Using points, I’d requested an upgrade from Economy to Business Class which unfortunately was declined probably as this route is heavily used by politicians travelling from New Zealands capital, Wellington. That was ok, the flight was under 4 hours so I was content with trying the Economy Class product on this sector. There is a lot of competition on the Trans Tasman corridor, namely to and from Auckland and I was quite interested to see how this stacked up. Anyway, I’d spent a few unhurried hours in the QantasClub relaxing and I pondered who might be aboard, my mind wandered…Could it be Julie Bishop, deputy leader of the Australian Liberal Party? Would she change into the the Business Class pyjamas? Oh, OK, yes, I was enjoying my languid time daydreaming in the lounge prior to the flight, Silly boy, they don’t give out pyjamas on Trans-Tasman flights I thought to myself.
My aircraft arrived from Melbourne at 3:30 pm, giving it a 50 minute turn around time as we departed at 4:20 pm. The plane, operated for Qantas by New Zealand subsidiary company Jetconnect, was a locally registered Boeing 737-800, ZK-ZQE. The aircraft was delivered in February of 2011 and named William Pickering after a New Zealand born rocket scientist.
Whilst sitting in the lounge there was an announcement made regarding the Qantas Melbourne flight which was due to depart at 3:35 pm. Apparently there was a delay due to storms in Sydney and the flight deck couldn’t submit a flight plan. My flight to Sydney was only delayed by a few minutes by this problem. Boarding was finally called for the Melbourne flight and not long after my flight to Sydney. There is a discreet exit from Qantas Club at Wellington Airport right to the Qantas’ aerobridges and I was on board the plane within a few steps.
After the doors were closed and pushback began, I was surprise to see the Melbourne flight still on the ground which by now was delayed by almost an hour. Kind of ironic that the flight to Melbourne was delayed due to a storm in Sydney yet we were heading there! (Qantas head office is in Sydney so it was nothing to be worried about really)
The south of the North Island looked stunning from the air with the patchwork of farming land and khaki bushland set against the azure colours of the oceans below as we headed west over the Tasman Sea.
Almost immediately after becoming airborne the buoyant and cheery crew came through the cabin with a drinks service prior to dinner being served. I opted for a 187ml piccolo of Sauvignon Blanc which was a Mount Trio from Western Australia and flicked through the audio visual on demand entertainment options. There was also a USB port for recharging laptops and phones 🙂
The flight was offering a dinner service on this particular sector and it was the first time I was trying Qantas’ new international inflight dining experience. There is a greater choice of meals, 3 in fact and a larger serving of what is traditional local meals from Australia or the destination you are flying to or from. The larger serving is said to be around 30% bigger then previous sizes. The meals are not simply handed out on a tray, instead a non-slip tray is first provided then the meal itself. There is no teeny-weeny salad bowl of limp lettuce and half a cherry tomato nor fake custard for dessert, just the main meal and then a choice of bread. I chose the roast chicken which was served with baked potatoes and steamed beans and a rather decent sized bread roll. The chicken was succulent with that bitey sticky feeling. As for the veg, the beans were crisp but the potatoes had that ‘next day roast potatoes reheated’ taste. Although the whole dish was tasty I felt the larger serving had a little too much potatoes and I actually missed that little side salad. But that’s just me.
After the tray tables were cleared, the crew came through the cabin again with another drinks service. This time it was a Black Thursday 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from the South Australian Adelaide Hills which was a yummy drop.
Next it was chocolate time and a small square of Whittaker’s Chocolate was handed out by one of the merriest crew members I have ever seen as she almost danced down the aisle. Yum.
About 45 minutes after that another snack run was made. This time New Zealand brand Tip Top Chocolate and Caramel ice cream. Double yum. That was it for me, I ws full and I dozed of for sometime before being woken by the announcement that we would eventually be given clearance into Sydney. Eventually? I thought as I was trying to work out if the time on my phone was correct….
I asked the fellow sitting near me and it turns out those storms over Sydney were quite severe and while I was sleeping, the captain announced we would be circling for sometime. We had apparently been circling for about 50 minutes past our scheduled arrival hence why the time on my phone seemed odd.
We landed in a very soaked Sydney a full hour late, all due to the weather, but I was off that aircraft, in the terminal and through immigration in no time thanks to the smaller aircraft.
I thoroughly enjoyed the flight. The crew were superb! From the Customer Service Manager Graeme who greeted me by name and still remembered it during the flight, to the dancing flight attendant. From the nice Australian wines from the best wine regions to the traditional larger meals and supply of snacks the service really impressed me on this sector. Oh and no, no Julie Bishop to be seen, just in case you were wondering ;).
FreakyFlier paid for his own flights