A look at a simple, mid-week, Qantas Domestic Business Class service on the 767 workhorse. The domestic aviation market in Australia is pretty interesting at the moment- Qantas has long enjoyed dominance in the Business Class game, but with Virgin Australia stepping up and offering quite a respectable product, the push has been on Qantas to equally impress. I’m looking forward to seeing how Qantas goes on this flight- can they impress in such a short amount of time on one of the busiest air routes in world?
To find out, I arrived at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport relatively early for flight QF 438 which departs at 2pm.
I parked in the long term outdoor car park where I would be able to pick up my car on upon returning. The car park is a great service as there is an easy to bus to take you to the terminal and plenty of car spaces. Leaving the car park after collecting the car, and it’s a short drive back to the freeway into the city.
Here comes the bus
After a short run I was kerbside at the Qantas Terminal
Scenes of the terminal
I’m someone that likes the human touch on check in and always take this over online- isn’t that what we pay for? Well not with Qantas as it’s only by touch screen now. On the plus side there’s no lines for check in for those not traveling premium.
When booking the flight was being operated by a 1-2-2 configured 767 which was ideal for me, so I snapped up 1A- a window seat by myself. So I was a bit disappointed to see this:
Anyway, I soon had a boarding pass on thin, flimsy paper. Still better than the supermarket-style boarding passes of the low cost operators.
At security I was pleased to see a premium line (Asian airports take note), but interestingly nobody was enforcing it.
19 minutes after parking my car, I found myself at the lounge.
35 minutes before departure at 1:25pm it was time to walk up to the last gate- number 11.
EK and TG
QF 737 with the ‘Dreaming’ livery
And the ride to SYD,VH-OGM interestingly named ‘Bundaberg’ which was some metres underwater due to floods at the time
I had shown up at a perfect time as it was now boarding. Passengers needing assistance were asked to board first.
I was the first person after those needing assistance to head down the jetway
Date: 30 January 2013
Flight: QF 438
Route: MEL (YMML) – SYD (YSSY)
Aircraft: Boeing 767-338ER
View Large View MediumPhoto © Ken Chen
View Large View MediumPhoto © John Richard Thomson
View Large View MediumPhoto © Phil Vabre
View Large View MediumPhoto © Quinn Savit
Quick facts: This aircraft’s first flight was on 21/08/1992. The aircraft is 20.4 years old.
Scheduled / Actual Departure (gate): 2:00pm / 1:59pm UTC + 11
Scheduled/ Action Arrive (gate): 3:25pm / 3:15pm UTC + 11
Flight Time (gate to gate) / Scheduled: 1h16m / 1h25m
“Good afternoon Mr. MD, your seat is in the first row on your right”
A good first impression from a cheery female flight attendant, add a name to the greeting and you win me over. This aircraft was built in 1992, so I wasn’t expecting much, but turning the corner, what hit me was a bright, modern and very smart cabin. I knew Qantas was updating its seats (re-covering the ‘Millennium’ design seat with leather) but wasn’t sure how far they had got or what it would look like. I was impressed that an old aircraft looked so bright, fresh and modern. Another big tick to Qantas.
I sat in 1A and was impressed by the space and width.
View from the seat
The QF feature wall looked great
The giveaway that this was an old aircraft was in the square windows, really old-style overhead bins and the passenger service units. This aircraft was equipped with QStreaming, meaning an iPad was supplied.
Would be interesting to see how the security technology works to prevent the iPad from being removed.
Leg room shot
A little while after being seated (not like 30 seconds with MH), a welcome drink of strawberry and apple juice or water was offered
Is it really necessary to warn about drowsiness from the relax program? Hopefully this an attempt at humour.
We soon pushed back, a few minutes early and the safety video was shown….very tacky with Australian cricket stars and apparently humorous jokes thrown in. Much prefer the new MH video, and the EK, SQ and TG videos that just lay it on the line. By the time the video finished we had completed the short taxi to Runway 27. After a brief hold we powered up on the taxiway and lifted into off into the air. We passed over Calder Park Raceway and Melton with Bacchus Marsh in the distance before some right turns that got us following the Hume Highway- the road I would be driving on the following day.
It was time to take QStreaming for a test drive, and it was interesting. They had some how locked it down to keep you in the web browser. Querying any web address would redirect to QStreaming. It was sometimes a little slow and sluggish but OK. I would prefer something mounted to the seat though, although I believe this can be done with some type of clip to hold the iPad, just not on the bulkhead seats.
