Welcome A.netters to my latest TR - a unique one in a way as it's a flight that's got not one but two TR's about it, with Ryan H also reporting on the flight (you can check Ryan's report via viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1436371
As Ryan mentioned, and I'm sure manny A.netters are aware, Qantas are retiring their 747's as part of the centenary, with the 787-9's taking their place as their flagship aircraft. While the end of an era, I wasn't proactively looking to get on the aircraft for a farewell trip. An overseas trip just to get on 747 did sound like a bit of an overkill.
Then someone posted on here about Qantas using the 747's for some domestic flights around the Antarctic charters, and one was from ADL. While I would've made any domestic hop on the 747 happen, but to have one out of my home airport was perfect - given Qantas don't fly internationally out of ADL anything bigger than a 737-800 in Qantas colours is a rare sight here. After tipping off my mate, who lives on New South Wales' Central Coast, that I was coming up for a visit, and getting a few days of Annual Leave approved by work, I booked this flight straight away - and it just so happened that Qantas had a sale on so I got a ticket for just $139 (which is pretty much the lowest price you'll pay for a QF flight to/from SYD). This just gets better.
So I booked the ticket and then looked at where to sit. Normally I'm a window seat person but I thought for this flight I don't want to spend the flight looking out the window (I can do that on any aircraft), so I opted for an aisle seat. Then I thought why not go the centre block of seats, and why not go as far back as I possibly can to milk the time on the aircraft. With the back few rows blocked out on the seating plan, I decided to bring out the juvenile in me, and picked row 69, and seat 69G. Centre block aisle seat, up the back of the aircraft, perfect!
After months of excitement about being on the plane (including a couple of other flights - a bog standard footy trip to MEL, and my PLO trip, which you can read about here viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1431155
)), the time had come for the 747 to come to town. Unfortunately I was working on the night the 747 flew in from SYD so I missed that arrival, and with a busy Sunday before my flight out on the Monday, opted to not head to the airport to see it take off for Antartica. After work on Sunday though, a mate and I decided to go down to watch the 747 return from Antartica (being the last time a 747 will probably land in ADL and all that). That was pretty awesome to watch! I did take video of it, but it was at night so the quality isn't crash hot. Then we thought what the hell, lets go inside the terminal for some pics of the plane. My mate couldn't make it Monday morning (and was envious that I was on the flight on Monday), so it was a good chance for him so see the Queen up close one more time.
Retro Roo I parked next to the Queen
Now the big day was here. The day I was going to fly the 747-400ER. My one and only time on the 747-400ER, just the second QF 747-400 I've ever been on (the other being the original Wunala Dreaming way back in 1995), the third ever time on a 747-400 (the other times being the Wunala Dreaming I just mentioned and a SQ 747-400 from LHR-SIN in 1995, back when individual screens were a novelty and I pretty much spent 13 hours watching Muriel's Wedding on repeat), and my fourth ever 747 flight (I'd also taken a SQ 747-200 from SIN-ADL in 1995).
So 24 (and a bit) years after my other 747 flights, I was going to board the Queen one more time. This time, though, it was just a domestic flight to SYD. First stop, however, was to the Qantas Club, where I took advantage of the $39 invite. The staff at the counter could see my excitement, as they confirmed my invite,and I got to load up on scrambled eggs, jelly beans, juice and soft drink, and the chance to chill in a bit more relaxed environment. Yep, I got my money's worth.
After getting my money's worth in the Qantas Club, I headed out to gate 22, which was opposite the Club. A decent crowd was gathering to see the plane - most were passengers but plenty of others just here to see the Queen one last time. Even Channel 7 were out with Tim Noonan (their eccentric alternate weatherman/human interest reporter) to report on the farewell.https://www.facebook.com/7NEWSAdelaide/ ... 116001814/
Not everyday the NZ 787 gets upstaged in ADL
CZ was in town too.
Enough about the regular neighbours in town, this is what we were here for. This was why I was making a random short trip to Sydney.
The calm before the boarding storm
Qantas weren't exactly wise with the boarding of the aircraft. First, they called boarding around 20 minutes prior to departure, which is their normal practice when boarding a 737-800 (and in fact shorter than the boarding time for the Q300 for my PLO trip in August). Not exactly well thought out given the massive upgauge for the flight. Then they opted to have one general boarding call for Economy passengers, as opposed to boarding in zones. As a result, the boarding queue stretched all the way back to gate 20 (boarding for the flight was from gate 22). It made for a great video shot for the Channel 7 news report, but probably not that well thought out by Qantas. I joined the queue when it was pushing gate 21 - unfortunately the shot of my mate and I waiting to board did not make the news.
To Qantas' credit, however, they were efficient in boarding passengers at the gate, and while the queue looked long, it didn't feel like too long of a wait to have my boarding pass scanned, and head down to the jet bridge.
A couple of centenary flags on display at the gate
While ADL was designed to handle an A380 if needed, it hasn't been designed for regular use of aircraft such as the 747 or A380, with just a single airbridge at all gates. There was also no rear boarding of the aircraft, which is now commonplace on the 737's (I don't think the 737 stairs would've cut it for rear boarding a 747 though haha). This meant there was a fair queue on the bridge to board the aircraft. Ah well, more time to admire the exterior of the Queen
View of the Queen from the jet bridge
At last I was on board. And I walked through business...
