Photo © Nathan Zalcman - AirTeamImages
Photo © Roy
As much as I hate connections through Sydney I booked Qantas to HNL from BNE via SYD. I thought about flying Hawaiian airlines but my loyalty QF won through. I would have used some FF points but naturally no flights were available
30 MAR 06 QF 551 ECONOMY 30MAR06 BRISBANE/SYDNEY
B737-800 Seat 15D
This was an evening flight full of suits and ties travelling between two of Australia’s largest city. It was 100% full and 99% of the passengers had brought on laptops and it was quite congested. Normal QF dinner was served and we landed smoothly at SYD.Cabin crew were attentive and professional as is demanded by average business travellers
Photo © Quinn Savit
Photo © Chris Finney
31 MAR 06 QF 003 ECONOMY 30MAR06 SYDNEY/HONOLULU
B747-300 VH-EBT Seat 20A Departure time 2035
At Sydney I had to take the international transfer bus to the International terminal which drives across the airport aprons offering a great private tour. The connection was tight and I had no time to claim back GST on my purchases. After clearing immigration/customs I was straight on the plane and in my seat.
The condition of the plane was very impressive. I am sure not one average passenger would have known that this classic bird is over 20 years old. Qantas has totally reconfigured the cabin with new slim line seating, IFE, new carpets, trims, etc. Even the Perspex and glass was like a factory new 744. The galley configuration remains unchanged. In all the QF 743’s are very respectable
Aircraft loading was about 70% which really irritated me. I understand how FF loadings work, but had I have flown another airline QF would have missed my business. It’s so frustrating not to be able to get a FF flight and then on boarding see 100 or so empty seats!
My seat was the first economy seat immediately behind the port number one door. This is the normally the business class section on QF 747’s but the 743 configuration has reduced business class seating. It was obviously nice and quiet being so far forward in the cabin and there was a space between me and the girl in 20C. After takeoff a meal was served and I then slept. Our female Captain gave a few warnings about turbulence but after tightening my seat belt I just gently let the rocking and rolling send me to sleep. We had a nice tailwind component on route and arrived in Honolulu about 0940, so it meant having the same day all over again, after a very smooth landing.
The cabin crew were attentive without being intrusive but honestly with my full size pillow (the cheapest form of a free upgrade to first class) wedged up against the window for me to sleep; I really didn’t pay much attention to the cabin service
Photo © Gabriel Savit
Photo © Brenden
7 APRIL 06 HAWAIIAN AIRLINES HONOLULU/KONA Seat 15A
I arrived at the interisland terminal domestic terminal about 2 hours before my flight and got to enjoy a couple of hours of Aloha and Hawaiian planes coming and going.
On boarding the 2 year old 717 we were warmly greeted by the cabin crew. After takeoff we got the legendary view of Honolulu out of the window and then climbed through some stratus cloud. Following the map I could see us pass just south of Maui and at one point got a view of 3 islands at once. The small fruit drink was a nice touch to avoid any thirst. Before long we were on descent and on a long base leg for Kona. Turning final the amasing sight of black lava signified the change in topography from the island of Oahu.
We taxied up to the terminal building which is entirely outdoors with natural air-conditioning. We exited down the stairs and walked to the terminal gate.
Photo © Lee A. Karas
Photo © Ivan Nishimura
13 APRIL 06 HAWAIIAN AIRLINES KONA/HONOLULU Seat 9A
On schedule the 717 pulled up from HNL and we were soon boarding to the amasing Aloha welcome and smiles of the Hawaiian flight crew. These guys do a large number of sectors each day and work pretty hard but there smile and friendliness never ceases. (DELTA, AA and UA crew take note). The flight back to HNL was again fast and I think we were airborne less than 20 minutes. Hawaiian really impressed me.
Photo © Mark Kopczak
Photo © Je89 W.
18 APR 06 QF 004 ECONOMY 15APR06 HONOLULU/SYDNEY
B747-300 VH-EBX Seat 27K
It was a long walk to the departure gate for the QF flight and it was all outdoors in the heat. HNL really does need some upgrading as it is still stuck in the 1970’s. I could see there wasn’t a 747 load of passengers waiting to board and it so became evident that the loading was about 65% so there was about 150 empty seats. After takeoff I moved further to the rear giving me three seats to myself. I chatted to the crew a bit and obviously they love the HNL run as most were obviously older and higher on the bidding. They certainly didn’t like working the 743 due to the galley configuration but today wasn’t going to be a big work load. I thought a couple of the older female crew were a bit up themselves. It was like they were doing us a favour – you could just see it on their face.
Photo © Gabriel Savit
Photo © Craig Murray
Some of this crew have no idea how good they have it with their $80,000 plus incomes and fairly good lifestyle. If only they did a month stint on a LCC. In any case I ate my meal and slept straight away and woke with just less than 5 hours to run. I watched a little video and after an evening meal we were on descent into SYD. I couldn’t pick the approach until short final and realised were on final for the short western runway. We slammed down harder than normal with heavy braking and thrust reversers with the benefit being we were at the gate quickly. As I was walking through the arrivals hall I chatted to the Captain who explained that his hard landing wasn't really expected but he had to get the bird on the ground pretty quick. We spoke about the 743 future and he confirmed Qantas' current plans are to keep the 743 flying until 2011
I had bought a hand carved tiki god so I declared this and went through the red customs lane. There was as many people with goods to declare as without and in the rush to find my items for inspection I think I may have forgot to repack a couple of caps I bought as souvenirs. I was soon out of customs and heading for the domestic transfer bus. This entails rechecking luggage and a security check and a wait for the bus. The bus again took us across the airport and upon arrival at the QF domestic terminal my flight to Brisbane was closing the doors. A few of us rushed on board
18 APR 06 QF 548 ECONOMY 16APR06 SYDNEY/BRISBANE
B737-400 VH-TJK Seat 12A
As soon as I saw that this was VH-TJK I was a little excited. In the early 1990’s I managed to go to Boeing in Seattle and I got a VIP tour of the Renton 737/757 plant. At the time a good friend was a 727 Captain and Australian airlines was taking delivery of new 733 and 734 aircraft. Australian Airlines which was originally TAA and Government owned was ultimately made part of the Government’s international carrier Qantas integrating all of the Government Airlines. (QF was then floated on the stock exchange but for most of its life has been government owned)
Australian Airlines used to have a couple of engineers at Renton during the construction of planes to supervise every move of the Boeing factory. Very few airlines of course bothered with this expense but at the time expense was not a big issue. We managed to go anywhere and everywhere through the plant including climbing on planes in various stages of build. VH-TJK was one of those planes that I was climbing on
Photo © Micheil Keegan
Photo © Craig Murray
Anyway, after boarding we sat at the gate another 20 minutes whilst the bags from all the international transfers were loaded. We then took another 10 minutes taxing and arrived about 20 minutes late into BNE. From memory the dinner served was the standard issue Qantas pasta meal (yes QF does serve meals on 1 hour flights) at meal times.
In all it was a relaxing 2 week break, but having to transit through Sydney is a real pain. I just hope that in future there will be more flights direct to the rest of the world out of BNE and/or OOL. I know that there were least 80 people on QF4 that were heading to OOL or BNE.
I really must comment on the immaculate condition of the QF aircraft including the 734 that again inside was basically indistinguishable from a 738