SECTOR: SYD - PER
ETD: 19:25 (local) ETA: 22:30 (local)
ATD: 19:40 (local) ATA: 22:45 (local)
FLIGHT TIME: 5:05
AIRCRAFT: Boeing 747-338
REGISTRATION: VH-EBX “City of Wodonga”
DEPARTING GATE: 7
DEPARTING RWY: 16R
ARRIVAL RWY: 03
ARRIVAL GATE: 3
Photo © Unmuth-AirTeamImages VAP
After an exhausting but fun filled week in Sydney it was now time to return home to Perth. Our last night in New South Wales had us spend the night in Katoomba where my best friend’s dad lives. My best friend had to go to a family event leaving the remaining three of us to chill out the rest of the day in Katoomba and to make our way from the Blue Mountains down to Sydney Airport. My best friend would meet us at the airport after coming straight from her family event. The weather was unbearable. It was freezing cold and wet and for the last 24 hours I was in a cloud as fog had gripped the Blue Mountains. The locals talked about the high chance of it snowing. I wished it had as it would have been worth the suffering. But I then remembered that snow is pretty overrated. I am a hot weather kind of guy. The bad part as well was everyone was coming down with a cold due to extreme partying the last past week.
With not much to see and feeling pretty buggered after a full on week we just hung around the house (which had a stunning view I am sure when the fog lifted) till the mid afternoon. We then made the small but awkward trek from the house to the railway station in the fog and the rain with luggage in tow. Once at the train station we bought tickets direct to Sydney Airport’s domestic terminal. I can’t remember the cost but it seemed reasonable considering the distance from Katoomba to the airport. After about a 30min wait the train pulled into the station. We clambered onto the train and settled into our seats for the 1-hour plus journey to central station in Sydney. From there we would change trains for the rail service to the airport.
The rail journey was pretty uneventful and gave us a nice overview of Sydney, its outer suburbs and surrounding area. During the whole journey it was raining. Quite amazing since the whole week we had amazing weather and sunshine. We arrived at Central Station and disembarked and followed signs to the platform we needed to be at to catch the train to the airport. It was then a rude surprise to find that for some reason (probably due to engineering works) the rail line to the airport was closed and we needed to catch the replacement bus service. So we followed the many signs through the catacombs that is Sydney Central Station.
We found the bus waiting for us on a street in the rain. We hoped in and sat down and waited for the bus to leave. I was surprised to find my best friend and her dad on the bus waiting for us. There were a couple of very anxious passengers who began shouting at the bus driver to stop waiting and to go. We found out through their loud conversation that they had caught the wrong train and ended up in Bondi. They had to catch a train back to central station and their Jetstar flight was leaving in 30mins. There was no way they were going to make their flight to the Gold Coast. I think they came to the same realization too as they got out a couple of beers and started drinking them. The bus eventually left and in about 15mins we were at the domestic terminal. My best friend and I said good bye to two of our friends who would leave us now and continue their holiday in Melbourne and were flying Virgin Blue. So after good-byes were done my best friend and I headed to the Qantas Domestic terminal with her dad.
Photo © Matthew Chisholm
We checked in via the self-check in kiosk and found that we had been allocated seats at the back of our aircraft and we were in the middle. This would not do. After scrolling up the seat map we found slightly better seats but we were still at the rear of the aircraft, not to worry. Just as I was about to print our boarding passes a Qantas ground staff member asked us what flight we were on. We told him we were on QF583. He said “ooh that’s a full one, what seats do you have?” I told him and he said, “If you would just like to follow me I think we could do better”. My Friend and I followed him to a vacant counter and he checked the computer to find us a better seat. He checked for the exit rows first but they were all full now. He did find us some better seats over the wing of the aircraft. He said it would be better than the back as the rear of the 747 can be quite bumpy and loud. We thanked him very much for his efforts and proceeded through security to head to our gate.
Photo © Darren Koch
Photo © Darren Koch
My friend did some last minute shopping and I was starving and it would be at least an hour and a half till I get fed so I went to Burger King. After finishing my meal and meeting up again with my best friend and her dad we headed to gate seven, our assigned gate. When we arrived at the lounge it was quite full. It looked like it was going to be a full flight across to Perth tonight. I decided I would take some photos. I went up to the windows and saw that my ride tonight would by a Boeing 747-338 VH-EBX named City of Wodonga. As I was taking photos, I heard a voice ask if I was getting some good shots. I turned around and to my surprise it was one of the pilots. I had short discussion with him about the 747-300. He then excused him self as he had to board.
I headed back to my friend and her dad and we waited in the packed lounge for about 20mins till it was time to board. The first boarding call was made. My friend and I decided to wait as we were near the front section of economy class plus there was a long lined formed for boarding. After a 10 minute gap we both joined the queue. The lined moved slowly. We had our boarding passes swiped and we picked up our complimentary head sets. We then entered through door 1L and found our seats. There was no room in the overhead bin above my seat for my friend and my hand luggage. I managed to find some room in a over head bin a few rows back.
Photo © Micheil Keegan
Photo © Micheil Keegan
It was not long before the usual welcome messages we were made. We were then pushed back from the gate and the safety demonstration was played on the PTV. With the PTVs EBX looked a lot newer than its 20 year old age. After the safety demonstration was played the lights in the cabin was dimmed and the flaps were lowered as we made our short taxi to the threshold of runway 16R. We held for about 5 minutes. By the looks of outside it was still raining. Because we were the 2nd row behind door 3R we could see the steward strapped into his seat. Whist we held for departure he was making some polite small talk with the passengers in the row in front of us as he was facing them. He was reassuring them that he had taken off in worse weather. We turned onto the wet runway and began our takeoff roll. Our initial climb out of Sydney airport was quite bumpy as we passed through the rain clouds. Because of this much of the view of Sydney was obscured. We climbed out on our runway headed and then made a sharp turn to the right to track in a north west direction for Katoomba.
