Category Archives: Qantas

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InFlight: QantasLink Dash 8 Canberra to Sydney

Route: Canberra to Sydney

Flight: QF1468

Carrier: Qantas ( Operated by QantasLink / Eastern)

Class: Economy

Terminal: After arriving into Canberra airport at about 11:30 the night before it felt a little davaju arriving back this morning to check in for my flights to Seattle, the long way around. None the less the queue at check in was virtually none existent so before I knew it my pack was checked and I had my three boarding passes, immigration form and express pass all neatly collated within the transfer folder. This first flight was just my connection to my mega flight to Dallas and then on to Seattle, so I’m hoping my bag makes it all the way with me.


As Canberra is my home port I’ve reviewed it many times, as usual post security I made a bee line to the business lounge for some breakfast. You can read the full report on the Business lounge here. I was surprised to find that, despite flying this route countless times I don’t think I’ve ever put pen to paper and posted a review of it on Qantas metal. You can however compare my review of the Virgin service here.

Departure: I was busy trying to upload a clip to YouTube so was a little rushed once boarding was called with the standard “first and final call” so I made my way down to gate 14 for a short walk across the tarmac and onto the awaiting Dash 8. Although the dash 8’s aren’t popular to everyone, I really like the priority cabin baggage service provided at the steps the plane. Any bags that are a little too big to fit in the overhead bins can be tagged at the stairs and carried in the hold. On arrival the bags are quickly delivered to the foot of the aircraft ready to go, and it’s pretty interesting to see the size of some of the bags people use the priority service for – I doubt they would fit in the overhead of a 737 sometimes!


Seat: 2A. Each time I fly on the dash 8’s I always forget to select an aisle seat and my profile preference kicks in, assigning me a window. Due to the curve of the aircraft the window seats have less legroom thus the aisle is preferable, although you lose the closer than jet views that the dash’s provide from their lower cruising altitude. The seats aren’t bad for short hops around but don’t expect any fancy features, like reclining. The 2-2 configuration means you’ll only ever be sitting next to one other person however most flights don’t go out full so you’ll often have two seats to yourself.



Aircraft: Dash 8-400Q . I’ve reviewed these birds before, but as a recap, these are single aisle twin turboprop aircraft that operate under the QantasLink brand mainly on short hops around the east coast and are a common sight in the Sydney-Canberra route. A lot of people don’t like these “little planes” but they aren’t that little really as they seat about 74 people and as they fly lower than jets have similar sector times to the jets on the shorter routes they fly. Yes they are loud, but the Q models are fitted with notice canceling systems that are designed to counteract some of the noise (this is noticeable between the 300 series and the 400Q’s). I like the views that the lower cruise altitude provides.


IFE: Short and simple, the IFE is whatever you bring on board as the aircraft is fitted with none. If you do bring stuff on board, don’t expect to be able to use it much. In a 30min flight, the first 5-10 is the climb and the last 10-15 is the decent – both times are when you can’t use electronics which doesn’t leave you much time to do much electronically.

Meal:  Despite this short flight you are served a snack which is enough to fill the gap between breakfast and lunch. Today’s snack consisted of a lovely Lemon myrtle biscuit and piece of shortbread accompanied with tea, coffee or juice. For such a short flight it’s all you need, but it is good to get something, even on short flights, even if like me, your next stop is the first lounge and it’s lovely menu.


Arrival: We did the pretty standard approach into Sydney, making a few turns to get parallel’ish to the runways after passing bankstown before heading out the pacific and before turning around, flying over the oil/fuel storage refineries and then landing towards the north on the left hand runway. Its actually a pretty city to fly into, especially if you have a fly over of the city on approach.Even over the water the different shades of blue waters of botany bay can be pretty, before landing on the runways that stick out into Botany bay, where a few centuries ago Captain Cook also landed in Australia. A short taxi finished off an uneventful flight before coming to a quick stop around gate 16.


As I was transferring to an international flight I was able to use the free Qantas shuttle which departs from the transfer lounge opposite Gate 1. This is a handy feature and provides great airside views as you drive around the northern end of the airport and across to the International terminal. If you are connecting to a non Qantas flight you need to exit the terminal and make your own way across. I’d recommend the $5 terminal transfer using the airport rail link which is accessible via an escalator beneath baggage claim.

Here is a quick video of the approach into Sydney. Notice the line up of international departures includes a Qantas 747, Delta 777 and a China Southern A330.

Crew: Two crew operate in this aircraft who are both professional but similar to the crew I had in Virgin a few days earlier – efficient and effective but not that personable. I normally find the crew on the dash 8 flights much more interactive and have a little character/passion however today’s crew were very mainline which was a little disappointing.

Overall: There probably isn’t a need for an overall summary on such a short flight, especially given the review took longer to write (and for some maybe read) than the flight itself. Thus I’ll finish up by saying the flight and crew did the job well of getting me into the first lounge on time and ready for my connection to Dallas.

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InFlight: QF853 – Canberra to Melbourne (Business)

Flight: QF853

Carrier: Qantas

Class: Business

Route: Canberra to Melbourne (Business). This is actually the second review for this route in Business class on Qantas that I have written for my blog and the reason I decided to review it again is two fold. Firstly the first review was about a year ago and since then the competition in the pointy end of the plane has intensified with Virgin Australia now offering business class on most domestic flights. Thus I wanted to re-review the service to see if anything had really changed in the face of the Virgin competition. After you’ve had a read of this review feel free to compare it to the same review last year here.

