Recently, Qantas announced that it would be entering into an alliance with Emirates and re-routing all LHR flights via Dubai instead of Singapore. This also means that Qantas would be withdrawing all its A380 services to SIN, leaving Changi with only 744 and A333 QF services to FRA and the various Australian ports. Especially with my previous pleasant experience onboard QF's A380 flight, it was the perfect opportunity for me to catch a trip down-under on QF's A380 services before they are all gone from Changi. This trip was also made possible with most of the payment using complimentary Qantas Customer Care vouchers that QF gave me due to a 5hr flight delay previously (read my last QF trip report). It was also time to catch up with some relatives in Melbourne!
The flights were booked SIN-MEL/MEL-SYD-SIN with the SIN-MEL and SYD-SIN on A380s. It was also cheaper to fly via SYD on the way back.
Qantas only allows online check-in 24hrs before flight and when I checked in, the flight was almost totally full! Grabbed a window seat at the rear of the lower deck economy cabin. Upper deck economy was all full! Luggage drop in Changi was seamless and I visited The Green Market at T2 for a quick dinner compliments of my credit card.
Boarding pass. Flight was delayed by 15min due to late arrival from London.
Starters from the appetizer buffet.
Set menu. I skipped the sashimi though as I am not a sashimi fan.
Back to T1 to do some spotting. British Airways B744.
2 of the many daily Air Asia and CX flights at SIN.
Had a rather long walk to the gate at C26 and the gate was totally full of passengers! Boarding was furthered delayed for a while as the plane was prepared for departure.
23 November 2012
Singapore (SIN) - Melbourne (MEL)
The flight is a continuation of the LHR-SIN sector (soon to be discontinued) and it seemed that most passengers are connecting either from London or code-share services from other airlines such as AF, BA, 9W, MU etc. Boarding was soon announced and conducted in an orderly manner by classes, statuses and row numbers.
While boarding, I caught a photo of my A380 parked beside TG's new A380, which had just arrived from BKK.
Was welcome at the door by name (the norm rather than exception on Qantas) and directed to the correct aisle. Passed the front red economy cabin.
Followed by the green cabin. My seat was at the rearmost orange cabin. On each seat was a blanket and headsets.
TG A380 beside. The TG logo seemed a tad small on the A380's tail fin.
Inflight magazine. There were also a safety card and duty-free guide.
The very cool A380 tail-cam! Still parked at the gate.
The flight ended up nearly full! Only a couple of empty seats can be spotted in economy. My middle and aisle seats were also taken up. Gonna be a looooong flight. Boarding was soon completed but pushback was further delayed due to traffic. Qantas pilots did a good job in updating us frequently on our departure status. According to the pilot, due to our slight delay, we could only pushback 10min after the SQ A380 flight to MEL has started its taxi. During the wait, I started on my movie "The Watch". QF allows passengers to use its entertainment system gate-to-gate, which is a much better option than the current "IFE switched off 30mins before landing" routine on some airlines.
Finally pushbacked and taxied to Rwy20C, departing towards the south-west. However we had to wait on the taxiways for a while due to a queue of departing planes. Departed an hour late.
Shortly after departure. As the flight time was rather short, we could make up for some of the delay.
First up, amenity kits and immigration forms were distributed. Amenity kit consisted of eyeshades and toothbrush kit.
Following this, a crew member was seen distributing menus, but halfway down the aisle, she finished distribution of the menus she had in her hands and went back to the galley, never to appear with more menus again. Not sure if there was shortage of menus. Another crew was handing out bottle water, but only to those who expressed interest in having one. There was not enough bottled water to go round the full cabin. My entire row was missed out completely. QF did not load enough bottled water on this flight?? This is a slight disappointment to the start of the flight and definitely not of the usual high QF standards. Never mind, settle back in my comfortable seat and enjoy the IFE.
Soon, dinner service started with the handing out of special meals followed by the normal meals using carts. The options were chicken curry or pork with noodles. Both are asian choices. Browsing the IFE system, I discovered an online menu for Premium Economy and noticed that the main course selections were similar to Economy. No online menu for Economy though.
Meal tray, which came with a potato salad, main, passionfruit with sago pudding, roll with butter and a piece of Toblerone chocolate. I had a Riesling and huge cup of orange juice to go along. The female crew serving my aisle was extremely friendly, addressing everyone as "Honey" or "Darling"!
Potato salad and Braised Pork with Vinegar and Garlic Sauce, Ee-fu Noodles and Bok Choy.
Bottle of Riesling.
This meal was definitely an improvement from my previous QF flight. However portion of the main could be a bit larger. Main was tasty while dessert was a bit disappointing, but not as bad as my previous flight. What is with all the pudding desserts out of Singapore?
Hot coffee/tea was also served. I was expecting to have the Qantas renowned hot chocolate service after meal, but that never came during tray collection to my disappointment. It was recently that I read that QF has removed its hot chocolate / peppermint tea service on mid-haul overnight flights due to feedback from passengers that the meal service is too long. If QF is long, then SQ must be eternity! However it seemed that hot chocolate is still available upon request, but I was unaware of it.
4.5hrs to go after dinner.
QF's fantastic self-service bar at the rear. It was well-stocked with drinks. However the cookies compartment was closed, making me wonder that there might be no cookies available on this flight. On hindsight, there might be cookies available if I lifted open the hatch!!
Lavatory visit. Only the basics in there.
Took a couple of hours' nap. The Economy seats may be tight at only 31" pitch, but are rather comfortable for sitting. I was also lucky that the passenger in front of me preferred not to recline her seat. Add an additional 2 inches of pitch and QF would have a winner!
2 hours later, flying into dawn
Cabin was gradually brightened and crew started the light breakfast service, slightly more than 1 hour prior to arrival.
The light breakfast consisted of a warm raisin pastry, strawberry yoghurt, orange juice and coffee/tea. Delicious, quick breakfast.
View of cabin while making a last visit to the lav before descend.
Pilot came on with the arrival announcement.
Descending into Melbourne. Crew only started preparing the cabin for landing about 15min prior to arrival.
Making some turns as we would be approaching from the south.
Approaching the coast.
Turning back towards the runway with Melbourne city in sight.
Melbourne at dawn.
Runway 34 in sight!
Touched down 15min behind schedule.
Cathay A333 arriving behind.
Parked beside soon-to-be ally, EK A380.
Disembarked from the aircraft and had only a short walk to immigrations. But horrors!! The immigration queue for foreigners stretched from the immigration hall, pass the duty-free shops and almost reaching the gates!! Having a couple of full A380s (SQ and QF) arriving within 10min did not help either. I queued more than an hour just clearing arrival immigration!! The sole counter for aircrew was not much better as the arriving SQ crew also stood in line for more than an hour!! Melbourne airport authorities really need to expand their immigration facilities, and fast!
This flight on QF was not as great as my previous experience. Service was initially slightly uncoordinated (missing menus, no bottled water) but improved later on. Crew were however friendly and casual. Seats were comfortable on the A380 and food was passable. Not a fantastic flight but not too bad either. Lets see how the return (and my final) QF A380 flight performed.