Hi everyone, I have been religiously following the various Flight Reports on here for the past two years, and I must say that I cannot sleep before clicking on at least two to three Flight Reports each night! This is, however, my first attempt at putting up a report, so go easy and do have mercy. It doesn't help that my 'instrument of choice' for this FR was a potato (i.e. a seriously old school Iphone 4).. but anyway.. here goes!
My wife and I had been studying in the States for the past nine months, but alas the time had come for us to return home to Melbourne, Australia. We had a couple of options to either fly out of SFO or LAX but we had heard good things about the new TBIT so decided to schedule our return flight home through LAX! When the time came, we packed our bags (all 70kgs worth of luggage.. phew), hired a rental car and drove down the coast of California to catch our plane home.
After dropping our Budget rental car at the designated rental return area, we hopped on the shuttle bus and snapped the obligatory LAX Alien Ship / Control Tower photos on our way to the TBIT:
We were a little early but the Qantas counters were manned and ready for us, so we dropped off our luggage with the counter staff and made our way through to the security clearances. The staff were robotic but efficient, and nary an eyebrow was raised at the amount of luggage we checked in; my wife mumbled an apology about how easily 'stuff' accumulates whilst travelling for an extended time, and the check-in lady politely guffawed before directing us onwards.
(apologies about my blurry finger!)
The TSA security checks were surprisingly painless; apart from the indignity of having to remove shoes, belts, jackets and basically undress in front of everyone (which we had by now become accustomed to), the staff were good-natured, efficient and very helpful; a couple of the staff even cracked a couple of jokes at the expense of my poor wife's carry on bag (which seriously did look as though she had stuffed a dead body in it). There was a cool / weird / LA-vibey art piece mounted over the entire security check area - which I thought was pretty cool - but it did seem a bit out of place!
The whole process took less than 20 minutes and finally we were airside! First impressions - this was definitely not the LAX I remembered from a few years back (dark, dingy, run-down, slightly dilapidated). The renovated area had tons of natural light, lots of eating options and of course - the usual duty free and luxury shops. We ate at Ink.Sack (which was seriously a step up from the depressing slice of soggy pizza I had in the terminal four years ago) - I had a cold fried chicken sandwich whilst my wife had a chorizo salad. Both pretty yum options and surprisingly affordable too!
Some amateur plane spotting followed:
(EVA and American B777s next to each other)
(Air France B777 pushing back)
(Philippine Airlines A340 being prepped for her flight to Manila)
(ANA B777 recently arrived from.. somewhere)
Time passed quickly as we walked hand in hand through the terminal, browsed LAX's complimentary Wi Fi (mad props for the speed + unlimited connectivity!), and watched other frazzled travelers continue on their journey of life onwards towards their next destinations. The new TBIT is pleasant enough and in my opinion, a good place to kill a couple of hours (although it still pales in comparison to HKIA, Seoul, Changi etc.)
At long last it was time to board our behemoth! The same monotonous - but super efficient - crew were at the gate, and very speedily processed a rather full complement of passengers onto the plane.
Boarding the flight.
Main Economy cabin.
The seat (31" pitch, 6.4" AVOD screen). I really enjoyed Qantas' selection of movies + TV shows; definitely one of the more varied offerings in comparison to a number of other airlines out there.
The plane pushed back around 10 minutes late due to a couple of late passengers, and after taxiing for a short time, took off right over the Pacific Ocean into the night. Pretty soon, the crew came around with a welcome drink (a guava juice), and dinner service commenced shortly after. There was a choice between a Hungarian beef goulash, an Asian chicken salad and a penne pasta - both my wife and I chose the goulash! The beef was very tasty, the potatoes tasted soggy and the vegetables tasted fresh out of a microwave. We polished off the meals in next to no time at all, and settled back with a couple of movies (Top Gun and Deadpool, anyone?) before the lights were dimmed for the next ten hours.
Self serve snack bar at the rear of the A380 (stacked full of soft drinks, cookies and Tim Tams):
After watching a couple of movies, we slept for most of the flight and woke up just in time for breakfast, which was a choice between eggs + sausages + bacon + hash, or a fruit platter. Being big brekkie people ourselves, we both went for the hot option which was pretty good by airline meal standards! You're never going to get crisp bacon or hash on an airplane, but this was pretty close to it, and the yoghurt and muffin were delicious too.