The second reason for the review is to explain how I manage to fly in the pointy end of the plane domestically without ever actually paying cold hard cash for a business class ticket, which I’ll elaborate more on after departure. In the meantime, sit back, relax and enjoy the Where to From Here trip review service.

Terminal: Regular blog readers will probably be used to my InFlight reviews starting out of Canberra and me referring to my previous lounge reviews as the starting point for the blog.  This review is no exception and if you haven’t been following before you can read the lounge review for the Qantas Business Lounge here or if you want to find out what I think of the Virgin Australia lounge, you can read about that here too. Next time I fly I should really do a review of the Qantas Club so that all 3 lounges in Canberra are reviewed. The only addition to today’s trip was that I got to the airport pretty early and managed to have both breakfast and lunch in the lounge before departure! I must admit that I am a huge fan of the bircher muesli for breakfast – anyone with the recipe send it my way please!

Departure: Before I get into the nuts and bolts of the review, I’ve been asked how I manage to afford to fly Business Class domestically, or more importantly maybe, why I do it on such short sectors say between Canberra and Melbourne or Sydney? I’d love to say that i do it because the airlines want me to review them and pay for my seats but the real answers are pretty simple for me; points and status. Points are how I do it and status is why I do it. I guess it’s all about how you value your points and what you want to do with them. I used to be a hoarder and only used points for overseas trips, but in doing that you run the risk that the airline might revalue your points along the way, or worse still not be there when you want to use your points. Plus the taxes and surcharges on some international routes makes it feel like you’re paying for the seat in addition to your points (which also applies to domestic bookings to a lesser extent). Thus for me I prefer to earn and burn them for short cheap domestic runs.

So why business class? Well if you really need to ask that question, maybe you should come fly with me one day but seriously, the cost of business class points flight is only double the cost of an economy class points flight. I say only double because the cost of a paid business class ticket is about 5 times the cost of a discounted economy ticket, and realistically that’s the class of ticket you would buy for a leisure trip. Also you earn 4 times the status (when booked as an any seat award) so why not. Before I digress too deep into ways to earn and burn your points, I’ll return you to the regular InFlight review. So it’s time now to sit back, ensure your tray tables are locked and your seat belts are fastened as I launch straight back I to the review of this today’s flight.

So since the last review Qantas have introduced priority boarding at selected airports however Canberra is yet to be selected so boarding was via the usual queue that stretches from the aircraft door to the lounge door on what was a full flight for a busy start to a long weekend. Once on board jackets were stowed and our take off juice or water was offered followed quickly by the newspaper round. So far nothing has really changed since the review a year ago, other than my growing love for the apple and strawberry juice. One notable and rather exciting change that is more due to the London Olympics than anything else was the inflight safety video.

As Qantas are a sponsor of the Australian Olympic team the safety video has been re-filmed, starring several Aussie athletes which I found to be a great bit of cross promotional work and also a way to freshen up the video and perhaps get some people watching it again. Filmed on what appears to be the A380 the athletes demonstrate the seat belts, adopt brace positions, don a life vest and extremely calmly put on their own oxygen masks before assisting the even calmer child next to them. Is gimmicky and will probably only be around for as long as the Olympics are but I found it a refreshing change to the standard video – perhaps more special event safety videos could be made? World Cup? Christmas?

With a slight southerly breeze we taxied to the northern end of the airport for a take off to the south off runway 17. I haven’t had this departure many times before, and similar to my arrival into Sydney on a Virgin ATR (which you can read about here) I was seated on the wrong side of the plane to get a good view of Canberra as we climbed out and practically circled the southern ACT. For those who like watching a take off, the video is available below (albeit from the less interesting side of the plane).

Seat: 1A – Although 1A looks great on the boarding pass it’s pretty much the same as any other seats in the convertible business class configuration on the 737-400’s. The seats are in a 2-2 configuration however the middle seat is still there with the armrests moved which can be expanded out to be standard economy 3-3. Being a bulkhead row you do get a little more legroom than those in rows 2-5 behind you, which have in my view a really poor amount of space for business class. If legroom is really important to you, I’d go for either 1D or 1F as that side has a small cut-out in the bottom of the bulkhead adding some more space for your feet. The seat itself is ok for a short flight but nothing when compared to newer business class seats offered by the competition or newer 737-800 Qantas birds.

Aircraft:  Boeing 737-400 (VH-TXJ). These birds have literally been doing the grunt work for Qantas and many other airlines globally for many years now, and the age is starting to show. Although its somewhat sad to see the last of any type of aircraft retired from service, I am really looking forward to the day a few less of these are operated into and out of Canberra – I’m keen for something newer, brighter and fresh. The interior window/window shade on the third window on the left of this particular aircraft was really showing signs of age, no longer sitting in place and not attached at the base. I pointed this  out to the crew who were rather surprised and decided that engineering might want to take a look on arrival into Melbourne.

 IFE: Overhead monitors and a selection of radio stations is all that’s available on the 737-400’s and the daytime viewing is almost as bad as daytime TV. In the evening there’s often an episode of modern family however the day flight was pretty much just the news. At least the push button controls are more reliable than the old dials that still are commonplace but that doesn’t assist with the viewing choices. Sure its only a short flight but there isn’t really enough time to watch anything on your own device before electronics have to be turned off for landing. Another reason to replace more of these birds with the BSI planes I think.

