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
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.
Right on time, the train arrives.
Quite festive upholstery on this train with a marine theme.
The train ride takes about 25 minutes from downtown Brisbane and drops you off right at the international terminal.
Artwork as I take the escalator up to the Departure’s lobby.
Like SYD, BNE has a very open Departure’s lobby.
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.
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…
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…
With boarding pass in hand, I wander through the Departure’s lobby admiring the architecture. It’s a pretty nice airport.
To access the gates, you head downstairs.
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.
After passport control, you have to do the duty free gauntlet.
Entering the main lobby. It is large and open with lots of natural light.
I head straight off to the Qantas Club.
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.
Part of the buffet.
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.
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…
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.
At 11am, I decided to wander around to stretch my legs and do some spotting.
Sitting areas near where my plane was leaving from. There are no power outlets in this area.
The VA B77W lifting off for LAX.
Our majestic QF B744, the oldest active B744 in the QF fleet and definitely not retrofitted with new cabins…
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.
Our beautiful plane from the jetbridge.
Log jam on the jetbridge.
The antiquated J cabin in 2-3-2 with angled seats.
The antiquated galley.
Some strafing shots of the Y cabin as I work my way back to the 2nd to last row.
My seat, which is in the back where it is 2-4-2 due to the curvature.
Pre-placed on the seat were pillow, blanket, and headphones.
Seat-pitch is pretty tight and gets worse when the people in front recline.
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).
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…
Safety card for this B744.
QF fleet information.
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.
Menus are handed out.
The safety video plays as we push back.
The RR engines as we push back past the CI A333 next to us.
As we taxi out, a QQ Fokker F70 lands.
As we align onto the runway, I can see a QF A333 taxing behind us.
We take off towards the CBD.
Brisbane CBD as we make a U-turn over the city center.
We then fly over the top of BNE.
Leaving Australia as we begin the all ocean trip to LAX.
This cabin just oozes the 90s.
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.
Water bottles were distributed.
This was followed by the QF welcome drink, which just tastes like diluted pink lemonade.
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.
This thing was a joke… almost the size of a donut hole.
Contents of the silverware packet.
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.
The dessert was okay.
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.
An hour later, a packet of M&Ms was handed out.
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.
The lavatories are circa 1990, but the tile floor was quite classy.
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.
The breakfast offering on QF, I went with the hot breakfast. My meal as served: the main, a muffin, and yogurt/granola.
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.
The bran muffin.
The only highlight of the breakfast was the plain Greek style yogurt and granola.
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.
The Channel Islands can be seen poking up above the early morning fog in the LA area.
As we prepare for our U-turn in to LAX, I catch an air-to-air with a VX A320 passing below us.
A glimpse at our route.
Dropping into LAX on a foggy morning, there was nothing to see until we reached the I-405 and morning rush hour.
We touch down over 2 hours late and begin our taxi to TBIT.
AA B763 and WN B737.
As we pull into our gate at TBIT next to a LY B772.
The QF A380 from MEL is already unloaded and being towed to a remote stand.
The LA B788 from SCL arrived right after us.
Goodbye old school IFE.
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.
Heading down towards immigration. TBIT is always quick in my experiences and I was quickly out through the baggage claim and through customs.
Welcome to LA.
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.
Qantas Club International Business Lounge
Brisbane - BNE
Los Angeles - LAX
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.
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