Perth International - Singapore Changi Terminal One
QF 071 / BA 7375 / AZ 7771 / AF 9083
Airbus A330-303 (VH-QPE, Port Lincoln)
ATD-ATA: 1605– 2140H
Duration: approx 5hr 35min
16 June 2005
It is the end of the holiday. All the 8 days were very well spent with loads of shopping and sight seeing accomplished. Other than serviced-apartments in Perth city itself, we rented a beach house along Prevelly Beach in Margaret River, and we had a lovely little cottage in Albany. Still, the terrible weather accompanied us throughout our stay in Western Australia, but that didn’t stop us from visiting the vineyards, exploring caves and peeking our noses into a lighthouse in Augusta.
It was almost impossible to sleep at night because of the howling wind moaning against the windows which was kinda creepy. And hail! I experienced hail in Margaret River! I thought it was rain until I saw the so-called water droplets bouncing on the floor. Yeah, I have only seen hail once in my life so you can imagine my excitement.
Fast forward to the last day… Alas! Back to reality as we quietly drive in the heavy rain along the Tonkin Highway towards Perth International Airport. Sigh, it sadly never stopped raining throughout our ENTIRE stay. Funny how we were all so silent, each of us in our own little world, wishing we could stay a few more days. But we all know that the “few more days” would never end if we really wanted to extend our stay.
Here are some shots of the airport.
We had a male check in staff (he never wore a name tag, so I never got his name). Either it was his first day at work, or he was just incompetent – PERIOD. Although I never made a fuss, it was annoying as he checked us in ONE BY ONE. He needed every one of us to be present in front of him with our tickets and passports individually before he tagged our bags. I asked if we could be checked in as a group as I had all 5 of our passports.
“No, Sir, we can’t do that.”
So all of us checked in one by one at the same time identifying which bags we wanted to go into the cargo hold.
We ended up standing there for a good 25mins before he finally completed checking us in. Before he began his proceedings, I asked for window seats. Now that he completed tagging our bags, he looked at me and said…
“Sir, you are all assigned the middle seats but you said you wanted window, right?”
And so he tore our boarding passes one by one which the machine spat out earlier – AND HE STARTED THE WHOLE PROCESS AGAIN!
I swore I almost tore my hair out. Nevertheless, we did get our window seats, but all the 5 of us managed to get ourselves dispersed to all corners of the plane. I was to mentally exhausted to try and rectify the situation and we all decided it would be better to swap seats ourselves once we boarded the aircraft. QANTAS should really look into this.
Now to the viewing gallery. Once you reach that area, it is like a step back in time. While the rest of the building has been refurbished, it is obvious that the viewing gallery was left out. The retro fittings sure reeks memories of days gone by.
Perth International is very quiet. The international flights for that afternoon were not due yet so only one Garuda 737-400 bound for Bali was docked at Gate 54. Sometime within the next hour, arrivals from KUL and SIN were due (MA, QF and SQ) all within minutes of each other but I was bored stiff.
After watching the landing of the SQ 777 and a QF A330 (VH-QPE, the same plane that brought me to Perth), I decided to proceed towards airside.
While I was making my way down, MH 125 arrived from KUL and thus, the departure area now had passengers boarding 2 777s and 1 A330. And boy it was a crowd! This just puts into perspective how small the airport is.
1505H: Announcement for passengers on QF71 that the flight was going to be delayed due to the late inbound of aircraft. Hmm…
Neither of us were in the mood for shopping. We strangely felt fatigued and all we wanted to do was to get onto the plane and go home. Since there was time, I chanced upon the other 777s of SIA and MAS and by the look of the rudders in the photos below give you an idea of how windy it was that day.
1525H: QF71 is now boarding families with kids and passengers requiring special assistance.
After those announcements, the gate agents go quiet again until 20 mins later when they begin the boarding proceedings for passengers at the rear of the aircraft. Since Perth Airport boards with only one aero-bridge, it is a painstaking process when you have a wide bodied aircraft with full capacity.
“Thank you and have a nice flight!”
We have to proceed down several flights of stairs until we reach the arrival concourse, which is where the entrance to the aero-bridge is situated.
1605H: We finally settle in our seats when the CSO comes on the air with his welcome address, and he ends like this “…. After we are airborne, when the seatbelt signs are off, we advise that you keep your belts fastened and do not go outside.”
It was dry humor which drew few chuckles in the cabin.
1606H: Cabin crew arms doors. Push back commences.