Meal:  Lunch was served on this flight which is a much better than the refreshment served during non-core meal times. Thus if you want a good meal, try and plan your business class flights to core meal times – if in doubt check what type of meal, e.g. lunch or refreshment, when making the booking. The meal itself was some cold roast chicken with ranch dressing on a bed of some type of grain – I forgot the name and can’t remember what it’s called (if you recognize it in the picture leave a comment so I know for next time).

The chicken was nowhere near as dry as I’ve had previously and the dressing and grain with no name was lovely.  Hot bread rolls were served which when combined with the main and washed down with a glass of white wine and the delightful mini cake for desert made a filling and tasty meal for the sub 1 hour flight to Melbourne. Tea and coffee service concluded the meal, from which I opted for a relaxing peppermint tea. The crew don’t see, to advertise it but there is definitely peppermint tea available if you ask – perhaps other teas too.

Arrival: The flight to Melbourne was over relatively clear skies for the majority of the trip providing great views of fresh snow on parts of the Great Dividing Range and only clouded up as we got closer to Melbourne. Descending beneath the clouds we landed towards the south before taxing to the domestic concourse, arriving smoothly a few minutes early. For the first time in quite a while I had actually checked baggage using the Q-bag tags, and despite luggage arriving not long after arriving at the carousel my bag (and that of a few fellow business class passengers) was one of the later bags to make its way onto the belt. I understand that there are complexities in regards to aircraft loading but it would be nice if they worked out a way to make priority baggage a priority. Either way it didn’t add that much time however it seems rather pointless to mark a bag priority when in reality it’s really not.

Crew: I don’t think there were but it seemed like there were more crew than normal on this flight as the service was really well executed and the crew didn’t seem rushed at all. One of the crew found the time to stop and point out the snow covered mountain peaks to interested passengers which is unusual (not because seeing snow is unusual – although here it sort of is) but more so as they normally don’t seem to have time to after serving and cleaning up the meal service. The crew overall were polite and professional as you’d except but the engaging with and discussing passengers interest made he flight more comfortable and welcoming than some other flights I’ve experienced. I think it helped that most people were probably excited about starting their long weekend early and thus in a good mood to begin with.

Overall: The aim of this review was to compare and contrast the changes I’d observed since the first time I reviewed this route in Business a year ago. I found that the meal service had definitely improved, offering a much nicer and enjoyable meal experience than the sandwich I had a year earlier. I think the crew have also lifted their game as the service was much more comfortable than a year ago, although as with any flight the crew change so it can be the luck of the draw as to whether you get a good or great crew. The aircraft itself hasn’t changed, although it’s now another year older. Hopefully more BSI birds will get flying which will make an immense difference to the comfort and service levels on short haul routes in Australia. Overall the flight was a great way to start the long weekend, and I look forward to my next flight in the pointy end or even an opportunity to try out Virgin Australia’s business class product on a similar route soon to really compare the domestic business competition.

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InFlight: Qantas 737-800’s with BSI (Boeing Sky Interior)

Route: Canberra to Brisbane

Flight: QF850

Carrier: Qantas

Class: Economy

Terminal: Being based in Canberra many of my reviews start off in the Qantas Business Class lounge, of which you can read my full review here. This morning I had planned to take my in laws into the lounge before their flight to Melbourne but our taxi arrived late and the traffic was unusually slow moving so they missed out this time.

Departure: Boarding was from Gate 11 in Canberra with the seemingly recurrent ‘first and final call’ boarding announcement. The queue at gate 11 in Canberra always extends back to the lounge door, so I’m looking forward to priority boarding being instigated in Canberra so we can avoid that inevitable queue that first and final boarding creates. We departed off runway 34 and after a few turns we pointed towards Brisbane and smoothly climbed out of Canberra. At 100km out of Canberra the first officer welcomed everyone on board and advised that there could be a delay in Brisbane due to ATC constraints (the joy of 1 runway operations).

Seat: 4A. Status matters, and I was able to select this seat a few days before departure. Normally the first few rows have the middle seat blocked out except on full flights to allow high flyers to have a little more space when traveling in economy. Today’s flight had both a low load factor and a low premium flyer ratio as I had all of row 4 to myself – double score!

Being the first row behind business the legroom is amazing – probably more than the 3 business class rows in front of me. There is a curtain separating the economy cabin from business, which during the climb falls backwards onto the C and D seats, and the middle seat doesn’t have a seat pocket but neither of those bothered me as the sole occupant of the row. Bifold Tray tables fold out from the armrest and although a little less stable than the fold down trays in the rest of the cabin I was able to type on the iPad without much trouble.

Interestingly the seat belts in this row are equipped with airbags, something I haven’t seen in an economy product before (herringbone business class seats all seem to have them) but I guess this is a good thing, although I’m not sure how they would work if you adopt the lean forward and hold your feet to the floor brace position (I guess engineers smarter than me have already thought of this).

Aircraft: 737-800 with Boeing Sky Interior (BSI) rego VH-VZY  (Thanks to the peeps at @QantasAirways on twitter for helping me find the rego after I forgot to check it out before boarding). These new 737’s are the bee’s knees of the Qantas narrow body fleet, with overhead bins and interior panelling similar to the 777 series the interior feels fresh and spacious. The mood lighting is softer than the old fluro’s and the blue lights just give a bit of extra colour which makes the plane look a lot more modern than the older 737-800’s and leaps and bounds ahead of the737-400’s.

