QF 490 Review MEL to SYD

Flight Number: QF 490

Departing: Melbourne Domestic Airport T1 MEL 20:00 (20:04)

Arriving: Sydney Domestic Airport T3 SYD 21:25 (21:10)

Operated By: Qantas

Class: Economy (Y)

Type: ‘Red E Deal’ Fare

Seat: 24A

Aircraft: Airbus A330-202 VH-EBS

Frequent Flyer Program: Qantas Frequent Flyer

After sampling the Qantas International Business Lounge at Sydney and JQ38 to Melbourne, I decided to try the true Qantas domestic product on the way home. Where possible, I like to fly on Qantas’ A330 aircraft over their 737 product, as the seats are slightly wider and are arranged in a 2-4-2 layout compared to 3-3. On this trip, I decided not to upgrade to Business Class, as the flight time was around an hour and I had already tried the new Business Class seats on the A330, which are amazing!!  If you do feel like upgrading though, it’d cost you 5,000 points from Flexible economy and 10,000 from standard economy; on this flight there were only 3 people seated in the J cabin.

I hate waiting in line to check-in at the airport, even in the priority line! This morning, I had no choice as it was an ‘international’ flight (JQ38 Review) though when travelling Qantas from the domestic terminal you can check-in on-line or through your phone if you have the Qantas app. I usually use the Qantas app on my iPhone as it allows me to check-in and download my boarding pass straight to my phone in the ‘Wallet’ app. Once you get to the boarding gate, you present the boarding pass to be scanned and you are issued with a paper stub at the gate.

I arrived to the airport at around 6pm and thought there would be a large line for security; to my surprise the wait didn’t take too long and I quickly reached the front of the line. Once I collected all my items from the scanner, I was selected for baggage test which took no longer than one minute, from there it was off to the lounge before my flight.

To access the Qantas lounges,  after security, turn right and follow the walkway where you will see the entrance to the Qantas Lounges on the left, from there go through the doors and up the escalator where you will need to present your boarding pass before entering. If you are a Business Class passenger, Platinum or Platinum One FF you walk through the Qantas Club lounge, another door and into the Business Lounge; today though it seemed to be quite busy, so I decided to sit against the window in the Qantas Club lounge area instead and go back and forth between the two lounges to get food as the Business Lounge has better options.

Though I prefer the Business Lounge at Melbourne, the Qantas Club is still nice and it looked suspiciously empty compared to the Business Lounge. The Qantas Club has one long line-up of food which is ample, as well as a bar area and a self-serve soft drink area; there is also a business centre with Apple Mac computers and a printer which is towards the front, right-hand side of the lounge.

View from the Qantas Club Lounge, Melbourne

©TBIBC

View from the Qantas Club Lounge, Melbourne

©TBIBC

Boarding was scheduled to begin at 19:4o, so we left the lounge about 10 minutes before and headed all the way over to our gate, which couldn’t have been any further away! In the picture above, you can see my plane’s tail in the right hand side.  Although it took me 5 minutes to walk there at a leisurely pace, it seemed that boarding was close to finishing, with only two people in the line, once my boarding pass was scanned and ticket stub printed, I found out that there were what looked to be no more than 30 other passengers on the flight, that’s a pretty small number for an A330, everyone could have their own row if we were on a 737!

As it only took 5 minutes to board everyone, the plane was ready to go and the flight crew were in good spirits as we waited for our push back to begin. Once it began, the crew performed the safety demonstration and quickly reached the runway where we were immediately cleared for take-off to Sydney. The engines roared as we ran along the runway and headed up into the sky, an amazing sunset greeted us once we were airborne…

View from seat 24A

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The view of the sunset was amazing, I even went to the back of the plane to get some photos as there wasn’t anyone seated back there and I thought it would be nice to get some photos from behind the wing, though I prefer to be seated in front of it. 🙂

Sunset from QF490

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The crew on this flight were really nice, they always had a smile and enjoyed sharing a conversation and some jokes with the passengers. Maybe it was because this flight was extremely empty, but the crew were one of the best I’ve ever had in economy class, in fact the best crews I’ve had for International and Domestic travels were always with Qantas. The meal service was served quickly after the seatbelt sign was turned off, with only one option available, it was a lamb pasta which was pretty good and better than what I expected. Drinks were served also and we were allowed to select two options if we wanted. For dessert, we were served a Lindt Chocolate ball. Below is the meal presentation.

