Saturday, May 2012
London (LHR) - Singapore (SIN)
Scheduled times: 21:30-17:30
Actual times: 21:56-17:59
Flight duration: 12:34 (hrs)
Distance: 6765 miles
Economy Class, seat 76H
VH-OQG (MSN 047), named "Charles Ulm"
Built in 2009, delivered in 12/2010
1st flight on VH-OQG
6th A380 flight
5th A380 carrier
My journey started with an eventless flight from Munich to Heathrow on British Airways A320-200 G-EUYE
, fortunately a new registration for me. After the on-time arrival at Terminal 5, I had more than four hours left until departure from Terminal 3. Spotting is nearly impossible from there, so I decided to stay in the Terminal 5 gate area for about two hours. I found a good spot from where I could see planes rolling onto runway 09R:
Finally, I took the airside bus to Terminal 3, passed security and made a short stop at a Qantas transfer desk. I had already checked in online and printed my boarding passes on the day before, but I wanted to know whether the flight was on time. "Yes, it is",
a rather reserved agent replied. "Last time I came here, the entire fleet was grounded"
, I couldn't resist to remark. She didn't say anything and I asked whether the flight would be full. "Yes"
, the lady simply replied...okay, now it was high time to end this dreary conversation.
Fortunately, the gate was announced soon and I didn't have to "wait in lounge" any longer. The QF ground staff members checking boarding passes were much friendlier than the lady at the transfer desk. Before I could proceed, I had to give details about my stay and onward journey - due to Singapore immigration regulations, I was told.
And here's the long-desired Qantas giant - VH-OQG
was assigned to QF002
Of course I had been hoping to fly on the famous "Nancy-Bird Walton"
(VH-OQA), but that restored bird was operating elsewhere as I had already seen on Flighradar24
on the day before.
, one of 12 A380s in the fleet, is named after Australian pioneer aviator Charles Ulm
Another giant was parked next to VH-OQG
- operating for one of Qantas' former main rivals:
Boarding by zones commenced on time and I had to queue up only shortly. "Welcome, Mr. PlaneHunter"
, a friendly flight attendant said when I stepped on board - that's what I call a good start!
I had been skeptical about Qantas' choice of cabin colors, but they look actually quite nice in reality. Here's a row in the "red zone":
"Green zone" where I would spend the next 13+ hours:
Here's my row with my seat 76H in the foreground:
Actually I had wanted to sit in the "orange zone" (last section), but all aisle seats in the outer rows were already occupied when I checked the seat map after booking. Reserving a seat in advance meanwhile costs 25 Australian dollars (20 Euro) per sector on international flights. I still paid AUD20 back then.
The dark seatback didn't look bad either in reality:
While I found the 18.1-inch wide seat very comfortable, the 31-inch pitch was not sufficient:
Due to the seatback extending too far down, it was difficult to stretch out - which is really bad on such a long flight. The foot rest was nice, though, and the IFE box didn't take away too much space:
The amenity kit contained eyeshade and dental care set:
Well, they could have added "ER" to "B767-300", specified "B747-400ER" and split up the Dash 8 versions, but these are minor issues…
Shopping guide and safety card:
That's what I was looking for:
Still pointing towards north:
I was very glad when I realized that the middle seat would remain empty. Even though Qantas could enjoy a healthy load, the plane wasn't full in Economy Class, other than earlier suggested by the lady at the transfer desk.
Shortly before the scheduled departure time, the captain made a welcome announcement and informed that a bag had to be offloaded again due to a missing passenger. While the search was going on, tiring strumming music was played and I was glad to hear the captain again 15 minutes later: "The bag has been found, we are closing now."
We left the gate 26 minutes behind schedule and quickly taxied to runway 09R, directly behind the Emirates A380 which had been parking next to us. QF002
cleared for takeoff:
The four RR Trents quietly accelerated the plane which gently lifted off sooner than expected. This was my sixth A380 flight, but by far the longest, so I was a bit surprised about the quick takeoff. The climb out over London's countless lights was simply amazing.