I’m not sure if the BSI has better soundproofing panels however it felt a little quieter than what I’m used to, so if that’s the case, good work Boeing. The layout is similar to the older 737-800’s with the first 3 rows being business class with new 2-2 red leather seats followed by 26 rows of the standard fabric economy class seats.

IFE: Other than the spacious feeling, bigger recessed overhead bins and the fresh plane smell, most passengers will appreciate the in seat gate to gate IFE in every seat. The system has music, TV shows, inflight moving map, some games and the Qantas radio just like on the A380 and refurbished 747-400ER’s. Although its missing movies, for the short haul domestic legs you probably aren’t going to be in the plane long enough to watch a movie. The touch screens are really responsive and the picture quality is pretty good for on a plane.

Although there is USB and power points at each seat I couldn’t manage to connect any of my iDevice’s to this system but otherwise the system is pretty good – especially helps pass the time during shorter hops with a few episodes of Modern Family. I could have asked for help but was happy to watch the extensive content available.

The PTV screens are in the seat back for all economy rows except row 4 which has fold out screens in the arm rest meaning that if you want gate to gate IFE this row isn’t for you (although the space and legroom outweighs the IFE in my view). The fold out seats do provide a lot more room for adjusting your viewing angle, which is also a plus.

Meal:  Unfortunately, despite the new plane, the morning tea snacks seem to get smaller and smaller. The cookie, this time from Snowy Mountain Cookies (I prefer the Byron Bay Cookies) and juice (or tea and coffee) was ok considering I just ate breakfast in the lounge but if you had rushed to the airport and skipped breakfast the snack wouldn’t have made a dint in your appetite.

Arrival: Shortly before commencing decent the first officer advised that ATC had slowed us down a little due to congestion resulting in a few minutes delay to our estimated flight time. Brisbane was slightly cloudy with some passing showers on approach and landing however I was surprised at how smooth the decent and landing was – good piloting from the team up front today.

Crew: I think the new aircraft has stimulated the crew as all were fresh and friendly, although there seems to be a few changes instigated at keeping people flying with Qantas, especially at the top ends of the frequent flyer ladder. Each passenger in the first few rows (presumably the platinum’s and maybe gold frequent flyers) were welcomed by name by Felicity the Customer Service Manager during the newspaper round in a similar manner to how the CSM greets passengers in business class.

These are small changes but they cost nothing and make the passenger feel like the airline wants your business and is keen to interact with you more personally because of your continued loyalty. Hopefully these types of changes continue which will help QF compete with Virgin’s ever-increasing slice of the business travel market.

For the first time during my trips since I started writing these reviews, the cabin crew asked me why I was taking photos of the plane, meal and everything, saying its a very unusual experience for them. I explained what I was a little bit of an aviation nerd, and that I wrote travel reviews and posted them to an online blog. Although a little surprised they seemed pretty cool about it all. Fortunately for them they were awesome today, and the plane was great, so the positive vibe of this review is mainly due to their great attitude and service.

Overall: This is my second flight on one of the BSI 737-800’s, that are much better overall than the rest of the narrow body fleet. Unfortunately it’s hit and miss if you get one of these birds and there isn’t any easy way to tell if your flight will or won’t have the new airplane. If you are on a Jet Connect service (all QF 737 services to NZ) you will have in seat IFE but only a few birds have the BSI at this stage. As the fleet grows and replaces the older 737-400’s this superior level of service hopefully will become the norm for Qantas domestic narrow body operations. All in all its probably one of the best domestic services I’ve had in a long time – Good work Qantas. In wrapping up this InFlight review I’d like to thank the crew for a great flight and the guys and girls on the @QantasAirways twiter account for their mentions and help tracking down the rego.

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InFlight: QF1 Sydney to Bangkok in Business

Route: Sydney to Bangkok

Flight: QF1. As with most airlines, flight numbers 1 and 2 are generally reserved for the flagship routes, however in the second half of 2011 Qantas announced that the traditional Qantas Flagship routes, QF1 and 2 will move from via Bangkok to via Singapore before continuing to London. Thus this will be the last chance for me to report on the current QF1 route to Bangkok before it is renamed QF 31/32 in March 2012.

Carrier: Qantas

Class: Business

Terminal: As a Platinum Frequent Flyer I tried out the Qantas First Lounge at Sydney International and was pleasantly surprised. This flight review is quite detailed and long so I’ll post a First lounge review separately.

Departure: The boarding call was made on schedule and without much ado we took the escalators down past the living wall of the First Lounge and the short walk to gate 10 where boarding was already well underway. The layout of the gate is very well set up, with designated First/Business/Premium Economy boarding lanes and a pair of economy boarding lanes. Unfortunately despite the good layout, the execution of boarding was somewhat poor with staff rushing all passengers with the mindset of a motor registry office queue, snatching boarding passes, quickly scanning them and then corralling everyone into the aerobridge line.

The lane to the aerobridge had a rail separating premium cabins from economy, however as only one aerobridge was in use it was rather ineffective as both lines were full, making the rushing to scan the boarding passes rather pointless. Once on board the aircraft there were two crewmembers greeting all passengers at the door and advising which aisle each passenger should use. The staff asked if I knew where the stairs to the upper deck were and welcomed me on board in a noticeably more polite way than the boarding passes were scanned.

