This was no ordinary flight for me. According to my flightmemory, it was my 950th flight ever. In addition, it was my 275th flight with Qantas and my 24th on an Airbus A330.
Booking: 9 out of 10
Qantas’ booking engine is very streamlined. Six steps take you from enquiry to payment. If you are logged in as a Qantas Frequent Flyer, then the amount of information required to be typed in is minimal. Thanks to Skyscanner, I found the same fare on another website for $249 less. This saved me almost a third of the fare. It has annoyed me in the past that unlike Department stores, airlines don’t like to match fares. Since 2012, Qantas has offered a price guarantee: if, after purchasing a Qantas flight, on the same day, you find the Same Qantas Fare (including fare conditions) for a lower, publicly available price on an Australian website, we’ll match it. Frequent Flyers can also earn 1,000 extra points. The site I bought from was not Australian so no bonus for me! – just a nice fare saving.
After booking and paying for me seats on the external site, I chose my seats back at qantas.com. Exit row seats were available for 90 dollars which I could not be bothered paying. I opted for a seat as close as possible to the front of economy. I initially got 25 two rows behind the front Economy Row. 23, I looked every couple of days to see if the front row had become free. It did not.
Check in: 7 out of 10
I found Qantas online check in a little frustrating. It is supposed to be a five easy step process! For a start, why do I have to enter the same personal information for migration authorities every time I check in? Why cannot Qantas use my already entered name, and store my date of birth and passport information. I get tired of typing in passport number multiple times. I also found that I could not complete the check in on my Ipad as a check box refused to respond to my response. After multiple times, I switched to a lap top and started all over again. Still no seats available in row 23, sadly.
The use of the online check in meant I bypassed all of the queues at Sydney airport. The Economy line was crazy long. Even business class check in lines were long. Thanks to an express card obtained from a roving check in agent I got from airport entrance to Qantas lounge in just nine minutes.
Lounge: 7 out of 10
I was interested that I was recognised by three of the lounge staff. This was probably the result of some of those 275 flights! The Qantas business lounge was full. I commented on this to one of the staff and he told me this was the direct result of the change of Qantas hub from Singapore to Dubai. He noted that the Asian flights now depart earlier in the morning, along with the Dubai flights. As a result there is now a mad morning rush in the lounges, followed by a lull until the US bound flights depart and then the afternoons are quiet. When I was in the lounge, seats were scarce, it was noisy and there were lines for the food. It was not exactly a restful expereince.
One of the the lounge staff changed me into a seat in row 23 and assured me that there would be no one next to me – he was right.
Boarding: 10 out of 10
I walked down to gate from the Lounge as late as I could so I missed out on most of the scrum. We were welcomed very warmly as we stepped onto the craft. I strolled to my seat in row 23 and settled in. Moments later, I was greeted with a fresh orange juice, as was my neighbour across the aisle. This is something I would get from time to time as Platinum customer. I was not sure how I won the honour on this occasion.
We departed a mere three minutes after the scheduled time. Take off was very smooth and we turned into the north-west bearing for Bangkok.
On board: 7 out of 10
I am not a fan of the A330, at the best of times. To me, it feels one of the more cramped of the Airbus family. The 267 Economy seats are arranged 2-4-2. They have a pitch (distance between seats) of 31″ and a width of 17″ . The 30 Business class seats arranged 2-2-2 have a pitch of 60″ and a width of 21.5. Qantas has not had rave reviews over their economy seats. They are adequate. There are six lavatories in economy and three in business class.
There was a tiny (and I mean tiny) amenity kit on each seat. The kit includes a foul tasting tooth paste, cheap tooth brush and eye mask. The kit reflects the continuing diminishing of Qantas customer service. Once upon a time, there was more in the kit.
I asked a member of the Cabin crew if she could ask the pilot to sign my boarding pass for my 950th flight. I was very touched that Captain Pattison came down to see me and present me with a signed boarding pass.
Entertainment System: 7 out of 10
Both Economy and Business have a seatback Audio and Video on Demand System. Qantas has 20 Radio Channels, 120 CDS, 30 Movies, 120 TV programs including destination guides and 10 games. In Business, there are an additional 30 movies available. Found the selection, a little more disappointing than I have on previous occasions and found that I had seen all of the TV shows that I have any interest in. The system was a little slow in its responses when buttons were pressed.
While there is a power outlet in every business seat, there are no power outlets in economy which is a grave oversight in today’s world. This distressed a fellow passenger who (almost tearfully) said that they had a full nine-hour work schedule to complete on the laptop and needed it charged. When the laptop’s battery flattened, the crew took the laptop and charged it in business class and returned it to the passenger who watched movies on it for the Rest of the flight! (not sure what happened to the work?)
Qantas has no on-board wi-fi. They cancelled the wi-fi program after a six month trial which saw five per cent of passengers using the wi-fi. Interestingly, Qantas’ new partner Emirates is continuing to roll out their wi-fi.
Meals: 8 out of 10
The crew provided a very attractive menu card, soon after take off. I chose a beef dish which was very nice. Fresh fruit available with drinks from the galley throughout the flight.
A small pizza sub was offered just before landing. Good selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks, although the whites were not very exciting.
We had a very gentle landing into Bangkok, almost 30 minutes early. I was met at the airport by a greeter service -part of the Fast Track service. They got me from gate through customs and immigration to the railway station entrance in seven minutes! (I had no checked luggage) I will use that service again!
My Flight Rating: Overall 80% (4 out of 5).
My Overall rating of Qantas: 4.7 out of 5 (based on my 275 Qantas flights)
Skytrax Rating of Qantas : 4 star
Positives: Staff, punctuality Negatives: Entertainment system, wi-fi
Would I fly them again? Yes!