According to Flight Path, we were getting close to the end of our epic 15 hour flight:
The crew were beginning to prepare the cabin for landing, and were handing out those pesky immigration / custom forms:
The sun was beginning to finally catch up to our plane:
Final shots of the cabin:
And here's Melbourne:
Speaking of Melbourne Airport; the less said, the better. Haha. Maybe we weren't in the best of moods after a 15 hour flight, maybe it was because there were four other wide-body flights that had arrived at the same time (and the woefully under-prepared Border Patrol staff), maybe it was the ground staff yelling at everybody, maybe it's the ridiculously cramped carousel area, but there's just something about Melbourne Airport that gets me every time. It's a pretty poor introduction to an amazing city and I really hope they continue upgrading the airport in the years to come!
Los Angeles - LAX
Melbourne - MEL
All in all, Qantas do a pretty decent job on this Trans-Pacific route; being fairly frequent (leisure) flyers across the Pacific, we've had a chance to compare their offering with the other major (non-US) competitors i.e. Virgin Australia and Air NZ, and I feel Qantas still have the edge due to their planes (there's something magical about flying the A380) and their in-flight entertainment options. I would love to see friendlier crew on their flights but I do know with Qantas, it's always a bit 'hit or miss' with who you get! We had no major complaints, though, and we really did enjoy the flight. Oh, and getting to fly through the new TBIT was very much a pleasant bonus; there's not too much between it and SFO nowadays, and I'd have no hesitation going through LAX for future trips to the States (after years of avoiding it like the plague!).
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You described the Qantas experience well. I am quite familiar with Qantas too, having travelled with them for the past few years and attaining OW Sapphire with QF. To me, it's an airline more than just functional. Like you mentioned, it's a hit or miss. I've got some (slightly) unpleasant experience with QF before, but otherwise, many of my flights with them were good, smooth, efficient and comfortable. And everytime the safety video says "today, you are travelling in safe hands", it just makes me feel even more comfortable and safe. After all, it's Qantas' safety records we are talking about here.
I was almost booked on a LAX-SYD flight this year. But eventually substituted the transpac portion of my itinerary with Japan Airlines' flights. So it was good reading your report, as it gave me a glimpse of what I'd missed out in my trip (the LAX-SYD flight was in Y on A388 too). Thanks for the good read!
Good to also read about TBIT! A pity I can't experience it on the trip I'm currently on, since I will travelling through the domestic terminal both ways. Maybe next time!
Hoping to read more from you! Oh, and.. Welcome to Flight-Report! And for me... I must also say that "I cannot sleep before clicking on at least 2-3 flight reports each night!" HAHA! See you again at your future reports!
You are totally correct with the safety aspect, Qantas definitely have a well-deserved reputation in this aspect and I definitely have never felt unsafe flying with them (especially on their long haul flights). In terms of their cabin staff, funnily enough I have found that Qantas' domestic crew are generally a lot friendlier and more engaging than their international counterparts; but this could just be my personal experience!
And interestingly enough, my wife and I will be flying back to the States later this year with JAL (first time ever with them) so we are looking forward to comparing both airlines, especially as they're Oneworld partners! :)
I'll be doing LAX-SYD on AA this weekend so it will be interesting to see how it compares to the QF offering. As you said, TBIT is on the level of the top Asian airports as far as amenities and cleanliness.
The new QF catering hasn't really impressed me. It feels like a move to US carrier catering with the lack of trays. They claim the mains are supposed to be bigger and better, but I just don't see it. The cabins on QF look nice and the seats and IFE look decent. QF is probably one of the better options from Australia to the US, but NZ is probably the best of the Oceania carriers,
Great photos and thanks for sharing!
I know there's been a lot of publicity surrounding AA's new Aussie routes, so I'd totally be interested in finding out how they compare too :). US airlines don't have the best reputation down under (United were flying their old B747s from Melbourne - LAX as recently as last year I think.. ergh) but they are fairly competitive price-wise, so I'd also be really keen to see how they measure up with the non-US airlines in terms of comfort / IFE / food etc.
Speaking of food, I do know what you mean about QF's new catering; I miss the old appetizer / dessert / salad / entree lay-out! On the other hand, my wife really liked the presentation as (in her own words) "it looks so much classier", but my wife has always had far better taste than I have, haha :)
Big fan of Air NZ too, but I only wish they flew direct from Oz to the States, rather than stopping over in Auckland (that's a really painful layover in my opinion). Again, they are competitive price-wise though, and I would have no hesitation flying them if the price was right.
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