Hello, this series covers a total of 34 flights that I have and will be taking over the next few weeks. I am a little slow in catching up with the reports but quite a few should be completed over the next few days! Please read Parts 1 or 3 for the full introduction, I’ll just duplicate a small portion here as a reminder.
1. I intend to do this series semi-live; i.e. I shall type as I fly and publish the FR soon after arriving at a destination. I do apologise if there are delays but I will try my best to be as up to date as possible.
2. I will do away with my usual “timeline” style (see my past reports), otherwise it will take me much, much longer to get my reports ready.
3. Those square brackets in italics will give you an idea as to when exactly I was writing parts of the reports in this series, i.e. right now I am rushing the backlog in Los Angeles (just came back from a 3D2N trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon).
4. And lastly for now, my apologies for not catching up on those previous series of mine. Was so super busy in school and also, busy preparing for this massive trip of mine. (:
A look again at the map and flights included in this series:
Qantas QF461 Aircraft Registration: VH-XZL Origin: Kingsford Smith International Airport, Sydney, Australia (SYD) Destination: Tullamarine International Airport, Melbourne, Australia (MEL) Date: Monday, 9 May 2016 STD/STA: 0845h (UTC+10:00) to 1020h (UTC+10:00) ATD/ATA: 0852h (UTC+10:00) to 1054h (UTC+10:00) Estimated Duration: 01 hour 35 minutes Actual Duration: 02 hours 02 minutes Flight Distance: About 439 miles / 707 km
[@Los Angeles, USA]
Welcome to Part 8 of this series! This was the 4th flight I took since leaving KHH in the morning of 8 May 2016. Here’s my routing for that day.
1. KHH-HKG KA451 2. HKG-SIN CX739 3. SIN-SYD BA15 4. SYD-MEL QF439 (Flight changed to QF461) <– We are here!
As you can see, I was supposed to depart for MEL at 2pm on QF439. It meant that my layover time in SYD was scheduled to be almost 9h. The flight was eventually changed – more on that later.
I arrived into SYD early in the morning of 9 May at about 5am. Cleared immigration, collected my bag (that was tagged to MEL) and left for the transit counters at about 5.44am.
I tried asking at the counter if I could get on an earlier flight to Melbourne, as there was a change to my schedule and I did not have to stay that long in Sydney.
The agent tried checking my ticket, but after a while she just came back to tell me “you need to get a new ticket for that”. Oh well, at least I get to use the lounge for 8+ hours.
Off to the domestic terminal on Qantas’ shuttle bus.
I headed to the Qantas Club (i.e. QF Business Class Domestic Lounge) upon arriving at the domestic terminal.
It was so early in the morning and I had three flights before this. I guess I was feeling really tired as my photograph sequence really wasn’t coherent at all. (I had a hard time sorting them out before writing this… Haha!)
Anyway, even though there aren’t many photos of the lounge, I still have a story to tell about how I eventually got myself on to an earlier flight.
Back at the security clearance, a really friendly security officer chatted with me while checking my bag. Upon learning about my 9h layover, the nice lady told me to “keep trying, go ask at the Qantas counter or ask the lounge staff! They can do more than the people at check-in.”
I heeded her advice and asked again at the Qantas lounge. But the lounge staff told me immediately that it “wasn’t possible since I had a checked bag.” Oh well, I decided not to pursue further and started to find a seat where I can spend my morning killing time.
Early in the morning, the lounge was really crowded. After a while, I decided that “maybe getting a shower first would be good.” So off I went to the shower rooms, trying to find a room with towels available. After searching for a while, an attendant saw me and said that I needed to get towels from the lounge counter.
So, I walked back to the counter and asked a second lounge staff (not the one who served me initially – also the one who told me changing my flight was not possible, since she was busy with another passenger) for towel and toothbrush. When waiting for my accessories, the first lounge staff recognised me and said “weren’t you the one who wanted to get on an earlier flight? Let me take a look at your boarding pass and see what I can do.”
I quickly passed her my boarding pass and thanked her for remembering me. She told me to “go get a shower and I will page you to let you know the outcome.”
At this point, I started feeling hopeful that my 9-hours layover can be avoided! For now, let me get a shower first. The shower room in QF SYD domestic lounge was a little small, but kept clean. It served its purpose well given that there shouldn’t be many domestic travellers who will get a shower before their short domestic flights.
As I was about to be done with showering, I heard my name being paged! Hopefully, it’ll be good news… Off I went to the lounge counter again.
“Hi Mr. Tn92, I managed to book you on the 8.45 service down to Melbourne.” “Oh! Thank you so much! Is my bag successfully transferred on to the new flight?” “Yes, everything’s taken care of. Here’s your new boarding pass!” “Awesome! Thank you SO much!” “No worries! Have a nice day!”
Yay! Cheers to avoiding a super long layover!