QF490 Meal

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For this flight, I had selected seat 24A, in the second row of economy on Qantas’ refurbished A330-200 aircraft. The legroom was ample and the seat was wider than that of a 737 aircraft. If you’d like extra legroom, I’d recommend row 23 as it is the bulkhead and there is a wall seperating you and Business Class, though the curtain may get in your way as it is on an angle across the aisle, not in a straight line. Qantas use these A330-200 aircraft with the same cabins on International flights also, so it’s good to see how comfortable they are on a short haul flight to decide whether or not you’d choose it for a long-haul flight. I would think that the A330-200 seats are adequate for flights from Sydney to Hawaii which is about 9 hours; it is certainly the best option compared to a Jetstar 787 or Hawaiian A330. For flights longer than this, I would look at upgrading if possible but making sure that it is an A330 aircraft with the new Business Class which is simply amazing!

The entertainment service on the A330 was pretty good also, and more than adequate for a 1 hour flight. Upon entering the plane, the screen displays the seat number and flight statistics which is helpful (shown below). Compared to the 737 entertainment system, I found this one to be superior and offer more options including movies and tv shows, as well as content which was quite new, though I am starting to get sick of watching ‘Taken 3’ on my flights.

As we began our descent into Sydney, the captain made an announcement that we would be landing into Sydney from the north; this made me so excited, maybe a little too excited as the person across the row looked at me as if I were crazy! As I was seated on the left hand side of the aircraft, it meant that I would be able to see us fly over Sydney Harbour and the city, this is my favourite way to end a short trip or holiday and from the air, Sydney looks truly amazing!

This would have to have been one of my favourite domestic flights and I’m really thankful to the crew for being so nice throughout the flight and allowing me to take pictures of the cabin. The excellent service coupled with the views of the sunset and of Sydney easily made for a great experience and I would not hesitate to recommend this flight during the summer months at least for the stunning sunset and the almost empty cabins. I was tempted with an upgrade opportunity before the flight but decided not to and I would recommend not upgrading on short domestic flights as the points can go a lot further for a lot better on an international flight for a longer period of time.

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Flying SYD to MEL a lot? Should you fly VA or QF

Flights between Sydney and Melbourne are one of the top 10 busiest airline routes in the world and is dominated between three airlines being Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar to a lesser extent (and TigerAir to an even lesser extent still!).

If you fly this route often, you may have thought how often you would need to fly between Sydney and Melbourne before you start to gain some airline perks in the form of high status. Now, I’m going to compare Virgin Australia and Qantas to see which airline is the easiest to gain elite status on based solely on flying between Sydney and Melbourne and the associated perks which come with it.

I’m going to compare Virgin Australia and Qantas based on the parameters that you are flying on the lowest, not sale, economy fare available (usually marketed as ‘discount economy’) and you have no status what so ever with the airline; the aim is to get to Gold Status on either airline as soon as possible as this level allows you the best perks; so lets begin…

Qantas – 

Qantas require you to earn 700 status credits in order to earn Gold status within one year; at a ‘discount economy’ branded ticket, you’ll earn 10 status credits per flight between SYD and MEL meaning that you’d have to fly Sydney to Melbourne 70 times or do 35 return trips in order to qualify for the status. Better yet, to keep the status you’d need to earn 600 points every year meaning that you’d need to fly 60 times or do 30 return trips.

Virgin Australia – 

Virgin Australia require you to earn 500 status credits in order to earn Gold status within one year; at a ‘discount economy’ branded ticket, you’ll earn 10 status credits per flight between SYD and MEL meaning that you’d have to fly Sydney to Melbourne ‘only’ 50 times or do 25 return trips in order to qualify for the status. As with Qantas, you’ll need to earn a at least a certain amount of points per year in order for you to retain the status. Virgin Australia also require that you earn a certain amount of status credits per year to retain your status.

Winner – Virgin Australia

So, now we know which airline it is easier to gain status with (well done Virgin Australia), but… Qantas has a little trick up it’s sleeve in the form of lifetime status, of which there are two levels and are based on the amount of status credits you have earned ever. Qantas offer Lifetime silver status and Lifetime gold status, silver requires 7,000 status credits and gold requires 14,000 status credits; meaning that if you did nothing else than flew between Sydney and Melbourne on a ‘discounted economy’ fare, you’d need to do 350 return flights for Lifetime silver or 700 return flights for Lifetime gold status. Though this seems extremely unachievable, it really isn’t, if you’re flying between SYD and MEL enough times to earn gold status every year anyway, it’d only take you 20 years to earn Lifetime gold!!

