Plane: Airbus 330-300
Seat: 28K (Economy window)
Boarded: 10.35 (Scheduled 09.50)
Departed: 11.13 (Scheduled 10:35)
Arrived: 17:43 (Scheduled 17:20)
Duration: 9 hours 30 minutes
Distance: 7,387 km
This was my first time in a while back in economy for a long haul international flight but being very cheap ($420 AUD one way) and with Hong Kong not allowing airline surcharges on award flights it made better sense to start premium award flights from there instead of Melbourne.
For this trip I was still a Platinum Qantas member which meant I could use the dedicated Qantas First Class Check Lounge which you walk into directly from curb drop-off. A neat little area I was allowed to check in at 07.12 almost 30 minutes earlier than the offical 3 hour before flight check in time. Express departure card was also given and staff were very courteous and friendly for someone using the service on a very discounted economy ticket.
I actually booked this trip to take advance of my Platinum membership before it ends both in Melbourne and Hong Kong airports. I suspect I’ll never be a Qantas Platinum member again now that I have lifetime Gold Status and little desire to travel for work (plus more use of video conferencing at work). The Platinum status also got me into Qantas Melbourne First Class Lounge which I’ve reviewed separately.
Originally our assigned departure gate was 10 but this was moved to Gate 14A which I later found out was due to late arrival of the plane from Japan. The Gate area was overflowing with passengers but everyone followed the rules. Mums were playing with their kids on the floor to keep them occupied during the 45 minute boarding delay. Priority boarding worked perfectly and I was one of the first people on the plane.
I had carefully selected my seat, having moved it several times to maximise chances of scoring a vacant seat next to me. It turned out that is exactly what I got, with 28K being a window and the aisle seat next to me being 28J was empty (A330-300 in economy is 2 – 4 -2 configuration) a big bonus. The only downside was the window didn’t line up very well but could still see outside which is advised against in Seat Guru but I think it was worth it to get the vacant companion seat (and not bad anyway for viewing).
Seat pitch was 31 inches and seat width was 17 inches. The screen in front of you has USB outlet which can charge your device. You share a power outlet between two seats (but I had to myself) .
Before departure the Customer Service Manager Greg introduced himself to me as a valued Platinum member. This is something Qantas do for Platinum members in international economy but something I haven’t experienced since 2006 (last time I was both a Platinum member and in long haul economy). Greg offered some extra amenities (tooth paste, ear plugs and face mask) not and chatted briefly to me about my prior Qantas travel history.
What was unusual is at the end of the flight Greg came and saw me again and wanted to know if the flight had met my expectations, that’s something I hadn’t experienced before. Nice touch that costs Qantas little but can make you feel a valued long term customer.
The fight attendants were professional at all times. Handing out arrival immigration papers they helped several passengers complete including providing pens to those who haven’t bought them.
Pushback and take-off were uneventful but I did get to watch Air Asia flight takeoff just before us and Qantas plane land. Planes are amazing creations with awesome power.
The Qantas Entertainment system had an extensive range of Movies and TVs. The high definition seat back touch screen worked well. I picked three movies I hadn’t watched previously:
- The Merger (an enjoyable Australian movie)
- Battle of the Sexes (Billie Jean King vs Bobbie Riggs historic tennis match)
- Adrift (real life story of survival on the seas in 1983)
So I ended up watching two movies based on sports I love (Australian Rules Football and tennis) and two movies based on real life events. Between movies I rewatched some Big Bang Theory episodes. The entertainment system makes the flight go a lot faster.
Lunch service started around 1 hour after takeoff at 12.15 and there were three main options:
- Honey soy chicken with jasminerice, choy sum and toasted sesame seeds.
- Stir fried noodles with Asian vegetables, blackbean, tofu and chilli
- Beef blade steak with red wine sauce, potato mash, zucchini and sugar snaps.
I decided on the chicken with jasmine rice provide with garlic ciabatta and lemonade drink. Very enjoyable meal.
After lunch was cleared away the lights were dimmed and most windows were shut making it almost free like a night flight!
About 3 hours into the flight we then received a mid flight snack option, either:
- Weis ice cream (passion fruit) or
- fresh fruit.
I selected the ice cream. Then finally about 2.5 hours out from landing were were offer an arrival hot food snack:
- Mushroom pizza or
- Stream pork buns
Given I was flying into Asia I went for the pork buns but didn’t really enjoy them.
The landing was extremely smooth, until the brakes were applied you couldn’t even tell we had landed, very good job to the pilot. We deboarded the plane very quickly and the way to immigration was easily sighted which included getting a train to Terminal 1. Immigration lines looked large but I got though very quickly. What was surprising was my bag come out the moment I cleared immigration, I have no idea how my bag almost beat me but the priority tag at least on this occasion worked well!
This was a very pleasant experience. Obviously as a high status member I got looked after a little better than most economy passengers but the seats, the entertainment system and the food were spot on for everyone in economy. I would strongly recommend this day time flight in economy.
It’s hard to believe that you can fly over 7,000 kms for such a small price, for world travellers there has never been a cheaper and easier time to fly in history.