Once upstairs and settled we were advised that we would be delayed as we waited for some passengers to connect from Brisbane. Shortly afterwards the pilot announced that he had been told that the passengers were somewhere in the terminal and that staff were trying to locate them as their bags had arrived, and that it would be quicker to wait for the passengers than try and find and offload their bags (probably predicting that some people on board would be suggesting to leave without them).

During the delay the pre departure drinks were served as well as a packet of mixed nuts. I chose the champagne which although was nice, after having Bollinger in the lounge it wasn’t the best bubbles I’ve ever had #firstworldproblems. Departure was, according to FlightTrack only delayed by 15 minutes with a 6:20pm push back.

The captain again apologised for the delay and advised that due to our gate location it was only a short taxi to the runway and that he would try and make up some time during the flight. He also introduced the crew and advised who would be flying which sections of the flight, which for the flight enthusiast was interesting. After my recent flights on China Southern, I must admit it was somewhat comforting to have the captain speak to the cabin and be able to understand the announcements.

Taking off to the south off 16R we made a short turn to the right then climbed out to sea before circling around and heading towards Port Headland, Denpasar (Bali) over the top of Ho Chi Min City and then into Bangkok, at least that’s the plan for tonight.

Seat: 13A. Ironically the last time I was on the upper deck of a 747 I was also in 13A, so am pretty comfortable in this ‘unlucky’ numbered seat. Arriving at the seat there is a blanket, pillow and pair of noise cancelling headsets waiting for me and plenty of storage options for my carry on items. The best feature of the window seats on the upper deck is the storage boxes under the window that are a great place to store your blanket, pilot, headset and amenity bag while not in use. The overhead lockers are a little small, but given the 2-2 configuration, and all the extra storage in the side boxes, they do the job.

There is no floor storage in any of the Mk1 Skybed seats, but with the side storage and overhead bins you shouldn’t need it (especially if you follow the carry on rules). The magazine rack is in the seat of the chair, which an iPad easily fits into for easy use and there is a wallet/phone/camera compartment at seat level in the centre console. Thus there is room for all the gadgets any travel blogger needs.

The seat itself is the Mk1 Qantas Skybed, an angled flat bed that seat guru measures in at 60” long and 21.5” wide. The first time I flew on one of these seats I thought they were a little hard, but the seat has grown on me and when compared to some other seats around, it’s not too bad. The angled seat in sleep mode is, as any frequent flyer forum will tell you, annoying when you try and sleep as your pants inevitably stay still as you slide down the seat causing some rather uncomfortable clothing positioning. A trick that the passenger next to me shared to avoid this is to use the side storage boxes as a footrest when the bed is in its flat position. Even though your feet end up a little higher than you (so still not fully flat) it is a great solution to the pants riding up a little high dilemma.

Not that having people behind you matters in business class, but the exit row and crew exit seats are behind this seat so there is no chance of unexpected bumping of the back of the seat during flight.

Aircraft: Boeing 747-400 RR (VH-OJM). What has been the mainstay of the Qantas International Long Haul fleet, the non ER 747-400’s days are numbered as the fleet are gradually replaced with new Airbus A380’s. Thus, like being on QF1 it was good to get to fly on the 747 before things change forever. Entering the upstairs cabin I was pleasantly surprised as to the overall feel, cleanliness and maintenance levels of the aircraft, as it didn’t feel like the 20 year old aircraft that it is. Of course in that 20 years she’s had a few makeovers but the cabin felt fresh and comfortable despite the Mk1 Skybeds.

From nose to tail this configuration has 14 fully flat First seats, 52 Mk1 Skybed Business Seats, 32 Premium Economy Seats (similar to domestic business class) and 255 Economy class seats in the back. The upper deck is definitely the place to be in Business class with the smaller private cabin and 2-2 seating of only 24 seats unlike the shorter 2-3-2 with its dreaded middle business seat, 28 seat cabin downstairs.

Just behind the main business cabin at the bottom of the stairs to the upper deck there is a self service snack bar with chocolates, fruit, wine beers and soft drinks for business class passengers. Even without any seating available, this turned out to be a great place to just relax and chat to people on the flight and helped pass the time. Also its nice to just grab a little snack and drink while you chat.

The temperature is kept at a comfortable level when compared to some Asian carriers, however the personal air vent is available should you want an extra breeze. However unlike the newer A380, I did notice that the air felt dryer on the 747 compared to the A380 and even the A330 series aircraft.

IFE: Each business class seat is fitted with a 21cm seatback IFE screen controlled by either the touch screen (if you can reach it) or by a handset in the centre armrest. Unfortunately the Rockwell Collins IFE system that runs on the 747’s (with the exception of those with MK2 Skybeds which have the Panasonic system) is somewhat unreliable. Although prior to take off the cabin crew advised that the IFE was now active and ready for our entertainment, the system failed to load any content.

When we notified the crew they initially tried resetting our pair of seats, which we advised would take about 20minutes. After our reset failed an announcement was made that the full aircraft needed to be reset which would take 25-30 minutes and would work faster if no one pushed any buttons during this period. I thought to myself what is the likelihood that the 353 passengers on board could all go 25 minutes without someone pushing a button. Despite repeated attempts it was about 1.5 hours into the flight before the IFE was functional.

