SECTOR: MEL - PER
ETD: 18:55 (local) ETA: 20:55 (local)
ATD: 18:55 (local) ATA: 20:55 (local)
FLIGHT TIME: 4:00
AIRCRAFT: Boeing 747-338
REGISTRATION: VH-EBV “City of Geraldton”
DEPARTING GATE: 11
DEPARTING RWY: 34
ARRIVAL RWY: 21
ARRIVAL GATE: 3
Photo © Craig Murray
After a very busy two days in a series of long meetings it was time to head home to Perth. After talking to my boss I found out that we would be finishing a bit earlier than expected at just after 4pm. This meant I would be able to switch from my 20:40 QF653 flight, which would be operated by a 737-400 to an earlier flight which would be operated by a 747-338. Hmm I wonder which one I would pick. After a quick phone call to our travel people my flight was changed. During lunch I had informed my colleague who I had traveled form Perth that I had switched to her flight back home. She asked if I had checked in yet? I asked her as to what she meant and that is when I was shown something which ahs since changed the way I travel. That is On-Line Checkin. I checked in picked my seat which was 25A and judging by the seat map tonight’s flight looked rather light. I then emailed my boarding pass to a Melbourne colleague’s computer and she printed my boarding pass.
Photo © Jia Hu
Photo © Wolodymir Nelowkin
Work finished just after 4pm as promised and my interstate colleagues as well as my manager gathered our things and headed to Melbourne Tullamarine Airport. Since my manger had to go to Sydney that night I scored a lift with him. We fought our way through the heavy Melbourne traffic and arrived at Tullamarine about 50mins later. My Manager parked his car in the multistory car park and it was a short walk via the footbridge to the Qantas terminal. Perth Airport needs to take a leaf out of Melbourne Airport’s book. Domestic terminals located next to the international terminal and they have multistory parking.
Since I had already got my boarding pass I just needed to drop my bags off at the “Quick Bag Drop off” That all happened rather smoothly, then it was through security and upstairs into the Qantas Club. The Qantas club was very spacious and busy but because of its size it did not feel cramped. We had a great view over the Qantas Domestic terminal centre apron. We found my other colleagues and I dumped my stuff with them. I was starving and knew it would be some time before we would eat so I headed over to the buffet. There was not much to choose from and as always all the hot food was gone with a swarm of business men waiting for the next batch. I got a plate and got some fruit, cold cuts, cheese and some sun dried tomatoes. Qantas Club should think about bigger plates. But I guess bigger plates equate to bigger serves which means more food which means more money.
Photo © Darren Koch
My aircraft was already at the gate and was surrounded by a many service vehicles. Today I would be flying on VH-EBV “City of Geraldton” who is the only West Australian christened 747-338. There was not much action happening at the Qantas terminal but I did manage to catch VH-VXP “Logan” with her 75th Anniversary Trans Pacific Crossing commemorative decal. My interstate colleagues left as flights to Sydney and Adelaide were called for boarding. It was now dark out side and as usual only us Perth people were left. We decided to head to the gate as it was long walk to gate 11 and we just wanted to get home.
As we arrived at gate 11 we were surprised to find that we were boarding already. And it was 25mins before departure. Having a 747 at gate 11 is a very tight fit indeed. The nose of the aircraft was right near the glass window. The fact that the departure gate is at a level of a 767 meant that having to look up at the huge beast at such a close distance made VH-EBV look enormous. There was no line to board the aircraft due to our light load tonight. I had my boarding pass which I printed out at work earlier scanned and I boarded through door1L. I was met at the door by a lovely stewardess who directed me to my seat. I thought I would be lucky to have the whole row to myself but as the boarding process went on a gentlemen later took seat C. at least there was a blocked seat between us. In fact this is the furtherest at the front I have been seated on the 747.
Door 1L was the first to be closed and it’s servicing jetway was retracted. A ground engineer came down the stairs and stood by door 2L and was filling out some paper work. Eventually he left and the door was closed. We were then very slowly and carefully pushed back from our tight gate and faced west. Our engines were started one by one and as that was happening our personal video screens switched from screen saver mode (with screenshots from the Qantas commercial) to the safety demonstration. I love the deep groans of those old Rolls Royce engines as they started up. I could see the ground crew walk away from us after disconnecting the tug and holding the pin in the air.
Photo © David Morrell - Avid Creations
Photo © David Morrell - Avid Creations
Photo © Will Lanting
We began our long taxi to runway 34. We slowly passed the international terminal where an Emirates A340-500 and 777-31H could be seen. It is quite amazing how much Emirates’ presence has grown in Australia in that last 10 years. As we taxied out to the runway the cabin lights were dimmed and we were immersed in darkness for the takeoff. As we passed the Cargo ramp we could see two 747-400 freighters. One was an Atlas Air aircraft the other was a Singapore Airlines Cargo Mega Ark with her red beacon brightly flashing as she was slowly being pushed back from her stand. We turned towards the runaway and held short before turning onto it. Form what I could see we would not be using the entire length of the runway as we had turned onto it just after the Cargo ramp and I could see many lights of the runway which would be behind us. This was probably due our light load today. I could see two set of landing lights lined up with runway 34. I thought we would wait till these aircraft would land before our takeoff roll.
