This is my first report, so constructive criticsm or comments will be much welcomed.
3rd March 2005
Flight: QF 22 NRT-SYD
SCH Dep: 20:10
Actual DEP: 20:25 (ish)
Aircraft: B747-338 VH-EBW
My trip started when I left work early for the day and headed to Shinagawa Station to get the Narita Express train to Narita - journey time about an hour. As usual the train pulled in and left right on time. On a cold, grey Tokyo day the scenery was less then inspiring out the window, so I settled into my comfy seat and got lost in "100 years of solitude" by Marquez. Arrived at NRT terminal two at about 6pm. Passes through the police check inside the station (they check everyone's passport as one approaches NRT by road or rail - apparently to try to prevent angry rice farmers from attacking the airport).
Went up the escalators to the departures lobby. First had to wait at the ticket agent's counter to pick up my ticket - most agents here still issue paper tickets which have to be collected at the airport. Then went to the Qantas counters. I was surprised that there were very few people waiting at checkin because an insider on A-net had mentioned that this flight was full. The girl checking me in looked like a trainee because she took a long time and had to ask her supervisor what the airline code was for my Cathay Asia Miles card (which I have since discovered earned me 0 miles because of the subclass my ticket was booked on...not too happy about that!). She also spent a fair bit of time on the phone to her supervisor - I was getting excited about a possible upgrade, but was disappointed when she handed over my boarding pass with 59C printed on it.
As usual at this time of day NRT immigration was quick and smooth. I had about an hour to kill so walked the length of the outer concourse. Not much spotting however. The far corner gates were a mixture of QF and JL flights to Australia - mostly 743s and one JL 767. Also saw an EVA Air A330 pulling out for a flight to TPE and a China Airlines 744 also bound for TPE. (I love the CI livery!)
The gate waiting area for my flight was packed.....with school kids. At least two thirds of the passengers on this full flight were Japanese Junior High School kids on a school trip - hence the absence of queues at checkin - they had all gone to the group counter obviously.
Boarding started about 5 mins late - Biz and oneworld emerald members first, then school kids, then the rest. I was curtly greated upon boarding and found my seat. 59 A & B were empty for at least 10 mins after I sat down and I was thinking I was the luckiest passenger on this full flight. However a Japanese mother anddaughter team came panting down the aisle with armfulls of shopping and took their place next to me.
As we pushed back at about 8:25 it was starting to snow lightly outside, and the safety demo was goin on (very loudly) inside. All the other PA announcements on this flight were almost too quiet to hear - especially the captain's announcements, but the safety demo was deafening!
We had our long taxi over to the other side of the airport for our take off to the east. Sitting aft of the wings on a 743 was pretty noisy on takeoff, but I love the way a full jumbo seems to speed down the runway forever before lifting off gracefully.
There was a bit of bumpy air as we headed up to initial cruising altitude of 31 000 feet. All the 14 year old girls were screaming. FAs were wryly smiling...they had a long night ahead.
After getting used to service on Asian carriers, QF was a bit different. No pre-dinner bar service, nuts or hand towels. No menus - simply a choice of "Beef or Chicken". My part of the cabin was being served by two big burly middle aged men. (Not quite the cute queens I like to see on QF When I asked for more information about the food, he had to lift the lid to find out what was being served for dinner!!!! I opted for the chicken - braised in tomaoto sauce with olives and capers. Not bad, had better. Also had to wait a good 10 mins for someone to get me a G&T even though I was sat right next to the galley! It was served with a smile, but no "sorry to keep you waiting"
After dinner was cleared away, bottles of water were distributed, lights were dimmed and i decided to try and get some sleep as none of the films or TV showing really interested me, and my TV had a "noisy" picture. Didn't really sleep well becuase I was right next to the galley and privy to noisy conversation and ignored call bells all night. FAs did a maglight-lit water run once or twice an hour. Fortunately the school kids were mostly all either asleep or busy playing games on the IFE.
Breakfast was a choice of "western or Japanese" Again I had to ask for more info. I asked if I could have the Japanese fish and rice on a western tray because I wanted the pastry and fruit, but not the rubber eggs and sausages, but unfortunately they couldn't mix and match trays and mains. So I opted for the western without the main.
Approach into Sydney was spectacular as usual. We flew in over the Northern subburbs with lots of fluffy cotton wool clouds breaking up under the morning sun. It had rained overnight, so the city was sparkling! Sitting on the left side of the aircraft meant that I had a picture-postcard view of the bridge, the harbour and the opera house and looking out to the eastern suburbs.
Landing was a bit hard and strong reverse thrust was used to stop to stop us plopping of the end of the runway into Botany Bay.
We pulled up to the gate right on time, and a tired looking crew said farewell.
