Flying with Qantas – A Smooth Journey in the Sky
18 July, 2016
A little known fact about Australia is that one of the best times to visit is during winter, when most other parts of the world are drenched in the sweltering summer heat. The majestic snow-capped mountains in Victoria offer one of the most scenic views of the natural environment in Australia, and they provide the perfect short getaway out of Melbourne, where I was due to fly into as part of my escape from the unforgiving heat in Singapore. During winter Melbourne tends to drizzle a lot, so it would be handy to also bring along a small foldable umbrella to guard against any unexpected changes in weather. The average temperature in Melbourne is 14oC, and the weather forecast for my trip in late June was between 7-18 oC.
With plans to try out snowshoeing and tobogganing on Mount Buller and to explore the lane ways and alleys in Melbourne city, the generous 30kg baggage allowance provided by Qantas allowed me to pack a good supply of thermals, fleece and down jackets in my suitcase to keep myself warm on the trip.
The Qantas Airbus A330 flight from Singapore to Melbourne departs Changi Airport twice daily at 7:55pm (arrives next morning 5:20am local time) and at 11:35pm (arrives next morning 9:00am local time). An important point to note is that Melbourne is two hours ahead of Singapore, so do ensure that arrangements are made with the hotel in advance for early check-ins.
I was due to fly out from Singapore on the 7:55pm flight that allowed me to have a good sleep on board and arrive fresh in the morning, ready for a full day of activities in Melbourne. I would recommend this outbound flight as it allows travellers to save on one extra night of accommodations and maximise their first day in Melbourne. For working adults who prefer to avoid taking half day leave to catch the flight on time, the 11:35pm flight would be a great alternative as well.
My flight departed on time with no delays, and I was excited for my next 7.5 hours on-board with the attentive crew which readily handed out bottled water once the fasten seatbelt sign is switched off, allowing continued hydration over the duration of the flight.
For the economy class passenger, one of the most important features in the plane is the seat – and the A330 does not disappoint. The A330 aircraft’s upholstery fabric is a combination of a sleek maroon and deep blue shade, presenting a warm and cosy welcome for the long journey ahead. Fitted with the award-winning Recaro seats modelled after the A380, each seat includes a pull down foot rest that passengers can comfortably lay their feet on and a padded multi-directional headrest that caters to passengers with different headrest needs. The reclining seats tilt just enough for a comfortable view of the wide screen TV. A handy storage compartment is fitted underneath the screen for my personal travel essentials, such as lip balm, ear plugs and eyeshades.
The armrests on the A330 can be raised to be fully flushed with the seat back in the upright position, allowing passengers who are lucky enough with an empty seat next to them to spread out comfortably. In terms of leg room, there is plenty on the flight thanks to the improvised design of the aircraft that avoided mounting the entertainment control box right beneath the seats.
The Qantas in-flight entertainment system, with its highly sensitive touch screen design, is easily the best in class. Specifically, the A330 boasts an advanced in-flight Panasonic entertainment system with a 11.1-inch screen with great resolution, making every movie/TV show a pleasure to watch. I was extremely pleased with the wide selection of blockbuster movies, popular TV series e.g. Game of Thrones and Suits, chart topping music playlists and games on the in-flight entertainment system that amounts to 1500 hours of pure entertainment! For an overview of the movies/TV shows you can catch during your flight, check out this link.
Another plus point is that there is no need to fiddle around with the annoying remote controller that is usually attached to the armrest – everything can be done via the touchscreen. A handy USB charging port is also available right under the screen to ensure that your phone is fully charged and ready for use upon landing. Plus, there are no commercials before every show begins, which is a charm in itself.
Dining in-flight can be a hit or miss experience because of the low humidity and cabin pressure that dulls our taste buds – and Qantas knows that. On my flight to Melbourne, we were served dinner shortly after take-off, about 1 hour after the plane started cruising. The meal options are thoughtfully designed to provide passengers with more choices compared to other airlines that typically stop at two. Dinner was a selection of Western, Asian or Vegetarian options. I decided on the chicken nasi bryani and was impressed by how fluffy the basmati rice grains were, the fragrant Indian spices and juicy chunks of chicken. The aircraft cabin is known for drying out even the most hydrated meals prepared, so imagine my elation as I tucked into this delicious meal that was packed full of flavours.
The deliberate arrangement to do away with dining trays was also a nice touch as the food was served and cleared faster, giving passengers more room to stretch and relax over the duration of the flight. Paired with an outstanding wine list, including champagnes and spirits curated by the Qantas Rockpool Sommeliers, the meal was everything but a typical airplane dining experience.
Feeling hungry during your flight? Passengers can readily swing by the kitchen anytime for some snacks (e.g. M&Ms, kit kats, apples) in between meals. Breakfast was served two hours before landing, and a light apple pie with a hot coffee was just what I need to wake my body up for the full day ahead in the city.
After Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro shared their experience and challenges of running a start-up founded in New York City in “The Internship”, I decided to walk down the cabin aisle for a stretch and ended up striking a conversation with some of the cabin crew who were preparing breakfast to be served just before landing. We chatted about their flying experience and favourite destinations – it is not unexpected that the Los Angeles (where Hollywood is located) to Sydney route was flagged up as one of the most interesting ones due to its star studded nature (think Ellen Degeneres, Hugh Jackman).
What surprised me was that despite the grueling long-haul flights duration, cabin crews actually prefer them as it allowed more time for interaction with passengers, and more importantly enabled them to build a rapport with the guests. Some tips that they shared for passengers to enhance their flight experience include:
- Always check the seat map for the plane you are checking in to before confirming your seats online. Certain non-emergency row seats may have extra leg room due to the curvature of the cabin design.
- Ensure sufficient buffer time between landing and the first activity on your itinerary to cater for any unexpected delays.
- Always travel light with your hand carry bag and pack an extra set of clothes in it just in case your checked-in bag gets delayed – even the cabin crew experiences delayed/lost baggage.
The flight experience was definitely a smooth and pleasant one, and it was a great way to start the trip with a punctual flight arrival – it allowed my itinerary for the rest of the day to be on-point with no unexpected delays. I was so spoilt for choice on the in-flight entertainment that I barely slept and landed in Melbourne pretty exhausted. I guess that is a first world problem that I can live with.
Featured Image Credit
This trip was made possible by Qantas.
Kelly is a corporate employee by day and free-spirited artisan by night. Having lived abroad for more than half a decade, she enjoys travelling the world and going on new adventures. She believes that everything in life happens for a reason, and never dwells on the past. Writing and creating art are her greatest passion as they provide an avenue for her to freely express herself. The ability to perceive, create and re-define the world through her own eyes fuels her passion for writing and the arts. Her portfolio of works focuses mainly on portraits and contemporary oil on canvas creations. She draws inspiration from events, emotions and experiences in her life, and has a penchant for capturing human interactions, emotions and their physical forms.