Review of Qantas flight Brisbane Los Angeles in Economy

Airline Qantas
Flight QF 15
Class Economy
Seat 72K
Aircraft Boeing 747-400
Flight time 13:00
Take-off 31 May 16, 10:00
Arrival at 01 Jun 16, 06:00
QF   #9 out of 113 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 155 reviews
NGO85
By 7536
Published on 9th June 2016
Background:

This series covers a quick mileage run down to Australia. To kick off AA’s new services from LAX to SYD and AKL, there were a series of fare sales. I jumped on a ~$700 fare over Memorial Day weekend. The routing was picked to ensure that I could leave Friday night after work and get back to LAX first thing Tuesday morning. Since the QF flight from BNE is the earliest arrival (6:00), the routing was picked to spend one day in SYD and one day in BNE. Returning from BNE was also attractive since QF still sends a B744 on this route and any chance to fly a Queen should not be passed up.

Part 1 – LAX-SYD [AA 73, Boeing B777-300ER, Economy] – Here
Part 2 – SYD-BNE [QF 512, Boeing B737-800, Economy] – Here
Part 3 – BNE-LAX [QF 15, Boeing B747-400, Economy] – You are here


Pre-flight:

I woke up at 5:30am anticipating a 10:00am departure, but awoke to find that my flight is now listed as a 12:00pm departure. Having declined breakfast at my hotel, I figured I might as well just leave at the same time and eat breakfast in the QF Lounge.

I arrived at Roma Street Station in Brisbane at 6:15am, purchased my ticket for $17.50 and headed up towards the platforms. The Airport is the terminus of the train line so it is easy to identify which train to take.

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Right on time, the train arrives.

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Quite festive upholstery on this train with a marine theme.

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The train ride takes about 25 minutes from downtown Brisbane and drops you off right at the international terminal.

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Artwork as I take the escalator up to the Departure’s lobby.

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Like SYD, BNE has a very open Departure’s lobby.

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FIDS. Weird that CAN and NRT are written in their characters, but HKG or ICN isn’t. You can also see that there is a VA flight to LAX that leaves at almost the same time.

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I try to use the self-service kiosks to get my boarding pass, but instead I get this nice slip of paper telling me my API doesn’t match my passport. “Passport Data Mismatch” is not what you want to see…

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I go up to the business class check-in line. The agent greets me and quickly confirms my passport information and asks if I’m checking any bags. I say “no” so she asks me to weigh my carry-on bag. It comes up as 10kg. She says that the weight limit is 7kg for carry-on bags and asks me if there is anything I can take out. I figure she is going to just check it, so I start to pull out my laptop to move it to my backpack. But then she tells me it’s fine and that I just need to take out 3kg of stuff before putting it in the overhead bin. LOL, sure I’ll do that…

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With boarding pass in hand, I wander through the Departure’s lobby admiring the architecture. It’s a pretty nice airport.

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To access the gates, you head downstairs.

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Downstairs, you have to fill out a departure card. The departure card is never checked and is just dropped into a box after passport control. There were minimal lines at security and passport control. This time, the automated passport channels accepted my photo and let me through without any problems.

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After passport control, you have to do the duty free gauntlet.

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Entering the main lobby. It is large and open with lots of natural light.

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I head straight off to the Qantas Club.

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The lounge is upstairs and has windows that overlook the main lobby. The agent scans my boarding pass and welcomes me in. It’s not a very big lounge, but there are only ~10 people in it when I show up. It will be filled to the brim by the time I left at 11am.

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Press offering.

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Part of the buffet.

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My breakfast offering. While I was eating, the staff would come around and ask for drink orders. QF Lounge’s have a staffed coffee bar so they will prepare drinks on demand and then serve them to you at your seat.

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After breakfast and sending an e-mail to work to let them know I’ll be late, I decide to hit up the shower. There are two showers in the lounge and they are really small, the bathroom was the same size as most Japanese business hotel bathrooms. Better pray you locked the door when you use the toilet…

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After my shower, I figured it was 5pm in LA so some beer and quiche was in order. The quiche was not originally out on the buffet, but it was quite good and worth the wait.

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At 11am, I decided to wander around to stretch my legs and do some spotting.

QF A332.

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NZ A320.

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QF A333.

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PX B738.

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FJ A332.

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VA B77W.

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NF B738.

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Sitting areas near where my plane was leaving from. There are no power outlets in this area.