Sydney Immigration, baggage claim and customs checks are always chaotic at this time of day because a couple of 744s from Europe arrive at about the same time. The line for Australians took about 10-15 mins, meanwhile I saw some very frazzled looking English backbackers at the second customs queue muttering that they'd already waited almost an hour at immigration, and now had to wait again to have their bags x-rayed.
I finally made it out into the fresh air and warm morning sunshine at about 8:30 am.
9th Mar 2005
Sch dep: 22:15
Actual dep: 22:15
Sch arr: 6:10
Actual arr: 6:10
Aircraft: 743 VH-EBW (again!)
After a FABUUUUULOUS week's sebatical back in my hometown of Sydney for the silly season festivities in early march, I carried my suntan and luggage back to Mascot for the flight back to home and work in Yokohama.
As I had to check out of my hotel room that morning, and had spent the day at the beach, I headed straight to the showers in the departures area before checking in (I arrived at the airport about 6:30). The (free) hot showers were clean and the hot water lasted more than long enough. Showered and groomed I headed to checkin. There were about 10 to 15 people in line ahead of me at the Qantas economy check-in counters which were dealing with 3 flights (Mine to NRT, one to LHR via BKK(???) and possibly a flight to NZ(????)) There were only two counters open (!) one of which had a family group standing around several open suitcases and shouting into mobile phones working out what souvenirs weren't needed in London. The line was getting progressively longer behind me, and I hadn't moved an inch in 10 mins. Finally when I got to the counter, the staff member was very friendly and asked me If I wanted an aisle or window seat. As usual, I requested an aisle. I also asked to be seated as far away as possible from the school group I saw over at the group check-in counter. She said they were a fairly small group and all behind row 60, so would 40 be OK? I asked if there was anything further forward (I like to be as close to the front as possible) and after a few more taps on her keyboard, and some friendly small talk about my work in Japan, she very kindly handed over my boarding pass for 23C.
I had delicious Chinese roast duck for dinner, then wondered around the shops a bit. About 9:00 I headed up to the observation deck, only to find them closing it for the night, The international terminal wasn't all that busy, so there wasn't a lot of spotting going on anyway. I wizzes straight through immigration, but my belt set off the metal detector at security which was a bit embarrassing! Sydney airport is now one big shopping mall, but it kept me occupied. I wondered around to gate 10 and saw that I was going back to Tokyo on the same aircraft! The reflections on the shiny engines were cool and kind of retro. The gate didn't seem too crowded which was a good sign.
Boarding started on time. 23K was occupied, but J was empty between us. This flight was probably about 70% full, and the crew were younger, and a TINY bit more friendly. This time menus were distributed and I went for the Terriyaki Chicken. It looked like a much better choice than the beef I saw some other passengers eating. The wine wasn't bad either (Penfolds).
Again, there wasn't much on TV that I wanted to watch, and i was feeling pretty sleepy after a day in the sun, so I was able to sleep much better than usual on this flight. Also being so far forward, it was much quieter. The couple of times I woke up, I noticed the LED lighting just in front of me in J. Mmmmm, not too sure what i think of it just yet. Some other A-netters have said they like it....seemed a tiny bit tacky from where i was sitting - but then I could only see the ceiling above the curtain.
Perhaps when one is actually sitting in business class the effect really is soothing.
The lights came on for breakfast a good 2 hours before landing, we had just flown over Okinawa on the IFE map. I skipped breakfast as I'd had 2 dinners the night before and still felt full.
The captain came on the PA about 5:45 and said we were circling over the sea off NRT waiting for the curfew to be lifted at 6am. He said we would be the first aircraft to touch down as soon as the runway opened.
Our landing on the main runway was smooth and he let it run out much of the length of the runway instead of trying to stop in as little distance as possible.
I love arriving in NRT. We were at the gate at 6:12. I had my luggage in my hand and was buying a bus ticket home at 6:40 - the perks of sitting up the front and having a Japanese residency visa which allows me to join the (always) much quicker Japanese queue at immigration.
Overall, my flight back to NRT was much more pleasant than the flight to SYD. I'll give the cabin crew some leeway on that first flight because of the number of school kids - but they were all very well behaved and didn't seem to be bothering the other pax. My experiences of QF (only economy class) have always been pretty hit and miss - these flights were no exception. The newly renovated interiors of the 743s are nice (especially the faux-granite bathrooms), the black uniforms look good. Catering is good. However service ranges from shoddy to outstanding - usually the better side of average though; and always with that casual aussie style. Perhaps I've been spoiled by the consistently high standards of service on all my recent flights which have been with CX or JAL. If QF could offer a bit more consistency, I could become more of a fan.
I hope this trip report wasn't too long or boring. I'm looking forward to a flight on a MU 737 from KIX to KMG (Kuming) in a few months. I'm sure that will be an adventure. I'll take all advice into account when writing that trip report.