To sum it all up… It was all because of this towel…
That I managed to get this new set of boarding documents… For an earlier flight!
What a lovely way to end my day of flying! It was about 7am in the morning and I have about 1.5h to eat breakfast before my new flight.
So… Back at the lounge, since most sofa seats with power points were taken, I decided to take a seat at these tables.
I had a quick breakfast consisting of some good coffee, fruits and yoghurt with nuts – very Australian indeed!
I spent the next hour transferring photos for the next few Flight Reports and sorting them out. It took me quite a while and soon after, it was time for boarding! I will cover this lounge in more details the next time I visit it, in June. I guess I was really very tired that morning, so much so that I almost forgot to leave the lounge at 8.25am for boarding…
When I arrived at Gate 1, it was already 8.24am and boarding was well underway for the 8.45am departure.
The boarding process was really efficient, as it is always on Qantas flights. I got to my seat for the next hour or so, and my seatmate was already seated on the window seat. The centre seat remained empty eventually.
I am not sure if these are the newest Economy seats on Qantas’ B738 fleet, but I figured they shouldn’t be too old since the plane was equipped with Boeing Sky Interior. According to information on Planespotters.net, this plane is slightly over 1.5 years old, so the seats should be the newest version if I’m not mistaken.
Here are pictures of the legroom, screen, USB port, overhead panel, the Boeing Sky Interior cabin lighting, and the life raft above my seat.
Boarding was almost completed at around 8.35am and the doors were closed at 8.40am, five minutes before the scheduled departure time.
As mentioned previously, I was lucky to score an empty seat beside me, and since my seatmate placed all his belongings in the overhead compartment, I decided to place mine at the space in front of the empty seat – giving myself more legroom.
At this point, our pilot came on the PA to welcome all of us on board. He mentioned that our flight time would be “just over 1h”, but eventually the entire journey lasted more than 2h. We were also initially expected to arrive on-time. Oh, and he also told us to expect some “strong winds” on our approach into MEL.
Anyway, more on QF’s narrowbody aircraft. Qantas uses its B738s on most major domestic routes and also several international flights – e.g. PER-SIN is served daily using B738s.
In 2013, I flew once on QF’s B738 that wasn’t equipped with personal IFE screen. But thereafter, all my other flights on this aircraft type were on the newer versions akin to the aircraft I was travelling on (in this report). This implies that, when you are flying domestically within Australia, there are actually quite little variations between a widebody and a narrowbody (only true for Economy cabins), because even the legroom doesn’t differ too much.
In fact, I found QF’s B738 to be really comfortable too and I don’t think I will mind a longer flight on board this aircraft.
With that, let’s get back to this flight and take a quick look at the IFE screen. I only took two photos of it but in general, the selections were largely similar to what you can find on QF’s newest (refurbished) A333.
I explored the entertainment options a little and decided to randomly pick a classical music album for the entire flight.
The (fixed) remote control was located on the arm rest – so there may be a possibility of you accidentally pressing it. It didn't happen to me, though. Still, I think it'll still be better to place the controls on the seatback.
Headsets were also provided for free at the gate area, and also on board. (Yes, you don't need to pay for it, unlike on board AA's domestic flights.)
Quality of the headsets were acceptable too and I didn't have any problems using it for this 2h flight.
Soon after, the safety video was played. It was the new version and, in my opinion, was really well filmed. Definitely able to capture more passenger's attention! If you haven't watched it before, take some time off to enjoy the video and tell me what you think of it. (:
I wasn't on the window seat for this flight, so no videos of take off.
Nonetheless, here are some of the timekeeping for this flight:
0840 Doors Closed 0852 Push Back 0854 Taxi – Very Fast Speed 0902 Airport Restriction – Take Off Delayed 0916 Take Off 0921 Signs Off
As you can see, our departure from SYD was further delayed due to "noise restriction at Sydney Airport" and the pilot said that "all departures are currently halted at the airport."
In his announcement, he sounded like he was putting all the blame for this delay on SYD – which somehow seemed quite true, eh? I recommend that you can read up about current issues regarding SYD and you'll know why. xD
Soon after the seatbelt signs were switched off, I quickly visited the lavatory. It was the standard B737 washroom and there was a Qantas-branded hand wash.
A look at the cabin. The flight was very full that morning and most seats were taken up. Nothing surprising on this route since it's known to be Australia's busiest domestic route, with many people travelling between MEL and SYD daily. According to statistics, 7 million people travel annually on the SYD-MEL route. (Read this article for more about this!)
Back at my seat, I took a quick look at the seat pocket contents. I'll cover them in slightly more details on my next few QF flight reports. (:
My habit of reading an airline's in flight magazine is always to start off with the Editor and CEO's messages. These give you a very general overview of what to keep a lookout for when reading the magazine.
