Carfield
Topic Author
Posts: 2184
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

Finally... Qantas 747-400ER from Honolulu to Sydney & 787-9 on return Business Class

Wed Mar 25, 2020 8:36 am

First (&Perhaps Last time…) Boeing 747-400ER An Unexpected Journey from Hawaii to Down Under on March 2020
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Boeing 747, Queen of the Skies, possibly plays an important role in all our lives in this community, and as an AV geek, flying the Queen of the Skies always brings a smile to most of us. I have pretty much flown all the passengers’ variants including -100, -200, -300, -300 Combi-, -400, -400 Combi, -400D, -8, SR, & SP, but there is one variant left missing in my logbook, which is -400ER. Qantas is the only airline that flies Boeing 747-400ER, so it is high on my priority to get a flight on it. While I don’t have anything against Qantas, I am not overly enthusiastic with their premium product. Its business class catering looks rather bland and its overnight flights are not particularly great. Earlier this year, my plan is to fly its Tokyo Haneda to Sydney flight especially there are some decent premium fares between Japan and New Zealand. However, due to the severe reduction of service in its Asian markets due to Covid-19, Qantas decided to add a few extra Boeing 747 flights serving its still busy flights between Honolulu and Sydney. On one random afternoon, I checked award inventory and Qantas has opened up its business and economy class award for these new extra flights. I just could not resist and settled on a business class award from Honolulu to Auckland via Sydney. Given these Honolulu to Sydney flights operate during daytime, there will be at least a full lunch service, despite there will be no pajamas offered. On the return, I found a decently priced ticket from Auckland back to San Francisco via Sydney on Qantas’ Boeing 787-9s, so I get to try out its oldest and latest business class product. It is a really short trip given some of my previous obligations but I am actually thankful that I decide to do this flight because I have a feeling that these -400ERs may retire quietly during these unsettling times.

Full Photo Album:
https://s1213.photobucket.com/user/Carf ... 4ER032020J

March 3, 2020
QF 104 HNL-SYD Lv0825 Arr1535+1 Boeing 747-400ER VH-OEI “Ceduna”

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Undoubtedly, the best seats on Qantas’ Boeing 747-400ERs are the 5B and 5J, which are solo suites behind Door 1 with direct aisle access and some additional storage space. I manage to get 5J because of my OW Emerald status. When I booked the flight, the business class cabin was actually quite open with plenty of seats, and I am tempted to change to other seats in the nose section. Fortunately, I decided to stick with 5J because the business class cabin ended up being 100% full in the main deck, as they closed the upper deck for passengers. There are also plenty of non-rev passengers too. On a side note, this was actually one of the few full flights I was on during the month of March.

I spent the previous night at the Best Western, which was actually better than expected, and my morning shuttle to the airport was filled with mostly Aussie and Kiwi, as both Qantas and Air New Zealand were operating a daytime flight back to Auckland and Sydney that day. Before I went to bed, I have already known the inbound flight was running late, so I did not plan to arrive at the airport too early. The check in counters were actually fairly quiet and I was checked through to Auckland. The staffs found my one night at Auckland interesting but I told them that I just need to get this Boeing 747-400ER flight.

Check-in counters
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Qantas actually has a lounge in Honolulu but I found out that it was unimpressive at best. So, I decided to head straight to the Admiral Club/JAL Sakura lounge in the main terminal. I got in with no issue after presenting my BA gold card. The lounge had not one single occupant when I arrived. I took the opportunities to take all these pictures because the lounge is always busy. I had the lounge to myself for the first 30 minutes until the first JAL customer arrived. Breakfast was very Japanese, which was 100% fine with me. I prefer curry rice to egg at any day.
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Beverage station
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Buffet
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After an hour here, I decided to check out the Qantas lounge for reviewing sake. The lounge is really not that great with limited seating room and food. I did not manage most of the pictures till some of the passengers left.

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Heading to gate C5 required either a shuttle ride or a decent walk from the Qantas lounge. I tried the shuttle first but the agent told me that the next shuttle would not arrive till 20 minutes later. HNL really should publish a schedule.

Anyway, it was a nice walk to the C Concourse and I love seeing all these planes, which would sadly disappear for a while. The weather was nice – not too hot.