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The VA B77W lifting off for LAX.

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Our majestic QF B744, the oldest active B744 in the QF fleet and definitely not retrofitted with new cabins…

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————————-

Qantas, QF 15
Equipment: Boeing B747-400 [VH-OJM “Gosford,” delivered September 1991]
Departure: 10:00 (ATD: 12:32)
Arrival: 6:00 (ATA: 8:12)
Flight time: 12:40


At 11:25am, boarding fired up with complete chaos. QF made the decision to board multiple lines at the same time to accelerate boarding. So the priority line was boarding at the same time as the rear Y rows. This led to a huge mess on the jetbridge and the FAs in the galley were flustered figuring out who was who while welcoming people on board.

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Our beautiful plane from the jetbridge.

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Log jam on the jetbridge.

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The antiquated J cabin in 2-3-2 with angled seats.

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The antiquated galley.

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Some strafing shots of the Y cabin as I work my way back to the 2nd to last row.

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My seat, which is in the back where it is 2-4-2 due to the curvature.

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Pre-placed on the seat were pillow, blanket, and headphones.

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Seat-pitch is pretty tight and gets worse when the people in front recline.

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The advantage of these seats is that there is room along the windows to stretch your legs since there is no room under the seat (my seat mate decided to store her stuff under my seat since the aisle seats have no under seat storage due to IFE equipment).

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A cellphone shot, showing how tight the pitch is on these planes. The seat in front of you is inches from your face. This flight starts to bring back very bad memories of SK…

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Seatback contents.

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Safety card for this B744.

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QF fleet information.

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The IFE is as small as SK’s and is really poor quality. None of the programs were accessible for the first 3 hours of the flight until they were able to reboot the system.

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IFE controls.

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Menus are handed out.

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The safety video plays as we push back.

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The RR engines as we push back past the CI A333 next to us.

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As we taxi out, a QQ Fokker F70 lands.

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As we align onto the runway, I can see a QF A333 taxing behind us.

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We take off towards the CBD.

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Brisbane CBD as we make a U-turn over the city center.



We then fly over the top of BNE.

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Leaving Australia as we begin the all ocean trip to LAX.

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This cabin just oozes the 90s.

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The purser came on and announced that the IFE was broken (no media would play) and they were talking with SYD to determine how to fix the problem and it would be a couple of hours before it was available. The captain also came on and announced the flight plan and explained the source of the delay. Apparently JFK had a power outage so all planes had to be manually inspected before departure, thus they left JFK 5 hours late and LAX 4 hours late giving us 2 hours of collateral damage. This plane apparently does the BNE-LAX-JFK run regularly.

In-flight service started here.

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Water bottles were distributed.

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This was followed by the QF welcome drink, which just tastes like diluted pink lemonade.

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For lunch, I went with the beef and a beer. The meal as served: the main, a bite-size roll, and a cobbler for dessert.

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This thing was a joke… almost the size of a donut hole.

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Contents of the silverware packet.

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The main. It was very tasteless and didn’t look visually appealing either. The girl next to me ordered the fish, but placed the tray on the ground next to my feet to eat it later so I never saw what it looked like.

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The dessert was okay.

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After the meal was cleaned up, there was no coffee/tea service to accompany the dessert. So I just took a nap since the IFE was not fixed yet. Unlike AA, QF doesn’t serve their mid-flight snacks at a single time. Instead, they serve one item at a time hourly. So you have to be careful not to miss one of their passes while you are sleeping.

The first pass was a mango ice cream bar.

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An hour later, a packet of M&Ms was handed out.

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The only other snack I caught was the Panini (the water bottle was the one that they handed out at the start of the flight). The Panini was pretty dry tasting and fell apart while I was eating it. I never saw the other snacks (fruit and cheese), so either they never came or I was sleeping during the pass.

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The lavatories are circa 1990, but the tile floor was quite classy.

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The breakfast service started 3 hours to arrival, this was WAY too early. AA didn’t start breakfast service until 1.5 hours to arrival.

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The breakfast offering on QF, I went with the hot breakfast. My meal as served: the main, a muffin, and yogurt/granola.

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This main was pretty bad compared to the AA breakfast in Part 1. The eggs had this grainy texture (almost like grits) and were unseasoned. The potatoes were really soggy. The sausage tasted okay, but the bacon and mushrooms were both rubbery. Overall, a very unimpressive breakfast.