I kept following the flight path for the next hour or so. 12 hours and 21 minutes to go:
Flight path straight over Amsterdam, Berlin and Warsaw:
While I was enjoying the IFE, I overheard a flight attendant asking the man behind me (occupying three seats) whether he would agree to move to another row to make room for a sick passenger. He did so and two minutes later, a young couple showed up, with the lady looking sick indeed. Even though she wasn't coughing or sneezing, I certainly didn't like the fact that she would lie behind me for the next 11 hours. Well, I don't know what she was suffering from, but not even 24 hours later, I would turn sick as well...
Coincidence or not? I don't know. More about that to follow in the next part.
Dinner was about to be served, so it was time to have a look at the menu card:
What I found really interesting was the journey planner at the bottom:
Sausages or chicken pie? I wasn't overly impressed by that choice of (very British) dishes:
At least there was ginger ale on the beverage list - and it turned out to be Schweppes
Finally I decided to try the chicken pie and I was glad that it was still available...I really wouldn't have wanted these sausages. The tray was a bit small, but everything looked okay:
I must admit that the pie didn't taste bad at all and I also liked the salad. However, the strawberry fool tasted strange.
After dinner, I decided to have a hot drink, but the flight attendant with coffee and tea pots was rushing through the aisle so quickly that she missed my request. When she was passing again, I stopped her and she kindly offered various drinks, including hot chocolate and peppermint tea.
Shortly after dinner trays had been recollected, the flight attendants distributed "Refresh" bags...
...including water and snacks for the night - actually a very good idea considering that many passengers cannot access the aisle easily:
After the cabin lights had been dimmed, I went for a walk. The next self serve snack bar was located just a few steps away from my seat, in the galley section between the green and the orange zone:
This is the large snack bar at the rear of the cabin:
The stairway up to more comfortable cabin sections:
Moving around wasn't easy in the darkness:
Now I was trying to get some sleep which wasn't easy due to the noise in the cabin. Yes right, noise! There was a loud snorer just across the aisle and the A380's quietness was a curse rather than a blessing in this case.
Anyway, I still managed to snooze for a while.
When I woke up again, we were already cruising over Pakistan...
...province of Baluchistan, to be precise:
What an amazing tail cam view:
Now it was time to have a closer look at the on-demand IFE system. According to Qantas, there are 1500 options including up to 100 movies, over 500 television programs, 1000 CDs, a selection of audio books, 20 radio channels, 80 games and Lonely Planet
interactive destination guides. Entertainment main menu:
Features on board:
Cabin overview with lavatory and snack bar guide:
No data uploaded here - I prefer the printed menus anyway:
Qantas' latest IFE system which is available on the A380s and selected 747-400s offers a great selection of options and can keep you entertained for a long time. Of course it still cannot match Emirates' excellent ice digital widescreen
Cabin lighting turned up again before breakfast service:
I preferred the hot meal over the continental breakfast:
While fruit and pastry were fine, the partly fatty main course was nothing to write home about.
The remaining flight time passed quickly and it was time to switch back to the tail camera view again:
Final approach over countless ships:
We touched down after a flying time of 12 hours and 34 minutes and arrived at our Terminal 1 gate 29 minutes behind schedule:
Now it was a good opportunity to take a cabin shot in daylight:
One last picture of VH-OQG
which was now being prepared for its onward journey to Sydney:
After leaving the gate area, I headed straight to the Ambassador Transit Hotel
in Terminal 1 where I had booked a room for 10 hours - the plan was to enter Singapore on the next day after my side trip to Macau. Actually I had asked for a room in the hotel's Terminal 2 facility where my Air Macau flight would depart from, but it was already fully booked. The hotel isn't cheap, but you cannot beat its location. My room was functional, but the furnishing was showing its age:
Unfortunately, it wasn't possible to entirely switch off the air conditioning, so I permanently felt an air draft - probably another contribution to the next days' events.
Nice view from the room - Cathay Pacific 777-300, Jetstar A330-200 and Air France 777-300ER F-GZNE in Skyteam colors...
...JAL 767-300ER JA653J and some SIA birds:
As soon as the daylight was gone, it was time to rest considering that I had to leave my room again at 04:30 in the morning. Story to be continued...
[Edited 2012-11-29 09:36:25]