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The gate area was crowded and the flight was fairly full in all three cabins. I was so excited to see Ceduna getting ready for the relatively short flight back to Australia. It was a not a great gate for photos, but I still could not resist.

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Boarding finally began at 9:03am and Oneworld Emerald members were allowed to board first. Unfortunately, I was not quick enough to shoot a better photo of the nose cabin.

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However, the photos for the second cabin turned out fine.
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Menu, amenity kit and duvet were already pre-placed at every seat, with mattress pads in the overhead cabin.

I also had a glass of iced water as my choice of pre-takeoff beverage.
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The suite is pretty great especially the giant side storage bin. I stored my laptop along with a few gadgets easily.
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However, the cleaning crews did not do a good job. You notice a bottled water in my “suite”, and that was actually a half-empty bottle from the previous segment.

I love sitting next to this beautiful door.
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Despite a full flight, boarding was completed by 9:28am.

Door was closed at 9:38am and we pushed back five minutes later towards the Reef Runway (R/W 8R).

We passed by a few interesting planes including this JAL Boeing 787-9s from Tokyo and Air New Zealand’s Boeing 777 to Auckland.
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It was a quiet time in the day and we took off at 9:52am for our nine hours and twenty minutes flight to Sydney. It was a purely over-water flight and we climbed from 34,000ft all the way to 38,000ft.

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Last sight of land till nine hours later…
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Since the upper deck was blocked, the service was relatively speedy in the main cabin despite a full cabin. Beverage was served within thirty minutes after takeoff.

Qantas does not offer a full wine list, but here is a picture of the wine offering.
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A bowl of almonds was offered with my Coke Zero.
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Lunch was served about an hour and ten minutes after takeoff. No tray was used for both meals. The service began with linen, utensils, fresh breads, and a small green salad, and then starter was served at the same time by a second F/A. Main course was offered thirty minutes later, followed by the dessert cart. On Qantas, you only get one choice out of the four options – fruits, cheese, cake or ice cream. Tea and coffee was offered later, followed by a quick round of chocolate thins.

Here is the full menu:

Menu
To Start
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Cauliflower Soup with almond, parsley and pecorino pistou

Tuna Niçoise Salad with olives, green beans, cos, anchovy and lemon dressing

Hawaiian style pork skewers with pineapple salad
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Main
Strozzapreti pasta with tomato and eggplant, roast capsicum, basil and pecorino

Grilled salmon fillet with fregola, braised lettuce, green peas, broccolini and gremolata

Chicken breast with Mexican rice, kale and tomatillo sauce

Beef fillet with potato gratin, green beans and brandy cream sauce
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The main course was too small, not to mention the toughness of the meat.

Green leaf salad with Neil’s vinaigrette
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To Finish
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Selection of cheese served with accompaniments

Panna cotta trifle with raspberries
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Ice Cream
Seasonal fruit
Chocolates
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Lunch was completed within two and half hours, which was about right for a daytime flight.

Never tired of these engine shots…
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I visited the small self-service galley next to the toilets behind door two.
There were the Maui chips, coconut cookies, and fresh fruits – apples and pears. They were mostly gone by the end of the flight. I was glad that I took a bag of chips and a cookie first.
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Then I proceeded to make my bed, as I was fairly tired given how much travel I was doing for the past few days.

Here is the seat control panel.
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The seat with the mattress pad…
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Full flat position
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The bed was actually fairly comfortable and I slept very well for the next few hours.
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I mostly listened to podcasts for the rest of the flight, and did not really use the personal entertainment system at all. The contents look fairly typical. There is no WIFI on any of Qantas’ international flights for now.

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A light dinner was offered at 5:08pm Hawaii time and it was a decent three course meals with a salad starter, followed by main course, and then another dessert cart featuring lemon tart, fruit and cheese.

Dinner
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Main
Stir fried baby corn, shiitake, green beans, oyster mushroom and sweet potato noodles with soy

Tagliatelle with beef ragu, gremolata and parmesan
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Toasted panini with spiced pulled pork, cabbage slaw and chipotle mayonnaise
Tomato based chicken with risoni, pancetta, broccoli and parmesan

Green leaf salad with Neil’s vinaigrette
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To Finish

Selection of cheese served with accompaniments

Baked lemon tart with mascarpone

Seasonal fruit
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Chocolates
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Dessert cart
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Tea/coffee cart
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Descent began at 3:51pm Sydney time. The weather was not that great.
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Sight of land finally
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We landed on R/W34L at 4:12pm. It was a short taxi to gate 32.
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Another Qantas’ 747-400ER next door – I think this 744 was heading to Santiago, Chile later in the afternoon.
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We parked at gate 32 four minutes later.