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The bran muffin.

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The only highlight of the breakfast was the plain Greek style yogurt and granola.

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With over 2 hours until arrival after the meal, there was a lot of time to still gaze out the window and watch the sunrise.

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The Channel Islands can be seen poking up above the early morning fog in the LA area.

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As we prepare for our U-turn in to LAX, I catch an air-to-air with a VX A320 passing below us.

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A glimpse at our route.

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Dropping into LAX on a foggy morning, there was nothing to see until we reached the I-405 and morning rush hour.

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We touch down over 2 hours late and begin our taxi to TBIT.

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G4 B752.

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AS Dash8.

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AA B763 and WN B737.

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As we pull into our gate at TBIT next to a LY B772.

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The QF A380 from MEL is already unloaded and being towed to a remote stand.

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The LA B788 from SCL arrived right after us.

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Goodbye old school IFE.

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I was the last passenger to deplane. The FA working my aisle talked to me for a bit while I was packing up. He was asking about my trip and consoled me for having to drive to work after the flight. The empty cabin as I head to the exit.

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Heading down towards immigration. TBIT is always quick in my experiences and I was quickly out through the baggage claim and through customs.

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Welcome to LA.

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I went to pick up my car and was driving to work before 9am, so an efficient arrival into LAX. A tiring weekend, but 30k award miles in my pocket and a first trip Down Under made it worth while.
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Verdict

Qantas

6.1/10
Cabin5.0
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi5.0
Meal/catering5.5

Qantas Club International Business Lounge

7.3/10
Comfort7.0
Meal/catering7.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Services8.0

Brisbane - BNE

8.3/10
Efficiency9.0
Access8.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness9.0

Los Angeles - LAX

8.1/10
Efficiency9.0
Access6.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness7.5

Conclusion

QF didn’t live up to my expectations at all. I expected a much better product given their reputation. Not only did I get a prehistoric plane that was very uncomfortable, but the catering was completely lackluster and worse than the catering on US carriers (didn’t think this was possible…). The friendly crew was one of the few positives on this flight.

Cabin comfort: This plane was from 1991, and it felt like a flight from the 90s. It was a very uncomfortable flight and possible worse than my SK A343 experience. This plane has a tight pitch, narrow seats, and very loud with engine noise.

Crew: They seem pretty friendly and smile a lot. They came through periodically with water mid-flight. Not the best I’ve seen, but a very solid crew for a long-haul trip.

Meal and catering: Very unimpressive. No snack with the welcome drink. The catering was very bland for both meals and the quantity/quality was uniformly mediocre. The mid-flight snacks were not distributed at a single time making it difficult to sleep mid-flight.

Entertainment: No newspapers. IFE was broken for 3 hours. Once IFE was back on, it was completely lacking in content and there was practically nothing that I was interested in watching on the microscopic screen. QRadio is one of the few positives on their IFE.

Related

13 Comments

  • Comment 352164 by
    Numero_2 9991 Comments

    Thank you Michael.

    The "passport mismatch" was just a red flag set on by the immigration officers you met two days ago. ;)

    "After my shower, I figured it was 5pm in LA so some beer and quiche was in order." -> You should visit LH lounges more often. lol

    The QF lounge makes me think about a non-refurbished CX mixed with a new JL lounge. ^^

    The onboard catering looks good on paper, but in real that's another story... The "trays" are tiny and there is a few quantity of food.
    "After the meal was cleaned up, there was no coffee/tea service to accompany the dessert." What ??
    "The breakfast service started 3 hours to arrival, this was WAY too early." -> Indeed ! LX serves it 2h prior arrival and I think it's already too early...

    "This plane has a tight pitch, narrow seats, and very loud with engine noise." -> Well, it's a Boeing. :p

    After reading this I can't understand why do people like QF so much. ^^

    • Comment 355054 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "You should visit LH lounges more often. lol"
      - Everyone was glancing in jealousy towards me. No one was brave enough to go for the booze until I started raiding the fridge.

      The QF lounge makes me think about a non-refurbished CX mixed with a new JL lounge. ^^"
      - New JL Lounge <=== that sounds like an oxymoron^^ Where have you seen a new JL Lounge??