 

Qantas and Alitalia end Frequent Flyer partnership

Via Ausbt, Qantas and Alitalia will end their frequent flyer partnership by March 31st, meaning that Qantas Frequent Frequent Flyers and Alitalia Milemiglia members will no longer earn points on each other’s flights.

So what are you missing out on??

In essence, you aren’t missing out on much; for flights within Italy, Qantas Frequent Flyers generally earn very little points for AZ flights. For example, a person flying between Rome and Milan would earn 200 QFF points in the lowest fare bracket irrespective of their Frequent Flyer tier, for a business class flight it would be only marginally better at 500 QFF points; though some points are better than none I guess.

On international flights too, flying with AZ didn’t earn you many points either. Take Milan to New York for example, where QFF members could earn points with 4 airlines being…

  • Alitalia (AZ)
  • American Airlines (AA)
  • British Airways (BA)
  • Emirates (EK)

Of these four airlines, the amount of points and status credits one could earn on an economy fare with QFF bronze status were…

  • Alitalia | 2100 | 0
  • American Airlines | 2100 | 30
  • British Airways | 1050 | 30
  • Emirates | 2100 | 0

As you can see, all airlines apart from British Airways offer the same amount of points for a standard economy fare, BUT….. On American Airlines and British Airways, you can earn more points on the same fare type if you hold a higher status as these two airlines are members of the Oneworld Alliance to which Qantas is also.

Though one will now miss out on points when flying within Italy, overall this isn’t so big a loss for Qantas Frequent Flyers. It’d be interesting to know the motive behind this ending though; Ethiad has a large stake in Alitalia and didn’t want Qantas in the loop, or maybe Qantas didn’t see it necessary to have Alitalia as a partner as most of AZ’s international flights are also operated by other Oneworld carriers.

 

QF 865 Review OOL to SYD

Flight Number: QF 865

Departing: Gold Coast Airport OOL 15:10 (15:37)

Arriving: Sydney Domestic Airport T3 SYD 17:40 (18:26)

Operated By: Qantas

Class: Economy (Y)

Type: ‘Red E Deal’ Fare

Seat: 4A

Aircraft: Boeing 737-838 VH-XZE

Frequent Flyer Program: Qantas Frequent Flyer

To conclude a short holiday to the Gold Coast, I decided to try fly the Qantas 737 home to Sydney for what would have been about a one hour and ten minute flight if not for the severe weather in Sydney which forced a late departure from OOL and left us in holding pattern after holding pattern until we finally were able to land; even once we had landed, we had to wait on the aircraft a mere “10 metres short” (Captain) from the aero-bridge as there was lightning meaning that no ground staff were allowed on the ground and the aero-bridge couldn’t be remotely operated. None the less, the flight itself was quite nice, as is to be expected from Qantas whilst the Captain and First Officer were excellent with continuous updates about connecting flights and our flight path into Sydney.

For most domestic flights, apart from those departing from certain ports including Hamilton Island for some bizarre reason, Qantas allows you to check-in online or through the Qantas App 24 hours before your flight’s departure. I chose to check-in using the Qantas App on my iPhone which allows you to gain your boarding pass and download it straight to ‘Passbook’ or ‘Wallet’ to be scanned at the gate as a normal boarding pass. If you have checked luggage which I did not, you simply take it to one of the remote Qantas kiosks at the airport, print a label for it there and send it off at the bag drop area.

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Qantas App for IPhone Boarding Pass

Both express entry and normal entry lines leading to security at OOL were pretty much empty when I arrived and within a matter of no more than 2 minutes I had my carry on ready to be scanned, from there it took a minute for it to be scanned and for me to gather my valuables before I was off and into the terminal.

As I was running a little bit late, I didn’t have any time to go to the lounge, it is located on the left hand side directly after security and can be found by the massive ‘red roo’ on the wall next to the entrance. A note to Business Class passengers, Qantas operate only the Qantas Club lounge at Gold Coast Airport which offers a little bit less than a Business Lounge and is a bit busier also. I have flown both Qantas and Virgin Australia from OOL to SYD and I would recommend the Virgin Australia lounge by far over the QC lounge as it offers a better atmosphere, better view and is quieter as it only caters for Business Class, Gold or Platinum Frequent Flyers.

