne?" "Sure why not". Shame I don't drink as that glass of Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve looks very nice, takes me back a few years to a company visit we did to their Reims headquarters. Ok, you can tell, I'm pretty relaxed; well I need to be as it is only a short flight from Auckland to Sydney and I have to make the best of it! Earlier I was served some Grilled Asparagus Spears with Smoked Salmon just prior to take off then had some Seared Hapuka with Sauce Vierge and Roast Vegetables. The meal was served on Bone China and spread on a crisp white table cloth across a table big enough to take a Monopoly board - I guess if I had a friend with me they could have sat at my table and joined in.

Then again First Class is designed for privacy and personal indulgence, so who needs friends when you have an individual entertainment system in front of you, an amazing seat that goes flat at the push of a button, privacy screens that block out the neighbours and best of all is the lack of engine noise...just amazing. Ah, that is so good!! I just found the massage control on the touch screen next to me; I didn't know that the human body had that many zones. Ooh hello that was interesting, let me find that button again!

So far the only thing I have found annoying is the constant interruption, "Would you like some water Mr Horne, anything else Mr Horne etc?" Can't they see that I'm in my best literary mode, drinking tea and listening to country music...not your usual First Class passenger I guess!

I guess you are all wondering what on earth I'm doing here in the first place. Reho Travel are a Qantas Platinum Travel Agent and one of the privileges is an annual surprise that has ranged from meeting John Travolta to a birthday party in Longreach. Being one of the first people to fly on the A380 has been the best of all the events, no doubt one day I will tell my grand children that I was on the inaugural international Qantas A380 flight. I hope you all get a chance to fly it one day.

For all you Gluten Free travellers that read this far, I'm sorry I nearly forgot to mention the special meal I recieved in business class on the way over. As usual with Qantas it was pretty average, the same as you would get on any Qantas economy flight - let's hope that the meals improve now that the aircraft has commenced scheduled flights between Melbourne and Los Angeles.