QF41 Sydney Kingsford Smith SYD – Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta CGK
15 May 2011
Scheduled ETD/ETA: 1350-1840
Actual Time of Departure/Arrival: 1420-1836
Airbus A330-300 VH-QPI ‘Cairns’
Seat No: 4K
I was picked up at the hotel on time by the shuttle bus and as I was the first passenger on the shuttle, it went on to pick several more passengers before we reached the airport at around 11:00pm, which was still early and I am glad I chose to mention to them that my departure was at 12:30pm. It beats being late for an international flight.
The Qantas premium economy check in was quite empty while the business line was more crowded. Thus I went on to the premium economy check in line and obtained my boarding pass while checking in both of my luggage to Jakarta. I was provided with a priority departure line access card and it was off towards the immigration line which was quite short. I had yet to fill in my departure card so it took some more time before I entered the duty free area.
I had decided to get some bottles of Australian wine to bring back home and after finishing with my shopping, I headed upstairs to the Qantas lounges. There was other shops to discover for shopaholics in Sydney’s international terminal and there was even an Apple store for those keen on taking advantage of the duty free shopping in the terminal.
With the shopping completed, I proceeded upstairs to the lounge which was divided into a first class and business class section, and since I was due to board the latter cabin, I had to walk to the end of the corridor. It is worth noting that one gets a nice view of the departure shopping area from the walk towards the lounge.
Inside the Qantas lounge was as vast as the domestic lounge in Melbourne and had similar fantastic views of the Tarmac and Sydney’s skyline. I stored my hand carry items on the luggage rack and proceeded to get some food. There was a dining table in the centre of the lounge area where a menu was being prepared and guests can order from it. The lounge service agent was preparing the table with cutleries in preparation for lunch at this time too and enquired if I would like some food. I decided instead on food from the buffet counter and helped myself to a bowl of spicy carrot and coconut soup with ginger and coriander, topped with croutons. For the mains, I got myself the French lamb braise with fennel and orange served with cous cous. The cous cous in this lounge was like small pearls and more palatable than the one served during my CX flight. Some side dishes I sampled includes smoked beef and some macaroni salad.
After my meal I checked out the row of Macs on the counter and also went to see the shower room. There was no counter or agent checking the use of the shower rooms though so I was free to check those empty ones out. It feels similar to the one in LA and even has the same Molton Brown amenity.
The magazines and newspapers provided in the lounge were mainly Australian fare and wasn’t as interesting for me. The whole lounge wasn’t too crowded though and was comfortable to spend my time in.
Five minutes before boarding was due to be called, I left the lounge as I wanted to take some photos of my departing aircraft. The A330 was parked beside a similar Cathay aircraft bound for Hong Kong and I managed some good shots through the duty free shop beside the boarding gate.
Boarding began at 13:28 not before a queue was already forming around the gate area. Priority boarding began after they have boarded the elderly and those with families. Once onboard, I was greeted by the familiar dark grey and red sky beds. These seats are however slanted lie-flats instead of the ones on their A380. It was still more than adequate for this 6 hour flight. Initially my seat mate was an Indonesian couple, though his wife was seated opposite the aisle. As I wanted the window seat, I declined to switch seats with his wife. It was good that the other passenger was willing to switch seats with him.
Hot towels were distributed by the crew once all the business passengers have boarded. I picked orange juice for the pre-departure drink and my seat mate picked champagne. The advantage of the business class seats on the A330 is how the IFE screen is on the seat back instead of stowed in the armrests as on the A380. This meant passengers got to see the moving map while taking off and landing.
After our pre-departure drink, the captain announced our pullback would be delayed as we had to wait for transit passengers from the domestic terminal. Once these transit passengers were onboard, we managed to pullback at 14:10, though at the runway, we had to wait for a Qantas 747 arriving. I managed to get some great shots of the 747 landing since I was on the right side of the aircraft.
With the 747 landing safely, it was our turn to take off for the skies at 14:20. Once again, I was on the right side and was treated to a magnificent view of Sydney upon take off. The clear autumn weather made it all the more magnificent as I was able to take some shots incorporating 2 of sydney’s landmarks – the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
Once airborne, the crew gave out small packets of almonds and took our drink orders. My choice of dessert wine was met with astonishment from the crew. Somehow is it against convention that I have such a sweet tooth? But I still managed to receive my glass of Botrytis Semillon with smiles from the crew. I’ve got to say that the Qantas service has so far surpassed my expectations, after my ride with them on the excellent A380 and a domestic service between Melbourne and Sydney.
I started playing with my iPad initially while enjoying my packet of nuts with the sweet dessert wine, as my seatmate savoured his champagne. The clear weather for the day provided great views as we crossed the state of New South Wales and the terrain moved from bushlands to the orange outback which was some of the most amazing landscape I’ve seen. This particular dayflight was amazing for the scene it provided from the window and I was really glad I had the window seat!