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I spotted “Ceduna” being towed to the maintenance area, as I was waiting for my connection flight to Auckland.
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Carfield
Topic Author
Posts: 2184
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

Re: Finally... Qantas 747-400ER from Honolulu to Sydney & 787-9 on return Business Class

Wed Mar 25, 2020 8:38 am

March 5, 2020
QF 73 SYD-SFO Lv1755 Arr1225 Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNI “Kookaburra”

After reviewing the older product, here is the latest business class product with individual suites on a brand-new plane – Boeing 787-9.

Just a disclaimer: Some of the photos were taken on the earlier segment from AKL to SYD on the same aircraft.

View of Kookaburra at AKL earlier in the day:
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The weather in Sydney was pretty atrocious with heavy rain during my layover there. In addition, gate 9 was one of the blocked off US gates with not good angle to take photos.

Boarding for this flight was a very frustrating process. Because of catering issues, they kept on pushing back the boarding time. We were late arriving from AKL earlier but they still had two hours for turning the plane. Anyway, they finally started boarding at 6:13pm. I was able to get seat 1A for this segment because of a very friendly agent at AKL, who was willing to go through the troubles and having them releasing the seat for me.

Cabin – front section
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Second section – small mini cabin behind door 2 & I was at seat 11A on the first segment
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Premium economy section – taken on flight one
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Pajamas and amenity kits were passed out, as we were getting seated.
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Menu was passed out along with the breakfast card.
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Breakfast card
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Bottled waters were preplaced at each suite.
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Door was closed at 6:31pm and we pushed back eight minutes later.

We took off from R/W24L at 6:54pm.
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Flying time was twelve hours and forty-eight minutes, and it was a pretty straight forward Trans-Pacific flight. We were at 35,000ft initially and then climbed to 37,000ft before passing New Caledonia, and then all the way to 41,000ft throughout the night.

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Seat – I really like the Qantas’ suites and there are plenty of spaces for small electronic devices.
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Electronic seat control panel
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Entertainment handset console
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Magazine pocket
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Individual air vent
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11A first segment from AKL to SYD
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1A second segment from SYD to SFO
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Foot spaces are often problems with these staggered configuration… but there is no such problem with 1A, but to be honest, I don’t think 11A has significantly less foot room. The pictures don’t look that different.

11A foot room
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1A foot room
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Seat in recline position
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The service was good on this segment and the catering was better quality compared to my flight from Honolulu. However, the speed was much slower than the previous segment.

Beverage was not offered till fifty-five minutes after takeoff.
Almonds again
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I was able to pre-book my dinner online and here is the more detailed description of the meals from the website.
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To Start
Zucchini and basil soup with parmesan croute

Salad of white cut chicken with wombok, daikon, shallots, sesame and black vinegar dressing

Thai style fish cakes with pickled cucumber and chili dressing
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[Sliced quinoa and sourdough breads]
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Main
Rigatoni with oyster mushrooms, roasted eschalots, rocket and almond pesto

Sandwich of slow cooked chipotle lamb with sweet onions, mint salsa and salted chili

Jiangxi style Humpty Doo barramundi with seasonal greens, sesame seeds and jasmine rice

Beef fillet with Paris mash, green beans, and salsa verde
Filet de Boeuf à la Purée de Paris
1971 Perth to Seychelles
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Green leaf salad with Neil’s vinaigrette
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To Finish
Selection of cheese served with accompaniments
Vanilla crème caramel
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Maggie Beer Ice Cream
Seasonal fruit
Chocolates

A cup of tea before going to sleep
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Dinner was completed two and half hours after takeoff, and I decided to go straight to bed after dinner, as it was really my bed time in the West Coast.

Seat in full flat position
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I don’t know if it is my body speaking or the seat is very comfortable. I felt straight to sleep and did not wake up till four hours prior to landing.

