46. CNS-SYD on QF in J

46. CNS-SYD on QF in J

Cairns to Sydney

QF925

Departure Time: 12:10PM

Boeing 767

Business Class Seat 5K

Duration 3 hours

Once we returned the rental car we walked into the Cairns domestic airport terminal.  We found the Qantas business class check-in and were able to speak to an agent right away.  The agent found our reservation and asked us if we had any bags to check.  I let her know Lady Tocqueville and I had only hand luggage.  Usually this goes unchallenged, but she asked to see it.  We showed her our bags we have now had with us as a carry-on for 30 straight flights without checking them.  She said because they were as big as they were she had to weigh them.  She said the maximum weight allowed as hand-luggage was 8kg and since the flight was 100% full they were enforcing this heavily.  I thought to myself if they are worried about a full flight, what does the weight of an acceptable bag have to do with the volume in the overhead bins? I knew our bags were 15kg so I wasn’t about to put them on the scale and have her check them.  I let her know we would repack our bags and come back to check-in.

We then walked straight to the check-in kiosks and did the check-in there.  Our boarding passes were issued successfully and we made our way to security.  I was confused why the agent was pressing so hard to view and weigh our bags.  We were in business class.  I am not sure what the Qantas size and weight limit is but we have now had three Qantas flights and we weren’t hassled about them in the least.  Nevertheless, checking in at the kiosk worked fine.

We cleared security and followed the signs to the Qantas lounge.

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Entryway to the Qantas club in Cairns
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The Qantas club in Cairns
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View of the tarmac from the Qantas club in Cairns
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The buffet spread was pretty good especially compared to a USA domestic lounge
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Entry to the gate area
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View at the boarding gate.

Boarding was called right on time and we were first on the plane after those needing assistance.  This flight would be a 767, a big bird for a domestic flight.  I had expected the odd 1-2-2 configuration we had on our Qantas 767 from Noumea to Sydney the week before.  However, this one was 2-2-2.  What else struck me right away was that each seat had an iPad.  I have heard of this but never saw it in real life.  Qantas on some of their 767s uses iPads to deliver the inflight entertainment.  There is even a little iPad pouch in the seatback so you could enjoy it hands free.  The operation of it was glitchy and they weren’t functioning until about 45 minutes into the flight, 30 minutes after the flight attendants actually turned on the delivery system.
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Qantas iPad for in-flight viewing.  I ended up watching “This ain’t no mouse music” about the fascinating history of Arhoolie records.
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Brand new seats had plenty of room.  A great domestic business class offering.
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A close-up of the neighboring seats.
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Legroom was ample.

The flight was full as the check-in agent had noted.  It appeared many in first class with us were Qantas pilots flying to some sort of training.  The staff again were nothing short of excellent as they have been for all of our flights.  Prompt professional service made us feel right at home.
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No menus were passed out, just two meal choices offered verbally by the flight attendant.  We went for the mint lamb-chops which were terrific.
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A view of the cabin from my seat.
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This is one of the few flights were I didn’t blog so I wasn’t afraid to get after it a bit on the booze.  Jack Daniels, Ginger Ale, and some lemon were the drink of choice for me.  Lady Tocqueville went for Sparkling Wine.  It was a pleasure to toast one another at 30,000 feet while enjoying our movies and our meals.
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I went for the chocolate orange ice cream to cap-off the meal.
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Beautiful views of Sydney and the harbor on our descent.  This weekend was the naval parade weekend and the harbor was packed with boats and sailing vessels as you can see from the photo.
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Qantas ChaufferDrive came through for us again with another free pick-up.  Our driver met us at baggage claim and hustled us to our Mercedes Van which was waiting for us for the 30 minute trip to the Sydney Circular Quay.

Overall Qantas has been excellent in customer service (except for the agent who was adamant about the carry-on bag weighing).  We have arrived on all of our flights refreshed and happy from a great experience by the crew.  And the free rides with a Chauffeur certainly don’t hurt.  Cheers to you, Qantas.

42. NOU-SYD-MEL on QF in J

42. NOU-SYD-MEL on QF in J

We arrived at Noumea airport at around 10:15AM for our 12:30PM flight to Sydney.

Noumea – Sydney

QF92

Departure Time: 12:30PM

Boeing 767

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.

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View of the Qantas check-in line taken from the Business Class check-in line
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Entryway to the AirCalin Hibiscus lounge
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View of the clean, fresh feel of this lounge
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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.

After about an hour in the lounge we headed to the boarding gate.
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There were only two jetways at Noumea airport.  This one was for our flight to Sydney.
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Arrival of our airplane from Sydney.

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.
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View from our seats in row 5, notice the 1 – 2 – 2 seat configuration.
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The seats seemed pretty new and were very comfortable cradle-style seats.
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A pre-departure beverage was passed out.

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A menu was passed out.  We both went with the chicken in wine sauce.
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The chicken in wine sauce with green beans and a potato cake was a solid meal for this 3.5 hour flight.
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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

QF449

Departure Time: 4:30PM

Boeing 737

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.
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While waiting in line for the inter-terminal bus I snapped a picture of the empty domestic transfers check-in area at Sydney airport.
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The entry to the Qantas Business Club in Terminal 3 of Sydney airport
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The coffee and snack selection inside the club.IMAG1573
A view of the club general seating area (haphazardly taken) from my phone
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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I was surprised to see the afternoon tea drink cart had wine on it
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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.
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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.
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Frank lugging Lady Tocqueville’s bags to our Mercedes van at the Melbourne airport.