Boarding began early with a dedicated line for Business Class passengers or Frequent Flyers with Gold status or above, this line was very short compared to the line for economy which was quite long, indicating that the plane was pretty much full in Economy as well as Business Class. There are no aero-bridges at all at Gold Coast Airport which means once your boarding pass is scanned, you walk out on to the tarmac and up a set of stairs to the plane, for passengers seated in rows 1 to 16 you enter from the front stairs and for those in rows 16 to 29 (or 30 depending on the 737 layout) you need to enter from the rear. Another note is that if you use the Qantas App and have your boarding pass stored on your phone, you will be issued with a paper stub at the boarding gate as pictured below.

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All passengers had been loaded on to the plane in good time for the scheduled departure and I was eager to get going end enjoy the view from seat 4A, but……

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Qantas Boeing 737-838 VH-XZE at OOL

An announcement from the First Officer came overhead with an introduction and naming of the crew followed by some information concerning the flight path. It seemed that we would have to wait on the ground for 20 minutes after scheduled departure before we were able to take off and head for Sydney due to the weather and available slots at SYD, not a problem, there was plenty of legroom in 4A and the flight attendants were offering water to everyone and apologising for the delay and were trying to gather information about connecting flights for other passengers. A little delay was no problem, we were advised that the flight time would still be 1 hour and 5 minutes into Sydney.

Surely enough, after 20 minutes on the ground, the doors were closed and stairs were retracted, not a moment too soon as I was beginning to melt in the sun from the 32 degree heat and cloudless sky in the Gold Coast. The safety video played with the cabin crew displaying all the safety features. It is worth noting that the television screen is located in the armrest in row 4 meaning that you cannot view the safety video as the screen must be stowed until the seatbelt sign is turned off. After the safety demonstration it was a short taxi to the runway where we were immediately cleared for take-off towards the north.

From the left on the plane you could see the Gold Coast and glistening Surfers Paradise beach with little specks of people basking in the afternoon sunlight. We then made a series of right turns and began heading inland from the coast, an interesting flight path I thought to myself though probably an attempt to slow us down for our slot at Sydney Airport. The flight path looked like this…..

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Screenshot of QF865 flight path from Flightradar 24

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Screenshot of QF865 flight path over Sydney from Flightradar 24

What became apparent soon after we flew over Newcastle was that we would be in for a bumpy ride to Sydney, the First Officer again made an announcement about our flight indicating that we would be beginning our decent into Sydney and that there were thunderstorms in the area with the expectation that there would be some slight turbulence closer to Sydney though it proved to be a bit more dramatic than first thought!

 As can be seen on the close-up image of QF865 over Sydney was that we began our first approach to Sydney in an attempt to land towards the north and it is at the point where the colour of the path changes from dark blue to light blue and green indicating a decrease in altitude where we first encountered some severe turbulence, following this we continued on our path to land and continued our decent as indicated by the yellow part of the path. This attempt to land ultimately proved unfruitful and the decision was made to increase altitude, loop ‘for a little bit’ and then land towards the south with the First Officer again relaying this information to passengers. From this point onwards people became anxious and coupled with the turbulence some people felt uneasy. Beyond the point on the map marked with A38, we began another approach towards the south from the Northern Beaches where the turbulence again became uneasy, most people were comfortable with the slight swaying from side to side though the constant and sudden drops and lightning again made people uneasy though it was to end shortly as our approach and landing were fruitful with the plane gliding into Sydney with a slight thud upon landing though in the conditions it was barely noticeable. A round of applause resonated through the cabin and people were relieved to be out of the storm, though the ordeal wasn’t over yet.

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Delay index at Sydney Airport, Screenshot from Flightradar 24

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As the saying goes… A picture tells a thousand words!!

We had finally landed, though the ordeal wasn’t over yet! It was a slow taxi to the terminal where the Captain announced that we were “10 metres short” of the aero-bridge and that we would have to wait until the lightning had passed before we would be able to move to the bridge and ground-crew were allowed back out on to the tarmac. We were advised that we would be able to take off our seatbelts, move around the cabin or wait for the flight attendants to serve water. From here it was a ‘short’ 30ish minute wait before we were finally allowed to disembark.