About half an hour later after the post-take-off snack, a late lunch was served, and the menu read as follow:
Our extensive Rockpool designed menu allows you to enjoy a completely personalised dining experience. You can choose the full menu after take-off, or our Express meal is available at any time.
Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan
Yamba Prawn Salad with Asian Coleslaw
Lentil Moussaka with Red Pepper Sauce and Wilted Spinach
Snapper Poached in Coconut Milk and Garam Masala, Fine Egg Noodles and Snow Peas
Chicken with Lemon, Olive and Parsley Salad with Yam Purée and Green Beans *Healthier option
Beef Fillet with Anchovy Butter, Roast Carrots and Potato Gratin
Salad of Baby Cos, Radicchio and Frisée with Palm Sugar Vinaigrette
Seasonal cheese hand-selected by Calendar Cheese Company served with accompaniments
Baked Treacle Pie with Clotted Cream
Sliced Fresh Fruit
A selection of Kennedy and Wilson chocolates
Your flight attendant will be pleased to assist you with today’s selection.
Enjoy a range of snacks and drinks at any time throughout your flight. Your Flight Attendant will be pleased to prepare your selection or simply snack from our inflight bar.
Toasted Flat Bread with Smoked Turkey, Gruyere, Cranberry Sauce and Baby Spinach
Pumpkin and Gorgonzola Pizzette with Rocket Salad
Moroccan Lamb Pot Pie with Harissa
Whole Seasonal Fruit
Cinnamon Sponge Finger Biscuits
Pistachio and Almond Nougat
Brookfarm Organic Trail Mix
Nice Cream Ice Cream Tubs
Billecart-Salmon Brut or Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve
For the starters, I got the soup which was alright, as I preferred the one they had on the domestic route. The portion of the soup was quite substantial and when the main course of the fish came, I was maybe a bit full from the food I had in the lounge. Thus I found the main course to be really bad, with the fish being too dry and overcooked. The egg noodles and the accompanying snow peas with the sauce was tasty. So far on all my 3 Qantas flight, only the food disappointed a bit, but since the meal hasn’t ended yet, I was served with a choice of desserts, and unlike Cathay which allows passengers on Business to select both fruits and their dessert, I got to choose only one, and I picked the Baked Treacle Pie, though the FA was kind enough to mention that if there were extra fruit, he would bring it over. The pie was excellent and I came to the conclusion that dessert service in Qantas was good, but not the main course which can either be undercooked or overcooked.
I enjoyed my dessert as I started watching Gnomeo and Juliet on the inflight entertainment. While I was having my pie, the dessert service is complimented with a round of coffee and an enquiry into more dessert wine. Both of which I graciously accepted! Bottled water was also provided for all business class passengers and they were placed on the seat back storage if passengers were sleeping, many of which did since there was still some time to the flight. On the inflight entertainment, I usually I will choose a light hearted comedy or movie when I want to be awake. It was a pleasant enough movie that had all the basic plots and humour, but it remained at that. I didn’t really find any other entertainment on the IFE and I found the IFE on the A380 way better and more complete, though the one on the A330 works fine as well. Suprisingly, after I finished my movie and was getting ready to write the customs declaration form for arrival into Indonesia, the male FA earlier on came back with a plate of sliced fresh fruit and apologized for the wait. That was really unexpected service and I was really glad with the plate of fruits.
After finishing my fruits, I took a walk to the pantry where they have a snack bar and I was able to get some chocolates and nut packets, before returning to my seat. With still nearly 3 hours to the flight, I decided to move my seat to the full lie-flat mode. While it is a slanted lie-flat seat, it was good enough for a short rest and I didn’t see many passengers having trouble sleeping here. With the red blankets over me, I was able to get nearly an hour of napping time before I awoke to the sound of cabin service.
It seems that the crew was offering refreshments prior to landing and as I checked the view outside, it was already getting dark and cloudy as we approached the island of Java. I picked the Turkey Sandwich as I had half a mind of skipping dinner when I land in Indonesia since I might be busy with the unpacking after my long trip. And the turkey sandwich totally redeemed the meal quality of this flight. I was able to finish the whole sandwich when I didn’t finish the main course. After the sandwich, the FA came around and offered ice cream, and how could I decline such a treat! Ice cream on the plane is always the best thing one can get! The refreshing pineapple ice cream was really good and still solid when it came and not runny.
The satisfying pre-arrival snack was really good, though it also marked the close to this flight and my Circle Pacific trip as the plane started its descent at 18:06 and the IFE is stopped. By 18:36 the flight had landed at Jakarta and the familiar Soekarno-Hatta welcomed me back home. The ending display of the IFE with ‘The Spirit of Australia’ brought with it fond memories of the country and my ride with Qantas. In fact one might say I became a fan of the country and the airline after the 3 amazing flights I had with them. The whole flight and experience was great and with this in mind, I wouldn’t hesitate on taking Qantas again in the future for my travels to Australia.