After a few good days in Perth, it was time to return to the best state in Australia. Given my new love of lounges, this meant an early arrival at Perth Airport
11am- kerbside at Perth
Check-in was busy today, after a short line I got to the kiosk with the very familiar welcome screen
It might be time to migrate to mobile/online check-in.
Printed boarding pass- thank the cheap paper for the crumpled appearance
At security, the line for Business/Platinum was longer than Economy- either due to plenty of frequent flyers or a lack of enforcement. I took the Economy line. Following a random explosives test I was through and at the Qantas Club 10 minutes after arrival. I was surprised to learn that there was no Business Lounge for Perth- just the Qantas Club.
The Qantas Club had great views, with the main focus being Gate 14 but also Runway 03/21. And there were plenty of exotic airlines like South African Airways along with interesting destinations.
Seats with a view
As this was my first Perth Qantas Club experience, I’ll do a quick runthrough. The first interesting note is the division of the lounge- one part is for traditional business people wearing suits, while the other part seems to be for those part of the mining boom, where fluoro clothing is a must. Of course the sections aren’t defined, but that’s just how people seemed to congregate. Of course, casuals like me just fitted in the middle.
Wines- I found the Wolf Blass enjoyable during my visit
“Comfort food”- chicken with lentils. Better than it looks.
The usual Qantas antipasto-style fare
Wolf Blass and antipasto for me
And later some coffee and some of the lentils and chicken
It was a decent lounge, although a separate J space would be nice. I also used the bathrooms and they were clean and modern.
A few aircraft movements
After a relaxing five or so hours in the lounge (the time just flies by…), it was 10 minutes until boarding, so I went to Gate 12 and was greeted with this sight:
10 minutes out and no aircraft? It became quite obvious that we would be delayed, but there had been no change to the FIDS in the lounge or anywhere in the airport. Finally, a few minutes from scheduled boarding, there was an announcement that due to maintenance, there would be a new departure of 5:20pm, with boarding at 5pm.
At 4:52pm, the A330 visible in the distance was towed over
It turned out to be VH-EBI, which meant I’d finally be able to try out the QF Skybed for the first time.
All the crew were waiting to board- could they not have been bussed over earlier to carry out the various safety checks and preflight duties to save time?
There was no information as the revised boarding time came and went. Finally, at 5:20pm, boarding was called. I felt that there was a lack of information being provided and that Qantas really could have done better here.
Down the jetway
Date: 19 August 2013
Flight: QF 768
Route: PER (YPPH) – MEL (YMML)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-202
Quick facts: This aircraft’s first flight was on 17/01/2008. The aircraft is 5.6 years old. This registration previously belonged to a QF 742 until 1991 (that 742 is now 5N-PPP). Internationally configured A330 called “Yarra Valley”.
Scheduled / Actual Departure (gate): 5:00pm / 6:02pm UTC + 8
Scheduled/ Actual Arrival (gate): 10:30pm / 11:02pm UTC + 10
Flight Time (gate to gate) / Scheduled: 3h00m / 3h30m
A warm welcome and address by name at the door, and I was on my way to seat 4K. The international A330 is a real contrast to the domestic one, with considerably more personal space and a lower density. Business Class (36 seats) is divided into two cabins with 3 rows of 6 seats. My seat of 4K was in the second cabin, a bulkhead seat.
The second J cabin
The view from 4K
Legroom in contrast to the last flight
7 minutes after boarding, I was offered juice or water. At least they change the juice variety between flights.
It appeared that boarding had been completed, with just 3 passengers in our cabin of 18 seats. Why can’t every flight be a light load? I guess you have to fly First to get that, but it changes the flight feeling considerably.
Despite boarding being completed there was a fair bit of sitting, waiting. The sun began to set.
Thankfully the IFE was available. It was the older type, and you could tell that the system used some type of Internet Explorer interface.
The captain came over the P/A, apologising the delay citing the usual excuse of a ‘late arrival of the inbound aircraft’. This caused the regular maintenance to be delayed. We couldn’t leave until the maintenance paperwork was finalised, hence the long wait on the ground.
To kill time, orders were taken for dinner, so I turned to the menu.
My opinion on this was made clear in the last part. The stand out dish for me was the Asian Cold Cut Plate. Qantas seems to make a big deal about its toasted sandwiches (see this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0AknMRlvoM), so it was probably worth trying for the main.
Somehow, a 20 minute delay had become an hour, and just after 6pm, we were pushed back, with the taxiway and runway lights coming on at Perth Airport. The safety video was played with the flight attendant also giving a private manual demonstration for me and the passenger next door. Thanks to the bulkhead screen, we had vision to go with the audio.
