Well, finally they have, and now for the first time I've flown on one! It makes a big difference.
I had a relaxing hour at the Qantas Club (Business Lounge) - though it was very hard to find a seat as the space is too small for the number of people using the lounge in Melbourne. While here, I took a pic of the oldest looking arrivals monitors I've seen in a long time - located in the lounge:
There was no boarding call made in the Business Lounge for this service, though "Boarding" and then "Final Call" flashed on the screens; so I made my way to the gate which was at the far end of the terminal.
The service was QF773 from SYD to PER.
The aircraft was VH-OGI "City of Port Augusta".
The date was 14/05/13.
Seat 5B in the Business cabin.
Here she is (VH-OGI at the very back):
|Qantas 767's including a soon to retire -336ER and sister VH-OGI.|
The first hint that this aircraft was an upgraded aircraft was the "Q-Streaming" logo stuck near the front door. This was a 767-338ER (as I understand it the -336's are not being updated) and it was great to be getting an upgraded aircraft for the long flight to Perth.
On boarding, you notice a significant difference from the usual Qantas 767 experience.
The new cabin looks fresh and clean, and takes at least a decade off the appearance of these aircraft. Changes include new curtains, painted walls and bulkheads, refreshed chairs, new carpets and all the lighting appeared to be working well so the aircraft looked bright and airy.
Here's a photo of the Business Class seats:
And as row 5 is the last row of the Business Class cabin, I grabbed a sneak of the fancy new Economy class:
The updated chairs are far more comfortable than they were before. The last few services I've had on aircraft that weren't upgraded the chairs were flimsy with poor back support and broken head rests.
This time, all the seats appeared to work well on this aircraft and mine was very comfortable. The new coverings have a lot more padding than the old seats and this was far more comfortable.
After take off the cabin crew explained how to use the iPad's (Q-Streaming) which attach to the back of the seat in-front of you (unless you're unlucky enough to be in Row 1 or Row 23 where it has to sit on your tray table).
My iPad had a low battery so a new one was provided. The movie choice was rather lackluster, with one new release and a number of 3-6 month old films (eg: Sapphires which was showing on the A380 back in September 2012). But it was a huge improvement on the old "Main Screen". There was also around 20-30 TV choices, and the news, as well as music channels.
The "main screens" at the front of the cabin aired the welcome program, then the route map. At tip of descent a 30 min comedy is shown as the iPads have to be turned off. At the front of the cabin, the center screen (and the big projectors which Qantas 767 regulars will remember) are gone, replaced by a stylized version of the Qantas logo which looked very classy. Welcome to the 21st century!
We were offered a dinner service on the flight. We were given the old style tray service which Qantas says they will do away with on the transcontinental service, as it moves to compete more evenly with the (epic) Virgin Australia Coast to Coast A330 service (will review later).
A beer and some pretzels was served first, followed by one choice of entrée - which was poached trout, feta cheese and mushy peas:
Mains offered more choices. Lamb chops, Chicken Salad or Snapper. I went with the Lamb which was served with Israeli Couscous and broccoli:
The lamb was rather dry but it was alright. For sweets I had the Maggie Beer Dark Chocolate and Orange ice cream and a coffee. It's the first Maggie Beer ice cream flavor I'd ever want again - so that was a pleasant surprise!
Other observations I made include:
- Foot rests work better now,
- The lumbar support controls have all been refurbished / mended so they work well,
- Bathrooms aboard haven't been updated and still sport the old blue walls,
- iPads come with iPad style hearphones rather than the sound-cancelling headphones, so I used my own as the 767's GE engines were quite noisy (lovely noise but not so great when trying to watch a film).
We had a smooth flight. When the captain / copilot made announcements it came over the Q-streaming devices too and soon we were on our descent into Perth. It was the smoothest landing I can remember:
In all a vast improvement on the old 767 service, but the Qantas transcontinental service still lags behind the Virgin Australia A330 offering, which I am reviewing next.