Enough about the weather though. I had chosen seat 4A for this flight, a window seat on the left hand side in the first row of Economy right behind Business Class which was separated only by a thin curtain. At booking, row 4 is typically set aside for members of the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge with other rows towards the front set aside for other high tier members; in essence, the higher the tier, the closer to the front you can get, though this doesn’t mean that they are unattainable for people with a lower frequent flyer status. My advice is to check the availability for this row during T80 and hopefully you’ll get lucky, don’t be fooled though, lots of people are looking for them too. Here’s why…..

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Seat 4A aboard a Qantas 737

You are in the first row of economy meaning that you’ll disembark right after the Business Class passengers. There is also a copious amount of legroom between your seat and the Business Class seat in front, there is no wall dividing the classes, just a curtain which hangs above the seat; I had my legs stretched as though I was in Business Class too!! Unlike an exit row which probably has less legroom, you don’t have to pay any more for the privilege of stretching your legs out. There is a slight catch though, the tray-table and the television are in the armrest which means your seat is ever so slightly narrower than the others and you cannot watch the in-flight entertainment until the seatbelt sign has been turned off. Another issue which may arise is when the person in row 3 of Business Class reclines their seat, though the person on my flight didn’t, it would reduce your space though probably just as much if not less than a person in economy reclining in front of you due to the large amount of space; the tray-table may also be a bit flimsy to work efficiently with your laptop on also. None the less, I would without a doubt recommend this seat over any of the other economy seats, though to be fair, I’ve never tried any other row on a Qantas 737 but have on a Virgin 737.

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Seat 4A aboard a Qantas 737

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Plenty of legroom in row 4 aboard a Qantas 737

I usually regard Qantas’ cabin crew service as one of the best in the world no matter what class of travel, though on this flight there was something missing, it was enthusiasm. On many Qantas flights I have encountered crews which were happy to have a joke and were enjoying themselves and the company of their passengers though on this flight it seemed that everything the crew was doing was a chore and there were no smiles what so ever. An announcement from one of the crew even said it it was a good thing that we were delayed because it meant everything else was as well, not a good message to tell people who have to go through this whole ordeal again on connecting flights which the crew weren’t able to gather information about. Regardless, the Captain and First Officer made up for the somewhat lacklustre effort from the crew through their regular though not over the top announcements, their announcements were a real relief to some with relevant and precise information given about our flight path, turbulence and wait time given. It was somewhat ironic that the crew were giving smiles when we were disembarking the plane, almost as if they were glad to see us gone!

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Refreshments aboard QF865

For a flight which is usually no longer than 1 and a half hours, the snacks and drinks were adequate as well as the entertainment on-board, though I didn’t watch anything, there was a wide variety of movies and television shows. Row 4 on the 737 is definitely a highly sought after set of seats especially on business routes compared to the leisure route of QF865, though if you can, I would certainly recommend sitting in this row, even in the middle seat just for the legroom. Despite the low effort from the crew, I must however thank the Captain and First Officer greatly for their expertise shown throughout the flight, it was well beyond what I have experienced from any other airline service and they should truly be commended.

Earn QFF Points for restaurant reservations

This is a sweet trick, especially if you like dessert!! You can now earn 100 points per person at restaurants with reservations made through the Qantas Restaurants website. There are a wide variety of restaurants to choose from though not all are available as the service is provided through Dimmi restaurant reservations only. It should be noted that your reservation doesn’t have to be for dinner, but at some restaurants you can book a table for breakfast or lunch and still earn points.

Here’s the link…. http://restaurants.qantaspoints.com/

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Qantas ‘T80’

Qantas like to restrict certain seats to high tier members of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, they are usually seats with extra legroom, or those towards the front of the plane. Just because you don’t have the status doesn’t mean that you can’t get these seats, it just means that you have to work a little harder for them. The term ‘T80’ refers to the time at which these seats become available on the Qantas website, around 80 hours before your flight departs the blocked seats will become available. On my upcoming flight I tried this trick and found out that the seats become available between 80 and 65 hours before your flight; if they don’t become available then, you and everyone else will then have one more chance to choose them through on-line check-in from 24 hours before the flight.

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The two images (screenshots from Expertflyer) show a Qantas A332 aircraft before ‘T80’ (Left) with many seats covered in a white and blue cross whereas the same flight after ‘T80’ (Right) has significantly less seats blocked though some still remain which may indicate that someone is sitting there, they are marked as ‘exit row’ or ‘extra legroom’ seats or they are unavailable for some other reason.

Apart from giving you more seating options, it also gives you a pretty good idea of the plane’s loading, in this case it is almost empty 2 days before the flight!

