Qantas QF440 Melbourne Tullamarine MEL – Sydney Kingsford Smith SYD
09 May 2011
Scheduled ETD/ETA: 1430-1555
Actual Time of Departure/Arrival: 1515-1618
Seat No: 4K
The Jetbus in Melbourne picked me up right on time and it was already waiting outside the lobby at 12 noon but I was just checking out and I had to ask the driver to wait for 5 more minutes. It was a leisurely ride to the airport since it was early and I reached the domestic terminal 1 around 12:35. I headed straight to the Business class check in counters just beside the security screening and there was no queue. The lady agent had some trouble with my ticket though which might be due to the change in schedule that I had made in LAX Qantas counter. What happened was I had 2 reservations for the day between MEL and SYD, one on a much earlier flight. Due to the hourly departures, I was offered the chance to board an earlier flight, but since I knew it would be a narrow-body 737 operating the earlier flight, I chose to stick with the one I am booked on since I knew it would be a 767.
The whole check in process took around 5 minutes to get it sorted out and it caused a queue behind since she was the only one working the business class check-in counter. I got directions from the agent after getting my boarding pass. Though the boarding pass had no sleeve this time round and no pink business priority luggage tags either. The security line was just beside the check-in counter and it was a breeze compared to the States and no shoes, or coats need to be taken off. Short queues meant I was past security and on my way to the Qantas Club lounge just a short walk off security. I took some photos at the central atrium food court first past security as it had an expansive view of the tarmac.
There was a Lexus CT200h exhibit in the entrance to the lounge and one just need to take the escalator up to the 2nd floor to get to the reception. It was a huge lounge that had great views out into the tarmac. The lounge area has several sections – a seating area facing the tarmac, and a more secluded corner divided by a dining area. There was also a bar area with table and stools facing a large LCD screen. I sat down in the more secluded corner and got myself some mushroom soup to start with before getting some Thai vermicelli salad with bread, salami and ham.
There was also an assortment of brownies, cookies and sweets to be had with a good cup of cappuccino. I sat down to try out the wifi and it works alright, better than the slow service at LAX. Other beverages served includes juices, and a bar counter serving a variety of wines, beer and of course champagne. There are also ample magazines for passengers to choose from and a magazine kiosk selling what they don’t provide. The magazine kiosk is a nice touch in a lounge as it allows passengers to purchase some travel necessities as well without leaving the lounge. Overall it was great lounge and the only downside I found was that warm food choices are limited.
Looking at the departure information screen, I left the lounge at 14:10 to realize that gate 12 is located at one end of the terminal and it was a long walk but when I arrived, boarding has yet to start. Seems like its going to be a late departure today. In fact the later flight to Sydney on QF442 which is operated on a 737-800 went on to board first.
This delay allowed me to take some more photos of the various Qantas jets in Melbourne and I was also able to take a shot of a departing Cathay A330. The late boarding at 14:40 as I later found out was due to the late arrival of the crew and the doors to the cabin were closed only at 14:50. Fast boarding of the plane allowed crew in business to serve welcome beverage of water or apple strawberry juice. I chose the latter which was a very nice drink and great for a change from the usual orange juice.
The business class cabin wasn’t very packed and I ended up having both aisle and window seats by myself on the seats which were in a 2-2-2 abreast configuration. Compared to the Cathay Pacific regional Business Class that I had between Singapore and Bangkok, I found the seats as comfortable, though I thought it was a tad narrower. It might be due to the narrower cabin of the 767 compared to the 777 that Cathay operates. For such an old 767, the cabin interior was very clean and well maintained, and this reflects well on Qantas as an airline as I definitely was more comfortable in this cabin compared to the American Airlines’ 767 that plies between JFK and LAX.
There was a short taxi to the runway as we passed by jumbo jets operated by SQ and the A380 by Qantas, in addition to an Emirates 777 being parked remotely. We were airborne by 15:15 and had a nice view of a quarry in Oakland Junction at the North of Melbourne and the Greenvale Reservoir before cloud cover shielded the rest of the landscape.
As we reached cruising altitude, the captain was quick to reassure passengers with onward connecting flights from Sydney. In addition he also apologized for the delay stating that it was due to some miscommunication in scheduling of crew members. He also mentioned about the light refreshments and snacks that will be served. In business class, there was a choice of carrot soup or smoked salmon antipasti platter. I got the carrot soup since I was craving for something warm that day and wasn’t disappointed, and I got more of the apple strawberry juice to go along with the meal. Bread was offered along with tea and coffee. Business class passengers also had a choice of wine to go along with their meal.
The nice weather meant a short flight and I didnt manage to finish my meal since I was too full and the captain had already announced start of descent before I got to return the tray back to the crew. The flight attendants serving the route was friendly and had the same standard as that serving the A380 route from LAX. As I glanced out of the window, I noticed that the scenery in New South Wales looks a lot greener than that in the State of Victoria. There seems to be more green landscaping such as forest or bush cover compared to the arid brown landscape around Victoria. One could also take sight of three lakes on the approach to Sydney with one being Lake Woronora. I got to know the name of the lake from Google Map (the wonders of technology these days!)
During our descent into Sydney, it was a scenic view offering passengers on both sides of the window a chance to catch a glimpse of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House at sunset. Somehow the scenery of Sydney and its surrounds just made up for the delay at Melbourne and it was kind of the highlight of this plane ride for me. The plane eventually landed at Sydney Kingsford Smith around 16:18 which makes a flight time just shy of 1 hour.
I did not head directly to the baggage claim area upon alighting as I got distracted by the nice Qantas domestic terminal in Sydney which also had a model of Qantas’ first ever plane. By the time I went to claim my luggage, it was already on the carousel. The amazing weather, pleasant crew and adequate catering makes for another memorable flight on Qantas was more than adequate to compensate for the delay and really adds positive marks to the airline after my fabulous experience with them on the A380.