The video went like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgvw3kN6sAw
Not the best, not the worst- lots of A380 shots for an A330 video. The interesting point was having different characters like baggage handlers talking about safety.
After a brief taxi to Runway 21, we were soon on our way. You could feel that the flight crew were in a rush with a quick taxi and barely slowing down for corners. Before we had even lined up on the runway the engines were spooling up and we were on our way into the dusk sky.
After an uneventful climb the seatbelt sign was turned off and it was time to testdrive the Skybed. We eventually got to FL410.
The sunset was over in minutes
It reminded me of the MH Recaro A330 Business Class product, but more comfortable and with a better privacy shell. In bed mode, it wasn’t really long enough for me and sloped too much, but this is an old product whereas MH’s is ‘new’.
I setup the moving map on my empty seat next door, and put on ‘An Idiot Aborad’ on my screen
In a few minutes, the drinks cart came around, and I had the same as on the previous flight
The hot savoury was a quiche with sundried tomatoes and cheese. The crew were attentive and I was offered seconds on everything including the nuts and quiche.
Heading to the coast
About 20 minutes after drinks, the table was set
I don’t get the ‘bowl of lettuce’ salad, but the plate of Asian meats was spot on. Perfectly cooked, great seasoning and sauce.
Next came the toasted sandwich
It was simple so you can’t mess it up, but the chicken, swiss cheese and coleslaw flavour combination worked, and the dish came out piping hot meaning that I had to leave it to cool off. Wine was topped up regularly.
During the meal, the mood lighting was activated
I had to try the cheese of the day, which was very good
The usual coffee offering came around
The table was cleared
With the meal done, there was only about 90 minutes left on the flight
Reclining the Skybed, and the shell had a cleverly-placed reading light
And easy-reach controls
I got up for a walk- rear cabin panorama
Business Class toilet
Back at the seat, a glass of water had been placed, and I kicked back to watch the humour of Carl Baron.
A word on the crew, I think they were probably as good or better than the last flight, but what made the difference was the empty cabin. You really get the individual attention and the whole experience feels more special. They were proactive on drinks refills and so on as well. It’s these flights that made flying so addictive.
There were great views to be had from the window of the cloud formations and coastline, but the camera couldn’t capture these.
Soon, it was time for descent
Moodlights back on
Hot towel- QF only seems to do this once now, at least domestically which is a shame.
For some reason, gate-to-gate IFE wasn’t available and the system was turned off. This campaign was a few years back now (probably the same time as the aircraft’s first flight).
We followed the Wendy Two STAR into Runway 34, which offered some great views of Geelong, and over to the Mornington Peninsula. But the highlight was flying to Melbourne city and making a tight turn to line up with 34.
Back on the ground, only about 30 minutes late
We pulled into Gate 21.
Last look at VH-EBI
After thanking the crew, I headed to the waiting Skybus back to the city. Just 6 minutes after disembarking we were on our way into the CBD.
On arrival at Southern Cross, it was a smooth connection to the very last train of the night which would take me back home
IMPRESSIONS QF 776
Check-in: The self-serve part was easy, and with no checked bags, the formalities were hassle-free
Lounge: A separate J lounge would be nice, but otherwise offered great views and a relaxing space
Departure: Poor communication of the delay to passengers
Onboard: The hard product was excellent for a flight of this length. Just what was needed. Flights with a light load are great and this was no exception.
Food and Beverages: Menu a bit plain, not sure about lettuce salad but the Asian meats, toasted sandwich and cheese were well executed and tasted great.
Arrival: Time was made up in the air, and it was easy as with most domestic arrivals
Qantas redeemed itself here by offering a better hard product and stronger service. These are the sort of flights that make me want to keep flying, so it was pretty enjoyable. I’d love to fly Qantas more to test their consistency, and try Virgin, which will happen one day.
My previous reports on A.NET
Not Another MEL-SYD Trip Report..this Time On QF J (by themit9 Feb 1 2013 in Trip Reports)
Returning Home With MH Business HKG-KUL-MEL (3/3) (by themit9 Dec 17 2012 in Trip Reports)
Poor Man’s First- EK A380 First HKG-BKK-HKG (2/3) (by themit9 Dec 10 2012 in Trip Reports)
To Asia’s Vegas With MH Business MEL-KUL-HKG (1/3) (by themit9 Dec 5 2012 in Trip Reports)
SQ Vs MH | MEL – SIN – BKK – KUL – MEL In C Part 2 (by themit9 Apr 13 2012 in Trip Reports)
SQ Vs MH | MEL – SIN – BKK – KUL – MEL In C Part 1 (by themit9 Apr 8 2012 in Trip Reports)
Feel free to read some of my other aviation and non-aviation articles at http://mdtravelblog.com/
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