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Old Oct 24, 05, 8:25 am   #1
Original Poster
  
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Perth
Programs: DJ Silver, BA Silver, PC Gold, QF, SQ
Posts: 542
Another trip across Australia - QF PER-ADL-SYD-PER

On the Thursday before travel it was decided that I'd be heading over to Sydney for the week to be present while the customer was doing some testing on our software. Unusually, the direct Sunday afternoon flights were both sold out and so was the direct Monday morning flight. So this time I managed to get one of the last seats on the PER-ADL flight, with a connection on to SYD.

Monday October 10, 2005
QF 590 PER - ADL
Departure:
0620 (scheduled) / 0655 (actual)
Arrival: 1100 (scheduled) / 1105 (actual)
Aircraft: Boeing 737-476 VH-TJP 'Petrel'
Seat: 7C (economy)

An early start for the day was in order with the alarm going off at 0500. My wife had generously/foolishly offered to drop me off at the airport to save me getting a cab, and when we left at 0520 the thermometer in her car was showing 3.5C. Unusually cold for this time of year; and apparently the temperature dropped further later in the morning. The airport is conveniently close to our house, so I arrived at 0525 and was immediately greeted with unusually long queues.

The queues were so long that the economy and business class queues both overflowed their designated areas as I arrived at the terminal. Luckily the business class queue was fast moving and it was only 10 minutes or so before I was checked in with seats 7C and 5D assigned for the two sectors respectively.

The bad news at this point was that the security queue was not progressing so quickly. One of the two xray machines had broken down, complicating the fact that early Monday morning is the busiest time for Perth airport. The security queue extended the entire length of the terminal building and started to spiral around at the end of the terminal near the offshore check-in counters. Thankfully most people in the queue were in good humour for this time in the morning, especially when it came to trying to locate the end of the queue.

My flight was showing as 'boarding' from the time I joined the queue. While passengers for three other flights were called to the front of the queue while we were waiting, it was 40 minutes later when we finally progressed through the check-point. At this time there was a technician frantically trying to service the faulty xray machine; I felt a little sorry for him given the pressure that he must be under.

Once through security I headed up the escalators to the Qantas Club to ask about upgrades for the ADL-SYD sector. As expected they said I needed to ask in Adelaide, so I headed straight back down the escalators and boarded the flight. At this point it was about 50% full, but I knew that there would be many more people coming given that I had one of the last tickets for the flight. This was subsequently confirmed by Perth ACARS which shows the aircraft left with 150 people on board, with the aircraft seating 144 passengers.

Sitting next to me in 7B was probably the largest man on the flight - not fat, but tall and solid and more than enough to fill the space available in the somewhat constricting middle seat. He's almost the worst possible travelling companion - at least he didn't try to talk to me. And annoyingly, my seat had an annoying auto-recline feature that meant I was constantly adjusting it throughout the flight.

Once everyone was on board, we pushed back at about 0655, 35 minutes after our scheduled departure time. This was the first time I'd ever experienced a delay caused by congestion at the security checkpoint. A few minutes later we were taking off on runway 21.

Breakfast was served on this morning service, and as Perth-Adelaide is not a CityFlyer route there was no choice of meal. But compared with the usual CityFlyer hot breakfast I was pleasantly surprised, with cereal (Weetbix Honey Crunch), fresh milk, muffin, banana and juice (mange, apple and something). Later in the flight we were offered macadamia nuts with dried fruit which were very tasty; unsurprising given the 40% sugar content.

The in-flight entertainment launched straight into the movie, which today was Kicking and Screaming, starring Will Ferrell. I didn't watch it and felt confident in assuming it was poor given the lead actor, but there were moments of laughter from other passengers. It's possible that October is Will Ferrell month on Qantas, with Bewitched being shown on eastbound flights later this month. I passed the time listening to my MP3 player, an older model from Compaq which takes mini-CDRs. I bought this little device a couple of years ago on one of my early trips to Sydney, and it has proved to be an excellent investment. Once the movie was over, the early edition news was presented, and from memory it was just concluding as we landed in Adelaide from the west on runway 05.