That would not be the case and our landing lights and strobes were switched on and we then began our taxi again and swung onto the runway and began our takeoff roll almost immediately. Because I was in front of the wing the landing lights illuminated my window and the inside of my cabin. Our takeoff roll was not very long and we gracefully rotated and were airborne. Soon after leaving the ground we made a sharp left hand turn to face to the East and head towards Mount Gambier and climbed to our assigned flight level which was FL380. It was not too long before the CSM made announcement about tonight’s flight to Perth and informed us about tonight’s meal service.
I settled down and flicked through the PTV menu to see what was on offer. Now the 747-338 is not equipped with AVOD and has less of a selection of movies (I think only eight) that the 747-400 and A330-303. I decided to watch Nacho Lebre. It was not too long before the meal service began. Since we were at the front we received the meal service very quickly. Tonight’s choice was between Fish Curry or Pasta with Tomatoes. I opted for the fish was delicious and this came with accompanied by the usual bread roll, Twix chocolate bar, cheese and crackers. Complementary beer and wine was available for this City Flyer service. The crew also came past to offer the usual tea or coffee.
Once the meal service was eventually cleared away and my movie (which was not very good) had ended I decided to do a walk through the cabin and found many spare seats. Some rows were completely vacant. Not everyday you get to travel on a near empty 747. I estimate about 100 people. The once I returned to my seat the crew came past and offered ice cream. I enjoyed that and decided to watch some documentaries as I love nature ones. I watched Richard Attenbourgh’s Planet earth which is fantastic but was feeling sleepy and actually nodded off.
I had about a 40 min nap and when I awoke I switch my PTV to map view and saw we were still at FL380 and we were nearing the Town of Esperence in Western Australia. Our flight path was near identical to the flight to Melbourne. I had taken 2 days earlier. We would make our descent in under an hour from now. Before the descent the captain informed us of the weather in Perth which was fine and thanked us for flying on Qantas. The engines were throttled back and we began our descent. We banked to the right and began to track north-northwest. I guess we would be using runway 21 tonight.
The cabin lights were switched back on and the cabin crew did their walk through the cabin to collect any left over service items and to ensure seat belts were fasten and seats and tray tables were up right. There was not much to see outside as we were flying over the country side but as we were getting closer to Perth we could see more and more lights from houses and roads and the odd car. The cabin lights were dimmed again for landing and the seat belt sign came on and the crew took their seats. We were flying very slowly now and it felt the engines were at idle. We banked to the left for our base leg for runway 21. The flaps were lowered slowly and the landing lights were switched back on. Again my window and seat in front of me was fully illuminated due to the light.
As we turned onto final for the runway the landing gear was lowered and the flaps were lowered into their final position. The engines revved up a bit to maintain airspeed. By now we were well and truly over the suburbs of Perth and I could make out streets and cars very easily. It actually felt like we were really low. Because I was seated in front of the wing the pitch of the nose felt very high. The houses soon disappeared then black then all of a sudden runway and taxi lights. Touchdown was in smooth 747 style and heavy reverse thrust was used to slow us down.
The international terminal looked quiet except for a Garuda 737 and a MASKargo 747-200F. We exited on a taxiway to our right and then turned on to another taxiway to turn parallel to runway 21. On this taxiway we continue traveling south taking us away from the terminal before we turned left onto another taxi way then back onto the runway and back tracked on runway 21. As we back tracked the engines were spooled up to give us maximum taxi speed. We slowed right down when we reached the taxiway that would lead us to the Qantas Domestic Terminal.,
The landing lights were switched off as we turned onto this taxiway and the flaps were retracted. It was then a very shot taxi to gate 3. As we taxied past gate 2 we could se a Qantas A330-303 “Cairns” parked there. She had just come from Sydney as QF571 and was unloading her passengers. She looked mighty fine all light up like a Christmas tree and it was very cool to see all the people through the window move down the aisles to disembark. We too pulled slowly into the gate and came to a halt. The engines were cut and the seatbelt signs were turned off. Since we were only using door 1L we had to wait for all the business class passengers to disembark before we left the aircraft.
Baggage claim was a nightmare with both an A330 and a 747 arriving at the same time. At least our flight was fairly empty. The Sydney flight looked very full. My bag did not take to long to arrive. One I had collect it I was to trek to my car that was parked miles away in the long term car park
GROUND HANDLING: 5/10
The Melbourne Qantas Terminal whilst still modern could use a little bit of a spruce up, particularly the check in area. Qantas Club there was fine. Good views over the central apron. It was fairly busy but it did not feel crowded. Perth again let down Qantas. Having the two largest types currently in the Qantas fleet arrive 5mins within each other did put pressure on Perth’s arrival hall. Thank god Qantas is investing $50 in the expanding the terminal but like everyone else has said this can only been seen as a Band-Aid solution. But I hate to think what disruption the building work will cause.
Like I have said about my previous Qantas 747-338 flight, to an untrained eye you could be mistaken to think that VH-EBV was one of the newest aircraft in the Qantas fleet and not one of the oldest. She would be the oldest now since the retirement of VH-EBT & EBU. Clean comfortable cabin. Those PTVs really have brought EBV into the 21st century and having her half full was fantastic.
Cheerful crew this evening. Always had a smile on their face.
Meal was delicious. Sometimes I wish they would have bigger servings
Selection was ok. No AVOD is really annoying. I am sure that pax on the 747-338 flights across the pacific will notice that the limited amount of entertainment on offer on the non AVOD PTVs.
X FACTOR: 4/5:
Great flight, I really enjoyed the 747 across from Melbourne I can see why Qantas is doing very well with these aircraft on trans continental runs.
TOTAL 42/55 = 76.36%