Last february, I was taken to Sydney on British Airways 744 (G-CIVZ, #28854) and went back to LHR on Qantas 744 (VH-OJF, #24483), both on most inexpensive economy class.
G-CIVZ was BA's newest 747, I think, with PTVs, really great seats and about 89cm (thats 35 inches) seat to seat distance, resulting in the most legroom I ever have had on an airliner. Unfortunately, while adjusting the head rest, I suddenly had it in my hands, without using any kind of brute force... But it was easy to reattach...
Besides this, a really nice a/c, but I'm sure, things can be changed onboard a more older BA 747.
In comparsion, VH-OJF seemed to be a couple of years older. No PTV, a bit smaller legroom, older seats and - again - problems with parts becoming loose. Sitting on the window, I had quite a problem, since "my" inner window, together with the surrounding plastics parts, wouldn't want to stay in the wall and kept on trying to fall on my knees.
Since I'm studying mechanical engineering, it was a nice and welcome possibility to take a look onto the (damn cold) alloy frame, before remounting the window in its place.
Laughter was on my side, when I offered to hand my window over to the people sitting along the aisle as doing so they could also enjoy sitting on a window seat...
May sounds dangerous, but I think, the plastics parts weren't just fixed the very right way after the last D check or any other passenger (kid?!?) was responsible for the error.
Real problems happened after take off, as we were starting to sight-see Sydney a second time in evening sunset light. After some cycling above Sydney, the captain admitted they have some problems with their radar equipment (which first "stuttered" and now turned off completely) and were discussing with Sydney tower what to do. We were told that they can't leave the continent without having the radar repaired the radar, but they try to have the repairs arranged for Darwin, to save preparation time.
At that time, we had to laugh loudly, since we came down from Darwin on an Ansett 733, just a few hours ago. That would be a whole day lost that we could have spent at Darwin with boarding QF001 there...
After about one hour cruising above northern Sydney suburbs, we finally dropped a "small amount of fuel" (like the captain called it and what meant 95.000 litres or kg, I can't remember) to get down to maximum landing weight and returned to Sydney, since the needed parts were not available at Darwin.
Two hours later, we moved again, after repairs and testing, what took very much time since pax seemed to be too dumb to stop mobile-phoning as announced several times by all the crew members during the radar equipment tests. Some information followed: An radar blackbox seemed to be damaged by the ground personnel on loading cargo and was now replaced.
During taxi to our departure runway we were told by the captain that he managed to get the fuel tanks filled up to the last drop and that we should prepare for an extra-ordinary high speed flight to catch up with the timetable. Since we were three and a half hours late, we were very interested what to come.
The take-off run was far away from high speed, since the 747 was full to the last seat, the long-time vacation baggage of all the pax, the cargo, the full fuel tanks and, I think, some extra cargo (mail?) added during repairs. Finally we got airborne, and soon after rotation, we were heading straight towards bangkok.
Over Australia, we permanently looked on the ground speed display which always remained between 1030 and 1095 kmph. Unfortunately, there wasn't any tail wind or air speed display, so we could not calculate our real speed.
After an 90 minutes stop in Bangkok, which could not be shortened as it seems, we finally reached LHR, being only about 60 minutes late.
Apart of the captains announcement of reduced speed due to strong head wind, our ground speed was again quite high, with a minimum of about 900 kmph near India and Nepal, but as generally known, there are very strong head winds in this area when flying west.
I remember always about 100 to 200 kmph flying this area several times with BA and Thai.
Does anyone know the real full-throttle-speed of an RR-powered 744?
Anyway, that one seemed to perform like a bird with burning tail feathers...
I think, kind of food always depends greatly on your departure airport, so you won't get kangaroo in shiraz sauce when flying towards Australia, no matter with which airline you are going. BA and QF both served chinese style food after leaving Bangkok on our route, but BA offered the greater variety to choose from. You could choose from different meals, including separate choice of desert and starters...
Quality of food itself was on comparable good level on both airliners. So Qantas was fine, too.
Very friendly and "english" on BA, just great on Qantas.
Starting from "The magic security features dancing show", the very good information about all the problems with the radar, great patience even after the long repair time with pax getting very nervous and rude, etc.
BA had the nicer aircraft, but that depends on luck, I think, since Qantas has newer, PTV-equipped 747 as well.
The thing with the window should not happen, but maybe it was an one-in-a-million-flights issue.
Remember, I got the BA 747 into parts, too. Maybe, it depends on my person that a/cs start to destruct.
The radar defect could affect every airline world wide (if the facts given by the captain were the truth) and was handled just fine by Qantas. They even arranged to let all further connection flights wait for us or booked new tickets for following flights.
Short, it really was fun to fly with Qantas.