In late 2011, I need to travel to Canberra for 11 days on a working trip. As my company has the policy of flying with the cheapest full-service carrier available, I was booked on Qantas for the trip. Over the weekend, I had also booked myself a short trip to Sydney. Overall, I would be flying Qantas on 6 sectors! How exciting can that be… On the bright side, I had booked on 5 different aircraft types, from the prop to the whale (Dash 8-Q400, B734, B738, B744 and A380) and as I had not flown QF internationally before, it would definitely be an experience. This report would be picture extensive, as per my previous reports.
27 November 2011 Qantas QF 6 Singapore (SIN) - Sydney (SYD) B747-400 VH-OJA (QF's First B744) Economy Class
I had done online check-in 24hrs before and had grabbed myself a window seat in the mid-section of the plane. The plane was almost all sold out and on check-in, the middle seat was still vacent. Crossing my fingers it would be remain vacant! True enough (unfortunately), it was 100% full in economy when I enquired with the check-in agent at the baggage drop at Terminal 1. OMG, I am gonna get stuck at the window seat for the 7hrs flight…
Got a proper boarding pass at the bag drop counter. Was also issued with the boarding pass to Canberra. However bags needed to be retrieved at Sydney for customs clearance and re-checked in to Canberra.
Proceeded through immigration to the departure hall. The plane had already arrived from Frankfurt. It would be operated by Qantas's first B747-400! That is a 22 year old plane!
More plane-spotting. It was kinda boring with Jetstars and more Jetstars.
Seeing stars by now.
Departing from Gate C15. Boarding has already commenced but there was still a long queue clearing security. Boarding the legendary B747 again!
Welcomed by the crew and directed to the correct aisle. Almost all the crew today were experienced guys (only saw 2 ladies). However most were friendly and professional with the exception of 1 or 2 crew who did not really smile much.
Boarding in progress and passengers settling in. It was a horribly full flight! Guess it doesn't help much with the A380 operating the morning departure to Sydney instead. The seats are not re-upholstered in red covers yet. Unlike my previous flight a few yrs back where the seats were in red.
Seat width and pitch are really tight! It was going to be real torture…Thank goodness I can stretch my legs under the seat in front.
At the gate. Slightly delayed due to a no-show pax whose baggage needed to be off-loaded. Flight time was announced to be 7hrs.
On each seat was placed a blanket, large pillow, amenity kit and headset.
Unlike SQ, QF offers toothbrush set and an eyeshade in its amenity kit.
Stuff in seat-pocket. My seat was missing the inflight magazine.
As we were still waiting, the crew distributed menu cards. However no hot towels offered, haha. Interestingly, most of the crew on this flight were bilingual (seen from the national flags on their name-tags), probably due to the many code-shares. The 2 crew members serving my aisle can speak Spanish and French too! All announcements were also made in English and German.
Nice menu card. At least QF has not got rid of this.
Lets look at the menu. There is also an interesting time-line of the services provided during the journey of the flight.
SINGAPORE TO SYDNEY
Mediterranean Summer Salad
Choice of Braised Chicken in Tomato and Olive Sauce with Polenta and Beans or Kung Po Style Pork Stir Fried with Fragrant Rice and Greens
Soya Bean Pudding with Lychee
Chocolate Grinders Coffee Dilmah Tea Cadbury Hot Chocolate Peppermint-Tea
Fresh fruit will be served throughout your flight
Orange Juice Strawberry Yoghurt Pain au Raisin Grinders Coffee Dilmah Tea
The beverage menu is eye-boggling!!
Finally we are good to go. Safety demo was done both through video and manual demonstration by the crew. Lights were slightly dimmed (QF does not fully dim cabin lights for takeoff/landing). Had a rather long taxi to Rwy02C for takeoff.
Passing a Cathay B773 at Terminal 1.
And Lufthansa's A380 at Terminal 2!
Took off! Surprisingly no queues for takeoff. No video though as it was very dark. We made a right turn over Tekong and was on our way to Sydney.
After seatbelt signs were turned off, the crew sprang into action. First up, distribution of bottled water to all passengers.
No nuts/bar service though. Dinner was served less than an hour after takeoff. Some crew wore aprons while others changed into the service uniform (mandarin collar black shirt). I chose the pork with rice. Also had a Bundaberg Ginger Beer and a Jacobc Creek Sparkling Wine.
Salad and main course. Boring salad. Pork consisted of only very few minute pieces. Vegetables were overcooked. It was just very average.
Pudding and chocolate. The pudding tasted kinda disgusting! A very under-whelming meal overall…
While the meal trays were cleared. crew offered either peppermint tea or hot chocolate. I had the Cadbury hot chocolate. It was served with a marshmallow! Perfect bedtime drink!
Everything was cleared less than 2hrs after takeoff and lights were dimmed.
Visited the lavatory but no amenities in there other than the necessities, so no photos taken. I watched a movie and tried to get some sleep. But it was quite impossible in the cramped seats and I ended up half-awake most of the time.
Slightly less than 2hrs to landing, lights were turned back on the a light breakfast was served. The raisin pastry was served warm and quite nice. A nice change from SQ's muffin and roll.
The entire flight was relatively smooth. Even when there were slight turbulences (which felt strong enough for SQ pilots to turn on the seatbelt signs), the seatbelt signs were never once turned on. Apparently Qantas pilots are much less trigger-happy with the signs.
Cabin after breakfast.
Starting our descent into Sydney. Headsets were never collected and we were free to use them from boarding till landing! Entertainment system were also switched on shortly after boarding with announcements that we can start using the IFE till we were parked at the gate on arrival! So what is the safety issue here, SQ?
Speedbrakes up. Leaving the coast before making a turn to line up with the runway.
Rising sun over the sea. Pardon for the badly-scratched window.
Landing soon on Rwy34L.
Smooth landing into Sydney. No thrust reversers used.
Taxi to gate.
Parked at the gate.
Cleared immigration, retrieved my check-in bags and cleared customs and proceeded to the Domestic Transfer counters to drop my bags for the next flight. Took the complimentary Qantas transfer bus to the domestic terminal. The bus went across the tarmac straight to the T3, Qantas's main domestic terminal.
Air Austral B773ER
Passing the Qantas Hangars while on the transfer bus.
QF B744ER with F1 Livery
Another QF B744ER, in Wunala Dreaming Livery
Reaching Qantas Land, aka Terminal 3.
Saw a Qantas Heritage Museum on the upper level of the Terminal. Being the aviation enthusiast, of course I paid a visit since I still have some time till my next flight. Entry is free but it is opened only during weekdays working hours.
Lots of Qantas models on display.
Old vs New
The various Qantas uniforms through the years.
I want that bag!
The heritage museum also had a great view of the tarmac and runways! A QF B763 preparing for the next domestic flight.
More QFs and Jetstars.
Singapore - SIN
Sydney - SYD
My first international flight on Qantas and would I do it again? Probably not long-haul on the B744 as it is really too cramped for me! Coupled with the big recline angle, it was really claustrophobic when the person in front fully reclines. The meals on this sector were probably average (dinner was bad, breakfast was ok) but hot chocolate was great! No complaints regarding the service either. We will see how the return flight on the A380 compares.
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