The safety demo is done manually even though the PTVs are activated. I observed something about the QF uniforms for the crew. It was in all different styles! The senior ones had a suit with gold buttons and a mandarin collar (male and female), while the junior ones wore the brown blouse with the aboriginal motifs for the females, and a normal short sleeved white shirt with a motif-tie and black vest for the male. Some female FAs had skirts while others wore pants – which I thought was a very smart ensemble.
1614H: Taxi towards the runway.
We held at the marshalling point for a long time and didn’t take off until 10 mins later. A final look at Perth before I say goodbye…
1645H: CSO – “Ladies and gentlemen, we would like to apologize for the delay of the flight. But since we are a little behind time, some passengers had indicated that they would like to have their meals as soon as possible and so we would be combining our bar service together with the meals”
I wonder who did the CSO speak with? Meanwhile, Tamara, a gem of a flight attendant, came down the aisle with kiddy packs and a little later, headsets for us all to enjoy the Q-Entertainment. She was always full of smiles and was ever obliging. A notch up for her!
Menus were also handed out for this flight.
1720H: Where are our meals? The special meals are brought out first as we all wait patiently for our turn.
Meanwhile, the entertainment system was giving us a lot of headache. Lots of passengers were ringing the crew-call button. I was thinking “unlucky blokes” until my screen stopped moving, so I had Kim (from Kath and Kim) with her mouth wide open but frozen in time. Sigh… I tried to look at the Air Show but this was what turned up on the screen…
No problem, I rang the crew-call and one senior female FA appeared at my side in a few seconds. “No problem, I’ll just reset it to you. The button is just beneath your seat” As soon as she did that, several other screens failed.
The problem soon became serious enough that the CSO made an announcement that they would be resetting the entire system and those that began watching their movies… well, too bad. But we were told not to touch the TV for the next 15 mins.
1740: Meal cart finally appears.
It took them a LONG time to get to me because I only managed to get a food tray 30 mins later. But still, it was an excellent catering. The pictures below doesn’t make the food look appetizing but trust me, it was well worth the wait!
It has been more that 40 mins and the entertainment system was still rebooting. The CSO finally came on and literally said he has given up trying to reset the system. And he once again apologized. I must say that QF was indeed operating a very apologetic flight this evening!
1845H: Finally the TV is back on; I quickly select Hotel Rwanda and just let it play. Unfortunately, it hung again just as the movie was about to end. Damn! So I missed the climax. I gave up on the TV after that. Even the Air Show was useless on this flight!
1945H: The same flight attendant comes up to me and see that my mate’s TV has hung as well. She muses “Oh I give up with this thing!” and laughs. For the rest of the flight, not only the TV hung but the reading lights as well. It seemed that everything froze. I could not turn them off.
Looks like VH-QPE is due for a little down time!
Some after dinner refreshments…
2045H: First signs of descend. We are finally nearing home but I have no way of finding out our present position with the Air Show inoperable. Cabin crew come around to collect the headsets (not that they were of much use on this flight!).
CSO comes on the air and reminds everyone to take their belongings with them after we land as this aircraft will be turned around for a Singapore-Darwin-Adelaide sector. He also goes on to give connection information for QF9 (LHR), QF5 (FRA), BA 16 and 18 (LHR) and AF 257 (CDG).
2105H: 2nd Officer from the flight deck asks crew to “prepare for landing”.
In the next instant, the seat belt sign pings on and the flaps are also extended. Gears are extended at 2125H and boy – seated at my area of the plane you could feel the entire gear extension process underneath. It was loud, rough and rather worrying if you are afraid of flying!
2129H: Touchdown on runway 20R.
2139H: we come to a stop at Gate C6 and QF ends the flight with a chime and a voice over that says “You are flying the Spirit of Australia…”.
Departure: 3/10… An absolute hassle, the check in agent was!
Boarding: 5/10… The delay was bad enough. Couple that with boarding using only ONE aerobridge through door 1. It was a formula for an even further delay.
In-flight service: 8/10…While this return flight was not as good as my outbound one, it was obvious that the crew was swamped and overwhelmed by the ever-failing entertainment system. But they all kept their cool and never once showed signs of fray. Aussie sense of humor intact with their clever quips and comebacks - I am sure it is a requirement with QF when they recruit. So it is still a thumbs up from me
Catering: 9/10… Same high standards as my outbound flight. No complaints at all whatsoever.
Arrival: 6/10… for some reason, the bags took a long time to come out this time. And most of the passengers were on transit, so there were only a few getting off the plane in Singapore. Why did it take them so long? Beats me.
Overall: 62%...This return flight scored lower than my previous one, obviously. From a painstakingly slow check in, to a delay, to an entertainment system that had PMS. So I must say that thank God the cabin crew was in their excellent selves. Otherwise this would have been a disastrous journey waiting to happen.