      "What ??"
      - No after dinner drink for you ;)

      "Indeed ! LX serves it 2h prior arrival and I think it's already too early..."
      - I have never seen a meal service start this early to arrival. There was no reason to do it since there was still 2 hours until landing after the trays were cleared. This flight also is scheduled to land at 6am, so eating breakfast at 3am is not practical either^^

      "Well, it's a Boeing. :p"
      - B77W > A380

      "After reading this I can't understand why do people like QF so much. ^^"
      - I completely agree. Based on the reviews I read, the reputation of QF is quite high. And although the crews were "slightly" better than US carrier crews, the IFE content and catering was quite poor. Even being on the A380 instead of the B747 wouldn't fix those issues.

      Merci Clement^^

  • Comment 352185 by
    aussenrist 224 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this report with nice pictures!

    The food offering in QF lounge looks very tasty and much better than inflight meal!

    "Our beautiful plane from the jetbridge."
    Beautiful spotting of B747! Also nice Brisbane CBD shot^^

    "the IFE was broken"
    Very old-fashioned. For me I would skip it in order to not getting myself angry when using it (I assumed it is very slow). Luckily you had a "main cabin extra" seat :P

    "For lunch, I went with the beef and a beer."
    Aw Jeez the meal looks very unappetizing. Size is small (the tray also!) and even no salad offered! The bread reminds my CX ex-ORD flight, which they are exactly in same size lol

    "The breakfast service started 3 hours to arrival"
    Breakfast was served too early. I would expacted a normal meal service on this flight.

    Overall this is an very unimpressive QF flight. Their offerings have a big contrast to those HK-Australia flights as what I heard.

    Look forward to your next series!

    • Comment 355056 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "The food offering in QF lounge looks very tasty and much better than inflight meal!"
      - That's an understatement. I should have just packed some to-go boxes :P

      "Very old-fashioned. For me I would skip it in order to not getting myself angry when using it (I assumed it is very slow)."
      - It was painfully slow, so I didn't use it after skimming the content and seeing nothing interesting. I just had the radio playing while I slept for background noise. The B747 at the rear is really noisy.

      "The bread reminds my CX ex-ORD flight, which they are exactly in same size lol"
      - This is the smallest roll I have ever seen on an airplane, it was literally doughnut hole sized!

      "I would expacted a normal meal service on this flight."
      - comparing the AA and QF breakfasts, the AA breakfast was far superior in taste and appearance.

      "Their offerings have a big contrast to those HK-Australia flights as what I heard."
      - I don't understand why. Australia-LAX service is their bread and butter for long-haul operations. This should be the best they have.

      Thanks for your comments!

  • Comment 352219 by
    Tim84 11 Comments

    Thanks for the report! I am shocked that QF still use un-refurbished B744s on their Trans-Pac routes; these birds would be terrible to be on for a medium haul flight, let alone a super long haul flight such as BNE - LAX.

    Such a pity about the catering. It's definitely a love / hate affair with QF's new meal portions / presentations; I don't mind them but I definitely know others who detest it!

    Good to hear about the friendly QF crew this time round though; it's always a bit iffy to know what mood they're in until you board the flight. Great crew make the 15 hour flights far more bearable than a crew that is tired, grumpy and irritable with their passengers; sadly it's been 50-50 with most QF long haul flights I've been on (and I've been on my fair share!).

    • Comment 355057 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "I am shocked that QF still use un-refurbished B744s on their Trans-Pac routes"
      - This plane is making this run daily according to flightradar. It was arguably worse than the UA B744s.

      "Such a pity about the catering. It's definitely a love / hate affair with QF's new meal portions / presentations; I don't mind them but I definitely know others who detest it!"
      - The quality was just poor. The food was about the same size as what AA offered, but the actual taste and presentation was just not up to par. I wonder if that is related to the catering hub. Your flight was also ex-LAX, which might be better catered than BNE.

      "Great crew make the 15 hour flights far more bearable than a crew that is tired, grumpy and irritable with their passengers"
      - Even at the end of the flight, the FA was still smiling and having a conversation with me while I was packing up my carry-ons. How crews behave at the end of long-hauls flights is usually a lot more telling of the overall quality of the crew since quality normally degrades over time.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Tim!

  • Comment 352366 by
    757Fan 595 Comments

    Thanks for sharing the final flights of your trip back! QF always has sounded good to me in the past, but I'm not very impressed by the stingy servings of food, and the lack of a tray. Instead everything appears to be given all piled on at once, like you're grabbing food from a buffet, and coming back to your seat ... I'd be hungry by the looks of it, if I had taken your flight.

