After spending 6 days in Sydney over the New Year holiday, we drove down to Melbourne along the coast. It was a beautiful drive and I definitely recommend doing the coastal drive rather than the inland Motorway if you have a few days to spare. We did the drive in two days and it gave us enough time to visit some sites along the way, but 3 days would be ideal. There will be a tourist Bonus of Melbourne and Victoria at the end of this report. A Sydney area bonus will be in the next report.
We were staying in the Melbourne CBD and left the hotel about 4 hours prior to departure. The drive to the airport is pretty quick, but there is a toll to take the most direct Motorway route. There are lots of tolls in the Melbourne area, in fact, so they're not easy to avoid.
After stopping to get some petrol before returning the rental car we drove past a park across from one of the main runways. I hadn't planned on doing any planespotting in Melbourne, but it was right there, so I couldn't resist!
It was a really cool spot, except that at this time of day, the sun was right overhead, which wasn't ideal for photography.
China Airlines A330-300. Not sure if this flight continues on to New Zealand, but I believe the Sydney flights do.
Virgin Australia 737-800. The backbone of the domestic fleet, much like Qantas.
As MEL is a major QF hub, I was expecting a separate Premium check-in area and looked everywhere for one, but couldn't find it. There was also no staff in the domestic check-in hall; they were all behind the counters. Finally, I realized that the Premium check-in line, for Business class and oneworld elites, was right next to the Economy class line.
Check in via the Business class line was quick with a super friendly agent. She offered to put us on an earlier flight as we were early for our flight and there was room. She told us that the wait will be much more enjoyable at the Sydney lounge, as it is nicer than the MEL QF lounge. Very sweet and what nice attention to detail! Sounds good to me. She was right, leaving an hour earlier would give us more time to enjoy the fabulous QF First lounge in SYD.
Security was a breeze and we were airside in no time. We headed straight for the Qantas lounge. Because we were on a domestic flight, we could not access the Qantas International First class lounge, which is in a different terminal.
The Qantas lounge is separated into two sections. The "Qantas Club" for passengers with oneworld Sapphire status travelling in Economy and for those holding Qantas Club paid memberships. Qantas has a paid club membership plan similar to the U.S. carriers.
oneworld Emeralds travelling in Y and Business class customers have access to the more exclusive Qantas Business class lounge.
We were directed through the Qantas Club to the Business class lounge, where more staff greeted us and welcomed us to the lounge.
Walking through the Qantas Club. It is large, but the decor is not easy on the eyes.
The Business class/Emerald section in much nicer. It is also quite spacious.
For a domestic lounge, there was a nice selection of food and drink. All wines were Australian, including sparkling. I had a glass of the Australian sparkling with some food. I didn't really look at the label, but it was not the same as I'd had at the Singapore lounge. It wasn't quite as good, but I imagine this is because we are in a domestic lounge. I'm certainly not complaining, as Business lounges in the U.S. charge for any kind of sparkling wine!
Boarding passes for the next 2 flights.
There are very nice tarmac views from the lounge, both the Qantas Club and Business Class sides. Unsurprisingly, Qantas dominates.
After a short, but pleasant stay in the lounge, we headed to the gate and arrived about 30 minutes before departure. I found it odd that the Boarding pass showed boarding only 20 minutes prior to departure for this domestic flight. Boarding began right as we got to the gate so the BP was not entirely accurate.
We were greeted by two very friendly and energetic Flight Attendants, showing that sunny Aussie disposition!
We did not get the new leather seats on this flight, but the older seats were perfectly comfortable.
Seat pitch is a little tighter than AA Domestic First class, but certainly acceptable for a domestic Premium cabin.
Choice of Orange juice of water for pre-departure drinks.
The older 737 cabins have overhead monitors whereas the new 737s with Boeing Sky Interior have PTVs at every seat in both J and Y.
Even boarding 30 minutes before departure, I was surprised we left the gate a few minutes early with a full flight. Yet more anecdotal proof that boarding takes longer in the U.S.
China Eastern A330 as we taxi past the International Terminal
The taxi time was short and we were treated to some awesome views of the Melbourne CBD on takeoff. I wasn't expecting to see the CBD as the airport is a bit far from downtown, unlike in Sydney.
I picked the good side of the plane without knowing it!
Nice view of the Australian countryside out the window
The cabin as we reach cruising altitude.
Some entertainment in played on the overhead screens.
Contents of the seatback pocket.
Route map of Qantas & Jetstar (Including partners)
The extensive domestic Qantas & Jetstar route network
The Qantas fleet. As you can see, with 75 aircraft, the B737-800 is the backbone of the Qantas domestic fleet.
I was pleasantly surprised to get an actual meal on such a short flight. There were two choices (both cold) from what I remember. I chose the Chicken Caesar salad. It was served with some good bread and a coffee éclair for dessert. Not bad for 65 minutes of flying time!
Sparkling wine to accompany the light lunch. It was decent, drinkable. I has visited the Yarra Valley a few days earlier and had tried some better sparkling wines.
Our cheerful FA was very attentive and promptly asked if I'd like another sparkling wine as soon as she saw my glass getting low. Interestingly, nuts are served after the meal. I'm more accustomed to nuts as part of an apéritif service, but perhaps this is due to the short duration of the flight.
There was also a coffee and tea service after the meal. The coffee was served with a cookie.
Our lovely FA offered another Sparkling wine before landing. Sure, why not? :-)
Before I knew it, we we over Sydney. Despite having mostly beautiful sunny weather during our Holiday in Australia, every time we flew in and out of SYD, it was cloudy and rainy.
The famous Sydney Harbour bridge and Opera House
Sydney Central Business District
It was cool to see the neighbourhood in which we had stayed while in Sydney upon landing. We stayed in the building behind the tall building in the foreground.
SYD ATC Tower with Jetstar A320
Air China A330-300
I like the new MH livery on this A333
QantasLink Q400 in the hangar
We arrived at the gate a few minutes ahead of schedule
Our 737-800 at the gate in SYD
Upon arrival we headed for the International Terminal and the Qantas First class lounge. A visit of the lounge and the Trans-Tasman flight to New Zealand will be in the next report.
Dominique Portet. This was my favourite–it felt like we were in Southern France.
The Great Ocean Road, about two hours Southwest of Melbourne. Amazingly beautiful cliffs and rock formations along the coast of the Southern Ocean.
Qantas Club - Domestic
Melbourne - MEL
Sydney - SYD
Qantas lived up to their reputation of quality service! This was probably one of the best short-haul flights I've ever had in a Premium cabin. There was a meal on a flight with a flying time barely over one hour. The service was impeccable, thank to the great cabin crew who were very cheerful and attentive. I general don't expect much on a short domestic flight like this, but Qantas made it a memorable flight. A great experience with Qantas!
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