Once the system was working I was somewhat disappointed at the navigation and menu layout when compared to the Panasonic IFE on the A380’s and A330’s in the fleet. Although it appears that there are many movie choices, many titles are repeated for each language that they are shown in (e.g. If it is in English, Spanish and French, the movie appears 3 times, clogging up the menu). Additionally TV shows are in sets of 3 or 4 episodes so you can only choose the program you want to watch and not the actual episode which is frustrating if you want to mix up your TV viewing.

The variety of music was also a let down with very little new music available and very little that suited my taste. The worst part of the music is that you cant browse other albums while listening to another album as it just exits the song and returns to the background music. In comparison to having no IFE, or IFE only in another language the IFE does the job but it is leaps and bounds behind the newer Panasonic Qantas IFE. Overall the IFE was disappointing and I reverted to watching come fly with me episodes on my iPad (even though they were available on the IFE) as the picture and sound quality were better and much easier to navigate.

Meal:  Menu’s were distributed throughout the cabin prior to take off however the meal and beverage service took a reasonable amount of time to commence with about 40 minutes passing after take off before the pre dinner drinks orders were taken. Drink orders were taken from the front of the cabin to the rear before being served in the same order.

The menu for the Sydney to Asia flights were as follows:


Roasted Tomato Soup with Thyme Croutons

Chinese Style Roasted Duck Salad with Pickled Cabbage

Main Course:

Potato Gnocchi with Braised Italian Vegetables, Petso and Parmesan Cheese

Pan Fried Blue Eye with Spiced Eggplant, Gai Lan and Ginger Glaze

Chicken Kapi Kapitan with Fragrant Rice, Fried Eschalots and Snake Beans

Rangers Valley Grain Fed Skirt Steak with Potato and Leek Gratin, Asparagus and Red Wine Sauce


Seasonal Cheese hand-selected by Calendar Cheese Company served with accompaniments

Nice Cream Strawberry and Mascarpone Ice Cream with Berry Compote

Sliced Fresh Fruit


Valrhona Chocolates

Once dinner orders were taken the crew directed us to pull the tray table from the armrest and passed a white cloth for which we could set the table with. The entrée was served on a tray with a glass of water and a small green salad with a vinaigrette dressing.  A selection of fresh bread or rolls was also offered shortly after the entrée was served. As I’m not a fan of soup in general and whenever I eat on planes we always seem to hit turbulence for which soup isn’t a good option I choose the Chinese Style Roasted Duck Salad as my entrée. The duck was delicious and I would highly recommend it as an entrée selection should you have the option.

Wine was offered during the meal but I opted for another glass of champagne as it began to grow on me. For main I chose the steak, which was also chosen by my seat neighbour. Although the side accompaniments were nice, the steak itself was tough and the sauce didn’t seem to reheat well. Overall the steak was disappointing although after some post flight research I’m yet to find too many satisfied steak eaters at altitude; perhaps it’s just something that doesn’t fly well.

Although there are several dessert options listed, unlike many other carriers do not get confused by thinking you can have more than one of the selections or mix and match them. I’m not sure if this is Qantas catering policy or if the crew just didn’t feel like bringing more items out, but when I asked for a small serve of ice cream with some fruit on the side I was instructed that I needed to select one item from the desert list. I then asked if they had any left over fruit could I have that to which I was told they would have to check downstairs.

When my ice cream was served I was told that there was no fruit available. The Ice Cream was nice, but nothing sensational (although I wouldn’t really describe ice cream as a sensational desert anyway). A box of chocolates was passed around the cabin but I declined. The serving of the meal, and service overall during the meal was extremely disappointing which affected the overall satisfaction with all the courses.

There was also a refreshment option available prior to landing but as people were sleeping (myself included briefly) this wasn’t announced or offered widely and seemed to be an “on request” only sevice. For information the options were:

Reuben Sandwich

Lamb, Pea and Mint Pot Pie

Roast Capsicum, Confit Onion and Feta Tart with Green Leaf Salad.

Arrival: We ended up landing about 13 mins late into Bangkok after some circle work around the airport due to some congestion on the ground. The crew announced the gate at which the flight would be departing for London from and advised that passengers were welcome to leave their belongings on board if they didn’t want to take them through security screening again, although the aircraft would be cleaned so don’t leave valuables.

On arrival the premium immigration cards came in handy resulting in no queuing for passport control and we beat the bags to the carousel. In a first, my bag, appropriately tagged “first” was literally the first bag to come off the carousel however my colleagues bag took a little longer which took the edge off my victory of winning the baggage game.

Crew:  In many of my trip reports I find that regardless of the quality of the hard product, the effort that went into preparing the menu or quality of the food, if the crew are not interested, on their game, in the mood for service or just plain rude, the entire flight experience is negatively affected. Again this flight lived up to what many online forum’s seem to agree on, that Qantas International Business cabin crew can be the weak link in their overall product and image. I will however add a disclaimer to this statement, as for this flight it only applies to the crew working the upper deck cabin.