Most passengers were asleep when I woke up and used the restroom.

There was a small self-service station next to the galley in door two!

Mid-Flight
Enjoy a range of snacks and drinks at any time throughout your flight.
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My choices for this flight
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Full mid-flight snack menu:
Sweet potato roll with Neil’s tomato relish
Ham and cheese toasted sandwich
Whole seasonal fruit
White chocolate, apricot and coconut cookie
Dip with Crudités
Red Rock Deli chips
Darrel Lea Rockies Road with almonds
Almond, fava bean and chickpea chips

I worked on my laptop for a while, and at about two hours prior to landing, the F/A began to switch on the sun rise mode light and started to wake up passengers for breakfast.

Everything was served in one tray, and it was a nice breakfast with fresh fruits and nice pastries. The presentation was good and it tasted fine too. I really like the homemade crumpets.

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Breakfast
To maximize your rest please complete the Breakfast order card

[Order Card]
Orange Juice
Apple Juice
Botanica cold pressed green juice with kale, silver beet, celery, apple, cucumber and lemon
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Coffee
Decaffeinated Coffee
Hot Chocolate

Dilmah Tea
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English Breakfast
Earl Grey
Ceylon Ginger
Chamomile
Jasmine Green
Oolong
Peppermint

Full cream milk
Low fat milk
Sugar
Low Calorie sweetener

Fruit Salad
With Yogurt
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Yogurt

Brookfarm wild berry granola with Davidson plum, cherries, blueberries, pecans, almonds and Australian bush honey
With full cream milk or low-fat milk
With yogurt

Croissant
Toast

Handmade sourdough crumpet
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Berry jam
Honey
Marmalade
Vegemite

Free range scrambled eggs with bacon, hash brown and roast tomatoes
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Warmed green pea fritters with salad of quinoa, kale, poached egg and herbed lemon yogurt
Bacon, egg and cheddar roll with Neil’s barbecue sauce

Descend finally began at 12:13pm local time.
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We landed on R/W28R at 12:42pm and parked at gate A12 at 12:50pm.

JAL next door
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In conclusion, I was glad that I took the opportunity and had the chance to fly the Boeing 747-400ER before its retirement later this year, if not earlier.

Qantas’ catering was okay, as I pretty much selected flights with full meal services. However, both the quality and quantity can improve, and they need to serve more food especially on daytime flights. I rarely asked for two pieces of breads during main meal, but the main course was so small that I need more filling food. The service was actually very good on both transpacific segments, and the experienced F/As were friendly. The new Dreamliners are really nice up front; however, I still think Virgin Australia is still my preferred carrier on these Australia to USA flights.

We might be grounded for a while and I hope this trip report will remind you a little bit of the glamour of flying. I can’t wait for my next flight on Qantas’ Dreamliner.

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Stay Safe!
Carfield
 
caleb1
Posts: 543
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2008 1:51 am

Re: Finally... Qantas 747-400ER from Honolulu to Sydney & 787-9 on return Business Class

Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:43 am

This was an excellent report! Thank you for sharing it with us!
 
smi0006
Posts: 2506
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 7:45 am

Re: Finally... Qantas 747-400ER from Honolulu to Sydney & 787-9 on return Business Class

Thu Mar 26, 2020 4:00 am

Great report thanks for sharing.

Yeah those pre-departure drinks need to tidy up the presentation out of HNL - catering on all flights looks okay. It’s never been QFs strong point.
 
blandy62
Posts: 250
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:47 am

Re: Finally... Qantas 747-400ER from Honolulu to Sydney & 787-9 on return Business Class

Fri Mar 27, 2020 5:46 am

Great report and you are really lucky to catch the 400ER. I also flew all variants, except the 400ER and SP. I guess it will never happen!
 
Cointrin330
Posts: 1503
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2016 12:23 pm

Re: Finally... Qantas 747-400ER from Honolulu to Sydney & 787-9 on return Business Class

Sat Mar 28, 2020 12:41 pm

What an amazing report. Thank you! I flew the 747-400ER (VH-OEF, OneWorld Livery) in November 2018 from SFO to SYD. The plane's interiors were showing its age (built 2005) but the service was excellent. Friendly, relaxed, and the food was great.

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