We arrived at Noumea airport at around 10:15AM for our 12:30PM flight to Sydney.
Noumea – Sydney
Departure Time: 12:30PM
Business Class Seat 5J
Duration 3.5 hours
The Noumea airport is newly renovated and expanded. It was quite crowded for a small airport given there was our flight to Sydney on a 767 plus an Air France flight to Tokyo leaving at about the same time.
Fortunately for us there was a business class check-in that was nearly empty. Check-in was uneventful except for one thing. We qualified for Qantas’s free “ChaufferDrive” airport pick-up service on our arrival in Melbourne. I had signed up on the Qantas website a couple months back. Since we were on separate record locators I had to register each of us individually. And the phone number I gave them was my USA phone number. Well needless to say I wasn’t able to answer calls to my USA phone number and I was worried there would be two chauffers waiting for us in Melbourne. So I asked the Qantas check-in agent what we should do to confirm the ride as one vehicle. She walked me over to a Qantas office in the upstairs part of the airport where I explained our situation to a Supervisor. She assured me she would look into it and that I could proceed to the lounge.
We went through immigration and security with our boarding cards in hand and found ourselves at the AirCalin hibiscus lounge. This lounge was run by the New Caledonia airline, AirCalin but contracted with other airlines like Qantas and AirFrance to use it for their passengers.
View of the Qantas check-in line taken from the Business Class check-in line
Entryway to the AirCalin Hibiscus lounge
View of the clean, fresh feel of this lounge
After being in a place as expensive as New Caledonia for 5 days, free food and drink were a sight for sore eyes. These little sandwiches were ham and cheese and also pate and pickle. I stuck with the ham and cheese.
We were excited about this flight as it was our first ever on Qantas. We would be using Qantas from here on out on the Trip of a Million Lifetimes (except for our last leg from Dallas – Charlotte). Boarding was called for business class and we were promptly on the plane.
This plane had a really unique seating configuration, a 1-2-2 seating configuration.
View from our seats in row 5, notice the 1 – 2 – 2 seat configuration.
The seats seemed pretty new and were very comfortable cradle-style seats.
A pre-departure beverage was passed out.
A menu was passed out. We both went with the chicken in wine sauce.
The chicken in wine sauce with green beans and a potato cake was a solid meal for this 3.5 hour flight.
We had a great view of the Sydney skyline as we were preparing for landing in Sydney.
We landed in Sydney on-time. We had 1 hour and 40 minutes to make a domestic connection from Sydney to Melbourne. We found the domestic transfer harder than it felt like it should be.
Sydney – Melbourne
Departure Time: 4:30PM
Business Class Seat 3A
Duration 1.5 hours
Once on the ground we headed to immigration and customs. On the plane Qantas gave us an “immigration fast pass” for an expedited entry. However, the lines were very short and so this was not particularly necessary.
It is interesting that I was randomly selected for an enhanced security screening by immigration including a behavioral interview. The customs official was friendly and after 1-2 of his behavioral questions he let us go on our way. He even stopped searching my bags right in his tracks when he decided we were not a threat to the safety of the people of Australia.
We made it into Australia and followed signs for our domestic connection. To get to the domestic connection terminal we had to actually wait for a inter-terminal bus. This was the only way to get from one terminal to the next in an airport as robust and traveled as Sydney! We took the bus and were shortly dropped off in Terminal 3.
We headed straight for the Qantas Business lounge.
While waiting in line for the inter-terminal bus I snapped a picture of the empty domestic transfers check-in area at Sydney airport.
The entry to the Qantas Business Club in Terminal 3 of Sydney airport
The coffee and snack selection inside the club.
A view of the club general seating area (haphazardly taken) from my phone
The food selection was actually pretty solid. They had these great pizza roll things that really hit the spot after being in New Caledonia for 5 days. Overall we felt like the food, drink, and comfort of the Sydney Terminal 3 Qantas lounge to be superior to the Air New Zealand Sydney Koru Club we experienced the week before.
After about 30 minutes in the lounge we headed to our gate for our flight to Melbourne.
A view of the boarding area for the Melbourne flight. I like how Qantas has separate lines for those waiting to board in business versus economy. Boarding was orderly and timely.
The 737 seat was better than expected. It had plenty of legroom and also felt new like the 767 seat we arrived on. There were in-seat TVs.
The Qantas in-seat TV personal entertainment system.
For a 1.5 hour domestic flight we were very well attended to. We were served an afternoon tea on the flight. Being the “Yanks” that we are, we thought that would mean we would get some hot tea and a cookie or a biscuit. But what they really meant was an awesome hot snack and booze along with tea if you want.
I was surprised to see the afternoon tea drink cart had wine on it
A view of the Qantas 737 cabin. There were 3 rows with a 2-2 configuration in each row. The cabin as well as Economy class were full on this flight.
The potato leek soup and cheese tray made for an awesome afternoon tea. I stayed away from the wine and rather went with some sparkling water.
We landed on-time in Melbourne around 6PM. When we got to the terminal, sure enough there was a Chauffeur with a sign with our name on it. This free Qantas ChaufferDrive service was going to save us a lot of money. Two free rides in Melbourne and two free rides in Sydney. This alone is a savings of at least about 200 US dollars. Qantas put two and two together and sent a massive Mercedes van for us in case we had a lot of luggage. Given that we only had hand luggage we had plenty of room in the van. Our driver, Frank, was friendly and got us safely to our hotel, the Park Hyatt Melbourne in about 45 minutes.
Frank lugging Lady Tocqueville’s bags to our Mercedes van at the Melbourne airport.