July 2, 2011
I am providing links to the photos on the Flickr site:
Photos at DFW
I placed the rest of the photos in a separate album, click on the thumbnails to view larger:
Schedule departure from DFW
Actual departure 12:20am
After several months of waiting and anticipation, it was time to go to DFW
and fly to Sydney. This would be my first time on Qantas and to Australia. I checked in a few hours before flight time and wandered the international concourse for a bit. The 747-400 was visible in a parking stand not too far from the assigned gate. I watched as it was towed to the gate. As it got dark and boarding time approached, I noticed that it was half an hour to boarding, nothing had happened yet. There was one passenger in a wheelchair waiting to board, but no activity. Then, an announcement was made that the plane was too hot after sitting out in 100F+ weather, and the pilot had to run the engines to cool it down to an acceptable level. They estimated another 20 minutes, yet advised that business class passengers could return to the lounge. This, and the fact that they seated the wheelchair passenger in the waiting area was a clue that 20 minutes was not likely. After 40 minutes, the staff begain circulating through the gate area informing passengers that it would probably only be another 20 minutes. One guy near me challenged a staff member stating that he did not believe her, because 20 minute increments seemed to come and go. I silently wondered about the heat problem myself, but pondered how June had been an especially hot month with several 100F+ days. Yet, the flight had been on time for the most part for June. I wondered how flights prior to this one had avoided the delay. Finally, around midnight, the plane was boarded. I noticed that the coach section was completely full. This was contrary to the rumor that several seats (up to 50?) were being blocked in order to ensure that the plane would have enough fuel to reach Brisbane. After running the engine to cool the plane to an acceptable level, it was necessary to refuel. I had aisle seat 67D to ensure I would have no problem getting up on the 15 hour flight. Normally, I like the window, but did not relish the idea of having to awaken two strangers to get out to the aisle. Pushback occurred at 12:20am and takeoff followed at 12:30. Not long after takeoff, the first meal was served. After that, most people attempted to sleep for a while. A snack bag with water, chocolates, chips, and a cookie was passed out shortly after the meal. The route itself went over El Paso, down to Mexico, entering the Pacific over the Baja peninsula, and then continuing well south of Hawaii. It did not appear that any major island groups were near until the plane reached an area close to Fiji and then New Caledonia. A breakfast was served about three hours from Brisbane. Upon arrival to BNE
, all passengers had to exit the aircraft with all carry on luggage, even those continuing on to Sydney.
July 4, 2011
The arrival time to Brisbane was 7:00am, 2 hours after the scheduled arrival time. Upon deplaning, I discovered it was not as simple a matter as getting back to the gate and waiting to continue on the last leg. A trip through security was required. This posed a problem for me, because I still had water in my Nalgene bottle from the long flight. I either had to find a place to dump it out or discard it. Since the bottles are not cheap, I finally dumped my dangerous water down the restroom sink and reassembled the small bag of liquids. After clearing security, I finally made my way back to the gate. Many of the passengers had connections in Brisbane, and according to the flight crew, were already rebooked from the flights they had missed. I did happen to see the immigration area, and noted that the lines were very long there. In hindsight, I can now say that a DFW
routing might be preferred to this one IF
both flights were in and out of Terminal 4 in LAX
. It would avoid the security issue, and the hot plane issue. Another passentger was fairly upset at security, because she had bought some duty free wine, and had no idea that she would have to go through security. She stated that the flight was advertised and sold as a “direct flight” from DFW
with one stop. I felt she had a valid point, but do not know how her situation was resolved.
Back at the gate, the departure time was set for 8:05, but we did not take off until 8:30am. The last leg had several open seats, so I moved to the window after ensuring that everyone had boarded. Flying time was at an hour and 10 minutes. I was really surprised that a breakfast was served on this flight. To all of you Aussies, if you fly any domestic routes within the US, you will see why I was surprised by this. The scenic flight crossed over the Great Dividing Range, and descended just to the north of Sydney harbor. I was fortunate to be on the side of the airplane where the city could be seen, along with its most famous landmarks. The airport also came into view. We continued south before turning back up the coast for the final approach, which offered a good view of Botany Bay. Immigration and customs was not crowded at all. The bag also appeared in a timely fashion. Therefore it did not take long to find the train station and enter the city.
July 8, 2011
Skd departure from SYD
Actual takeoff: 2:23pm
After a fairly short holiday, I had to make my way back to the airport and prepare for the nonstop to DFW
. The train was the preferred mode of transportation to the international terminal. The check in line served two flights, and it was not that long. I decided to go to the observation area and spot some planes for a while. This offered a good sampling of carriers from four continents. After that, I went to the duty free area and then ate lunch at the McDonalds. After taking a few photos, I went towards the gate. As I neared the gate, I saw an area of seats that looked like it was overflowing. Just ahead were gates 8 (QF 11 to LAX
) and 9 (QF 7 to DFW
). I was hoping that those gates were not as crowded, but it turned out that the area beyond was roped off, and the area I saw was actually the waiting area for both flights. So, I stood for a little while near the “holding tank.” The passageway was opened up for those going to LAX
, and this seemed to relieve the congestion. As our boarding time approached, I noticed that DFW
passengers were still not being allowed past the checkpoint to the gate. It was announced that a security sweep was being made, and a short delay would occur. Again, I though silently to myself about the fairly decent SYD
on time performance for flight 7 and pondered how the previous flights managed to avoid this delay. After all, the aircraft had been at that gate for at least a couple of hours (I had seen it from the observation deck). We did board and push back about 40 minutes late. Despite this, the pilot informed us the return flight would be a short 14 hours that would actually get us in close to on time. Ultimately this did turn out to be the case as we arrived at 2pm whith a scheduled arrival of 1:50pm. Again, I had an aisle seat 71D, and coach was once again completely full. The route took us not far from the north island of New Zealand and then to the south of Fiji. I would venture to say that we were not incredibly far from Tahiti at one point. Hawaii remained very far to the north. Landfall occurred at the Baja peninsula of Mexico, and entry into the US occurred a little to the east of El Paso. If I had a window seat on the left, Guadalupe Peak, the highest in Texas, would have been plainly visible. The landing was to the south, so it would have offered the viewers at Founders Plaza a good sight. Two meals were also served on this flight in addition to the snack bag. Some people slept quite a bit, and I was surprised that the person next to me never did get up, unless she did it really quickly while I was in the lavatory. In DFW
, immigration was a little congested since KLM had landed prior to us. We did get in just ahead of Lufthansa from Frankfurt. Customs was quick, and I had to wait a little while for the bag.
I would say that Qantas has good service. The on-time performance on this particular trip was not good, but they did get me and my luggage from point A to B. As for the routing, if I had to do it again, might try DFW
-??? next time on the westbound, but would of course keep the nonstop eastbound on the return. Many would probably benefit from the direct flight to DFW
, because it could avoid a double connection to several cities. On the westbound, it would really depend on both your origin and destination. Nevertheless, I enjoyed seeing Australia and would not mind returning some day.
[Edited 2011-07-13 17:54:47]