This trick is especially helpful if you are in a rush to get off the plane and want to sit at the front or if you are travelling in a large group and could not get good seats together at booking. I managed to get 3 seats to myself on an Emirates A380 to Sydney which meant I had plenty of room to sleep across the seats as well as plenty of stares from the envious people sitting across the row!!

The point of this is to make your trip a little bit more comfortable, especially on a long-haul flight and at no cost I think it would be silly not to do it!

SYD to LHR with Oneworld Alliance

There are plenty of airlines which offer flights from Sydney to London via their hub city; some of these include the likes of Qantas, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar ………. The list goes on ……….. But what if you want to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points on them?? Is it just restricted to flying on a ‘QF’ flight?? It turns out that there are more options than you may think, don’t forget that you can earn Qantas FF Points aboard it’s Oneworld alliance members as well. Below are the Oneworld members in question, their stop over point and how many points you’ll earn with them..

 The Oneworld alliance is made up of the following airlines, of which the ones in bold operate to Australia….

  • Airberlin

  • American Airlines

  • British Airways

  • Cathay Pacific

  • Finnair

  • Iberia

  • Japan Airlines

  • LAN

  • TAM

  • Malaysia Airlines

  • Qantas

  • Qatar Airways

  • Royal Jordanian

  • S7 Airlines

  • Sri Lankan Airlines

From this, we now know that 8 of the 15 Oneworld airlines fly to Australia. What does this mean to us?? It means that Australian Oneworld members (usually as Qantas Frequent Flyers) have a huge choice between airlines when flying overseas. Take two large hubs, Sydney and London, all the Oneworld airlines flying to Australia offer a one stop service to London (except LAN) meaning that the point conscious traveller still has a wide variety of choice. The table below outlines the route per airline and the Qantas Frequent Flyer points earned as the lowest frequent flyer on the lowest fare.Table

EDIT: QANTAS FREQUENT FLYERS EARN 1850 POINTS FROM SYD TO DOH, COMBINING TO A TOTAL OF 2600 POINTS BETWEEN SYD AND LHR

As show in the table, the amount of points one can earn fluctuates massively between airlines; this ranges from 2625 all the way to 6200 points on a basic economy fare. Naturally, the airline to which you hold a frequent flyer membership will offer the most points with their airline but if you prefer to fly with another carrier or there is an exceptionally good deal with one of the other Oneworld airlines it’s worth having a play around to see who offers the best rate, after all its not about points earned per flight but rather points earned per dollar spent on the flight which is worth your while the most.

QF 10 Review LHR to DXB

Flight Number: QF 10

Departing: London Heathrow LHR 12:45

Arriving: Dubai DXB

Operated By: Qantas

Class: Business (J)

Type: Upgrade from Flexible Economy

Seat: 13E

Aircraft: Airbus Industrie A380-842 VH-OQH

Frequent Flyer Program: Qantas Frequent Flyer

Frequent Flyer Points Earned: 3400

One week before the flight I chose to place my bid for an upgrade from Flexible Economy to Business Class, normally this would be cutting it fine, though I had been watching ExpertFlyer from three weeks prior to see how many seats were still available; I’m a window seat person and was waiting to see if one would become available, in the end it didn’t 😦 none the less though I managed to snag a seat in the front, smaller section of Business class. A word of warning, when you place a points upgrade from Economy to Business with Qantas be sure to deselect the “If no Business class seats are available place a bid for Premium economy” option on International flights, even though its for less points I don’t think it is worth it.

In total it cost me 15,000 points from Flexible Economy though if you were in standard Economy it would cost 24,000 points each.

Qantas didn’t allow me to check in for this flight on-line, nor was I able to book the chaffer service as it was a points upgrade. I’d recommend to make sure to get to the airport early and head straight to the check-in desks. Despite this though, when I arrived the line for economy was short with business and first not having to wait. The process was seamless, with the lady at the business desk welcoming me with a smile and printing my pass in good time; I hate it when they circle parts of your boarding pass, I know how to read!! Luckily, she didn’t. From there it was a short walk to the priority security screening.

Surely we’ve all heard of those stories about how long and arduous everything at LHR is, security is no exception; having said that, it didn’t really seem that bad though.

Qantas customers in First or Business Class or those with Platinum One, Platinum or Gold QFF status flying on a QF Flight or Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire holders are able to access the British Airways Galleries Club T3 lounge with one guest whereas Qantas Club members and their guest must use the American Airlines Admirals Club lounge.

