Review of Qantas flight Brisbane Sydney in Economy

Airline Qantas
Flight QF529
Class Economy
Seat 53B
Aircraft Boeing 747-400ER
Flight time 01:15
Take-off 11 Nov 19, 12:25
Arrival at 11 Nov 19, 14:40
QF   #24 out of 141 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 152 reviews
Published on 30th March 2020

Hello and welcome to another Trip Report. In honour of the recent (untrue) rumour that Qantas had retired its remaining Boeing 747-400s, I decided to make a trip report on my great experience flying "The Queen Of The Skies" on a domestic sector from Brisbane to Sydney in November last year.

After pondering on the thought of taking my first flight on the Boeing 747 for months after reading Qantas would be operating domestic sectors with the aircraft, I finally splurged on a ticket from Brisbane to Sydney on the 9th November 2019, two days before the flight was scheduled to depart. Because I waited until last minute to purchase my seat, I paid a whopping $480 for my one-way economy ticket which proved 100% worth the money in the end. However at this point there were no window seats left onboard the aircraft so I had to settle for seat 53B in the forward economy cabin which ended up being an excellent choice due to the spectacular wingtip view. So at that point I had my ticket and I was on my way to my first 747 experience and super excited!

Because I could not wait a minute longer, I arrived at Brisbane Airport a full three hours before my flight was scheduled to depart hoping to score a few shots of my 747 being towed into the Domestic Terminal. In order to receive a boarding pass to keep as memorabilia, I did not check-in online and instead proceeded to one of Qantas' self-service kiosks in the Domestic Terminal to check-in. The kiosks were very simple to use, I was only required to type my last name and booking reference and my booking was quickly found and I had a boarding pass in hand ready to clear security and head upstairs to the boarding gate.
The Qantas self-serve kiosk preparing to print my boarding pass:

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My boarding pass printed and ready to go:

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After checking in, I checked the massive departure screen which showed we would be departing through Gate 24 as I suspected (it is the only gate at Brisbane Domestic Terminal capable of handling the giant 747). So I headed through the security checkpoint which as usual moved very quickly and within five minutes I was awaiting the 747s arrival at Gate 24. While I waited I purchased some Krispy Kreme donuts and a coffee (it would be a long but awesome day of travel ahead)!

Around two hours before departure, a familiar sight appeared under tow by one of Qantas' huge aircraft tugs. VH-OEI "Ceduna" was towed into Gate 24 from a remote stand at about 10.00am to allow for plenty of time for the ground crews to ready her for her short hop to Sydney. Being such a massive aircraft many people awed at the sight of the 747 being towed into the gate and stopped for a close-up photo opportunity. To be honest I could not believe how big the 747 was in real life! And that I would be soon stepping on board for the ultimate aviation experience! Here are some of my shots of VH-OEI pulling into Gate 24:  

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Boarding began slightly late at 11.50pm, however this was to give the aircraft cleaner's extra time to prepare the aircraft after its 15 hour jaunt to the Antarctic wilderness the previous day. Due to the construction work being completed in the Domestic Terminal at the time of the flight, there was very little room to board the 368 passengers for the flight so two lines stretching what seemed to be an infinite length formed but because I was the first person at the boarding gate that morning I was one of the first people to board the 747. Only one of the jetbridges was  used on this day and was attached to the L2 door between Business and Premium Economy class. I had my boarding pass scanned by the friendly Qantas ground staff and immediately headed on board the aircraft where I was greeted by the Customer Service Manager who directed me to my seat 53B.
I took this shot of the forward economy class cabin whilst I waited for a passenger in front of me to stow their luggage in the overhead locker:

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The line moved fairly quickly (I'm sure everyone was just as excited as me to be onboard) and was soon at my seat 53B. Here is another shot of the Economy class cabin looking across from my seat:

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Qantas arranges the Economy Class cabin cabin on their Boeing 747-400ER in a 10-abreast configuration with a small forward Economy class cabin, immediately behind Premium Economy consisting of two rows with pink coloured seats, another larger cabin (rows 46 to 56) with brown seats (where I was sitting in Row 53) and a rear cabin with unusual green coloured seats (rows 58 to 73).
Each of the economy seats in the Qantas 747-400ER have a generous 32 inches of pitch, perfect for long-haul flights, and settling into my seat 53B I did not feel crammed in at all despite it being a middle seat on a full flight.
Here are a couple of shots of the seat and legroom:

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Each economy seat is equipped with AC power outlets beneath the seat, and a seatback entertainment screen on every seat. Qantas' inflight entertainment system is cleverly named IQ and is absolutely loaded with movies, tv shows, as well as a variety of music from around the world and of course the in-flight moving map (my favourite). I was impressed at the many new TV shows and movies featured on Qantas' entertainment system and the responsiveness of the screen considering the age of the aircraft.

Soon enough my two seat mates, fellow aviation enthusiasts, were seated beside me and the iconic Qantas safety video was played on screen as pushback began. Just before the pushback, Captain Ian Smith made an announcement over the PA system introducing himself and the cabin crew. He also included interesting facts about the flight such as the pax load, cruising altitude and weather. He then thanked us for coming aboard this farewell domestic flight for the 747.