We disembarked down the front stairs after a short wait; I'm not sure of the cause of the delay but it provided the opportunity to watch one of the baggage handlers slinging some bags around. This week was meant to be the last week in the old terminal at ADL, but subsequent delays have meant the new terminal isn't operating until November 9. I headed up to the Qantas Club which was small but pleasant and fairly quiet at this time in the morning. I immediately asked about upgrades and was told I was in luck, and reissued with a boarding pass for 1D.

There wasn't long to wait before boarding, I had an orange juice and a quick snack during the wait.


Monday October 10, 2005
QF 736 ADL - SYD
Departure:
1140 (scheduled) / 1155 (actual)
Arrival: 1400 (scheduled) / 1358 (actual)
Aircraft: Boeing 737-476 VH-TJP 'Petrel'
Seat: 1D (business)

As we headed out on to the tarmac it became apparent that this sector was to be on VH-TJP, the same aircraft that had brought us across to Adelaide earlier. But this time I was looking forward to sitting a little further forward. This aircraft has three rows of business class seating configured 2-2, followed by another two rows of convertible seating in 3-3 economy configuration, followed by the remainder of the economy cabin going all the way back to row 25.

The 737-400 is renowned as one of the worst aircraft in the Qantas fleet on which to experience business class, but sadly my single upgrade credit had left me with few opportunities. Upgrade credits are no longer offered by Qantas, replaced instead by a 5000 point "loyalty bonus". Not exactly a fair replacement in my opinion. Regardless, the seat was comfortable (perhaps more so after sitting for almost three hours in the economy seat), the legroom was comparatively generous, and the service would prove to be attentive.

We were offered pre-departure drinks once everyone was on board, with juice and water available. I had a juice which turned out to be orange and mango. Newspapers were also distributed; I took a copy of The Australian in preference to the Adelaide Advertiser or Financial Review.

The inflight entertainment started up with an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, so I didn't bother unwrapping the headset. And then it was time for lunch (despite this flight showing only 'refreshment' on the Qantas website). I selected the beef casserole in preference to the salmon salad. It came with brocolli, roast potato and roast onion, salad with lettuce cheese and asparagus, and olive bread (warm and reasonably fresh). The meal was definitely a level above the standard offering in economy, but still not fantasic. The wines on offer were a Cardanup Crest Shiraz or a Tyneton Chardonnay; I selected the shiraz (and enjoyed several refills).

Once lunch was over, Everybody Loves Raymond was wrapping up and a short film Plane Spotting was starting. This film features members of the Sydney Airport Message Board, and focused on their spotting weekend in May (?). I thoroughly enjoyed this interesting little doco, and I recognised a few names from the message board (even before they were listed on the credits). That was definitely the highlight of the IFE, the final feature was a Mick Jagger interview that I didn't bother with.

We approached Sydney from the west on runway 07 and landed a couple of minutes ahead of time. The bags didn't take too long to come out and without much of a queue I was in a taxi on my way to work.



Friday October 14, 2005
QF 576 SYD - PER
Departure:
1745 (scheduled) / 1750 (actual)
Arrival: 2035 (scheduled) / 2045 (actual)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-301 VH-QPE 'Port Lincoln'
Seat: 26D (economy)

My colleague and I left work at about 1545, picked up our luggage from the Holiday Inn Potts Point, and then took a cab to the airport. Traffic was reasonable for this hour on a Friday afternoon (especially compared with two weeks earlier) and we were at the airport by 1630, with plenty of time to enjoy the facilities.

At Sydney there are three queues for check-in: one for Business Class and Gold and Platinum frequent flyers; one for Qantas Club and Silver frequent flyers; and one for everyone else. And recently they've clearly signposted the difference between the two elite queues (I'm sure it wasn't always that way). Thankfully we were able to join the far shorter business/gold/platinum queue.

After a wait of about 5 minutes I was issued with a boarding pass for 26D, while my colleague was penalised for checking in at the fast queue by being allocated 26E (seating in the A330 is 2-4-2, so he had scored himself a highly sought-after middle seat). Then it was straight through security and up to the Qantas Club for a few Hahn Premiums and a bit of relaxing while we watched the cricket.

We boarded on time and pushed back five minutes late at 1750. This flight is operated every Friday by one of the seven A330-300 aircraft in the Qantas fleet that spend most of their time on international duties. Friday's QF571 service positions the aircraft for the Friday night service up to Tokyo. The best thing about this flight is the AVOD entertainment system, although it has seemed incredibly unreliable in my recent experience.