A friendly warning about what may happen should you attempt to remove one
It thought there was an announcement being made so I couldn’t do anything- that was soon fixed be rebooting the iPad
We were offered newspapers, then a hot towel service
And the cabin crew started the meal service. “Mr. MD, will you be joining us for afternoon tea? I have a Ploughman’s lunch, or a duck salad”
I went with the Ploughman’s lunch. I was offered a beverage- and went with white wine. I was told about where the wine was from and all sorts of facts that meant nothing to me, but were impressive anyway. I was then shown the bottle for my approval (the only reason I would turn it down would be if the label was visually unattractive). The crew were excellent and it was great to see them showing off and walking through wine. Outstanding service on a one hour flight. I was told that the Carolyn (the CSM) would soon be by with some hot bread.
A little while passed and there was a basic selection of bread rolls. Not sure how bread baskets work (don’t they just put the whole box/package in the oven, so adding more types is no extra work) but offering some more interesting bread would be good. It was also cold unlike the Asian airlines.
The Ploughman’s Lunch was traditional and well done- but admittedly hard to stuff up (never had a bad pickled onion). The portion was perfect for a flight of this length. The wine was also great- a real pleasure to drink and obviously matched with the meal. 10/10.
Passing Albury/Wodonga- no Airshow but how many other twin cities are there in the area with a river and dual carriageway going through?
To round out the meal, some coffee. It was a great feature that they offer you the milk jug and you can decide how much milk you want as I hate milky coffee.
And the tray was cleared leaving my wine
An airshow just as the flight was drawing to an end.
A word on the crew- full marks. Every airline can’t be the same so don’t copy SQ. QF has their own brand and it works- down to earth staff. It was also interesting how Australian the service was…on what Asian airline would you hear “I’ll just go and get you some more water darl” and the like. Also, on Asian airlines it’s rare to see crew over about 35, but these crew were a little older and more experienced. This crew would give some of the MH regional crew a run for their money in how they were able to be impressive in the 1 hour window. Plus being called by name on a lot of encounters is a plus. Drink refills were offered right up until descent and the whole service was prompt and accurate. Well done Qantas.
Thanks to my friendly seatmate, the photos stop here for now but we started a descent. The clouds were thick at this point after a clear flight, we descended through them and things began to get choppy. Looking out the window, it became clear that we were arriving from the west which meant an approach to Runway 25. We even flew right over Bankstown airport and got a great view of the western suburbs of Sydney (would love a home right there under the flightpath but understand it’s not for everyone/most people). As predicted we touched down on Runway 25 quite early.
We pulled into Gate 3 at Terminal 3 ten minutes early.
The Asian airlines would close the divide between Business and Economy here to allow premium passengers to leave first but QF didn’t do that and it was a free for all.
One last look at a beautifully appointed cabin
I thanked the crew and arrived in Terminal 3
Domestic flights are easy and I was kerbside at the private pickup ready to be collected a few minutes later.
IMPRESSIONS OF QF 438
Check-in: Miss the human touch but the machine made life easy.
Departure: Simple, organised and plenty of premium lines to speed through everything. Everything was exactly on time, couldn’t fault the whole thing.
Lounge: Lacking a bit at breakfast but more than redeemed at lunch. A really nice setup for a domestic lounge.
Onboard: The hard product rivalled my experiences with MH (old A333 and new 738) and SQ (old 772). And don’t even talk about Euro-style Economy-Business. For a 20+ year old aircraft the setup was new and fresh. The crew were outstanding.
Food and Beverages: Menus lacking which was a shame, but the Ploughman’s Lunch was great and I loved the wine.
Arrival: Letting J passengers leave first would be nice, otherwise not much involved here except physical walking which is out of the control of Qantas.
After not flying QF Business or even QF for some time it was a pleasure to return and I think that QF absolutely nailed this flight. Plus the near-full J section in the middle of the day on Wednesday showed that QF must do a roaring trade between MEL and SYD.
Is the flight worth it though? Flying J on QF is very expensive, especially in comparison to what you could get in Asia for your dollar. Look at flying Emirates in First Class on the A380 for less than the cost of an hour of QF Business, and enjoy a shower at 39.000 feet while you’re at it. If looking to do J on this sector in the future I’d probably go with DJ on airfare alone. Y on QF or even JQ/DJ is possible but I’m more content with driving if it suits.