Qantas tempted me with a seat upstairs, but at 3000 points + $170 as the minimum bid, though I could better use that money and points elsewhere. I was happy to settle for the $39 Qantas Club access in the end.
And walked...through premium economy...
And walked some more...through the red part of the economy cabin...
Right to the back of the plane, where the economy seats turn green
The cabin crew member responsible for the PA announcement read the room well, aware that there were a heap of av geeks on board (at least 2 of which are report filing A.netters). He proudly welcomed passengers onto the Queen of the Skies, but also made the photo happy av geeks aware that if they're filming to make sure they get permission from passengers/crew to film them. I respected this and didn't film anything, and kept forward facing photos to a minimum.
Once seated I realised that someone had souvenired everything from my seat - including the safety card! Well that's a bit awkward. At least I had plenty of storage space...for my iPad. I also marvelled at the sheer size of the aircraft, and the sheer number of people on board. This was a jammed packed flight, mostly of people wanting to be on a 747 one last time (and maybe a couple of shocked people who have booked QF736 oblivious it had been upgauged to a 747-400ER).
Leg room was fine for this 90-ish minute flight
So many maps. I just set it to rotate - I couldn't decide which one to watch!
Some 20 minutes after the scheduled departure time, the final door was closed, and we were starting to pull back with the amazing Qantas safety video.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCsCYy5qq4w
While the video took us around the world with the safety procedures and facilities of the plane, the cabin crew could not look any more disinterested in doing the safety demonstration. In fact, besides the gentleman on the PA and cabin supervisor, the rest of the crew seemed to have the attitude than operating a domestic flight was beneath them. It somewhat reminded me of the Come Fly of Me skit where Penny had to work economy.
Somewhat surprisingly there was no water cannon salute, but there was a training session happening at the time we took off, so understandable that the resources were a little busy. We took off, and once the fasten seat belt sign was off the crew member doing the PA announcements spoke proudly of the 747, the Queen of the Skies. He provided the registration number of the aircraft (for the avgeeks that hadn't already noted it haha) - VH-OEH 'Hervey Bay'. He also acknowledged the crowds of people that were at the end of the runway watching the Queen take off one last time from ADL.
After the PA spiel, I decided to make a trip to the toot, right up the back, In the queue I took a few snaps of the door 5's, and of the back of the cabin.
I came back to my seat to the realisation that I smashed the airline-issued headphones. While I did call the crew to see if I could get a replacement, they were busy serving lunch, so decided to can the call and just enjoy the ambience of the cabin and the maps. I had about 90 minutes on the aircraft, let's not waste it on TV shows right?
The crew came with lunch, where they pompously advised of the options of a ham sandwich or cauliflower and cheese bites. Neither option sounded very appetising, but I opted for the bites. Expectations on the food was low, and well they didn't disappoint. They were ok. They weren't terrible, but they were probably the worst thing I've ever eaten on a Qantas flight - which is more a reflection on how good Qantas' food generally is.
Drinks service followed, where I was served by the lovely cabin manager. She was lovely and cheerful in serving passengers, quite a contrast to some of her crew. I opted for a Coke, which was quite handy in washing down lunch.
After the crew did a rubbish run, I wandered down to my mate a few rows down to grab a safety card, purely to photograph for the TR. Thank me later kids.
By now we were getting close to Sydney, and the crew were getting ready to land.
We landed in Sydney and parked at gate 10 of SYD's T3, where we were repeatedly told to disembark ASAP as the plane was needed to be towed to T1 for it's next flight - an international. Unlike Ryan, I wasn't invited to the flight deck, but decided to take as many snaps as I possibly could while disembarking - ensuring I got a heap of pics of the hard product without photographing anyone in it, and honouring the crew's request to disembark quickly.
Green (rear) economy
Red (front) economy
And that was it. Months of build up and the experience was now done and dusted.
QantasLink 717 next to the 747
The walk to baggage collection was via the moving walkway, which has this cool part-model of a 737-800 enclosing part of it.
The flight all up was magical. It was amazing to be on the Queen for a domestic flight. Having said that, it was quite a bumpy ride, probably the bumpiest ride I've ever had on an aircraft. The aircraft was showing it's 17 year, unrefurbished age - from the tired looking seats (which still have velcro from the old covers that used to go on the seats) in economy through to the 2-3-2 configuration in business, and you can understand why Qantas is retiring them for the newer, fresher, more efficient 787-9's. While the attitude of some of the crew was quite pompous (flying domestic routes seemed to be beneath them), this was offset by the enthusiastic attitude of the gentleman doing the PA announcements and the cabin manager.
Thanks for reading my latest trip report. I'll post the return trip (on a bog standard 737-800, but with it's own highlights) soon. I'll finish this TR with a 7 News interview with one of the Antartica flight pilots talking about the 747.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQDhE0y ... ex=69&t=9s