Due to our partners convention in Sydney from 11 to 14 October 2001, I booked to fly from Perth to Sydney on Qantas following the demise of Ansett (I was a platinum ff with Ansett). Prior to booking the fare, I recalled that QF had scheduled 744 services on the Perth to Sydney route. As I had to be in Sydney for meetings early on 11 October 2001, I needed to take the midnight red eye special. At least I would be travelling in business class.
On reviewing the schedule, I noted that QF had a 744 scheduled to leave Perth at 0130 on 11 October arriving in Sydney at 0735. This was perfect for my schedule and so I booked the fare.
I arrived at Perth airport early as I was hopeful of getting a seat in the First Class cabin of the 744 (I have never travelled first class before). At check in, the attendant was very helpful and pleasant and had great pleasure in advising me that I had been booked into seat 3A. She said I would love their first class reclining seat and wished me a safe trip. My wife new immediately I had been booked in First Class from the huge smile on my face (apparently). It was also my birthday and I thought this was the best present QF could give me.
I proceeded to the QF Club. The attendant told us that non-flying passengers are no longer allowed in the club as a guest however, because we did not kick up a fuss and react badly she would let my wife in this time.
In the QF Club I noted that there were two 734's and a 762 at the Qantas terminal. The Ansett jet ways had 2 A320's lined up. I also saw SQ's A343 arrive and my QF 744. The two 734's departed, one to Adelaide and one to Brisbane. The 762 was supposed to depart for Sydney at 2340 but we were advised there was very bad weather over the Nullabor and the pilot was revising his flight plan and putting more fuel on board. In the end, the 762 left after my flight at 0135 and I think maybe there was more wrong with it than what they were saying. However, I note that it arrived in Sydney so if there was a defect, it was fixable.
It was interesting to note that after the 744 landed it had to taxi back along the length of the runway rather than on the taxi ways next to the Domestic Terminal. I wondered if they were not rated for the weight of the 744.
At 0105, I boarded the mighty 744 and turned left immediately upon entering. There were 14 (I think) seats in First Class and all were full. Everybody was quite impressed with the cabin and everyone was playing with the gadgets. The seats were electronically controlled, had its own pop up TV screen and a huge tray table.
We departed on time and it was great to feel the power of the 744 on take off. It was interesting to note however, the noise in the first class cabin on take off and retraction of the front nose landing gear. Once airborne, I played with the gadgets some more. We were advised that we would be climbing to 41000 feet and getting in ahead of time. How does this compare to the 762? Perhaps it could not climb above the weather with its pax load.
They still had multiple video chanels to choose from however, I decided to get some sleep due to my meetings. I reclined the bed/seat to its full length (6 feet), made the large pillow comfortable and got some sleep.
I woke up about 45 minutes out of Sydney. Went to the toilet and noted it was huge in comparison to normal toilets. It also had a full length mirror, marble look basin and a window.
We landed in Sydney 3 hours 20 minutes later (usually a 4 hour flight) and ahead of time and rolled out on the length of the entire runway. We had to weight for 10 minutes while space was made available for us at the QF terminal. I imagine only some of the gates can take the size of the 744. It was a great trip. Although not completely refreshed from the sleep, I certainly felt much better than when I had travelled on the red eye before.
The return to Perth on 14 October 2001, was also a 744 departing Sydney at 1740 and arriving in Perth at 2210.
On check in I was allocated seat 11A (the upper deck) but on arrival at the QF club I requested a first class seat and they obliged with seat 3K. The gate in the QF terminal had two separate jet ways, one for business class and one for economy class. This is the first time I have seen this in Australia although I have experienced it before at Singapore and Hong Kong.
The trip back was uneventful however, it is interesting that they only showed one movie rather than a choice.
All in all, I highly recommend trying to book on the 744 if you are travelling on the red eye to Sydney. It makes a huge difference.