This trip was a couple of months ago, so I won't go overboard. It was originally planned for mid-September, but had to be cancelled for obvious reasons, and was taken up late Jan/early Feb.
1) SYD-PER; QF518; Y Class Mon 28 Jan
The dreaded red-eye for the 3h30m leg to Sydney. Operated by a 744 doing a domestic leg, which helped.
SEATS: My wife and I were seated in the first row of Y, immediately behind the crew rests seats, making it a bit claustrophobic. We had been given H&K, with the middle seat free, but a couple of last-minute pax turned up, so it was a full flight, and we had someone between us. Don't you hate that? Seats were firm, but after about half an hour the firm backs were actually quite comfortable.
MEAL: Just the Qantas box with a ham and salad roll, OJ, cake, etc., which was OK for midnight. Nothing else the entire flight.
ENTERTAINMENT: Just the cabin screen on this a/c, and unfortunately the one we faced had projection problems. The movie was "Serendipity" (was that the ONLY movie anyone showed in January??), but it looked like it was in 3D, with 2 completely separate images, one on the screen, and one half on the screen and half on the wall. Tried to sleep instead.
CREW: Very perfunctory. Handed out the meal in a hurry, collected the boxes in a hurry, and vanished. I've heard of unobtrusive service, but this was almost invisible, even for a red-eye.
FLIGHT: Smooth and on time.
VERDICT: 2 STARS (OUT OF 5)
SYD-LAX; NZ14; Wed 30 Jan; J Class
My first flight on NZ and I was looking forward to it, as I had flown a number of the Star Alliance carriers previously.
SEATS: Standard 50-inch pitch, comfortable seats and good recline, although the footrests didn't extend upwards far enough, giving your legs a distinct downwards slops. Upper deck, second back row.
MEAL: Strange situation; the 13-hour flight left Sydney just before midday and arrived in LAX at 0615 (local times). J Class was offered lunch and breakfast, while Y received lunch and dinner, no breakfast, not even a juice. Guess this was because of the logistics of serving a Y breakast at an early hour - but as the crew had a long stretch of night-time flying, it could have been done with an early start, instead of dinner. A Y passenger I talked to on arrival said she would really have enjoyed something to eat or dring before landing. The J lunch was good, without being great: - appetiser of king prawns, mains of fillet steak or orange roughy or roasted chicken; dessert of brandy and fig ice cream or chocolate and almond torte; plus cheese, fruit, etc. Nice selection of NZ and Australian wines.
Breakfast was a continental fruit and breads selection; choice of omlette, mushroom ragout or orange brioche toast. Sounds better than it tasted, and the service wasn't too good - very rushed.
AMENITIES: Really nice amenities pack in a reusable toilet bag, and containing local conditioners, balms, etc made from natural ingredients, plus the usual toothbrush, etc. Very nice! Strangely, there were no blankets on the seats or in the lockers, and none were offered - bad oversight.
ENTERTAINMENT: More Serendipity, of course. The NZ system in J has in-seat PTVs, but they show movies in two cycles, one after the other. if all your favourites are on Cycle 1, you have to watch one, wait more than two hours for the next cycle to finish, and then catch up with something else you like. Bit of a pain, but it's OK if you like movies on both cycles (I didn't).
CREW: Bit like QF - feed 'em and vanish. This was particularly noticeable with the very late and extremely rushed breakfast service. Was VERY surprised to see that, when they fed and watered the cockpit crew, they left the door open.
FLIGHT: Has anyone ever flown SYD-LAX without bumps? It was rough from Fiji to way past Honolulu, with the worst turbulence over the Hawaiian Islands in the middle of the night. But I guess it's always like that.
Arrived on time, and feeling a bit washed out - jet lag always affects me more flying west to east.
VERDICT: 3 Stars (out of 5) from me, 2 from my wife.
LAX-SYD; NZ15; Fri 8 Feb; J Class
What a difference a crew can make, as the next two flights show.
SEATS:Upper deck again, third front row. Some hoon in the front row decided he really needed the overhead bins for the first three rows, so I had to remove his bags.
FOOD: Dinner and breakfast this time. dinner appetiser of blue crab cake followed by main course selection of ginger sesame beef, or orange roughy or roasted chicken (deja vu), and dessert of ice cream or apricot pistachio bavarian creme, cheese and fruit, etc. Very nice! The two flight attendants were senior (older) men, and they were excellent. They knew the wines and recommended them (including a really nice McWilliams Barwang Cab Sauv), and a Botrytis Semillon dessert wine.
Air NZ also has a sandwich selection available overnight if you want to go to the galley and help yourself. Unfortunately, they don't tell you this, and it's only written in v-e-r-y small print at the bottom of the menu where you really don't notice it. Anyway, I managed to find out about it, and grabbed a few sangers in the middle of the night. Ate 2, and left one on the armrest while I dozed off. About an hour later, when I woke, it was like concrete. Boy that aircon msut be strong!
Breakfast was the continental selection plus omlette or waffles, bacon and syrup, or scrambled eggs (yum). really nice.
AMENITIES: Same as before, but this time blankets and nice big pillows were on the seats when we boarded.
ENTERTAINMENT: Good movies on both cycles this time, although I didn't watch too many. Most people only seemed to doze intermittently, rather than sleep, but I think it's a bit rude to have lights or screens on all night (or rather my wife does!)
CREW: Wonderful. Helpful, friendly and efficient. breakfast was leisurely, even with only the two guys serving (on the way over, it took 3 people at the run to serve us.) There was always one crew member in the cabin, while the other rested.
FLIGHT: Same bumps in the same places. Arrived to a great Sydney morning on schedule, after a pleasant 14 hours with Air New Zealand.
VERDICT: 4 STARS.
SYD-PER: QF575; 13 Feb; Y Class
We were seated in the main deck business class cabin on the 744. when QF uses the international 744 on domestic routes, it sometimes uses the First Class cabin and Upper Deck for domestic Business Class, and the main deck business class cabin for economy (usually for full-fare or club members). Irrespective of where you are seated, you get the service you booked, so although we were in J seats (with full 50-inch pitch), we still received economy meals, etc. The crew was great, attentive and friendly. Breakfast was good and hearty, and served properly, not in a box. The Cabin Service Manager came around and greeted all Club members by name during the flight and spoke to them. We had the advantage of in-seat PTVs being in international J Class seats, so caught up on more movies. Loved "Bandits" and "Riding in Cars with Boys". (But have you ever noticed that you can love a movie on a plane, but not be so impressed when you watch it later in a theatre or video?)
Landed back in Perth on time after a great trip. While in the USA, had several flights on Southwest, and, for a discount carrier was really impressed. Booked deep discount fares through the internet, and it all worked out fine. Flew into Oakland and stayed at the Holiday inn there, commuting to San Francisco by BART.
Wow, security is high at airports, on trains and in stores, as well as at places like Disneyland and the other resorts.
Hated the plastic cutlery on the flights, especially in J Class (what a snob!!), but I must say, the QF plastic in Y was better than the really cheap NZ plastic in J!
But it was great to see California again (the "Soaring Over California" ride at Disneyland's California Adventure is just awesome), and to fly QF, NZ and WN.
Thanks for perservering this far!
"...every aircraft is subtly different.."