As a Business Class passenger, I headed for the British Airways lounge which was easy to locate, once through the long corridor I was greeted by a British Airways employee at the door where my boarding pass was scanned. Once past some oddly placed seating in a small corridor, you walk through a large seating area with a buffet along the wall which was well stocked.

The Lounge was pleasant, it was clean and staff were quick to pick up plates and glasses though looked disinterested and not in a mood to talk at all! The view wasn’t all that bad even though the windows are a bit small and don’t let much light into the lounge, mind you its always cloudy in London!

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View from The British Airways Lounge T3

From the lounge, it was a 5 minute walk or 4 minute travelator ride to gate 1. Shortly after arriving at the gate boarding began.

Boarding began on schedule with passengers called up by class. As Premium Economy is located directly behind Business class on the A380, it seemed quite busy in the main Business cabin with lots of passengers trying to pass to get to PE; other than that the process was smooth with passengers greeted with hello Mr…, hello Mrs…. with drinks served to our seats quickly.

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QF10 Boarding Pass

Despite missing out on a window seat, 13E proved to be a good choice, it was in the smaller more quiet Business cabin and there were plenty of flight attendants to cater to everyone’s needs. The good thing about being in the middle (E or F) is that no one will climb over you to get to the aisle. Below is the Seatguru diagram of the Business Cabin…

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Screenshot from Seatguru of Qantas A380 Business Class Cabin

Despite row 13 being highlighted in yellow, there was barely any noise from the galley behind and the bathrooms were no bother as it was closer to the galley than the cabin as there was a coat closet between the seat which acted a bit like a sound barrier; that coupled with the curtain being drawn made the cabin quite for sleeping. A word of warning though, aisle seats in row 11 (B,E,F,J) will experience some light from the ‘Qantas-Couch’ area at the front of the A380 as the lights in that area are not dimmed and may become annoying when someone moves the curtain to pass through the cabin.3533b3_e5f8f14b2c32475ab12222cd126a4a32

The above photo is of seat 13E with blankets and pillows for the flight, note that the headphones are my own but a set is supplied which can just be seen to the left of the pillow.

 The Qantas A380 Business Class seat reclines to a fully flat bed and coupled with what I think may be the softest duvet in the Business Class skies made for an easy and more than satisfying sleep on the seven hour trip to Dubai. The seat also features a massage function with different settings which make for a really refreshing wakeup.

As per usual, the cabin crew were attentive and intuitive, always coming around to check on you, asking if you wanted a drink or if there was anything they could do for you. The intuitive attendant working my row saw that I had reclined my seat to almost horizontal whilst watching a move after the cabin had been dimmed for sleeping, during that time I went to the bathroom and as I returned he kindly said “Mr …. your bed has been made, would you like an ice cream to complement your movie?”  It was such a nice gesture, instead of me asking to have it done and feeling bad, the attendant kindly used his own initiative and made it for me. Some of the crew members were even keen for a chat when they noticed me having a drink on the ‘Qantas Couch’, they were really nice but what really got them was that I was travelling without my parents!! They had a good laugh with me about that!

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After 7 hours it was time to leave the plane at Dubai, it would be continuing to Melbourne though I wouldn’t. I really enjoyed the flight and the crew were very professional throughout. An international upgrade is the best way to use your points as opposed to a domestic upgrade considering that it only cost me 15,000 from flexible economy for seven hours compared to 10,000 for the 5 hour domestic flight from Sydney to Perth; the International Business Cabin is by far better than the domestic equivalent though Qantas are improving their A330-200 & -300  cabins to meet the high standards, if you were flying a 737 I would highly recommend saving the points for another day.

JQ 38 Review SYD to MEL

Flight Number: JQ38

Departing: Sydney International Airport T1, SYD 09:10

Arriving: Melbourne International Airport T1, MEL 10:40

Operated By: Jetstar

Class: Economy (Y)

Type: Paid economy ‘starter’

Seat: 34A

Aircraft: Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner VH-VKH

Frequent Flyer Program: Qantas Frequent Flyer

Frequent Flyer Points Earned: 0

You might not really want to fly with Jetstar, neither do I, none the less, here is a review of their service and yes there is method to my madness. The flight number JQ38 is an international service originating at Bali Denpasar travelling to Sydney with irregular services continuing to Melbourne as an international flight. If your dates just so happen to match or you don’t mind coordinating your travel with this flight, it is a pretty good way to get from Sydney to Melbourne on a flight that isn’t your standard 737 or A320.