These comments are probably going to sound a little elitist, however when you are travelling in a premium cabin, you pay for and expect a premium service to that of economy, which, despite what some crew seem to believe, extends beyond the “bigger seat” and to the way you are treated and served. So when meals come around the crew should help people get the tray table in and out when they are looking confused and don’t just stare at them impatiently, put the table cloth on it themselves instead of getting the passenger to do it and when the meal tray comes, place it on the table and not hand it to the passenger. How many top restaurants ask you to set the table and then pass you your dinner plate? Why should this happen for a premium Rockpool designed menu the air?

The upper deck’s crew’s complete disinterest in the service aspect was highlighted when a few hours after the meal I pressed the call button, wanting to order one of the inflight snacks available which I remembered to be a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. The call went unattended for about 5 or so minutes so I pressed it again. I then waited the full length of a modern family episode before pushing it again, again to no response. Giving up I thought I’d go to the galley myself and see if the crew were there, which I found reading a magazine. I decided not to disturb them further and proceeded downstairs and helped myself to some chocolates and a drink at the self service bar.

I began chatting to one of the crew downstairs who was friendly, bubbly and enthusiastic. After a few minutes of chatting I asked if they still did the sandwiches to which she said they did and that I should have just buzzed and she would have brought me one, although she said she hadn’t seen me in the cabin so asked where I was sitting. I told her the story about trying to order upstairs and she quickly apologised and prepared my sandwich. I ate it chatting in the galley and ended up spending most of the flight talking to the various crew downstairs from First and Business class. If it weren’t for the friendliness of the staff downstairs and in especially the First crew, this review would be a lot worse.

Overall: I’ll end the review by saying that the hard product complete with its not fully flat bed and the less than perfect IFE did the job and was at a business class standard and competes well against other airlines flying internationally out of Australia. I’ve spoken a lot about the crew upstairs to which I have only 1 final comment: it costs nothing to be friendly or even smile, we all have our bad days, but when you keep allowing them to affect the way you work, all the good hard product in the world wont make up for it. You can thank your colleagues downstairs for repairing some of your damage, but you do leave a lasting impression in the 23 other passengers on the upper deck who didn’t walk downstairs and meet your colleagues.


  • 7

Lounge Review: Qantas / British Airways First Lounge – Bangkok

Location: I must admit that finding the Qantas lounges in Bangkok’s mega airport was a little bit challenging and I wished I had paid more attention to the lovely staff at first class check in. Once you clear immigration turn right and keep walking until the first four way intersection with E gates to your left, F gates straight ahead and G to the right. Take the escalators on the left down to level 3 and then head straight down the G concourse past the Cathay lounge and the Qantas & British Airways lounge is the next lounge on the left. On the airport map its pretty much on the G concourse between gates G1 and F2 on the neighboring concourse.

Entry: Like all of the Qantas/British Airways (and most Oneworld) First lounges, entry is open to all First class passengers traveling on a Oneworld ticket that day as well as Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers (Qantas Platinum). At airports like Bangkok and Hong Kong you can easily ‘lounge hop’ between Oneworld lounges (if you are Oneworld Emerald anyway – unfortunately if you are ‘just’ flying First class then you can only use the airline you’re flying on’s lounge) should you have the desire or dislike your current lounge. During my visit I did just this (more reviews to follow) however my advice would be that if you have access to this lounge, stick with it as it is the most comfortable and has the best food and drink offerings of all the Oneworld lounges in Bangkok.

According to the Qantas webpage the lounge opens from 13:00 until the last departure however the sign at the entry shows hours from 14:30 – 17:30 then 20:00 – 24:00 which accommodates the Qantas and British Airways flights. If you are a QF Platinum flying Jetstar to Singapore, given these opening hours the lounge would only serve the last flight of the day as well as the direct Jetstar flight to Melbourne.

Space & Comfort: The lounge is significantly smaller than the First lounge in Sydney and most domestic Business Lounges in Australia for that matter. Given that Bangkok is a stopover point for London, with most passengers continuing on, the lounge serves its purpose well as few passengers have enough time to use the lounge for extended periods during the relatively short connections between the London and Sydney flights. Having said that, the lounge does fill up pretty quickly once the British Airways and Qantas 747’s bound for Sydney arrive, but it doesn’t feel as crowded as the Business Lounge. The lounge itself is divided into 3 seating zones each of about 20 seats, the business center and the bar / food area with windows facing onto either the apron or gate area on 2 sides.

If you are looking for somewhere quiet to sit I would suggest the middle zone as the area closest to the entry is rather loud as each time someone walks past the entry, the automatic doors open and let in the constant airport announcements. The area closest to the bar has a TV and people congregating looking over the food and drinks so should also be avoided if you want quiet time, thus leaving the middle section your only option. The seating in all sections is comfortable and generally set up with a pair of chairs around a table, very similar to the armchairs at most Qantas Clubs.

Food & Beverages: The food and beverages are all self service here unlike the table service at the signature first lounges in Sydney and Melbourne although the selections are fresh and there is enough variety to keep you full (or soak up the impressive spirit and wine collections). Moët champagne is always a favourite of mine as well as some premium beers and wines that are all freely available, although pouring Moët from through a non spill cap feels rather strange. The food offering today included a selection of antipasto, various bite size snacks, a hot selection of beef skewers, chicken consume soup, fried chicken and ginger rice as well as some fried tofu and prawn. For an Australian touch in the sweets section there were lamingtons available for those getting homesick before the final flight home.