For example, the Editor wrote about how she got offered a "menu turistico" everywhere she went in Italy.
And what Alan Joyce (Qantas' CEO) had to say in this issue of the magazine was even more interesting – the newly introduced member benefit called the "Status Hold" – where QF members can opt to keep their status for 18 months if they anticipate a year that they will fly significantly lesser. Really interesting!
I napped for a little while before breakfast service commenced at around 9.35 am.
(Photo above) Don't you think the breakfast box is so nicely designed? Even if it's just a small box of food, perhaps even an evidence of the airline's "cost-cutting measures", the nicely designed cover of the box really helps to improve the meal service's perceived quality! Agree?
(Photo below) Here are the contents of the breakfast box.
(Photo above) The Greek yoghurt tasted interesting! I don't recall eating Greek yoghurt before so this was a first for me. I poured some of the raisins inside but didn't manage to finish all the raisins; it was a really huge packet.
(Photo below) A small 250-ml bottle of Mount Franklin water came along with the meal service.
About 60% into the flight, I decided to continue sleeping and slept surprisingly well, until…
… my seatmate woke me up as he needed to use the washroom.
This gave me an opportunity to take a "window" shot for this flight.
Soon after he came back from the lavatory, our pilot came on the PA again to announce a further delay due to air traffic congestion at MEL.
Apparently, we were making rounds near Falls Creek, above Mount Buller.
At some point when the map zoomed out, it even looked as though we were heading back to SYD!
A clearer look at our holding pattern as seen on FlightRadar24.
After about 15 minutes of holding, we finally made our way to MEL. And the approach was really rather bumpy.
I recorded about 30 secs of the bumpy approach (pointing my camera towards the cabin interior) but later decided to try videoing a little bit of the approach using my iPhone (vertically). Sorry for the poor video, but do try and observe how smooth the entire approach and touchdown was! Qantas' pilots are seriously skilful!
This report is almost completed up till this point, let's do a little bit more of timekeeping before wrapping up.
1040 Landing Prep / Signs On 1050 Touch Down 1054 Arrived at Gate 1117 Collected Baggage 1120 Boarded Airport Bus
We arrived ~25 minutes after the scheduled arrival time, but it really didn't bother me because according to MY original scheduled arrival time, I was early by more than 4.5h!
No customs clearance was required since we were arriving at the domestic terminal, so I made my way quickly to the carousels and retrieved my bag quickly.
I was glad that the SYD ground team didn't remove my original baggage tag – this allowed me to keep the BA Club World priority tag as a souvenir. Instead, they just delivered my bag on to QF461 even though the baggage tag said QF439 (my original flight).
I headed out of the terminal and caught the 11.30am airport bus. It was a rainy day in Australia and the rain just got heavier along the way to my destination… Argh.
Oh, and one last screenshot of the routing taken by this 2-hours-long flight from SYD to MEL.
This concludes my day of flying spanning across two days (8-9 May) and two time zones. I will take a four days break from the skies before embarking on another EVEN longer journey (in terms of duration).
[Signing off from… #guesswhere (See photos below)]
Yes, I wrote this report outdoors; on my iPhone!
(To be continued)
This report was completed on 25 May 2016 at 6.01pm (UTC-08:00).
Full sized photographs of this flight will be available soon.
Qantas Club - 3
Sydney - SYD
Melbourne - MEL
I am very satisfied with Qantas on this sector. I would particularly like to thank the lounge staff who assisted me with my request to switch to an earlier flight – and I’m well aware that it isn’t an extremely straightforward issue to handle, given that I had a check-in baggage, thank you so much!
QF’s B738 was really nice as well and it allowed for a comfortable flight on this short hop from SYD to MEL. On the overall, QF’s performance for this short domestic flight scores an A+.
Qantas Club @ SYD was better than QF’s Business Class International Lounge, at the same airport. At least those were my first impressions. The Qantas Club was large, so much so that there wasn’t any congestion felt despite the early morning peak hour. There was quite a fair bit of breakfast foods on offer as well.
As a domestic airport, both SYD and MEL performed well on this sector. I didn’t wait extremely long for transit security @ SYD, probably because it was early in the morning and I skipped the peak hour queue. Disregarding queues, the security staff was so friendly and thus left a really good impression. As for the ground staff at the transit counter, I have (slightly) lesser good things to say about her – but she did her job and also helped me check out the possibilities. Nonetheless, coming back with the answer of “you need to get a new ticket” wasn’t really her fault because those were the rules and I wasn’t going to argue about it. I was just asking for a possibility, but not trying to break the rules intentionally. With that, no penalties shall be imposed in terms of SYD’s service.
Thanks for spending time reading and do leave a comment if you have anything more to share or discuss! (: The next sector would be a Qantas flight as well, only thing is – it was kinda my most special QF flight… Look out for it!
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