Date: 17 September 2004
Flight number: QF 67
Itinerary: Perth-Hong Kong
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Registration number: VH-QPF
Est. Departure time (local): 9.30am
Est. Arrival time (local): 5.15pm
Duration: 7hrs 45mins
Qantas operates 3x weekly direct between the 2 cities
The journey started with checking in at the airport in person, as much as I wanted Qantas to introduce an online service ... Right at the terminal, I noticed only one counter open for QF67, which wasn't surprising as I'd long expected loadings to be extremely lite. Earlier on, I'd read numerous reports of SYD/MEL-HKG flights with only 50-60 passengers onboard, so I was well prepared to see even fewer this time (remark: actual number of passengers were 70-80 in economy class) !! Anyway, a big plus of flying in low reason was the superior personal service passengers to receive. I was greeted by two gorgeous blondies at the counter . Warm and friendly services were then to follow. Overweight luggages were tagged with no question asked. There I asked for a window seat at the rear section of the aircraft, which was well accommodated with a smile .
A friendly reminder from the gorgeous ladies: "Sir, you are always welcomed to switch seat after take off, it's more or less an empty flight today"... Sweet, just as what I'd expected!!
Having cleared immigration and security procedures, I proceeded straight to the departure gate. The brand new A330-300, VH-QPF, was already there awaiting for passengers. For quite a moment I simply couldn't get my eyes off the bright and shiny bird!! Of course, afterwards I also went off and did some airside spotting, having come across some interesting ones including (Bali-based) Air Paradise's A310-300 (PK-KDW) and a South African's A340-200 (ZS-SLE) amongst the usual QF 763s and MH 772, etc.
Photo © Carsten Bauer
Photo © Montague Smith
At 9am, boarding commenced. It was smooth and swift and I enjoyed being greeted all the way from the depature gate to my seat by by the friendly and smiling crews . I went over to the galley and inquired about the A330-300 which according to the cabin crew on duty as her own personal favourite to work on. I couldn't agree more even from a passenger's point of view. The new A330-300 cabin interior was much more spacious and quieter than ever, and a big delight to fly on too (comparison with the 767ER :!: ). Apparently it helped when everything onboard was so fresh and new...
The aircraft was pushed back at 9.30am and prior to take off, there was the standard safety demonstration, featured in dual languages in English and Cantonese. However, at other times all Chinese PA were made in Mandarin. Out of the six crew in the EY cabin, one was Chinese speaking... which was interesting enough to note.
There were quite a few reasons I personally felt that the new Qantas service was the best link between Hong Kong and Australia. I used to fly with Cathay Pacific and only with them, during even the airline's most difficult times like the massive flight disruption in 2001 summer (the fact that PER was the first destination CX axed which caused me much frustration), 9/11 and SARS etc. However, I was increasingly alarmed at the airline's deteriorating service standard in economy class. My last experience onboard CX170/1 earlier had exposed me to the harsh reality of massive service cut, worn-out aircrafts, cocky personnel, and their hostile attitudes to selective passengers, particularly mainland Chineses and other non-English speaking Hong Kongers. Food were barely edible and the portion was ever diminishing. Bear in mind that it was I have no interest to bash Cathay, which is still in my far opinion, much better than many other airlines ; but for the love of my home town carrier (as I was born and grew up in HKG), I seriously hope CX could focus more resources on revamping the EY service, not just single mindedly on the front end, as it seems to be the company's strategy at the moment..
Hardwise, Qantas does offer a much better product than many of its competitors. The "slimline" economy class seats were further enhanced to provide extra cushioning and back support (as I noticed, they were different from the rest in QF fleet). They were now more comfortable than ever, and my top pick so far. Legroom was enlarged to a generous 34 inch, much nicer and realistic for long haul travel . In the premium cabin, all A330-300s were fitted with lie-flat business class seats, also known as the Skybed http://www.qantas.com.au/agents/dyn/qf/info/pdf/InternationalBusiness.pdf, which I'd love to try out in the future too!!
Now personal entertainment had finally come as a standard feature onboard Qantas, and they are soon to be upgraded to AVOD in January 2005. Right now passengers are already pampered with a well-balanced selection of 18 video and 16 radio channels, including the latest blockbuster, comedies, news, sports and documentaries, etc. Not bad already, i reckon!!!
Back to the flight, soon after the aircraft was air borne. The inflight manager welcomed passengers onboard again over the PA system. She was proudly introducing the new A330-300 international fleet and going over some of its inflight features. Entertainment units were then switched on and the crews were out there to distribute headphones and menus cards. Meals included a lunch and a hot refreshment, snacks in-between, plus cup noodles on request. Clearly more than adequate for an 8hour flight.
(photo credit: nice pic by Thomas Chan, a mate of mine!! )
(photo credit: another nice one by Thomas Chan, thank you very much!!)
The inflight magazine was a special edition to commemorate the QF's new multi-million "I still call Australia home" marketing campaign (also the most expensive ad in Australian history). I'd watched the commercial on tele but frankly that was just a remake of the original concept. Whether the $$ was well spent was clearly debatable, at least to me...
The flight was cruising at an altitude of roughly 10900-11000km. And the contrasting Aussie landscapes were on display out of the window --> very impressive sights !!
Lunch soon followed. And my choice was the beef rice dish, which tasted okay. However, highlight of the meal was the heavenly desert . After the meal each passenger was given an individual bottle of water. And every hour the crew did a water run with soft drinks, boozes, juices and packaged snacks on offer...
Over the flight, some minor turbulence was come across over the Java sea, which was otherwise a very stable and smooth journey (out of the norms for PER-HKG-PER). Apparently I was more than hydrated for the remainder of the flight, having had a coke + apple juices + bottle of water + a beer + a tea + another glass of water... which all together made me a frequent visitor to the washrooms owing to biological urges :D. At other times, I was enjoying the movies. I actually watched "Shrek 2" twice and it was still as hilarious as the first time, a highly recommended comedy!! Also, the crew were out there to entertain and chat with every passenger onboard. I got a whole lot of souvenirs to bring home from them...Thanks a million!!
Then came the 2nd meal of the flight at 4pm, which was some stir fried vegetarian noodles, tasted absolutely awful, however !! The flight was rather uneventful afterwards, as we prepared to descend into HKG. Flying over the HKG seas, it was the comforting thoughts of being at home... Nice!!
Photo © Sean Lam
So I concluded the journey here. Overall speaking it had left a much positive impression of Qantas on me. And I am absolutely happy to stick with them the next time.
To sum up, here are my ratings on:
Check in: 9/10
Inflight service: 9/10
Seat comfort: 8/10