However due to the unfortunate event of a dull non-happening journey, I shall keep my description to the minimum and cut the report short.
Photo © Montague Smith
Photo © Glenn Stewart
Date: 18 January 2005
Flight number: CX170
Itinerary: Perth-Hong Kong
Aircraft: Airbus A330-343X
Registration number: B-HLT
Est. Departure time (local): 12:35
Est. Arrival time (local): 20:35
Reservation:10C/277Y (over-booked in Y)
Duration: 7hrs 45mins
Well, the story started with a nice sunny day in Perth. If you have read any of my previous reports, I bet you could almost tell the predictable that I went check in at the airport early (as always). So there I was, at the terminal over 2.5 hours ahead of gate closure. Anyway, my check in was done a day ago over CX.com. So the remaining task was just to deposit my bags and collect the passes. However, as a man in mission today, my real motivation at the airport stemmed from spotting this rare visitor to Perth, if not its the first time...
Behold the legendary Orient Thai Airlines, operator of this ex-JAL's Boeing 747-200. On this special day, the airline was chartered to do a migration flight from Africa. As I was told, the flight was in Perth for a technical stop enroute to the eastern states.
Nothing really made my day as much as spotting an OX jet in Australia. While I was still recovering from the profound excitement, boarding for CX170 commenced. The crews welcomed passengers aboard at door L1 (i.e. single aerobridge was used) and they were all friendly in appearance. Today our flight was fully booked in EY with predominantly European families to return home from an Aussie holiday. Having to settle the kids down at their seats meant the pre-flight preparation had been taken longer than usual. On the other hand, crew members had demonstrated great care and patience to assist passengers in needs, which was very fantastic of them.
The aircraft was a two-class configured Airbus 330-343X. Economy Class was 2-4-2 abreast and each seat was fit with PTVs. But if you are not into a blurry cabin view, please substitute my picture with below:
Photo © Nathan Bolger
Apparently the above were the safety card, inflight magazine, duty free catalogue and an amenity kit. Frankly I was quite surprised to see an amenity kit on a day-time flight. My last flight with one was already ages ago. Oh, so much memory...
The take off was smooth with no drama. Shortly after the seatbelt sign was switched off, a welcome drink was served with packets of peanuts. Service-wise, the crews were all brilliant with warm smiles and friendly attitudes. I was very pleased with them without a doubt. Nevertheless, the seats struck me with a different emotion, and one of great annoyance!! I disliked the seats for their cramped width and leg room, and the PTV boxes underneath only added salt to injury. I almost wished I could take refuge from the PTV entertainment, but the movie selection today was uninspiring at best. I caught some bits and pieces of "Catwoman" but the cheesy story line made me felt insulted as an audience. Given any tradeoff, I would not hesitate to choose seat pitch over entertainment hands down.
I could almost smell food heating up in the galley and that only meant lunch hour. A choice of 3 main courses was offered, as seen on the menu snap below. As I had practically had the pasta dish before on an another CX flight (and not that I remembered it as something good), I gave it a miss and go for the chicken.
However, the meal turned out to be a huge disappointment. The salad was stale and awful and I vowed not to touch it just after one bite. The Chicken was unfortunately bland and the vegies were soaky in grease. If you ask me, the meal could be declared unfit for human consumption. As I am now aware that Qantas catering has recently lost its contract from CX in Brisbane, I think this meal was quite indicative of some serious quality concerns over the caterer's products. I am in no mood to joke, but Lean Cuisine (i.e. a microwave dinner company) would have make a better alternative, in terms of taste, quality, choice and presentation of food.
The rest of flight was uneventful other than a few patches of turbulence to spice things up. Another run of beverages was served and I was impressed with the crews maintaining the same pleasant smiling faces, which was difficult enough for them amid a hard day work. I trust it was their professionalism at work. Well done, cabin crews, you've done it again!! To stay sugar and alcohol-free, I only requested a water. All of a sudden, I realised every doctor in this world would want to kiss me for this healthy choice...
Then the second refreshment came not long after, and it was a selection of two dishes. Again I had tasted the chicken pie before on other flights, so my preference went to the stir-fried noodles. Just as you thought the lunch was horrible enough, the refreshment actually managed to raise the bar!! It was literally "dog food" redefined... But let's not dwell on this topic because I fear my description may possibly disgust you. I assume you can anyhow tell how appalling the meal was just from its look...
Seriously If not the meals, I trust that my CX experience could have been miles better. Sigh....
Anyway, if you want to see how services aboard CX and QF compare, please check out my related reports at the links below. As far as the own opinion is concerned, I reckon both airlines were moving on to an equal standing in terms of cabin crews, IFE and inflight products. The deployment of the new A330-300s itself had represented a huge leap in product quality for Qantas. And I did appreciable it very much. Strange enough, I also found catering on QF generally better than CX in spite of the fact that all meals were produced by the same company. Qantas crews were somehow more generous in offering extra to passengers, say another bottle of wine or another piece of ice cream, etc. Their easy-goingness did make passengers feel at home 30000ft in the sky. However, as much as I hate to say, a great element of "hit-and-miss" is still apparent with Qantas. Cathay, on the other hand, has managed to perform more consistently.
So to sum up, may I represent my ratings on the flight:
Inflight entertainment: 7/10
Seat comfort: 6/10
Inflight service (crew): 8.5/10
Qantas A330-300 To Hong Kong! (by CXoneWorld Nov 28 2004 in Trip Reports)
Qantas A330-300 To Australia! (W/Pics) (by CXoneWorld Mar 6 2005 in Trip Reports)