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Text message alert from Jetstar

Though this is technically a domestic segment, Jetstar does not allow you to check-in on-line as the plane departs from the Sydney International Terminal. You are also required to carry a valid passport as your identification though it will not get stamped. Although you are not able to check-in on-line the check-in line was non-existent when I arrived, though I imagine it would get busy 30 minutes before check-in closes (I arrived as soon as check-in opened so that I could have as much time as possible at the lounge). It is also worth noting that you must be checked-in at the airport no later than 60 minutes before the scheduled departure, which is a bit more restrictive than a domestic flight.

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Screenshot from Jetstar.com

Once you’ve received your boarding pass, head off to the departure area and through the doors to the passport check area. Immediately after you get to the end of the corridor turn right and join the line with sign showing an ‘orange D sticker’ as should be shown on your boarding pass. This line is shorter and you will not need to fill out a departure declaration form, from there a Customs officer will check your boarding pass and passport as if you were travelling internationally and you will then be directed to the security screening area as per normal.

For persons travelling on JQ38, you will be able to access the Qantas International Business Lounge if you are travelling in Business Class, are a Platinum One, Platinum or Gold Qantas Frequent Flyer or are a Qantas Club Member. As I fell into that category, I headed straight for the lounge after clearing security and walking through the duty free of which you cannot buy anything and I find tacky that you have to walk through. After you clear this, head straight and to the upward escalators to the left hand side, from there walk along the podium to the lounge. A review of the lounge is coming soon..

The boarding process began on time and with little difficulty; it began with Business Class passengers, those with children or in need of assistance and finally everyone else, note that Qantas Platinum One members or below do not receive priority boarding on Jetstar flights, well, at-least not this one. which was disappointing!

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JQ38 boarding passes in the Qantas International Business Lounge

Jetstar have three classifications for their economy seats on the 787. They are standard, upfront and extra legroom with each coming at a different price. To select any seat on a Jetstar flight costs you $5 or you can purchase a ‘plus bundle’ for $35 which gives you free standard seating selection, Qantas Points, Checked baggage and a $5 inflight food voucher. As this was only a day trip and the cost of the plus bundle was almost as much as the sale ticket, i decided only to take the $5 seating selection.

 All seats aboard the 787 are pretty much the same, in the sense that thay are tight and offer little legroom, though it is bareable for a 1 hour flight; I couldn’t imagine sitting in it for more than 2 hours! It is worth noting though that the 787 economy seats have 1 extra inch of pitch compared to the Jetstar A320 and A321 aircraft.

The cabin layout is in a 3-3-3 configuration, I chose a window seat on the wing which had a nice view and wasn’t too loud being near the engine.

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Screenshot of Jetstar 787 seating from Seatguru

Each seat comes with an entertainment system which you can access for $10, for a flight of 1 hour it isn’t at all worth the money though on a longer flight it does have a nice variety of films and TV shows. The only thing good about the entertainment system on this flight was that I was able to charge my phone and watch the air-show at no cost.3533b3_f490af9b6d8f4081adfe4196ab953772

Service in the economy cabin was quite good, the flight crew were eager to distribute pre purchased meals and sell items to other customers just after the seat belt sign had been turned off, though with this the process felt a little rushed and lacked a bit of courtesy. None the less, for a 1 hour flight it was adequate and no issues arose.

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Dust on the air vents

 

Once the plane had landed at Melbourne, it was a short taxi to our gate where we promptly disembarked and headed for the exit where our boarding passes were again stamped. Note that there is no priority line when exiting Melbourne International for domestic passengers so there can be a little wait. After this you pass through the baggage collection area and then on to the bag check area, here your boarding pass will be taken from you as if it were a declaration card for an international passenger, the customs officer told me that “no-one is allowed to keep them”.

For a flight of only one hour it is quite an ordeal compared to a normal domestic flight between Sydney and Melbourne, I would recommend this flight only to people with a Qantas FF status above Gold or QC Member to access the International Business Lounge or to anyone who just wants to try the 787 on a short trip. If given the choice between International or Domestic, I would choose the International purely for the lounge access though if you are in a hurry it would be best to travel on a domestic flight. There really isn’t much difference between the Jetstar 787 and A320 from a seating point of view either.