Staff Service: There isn’t much interaction with the staff however in typical Asian fashion the place is kept spotless without really evening being able to see them clean. The food bar is kept topped up with fresh food and spills are cleaned up quickly (not that I made any spills of course). The entry staff were pleasant and even as it got busy they remembered people who had already entered but left to do some duty free shopping meaning there wasn’t a constant checking of your boarding passes each time you go through the door (although for most guests this probably wouldn’t be an issue anyway). The entry staff have all the gate details for the day’s flights displayed as you arrive which can assist passengers in transit avoid searching the congested airport monitors to find their next gate.

Airport Views: Today we had great views of the arriving runway with plenty of action to keep the plane spotter in anyone interested; additionally you get views of ramp activity from both the F and G concourse. Unfortunately every external window in the terminal is covered with small dots making photography a nightmare. Ironically there is a large section of window looking onto the general airport concourse, which reminds me how important lounge access is for international travel as I watched tired backpackers trying to get comfortable on hard concourse chairs while running off to buy bottled water and snacks to fill in the time. Overall the views are great if not a little elitist as you literally look down on the economy class passengers below.

Amenities: The lounge has a toilet / shower complex complete with about 6 showers and several unisex toilets. There is bathroom attendant who cleans the showers and even seems to clean each private toilet suite between use and each cubicle is compete with Molton Brown hand wash – an essential ingredient to any lounge which is surprisingly missing from the first lounge in Sydney. The ratio of showers to guests is impressive and unlike the Cathay Pacific Lounges, the toilets are within the lounge complex so you don’t need to wander around the concourse looking for the closest bathroom.

Business Facilities: There is a small and relatively unused business centre with several computers and a printer available. The only occupant during my visit was a kid passing the time playing online games which is understandable as most people probably don’t want to get into work emails during the short stopover from Europe. There are two WiFi networks available in the lounge with the password available from the front desk. The speed of both networks was impressive and quickly got my facebook’ing and tweeting out of the way.

Overall this lounge is an impressive asset to the Qantas and British Airways alliance between Australia and London and also very comfortable for those passengers starting their journey at Bangkok. Of all the lounges I visited during this stay this lounge is the pick of the punch.

  • 1

Lounge Review: Qantas Business Lounge, Canberra

Location: All of the Qantas lounges are in the new section of Canberra Airport one level above the departures level. At the top of the escalators the Business lounge is straight ahead while the Qantas Club is to the right and the exclusive Chairmans Lounge to the right. The lounges are all very close to Qantas gates and security clearance.


Entry: Unlike the Qantas Club, where you can purchase access, the Business Lounge is or use of Business class passengers and platinum frequent flyers (and Oneworld emerald equivalents) . Unfortunately there is no anytime access anymore which is a significant gripe for frequent flyers when they are picking up friends at the airport. Platinum members can enter the lounge when arriving from a Qantas flight subject to space availability.

Space & Comfort: Both the business lounge and Qantas club are brand new and as you would expect of something so new, they both offer great levels of comfort and space. The Business Lounge is about half the size of the Qantas Club howler offers slightly nicer chairs and given its limited access, is generally quieter and more relaxing than the Qantas Club – especially on weekday afternoons when the lounges fill up with the exodus of public servants. The lounge is subtly sectioned off into discreet areas like the bar, business area and several seating zones making it feel a little more private when it’s full.

Food & Beverages: The buffet lunch menu selections today were a chicken korma, Vegetable tangiene or spices mexican soup in addition to the usual antipasto spread, cheeses and cold meats. For the sake of the review I tried the vegetables which were spices and nice although I didn’t want to eat too much as I was saving myself for the first lounge in Sydney later that afternoon. The food available today was great for snacks or a full lunch and in my experience the same offerings at dinner are much preferable to the snacks in Y on the flight. If you want to make a sandwich there are breads available and a toaster, although no sandwich press for those cheese melts.


The bar opens around midday and offers a variety of beer, wine sparkling as well as spirits and is staffed by a bartender although the wines are self service. Soft drinks and a variety of juices are available all day. Before 3pm there is barista coffee available but after this point you’ll need to use one of the coffee machines if you need a hit of caffeine.
Staff Service: Today the staff outnumbered guests of the lounge and thus service was very good although generally the staff are friendly and attentive regardless of the number of visitors. In addition to the entry staff there are several servers behind the buffet and a few cleaners who rapidly clean up and used plates glasses etc.
Airport Views: Unfortunately the lounge has no views of the tarmac or runways instead looking across to the multistory car park and the elevated entrance road. If they swapped the locations of the Qantas Club and Business Lounge the views would be great, so if you’re after airport views this lounge isn’t for you.
Amenities: The bathrooms are clean and fresh with Molton Brown hand wash and moisturizer which are always a nice touch. There aren’t showers in the lounge although I’m not sure if Canberra would really have any need for them.
Business Facilities: Strategically placed in the far corner of the lounge away from any ambient noise is a business centre with several iMac’s (which also run windows for those not up with Macs) and a printer. There area is pretty quiet and the Internet connection fast for checking those last few emails or checking in on Facebook. There is also free wifi across the lounges which since Qantas swapped from Telstra to Optus the speed and reliability has increased significantly.
Overall the Business Lounge, although very similar to the Qantas club is quieter and more relaxing with the staff friendlier and more eager to assist or chat. As both lounges are brand new they can’t be faulted for quality and design so either will make the wait and Canberra relaxing.