    Great to get on a 747 though!

    • Comment 355058 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "QF always has sounded good to me in the past, but I'm not very impressed"
      - That is my sentiment too. I wouldn't go out of my way to fly QF again, they don't seem to offer a substantially better product than AA. Neither the catering, the IFE, nor the hard-product were attractive. And the delay was the cherry on top.

      "Great to get on a 747 though! "
      - At the end of the day, that was the goal! Scheduled to be on an OZ B747 later this year, hoping they don't take those planes off routes by then :/

      Thanks for stopping by Matthew!

  • Comment 352385 by
    Rl 777 810 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    The breakfast offering in the lounge looks good, much better than the onboard breakfast haha.

    Great spotting shots at BNE! The planes look really nice in that stunning light.

    Absolutely fantastic shots of Brisbane after takeoff! Breathtaking.

    The hard product is obvously outdated, the IFE looks similar to the IFE found in LH's older 346s.

    I'm not a big fan of this new meal concept. To me it looks like the whole meals are smaller in quantity with this new service concept which doesn't give away a good impression from the start.

    I'm glad you had a nice crew though.

    Absolutely fantastic air-to-air shot!

    Have a good one, see you!

    • Comment 355059 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "Great spotting shots at BNE! The planes look really nice in that stunning light."
      - BNE was very spotter friendly and the terminal itself was actually very nice. Plenty of spaces to sit and wait in the main atrium area.

      "the IFE looks similar to the IFE found in LH's older 346s."
      - Don't forget the SK A343s!

      "To me it looks like the whole meals are smaller in quantity with this new service concept which doesn't give away a good impression from the start."
      - You are handed a main with a roll. It seems very cheap. At least an actual tray gives the illusion of quantity. The quality didn't justify the quantity either.

      "Absolutely fantastic air-to-air shot!"
      - Got lucky, perpendicular paths are hard to catch because of their relative air speed.

      Thanks for the comments!

  • Comment 352669 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    Thanks Michael for sharing this last segment of your FR.

    Those QF magazines are thick, aren't they? ;)

    Lovely spotting from BNE. it looks like a neat airport to fly from/to. The aerials on your dept. are just exquisite. I tend to shy away from getting window seats, especially on a flight this long.

    "For lunch, I went with the beef and a beer. The meal as served: the main, a bite-size roll, and a cobbler for dessert"
    - I personally prefer a traditional set up with an appetizer, main and dessert. I've read that even in Y you can pre-order your meals, is that right?

    "QF doesn’t serve their mid-flight snacks at a single time. Instead, they serve one item at a time hourly."
    - Not a very passenger friendly protocol.

    "The breakfast service started 3 hours to arrival, this was WAY too early."
    - Very early indeed. Sounds like the crew wanted to get it done as quickly as possible and then relax.

    I am not too convinced by QF judging from your experience. Perhaps this would have been different on a new plane like the A380.

    • Comment 355066 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "Those QF magazines are thick, aren't they? ;)"
      - Perfect to swat people like you with ;)

      "Lovely spotting from BNE. it looks like a neat airport to fly from/to."
      - It was a really nice terminal. Not too crowded either so you could wander around the main lobby and not feel like you were in LHR^^

      " I've read that even in Y you can pre-order your meals, is that right?"
      - Yes, that is true for QF, but I didn't figure out how to do that. I used the QF site to do seat selection, but don't remember seeing an option to reserve meals. It probably exists, but I just didn't see it. All the options were still available by the time they got to me at the end so not too bad.

      "Not a very passenger friendly protocol."
      - Tell me about it, I was paranoid to sleep for fear of missing that packet of M&Ms!!!

      "Very early indeed. Sounds like the crew wanted to get it done as quickly as possible and then relax."
      - Why not just relax more mid-flight and do it later? LOL

      "I am not too convinced by QF judging from your experience. Perhaps this would have been different on a new plane like the A380."
      - The IFE content and catering would have been the same, so I'm thinking not that much better.

      Thanks for your comments Adan!

      • Comment 355078 by
        jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

        "Perfect to swat people like you with ;)"
        - Did you just call me a "fly"? :O I must warn you that it is never wise to instigate the wrath of a panda.

        "Not too crowded either so you could wander around the main lobby and not feel like you were in LHR^^'
        - But I kind of like LHR...well, certain parts of it.

        See you later in another continent.

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