During our climb the lights were turned back on and announcement was made by the CSM that the dinner service would begin shortly and that they would be turning on the entertainment system soon. When the system was turned on I flicked through the menu selection to see what was playing. Unlike the Qantas 747-400s and A330-300s the 747-338 fleet is not equipped with AVOD and their selection is not as great as the AVOD equipped aircraft. I decided to watch Over the Hedge. My friends liken me to the squirrel in that movie. One interesting selection was Snakes on the Plane. Not one for those who have a fear of snakes and of flying.
Photo © Darren Koch
Dinner was served during the movie and after the meals were collected and the tea and coffee dispensed it was then time for the ice-cream. I decided to get up and have a walk. I love to walk around on the aircraft especially with all the PTVs on. It’s an amazing sight with everybody is watching something different. Qantas is definitely very popular on these trans con run and it definitely showed with most passengers forgoing the sleeping option but watching something instead. During the flight the crew were quite attentive and walked through the cabin regularly with water to keep us all hydrated.
I returned to my seat and watched some nature documentaries. There is an ok selection of movies about 8 – 10 choices. Then there is a comedy channel, with shows like Frasier and Everybody Loves Raymond, There is also a Documentary channel and Nickelodeon Channel. The game selection is rather limited and quite primitive. The AVOD Qantas A330 and the Malaysia Airlines 747 & 777 had a way better selection. The rest of the flight went by smoothly. I feel sorry for those passengers who will have to forgo their larger selection of entertainment when Qantas adds the 747-338 into its AKL –LAX –AKL service. But for this 5 hour flight what was being provided was more than adequate
It was not long before it was time to land. The Captain came over the P.A and informed us about the weather in Perth and thanked us for flying with them today. The engines were soon throttled back and we began our descent. As this was being done we were instructed by the CSM that we had begun our descent and that all electronic items must be switched off. The cabin crew also walked through the cabin to collect any service items and headsets. I could not see much as I was not near the window. We may have had our headsets collected but flying map was still available on screen. It appeared we would be landing on runway 03 as we had not traveled north enough to swing onto a runway 21 final. The seat belt sign came on and the crew took their seats. Once again the crew member that was seated near us made small conversation with the people in the front row. They were discussing how strange it was having Snakes on a Plane as one of the movie selections
As we were on a base leg for a runway 03 landing I felt the spoilers being deployed. I could see some lights out the window and it really looked like we were floating over Perth. As we slowed right down I could definitely feel the nose of our aircraft rise up. Then all of a sudden we made a sharp but smooth right hand turn for our final approach for runaway 03. The flaps were lowered into their final position and the landing gear lowered. Touch down was very smooth and we decelerated fast.
We had a long landing roll though and we exited right in front of the Qantas Domestic terminal. It was then an extremely quick taxi to gate three. The aircraft came to a halt and the seat belt signs were extinguished. It was some time before the doors were opened so we could leave the aircraft. I guess we had to wait for the business class passengers de-board and gate three is only equipped with one aerobridge. I have no idea why they did not put us in gate 2 as that is a dual aerobridge and I thought the reason for installing these were to speed up boarding and de-boarding. It took my friend and I longer to leave as our hand luggage was behind us. We waited in the entry way of door 3R to let people pass. We thanked people for flying with us with the steward who thought it was rather hilarious. Quite amazing that in just over an hour the crew and VH-EBX will be taking a fresh batch of passengers back across the beautiful country to Sydney. After we did eventually leave the aircraft it was downstairs to baggage claim with the hundreds of other people. We met my best friend’s boyfriend downstairs as he was picking us up. It took some time before our bags came out and it took even longer to leave the carpark.
GROUND HANDLING: 8/10
Gotta love the Sydney Qantas Domestic terminal. Probably the best domestic terminal in the country which is not surprising as it is the busiest, It is probably better than some international terminals. Fantastic ground staff in Sydney and very helpful. Having a 747 dock at gate 7 in Sydney and gate 3 in Perth was a bit strange as these are not a dual aerobridge gate. So this slowed the boarding and deboarding process Perth’s baggage claim was packed with our 747 arrival so you imagine how crammed it must be when there are two 747 arrivals at the same time
The new interiors helped 747-EBX not to look her age. She was in great condition inside and out. And I am sure most passengers had no idea of her true age
Cabin crew did a great job. Qantas has nailed being very professional yet warm and casual at the same time.
Was delicious. I opted for the Asian chicken.
No AVOD, but at least EBX was equipped with PTVs. The selection was ok for a flight this long but for the long sectors like AKL – LAX which EBX will soon ply and SYD – NRT and SYD – BOM which she used to do, I can’t imagine that what they are offering will/would have been enough.
X FACTOR: 4/5:
The 747s are proving to be a hit on the trans con run. People are willing to pay the extra 50 bucks to fly on the 747. Like my A330-300 flight I experienced a flight that some international carriers could not match. I really hope that when these beautiful 747-338s are released from the Qantas fleet I hope Qantas does not just have the 767 and 737 for their domestic customers. Hopefully their 747-400s can do some of the Melbourne and Sydney Perth run. Who knows with 20 A380s coming online in the next few years we may even see the occasional A380 at peaks times. Now I would hate to see how the already over taxed Qantas Domestic terminal would cope with that.
TOTAL 40/55 = 72.73%