The 747 is very quiet during pushback, except for the hum of the APU, something which I was surprised about but soon enough all four engines were started and the aircraft was ready for taxiing. Here is a shot of the wingtip I took during pushback from Gate 24:

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Because the 747 is powered by four GE CF-6s producing over 50 000 pounds of thrust each we did not need the full 3300 metres of runway at Brisbane for our short one-hour hop down to Sydney, so soon enough we turned onto Runway 01R using Taxiway A7 and blasted down the runway with the 747 producing a loud takeoff and impressing the 368 aviation enthusiasts onboard. We rotated very quickly (around midway down the runway) and began a steep climb out of Brisbane into the hazy afternoon sky before beginning a steep left bank to turn south on course to Sydney. Because of the light fuel load we quickly reached our cruising altitude of 36 000ft and the many photographers onboard including myself immeadiately used the opportunity to get up and explore the aircraft.

I first snapped some pictures of my economy class cabin with the pink seats:

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I then proceeded to the rear economy class cabin to take some more shots of the expansive seating:

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I then proceeded up the front of the aircraft to take a few shots of the aged Premium Economy cabin which is in a 2-4-2 configuration. An interesting quirk of these seats is the entertainment screen folds out of the armrests. The Premium Economy cabin shown here:

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I then proceeded further forward to try and get a nice engine view shot through the L2 door and maybe some shots of the upstairs cabin, however I was swiftly stopped by the cabin manager who stated that area was for 'elite business class passengers only'. But in spite of this, I was able to get some good engine view shots of the four GE CF-6 engines. Here are some of those shots:

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After taking those photos, I proceeded back to my seat in order not to miss out on the cabin service. Considering the short flight duration and  the massive number of passengers on board, the cabin crew did an excellent job to ensure everyone was served. Soon enough, the cart reached my seat in Row 53 and we were served a cheese and chutney sandwich, with a choice of beverage. The drink choices were water, juice, beer, wine or a range of soft drinks including Ginger Ale. I chose the orange juice and I found the service offering to be small but perfectly sufficient for the short flight. The sandwich was tasty, I had never had chutney before my trip on the 747, sad maybe but true.

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For the remainder of the flight I enjoyed the views of the New South Wales countryside and perused the in-flight magazine. I took these photos of the Qantas fleet in the magazine, I love it when airlines include a fleet breakdown in their in-flight magazine:

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Qantas also includes this network map in their inflight magazine detailing their extensive domestic and international network, as well as the network of their oneWorld partner airlines:

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It was soon announced that we had begun our descent into Sydney's Kingsford Smith airport, we made a couple of turns for Air Traffic Control sequencing over the famous Hunter Valley wine region where I was able to snap these shots over the coal mines below:

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Within fifteen or so minutes, the Hawkesbury River and the northern suburbs of Sydney came into view and as we cruised over the top some of Sydney's most famous landmarks; The Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Tower Eye and the Sydney Opera House came into view, I couldn't believe my luck being on the 747 and having such spectacular views to enjoy as well.  

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We were soon flying downwind with Sydney Airport's Runway 16L/34R and 16R/34L, before passing over Sydney's southern suburbs and beginning a sharp left bank over the Royal National Park to line up with Runway 34L, the longest runway at Sydney Airport. This is by far my favourite approach into Sydney Airport.
 The rocky cliffs lining the coastline south of Sydney are spectacular.

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Before I knew it, we had preformed a beautifully smooth touchdown at Sydney Airport before feeling the powerful force of four GE CF-6 engines going into thrust reverse, a feeling I long to experience again.
We then performed a short taxi to the Qantas terminal at Sydney Airport (Terminal 3), which is home exclusively to Qantas and Qantaslink domestic flights. We then docked on Bay 21 between a Qantas A330-200 and Boeing 737-800, the two mainstays of the Qantas domestic operation. And before I knew it my first flight on the 747 was over, and what an experience it was. I walked away knowing one thing for certain, it wasn't going to be my last flight on the "Queen Of The Skies".

Here are three final shots of the overhead locker, amenities and cabin to finish off the trip report. Sadly no cockpit visits were allowed due to a short turnaround between our flight and the aircraft's next flight to San Francisco, California.

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Cabin crew8.5

Brisbane - BNE


Sydney - SYD



In conclusion, I had an excellent flight with Qantas on the Queen of the skies, I wished I could have stayed onboard for longer. As this was my first flight on the 747, I left with a new found appreciation for the jumbo and I immediately wished to seek out as many 747s as I could possible fly on in the future. I am scheduled to fly on the Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 from Bangkok to Phuket so stay tuned for that trip report!

In the meantime please check out my Instagram: toms_aviation
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Information on the route Brisbane (BNE) Sydney (SYD)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 9 reviews of 3 airlines on the route Brisbane (BNE) → Sydney (SYD).


The airline with the best average rating is Qantas with 7.9/10.

The average flight time is 1 hours and 31 minutes.

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  • Comment 548869 by
    ThomasDutch GOLD 450 Comments

    I am scheduled to fly on the Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 from Bangkok to Phuket so stay tuned for that trip report!

    While it would be nice to fly on these birds, I wouldn't count on it as THAI is notorious for equipment changes and BKK <-> HKT is probably the route to see most of the aircraft changes in their route map. I believeTHAI still operates some of their flights to Sydney with 747s too, so you might be lucky there too.
    Thanks for sharing these reports and such a shame that both KL and QF are retiring these birds at once without the celebration they deserved due to the ongoing disease.

  • Comment 548871 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5224 Comments

    Glad the rumours turned out not to be true! Hopefully they remaining 744s will have a few years left in them upon returning from being parked, though I believe the plan was to retire the fleet by the end of the year. I updated the a/c type to 747-400ER since VH-OEI is an ER version, as are all remaining QF 744s I believe.
    I'm sure once QF is ready to actually retire the 744 there will be more fanfare and ceremony around the retirement.

    Thanks for sharing!

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