As we commenced the short taxi prior to taking off to the south on runway 16R the AVOD system was being rebooted; probably very wise considering the usual instability exhibited by the system. The reboot paid off, with AVOD working almost immediately after take-off and continuing to work flawlessly for the remainder of the 4 hour 20 minute flight.

Initially I started trying to watch Being John Malkovich, but as on my flight two weeks earlier I found that the little screens were too dark to see anything. I tried adjusting the brightness, but this just washed out the whole picture even more. My colleage found that Batman Begins suffered from the same problem. Disappointed, I turned instead to Cinderella Man which was thoroughly enjoyable and kept me entertained for the next two hours.

The dinner service began about an hour after takeoff and we were given a choice between beef with black pepper sauce and chicken with a mushroom sauce. I opted for the beef having not had this particular meal before. It was served with the usual Qantas salad (one cherry tomato, a few pieces of capsicum, two slices of cucumber, and lots of lettuce), a bread roll (still as tough as always), a small bar of chocolate and a 100mL container of water. Beer and wine are complimentary on this service, but I opted instead for more water. The meal was quite good!; I believe there has been a gradual increase in quality since the introduction of CityFlyer a couple of years ago.

About 45 minutes after the dinner service, icecreams were served. We had Magnum Mini as we do on every SYD-PER flight (PER-SYD flights have Triple-Choc Trumpets).

After Cinderella Man finished I started watching The Real Da Vinci Code, a doco presented by Tony Robinson (of Blackadder fame) searching for the truth behind the holy grail. This doco had been recommended by my colleague, and I found it very interesting watching, but was disappointed when we landed before it had finished. Either I wasn't thinking clearly when I started watching, or the advertised one hour duration is incorrect.

At 2035 we landed in PER on runway 21, and it was 10 minutes later when we arrived at the gate. Unlike two weeks ago we had just beaten the MEL-PER flight which is very beneficial for fast bag delivery and taxi queues. Unfortunately I was a couple of minutes too late to get the bus home (my place is only five minutes from the airport) so instead queued for a taxi. It only took me about 10 minutes to get to the front of the queue, but by that time the queue was enormous and would probably have taken about 45 minutes.

As usual the taxi driver seemed annoyed at only getting a $9 fare. I guess I don't really blame them since they probably have to wait for ages at the airport, but it's not really my fault either. (As an aside, I've just booked some SIN-HAN flights for next March for less than the cost of this taxi fare! )

So overall a smooth and pleasant travel experience this time around. The Friday 1745 SYD-PER service continues to be my favourite domestic flight, and the CityFlyer concept continues to deliver. Since it's introduction there have been a couple of minor cutbacks - no longer do we get printed menus or Mentos mints prior to arrival - but overall it's far beyond anything else in the market so one can't complain.
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Old Oct 24, 05, 11:20 am   #2
  
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: East Ester, Alaska
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Quote:
The Friday 1745 SYD-PER service continues to be my favourite domestic flight.
Ah... there's nothing quite so nice as returning home on a Friday evening. Hopefully you'll get a few upgrades on this particular flight in the future.

Thanks for this nicely detailed report on Qantas' domestic service. An enjoyable read.
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Old Oct 24, 05, 11:40 am   #3
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Join Date: Nov 2003
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Thanks for the nice report StevePER

Quote:
annoyingly, my seat had an annoying auto-recline feature that meant I was constantly adjusting it throughout the flight
Very annoying I had this same thing also on a QF 734 recently (wonder if it was the same a/c?) - the recline was so slow I didnt notice it was happening until realised I was 3/4 reclined when I wanted to be upright.
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Old Oct 24, 05, 5:37 pm   #4
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Location: Perth
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Posts: 542
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi Flyer
Thanks for the nice report StevePER
Thanks Kiwi Flyer! I am very much enjoying your Month of Madness report also... keep those updates coming!

This was the second time I've had the auto-reclining problem in the past few months - the previous time was on a 332 and I didn't realise it was happening until the FA asked me to put my seat upright for take-off.

Steve
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Old Oct 24, 05, 7:44 pm   #5
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Thanks. There should be an update soon (needs to be if I can hope to keep reasonably up to date).
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