Category Archives: Flight Test

QANTAS FIRST CLASS

Qantas QF93 MEL-LAX

Seat: 2A

Cabin: First Class

Configuration: 1-1-1 (4 rows of suites)

The first thing that hit me was the feeling of spaciousness. Whereas Emirates First Class has privacy, Qantas first class has space as it has open sides, but after being seated you swivel your chair towards the window so that you are facing the television screen. Once you are in the swivel position you feel more private as you are now facing away from the aisle. There is a lot of little storage spaces, drink holders and areas to put your stuff. There is even room for visitors to come and sit and chat, or even to sit down and share a meal with you.

The only thing I would say that is a negative is that the space is designed, there is a little “wall” where your arm rest is and you have to awkwardly twist to reach around to access some of the storage spaces. The décor is rather bland or “understated” after flying with the Middle Eastern carriers of late. There aren’t any of the little touches, such as the fresh orchards in a wall sconce, or polished walnut bits, or the little bowl of snacks to munch on during the flight, OR a personalised “mini-bar”.

QF FIRST LOUNGE

First Class Lounge breakfast menu

After arriving in Melbourne, getting through Immigration and Customs, we were left with only an hour to sample Qantas’ First Class Lounge. On first impressions it looked on the smaller side, but service was efficient as the restaurant was full and they served us our breakfast in the lounge area we we plonked our stuff. The egg and bacon roll was exactly what I needed at 8am as I had already been awake since 3.30am for the early flight to Melbourne. The great thing about the First Class Lounge was that it literally was above our plane, so boarding was easy and meant we could leave the Lounge at the last minute.

QF BUBBLES BEFORE TAKEOFF

Champagne as soon as you are seated

Upon embarkation, The Crew introduced themselves and offered a nice glass of Veuve Clicquot and a plate of olives. They were welcoming without being annoying. I like to “get ready” before take-off and work out what I might need during the flight, explore the storage nooks and crannies and sometime the crew can be too convivial and fuss over you and you end up with 5 or 6 people coming to introduce themselves that you never remember their names or what they do. This Qantas Crew had the right amount of “fuss”.

Menu – The Neil Perry lunch menu was full of good choices. The Maggie Beer pate (always a favourite) and the caviar with celeriac puree appetisers were very nice and a good small size. As it was only 11.15am (my time), and only a few hours since breakfast, I

QF MENU

didn’t feel like too much to eat, so I chose two small entrees rather than a big main course. I couldn’t go past the Lobster and soba noodles with XO sauce and I had heard that the First Class Steak Sandwich was a must. The Lobster was excellent, the steak sandwich was also nice but very simple – steak, chilli sauce on a bed of rocket in a baguette….where was the beetroot, egg, onion, cheese and tomato. I won’t fall for that trap again!! The wine list was also very simple with only a few choices. I expected more, but still managed to find a Riesling I like.

Despite being full, Emma the hostie, implored that I had to have the Ice-cream sandwich. Oh wow, it was fantastic and full of honey, nuts and chocolatey goodness. Leave room for this treat.

Breakfast was the usual choice of eggs & bacon, yogurt, muesli  etc.

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The Seat – The seat swivels to face the window or your guest after take-off. There are USB ports to charge your devices as well as noise-cancelling headphone. It is comfortable and fully reclines into a fully horizontal flat bed. While you are changing into your stylish black Martin Grant (who I assume is a designer??) pyjamas and slippers, the cabin crew make up the bed for you with a mattress and duvet. Despite being so comfortable, I didn’t really get any serious sleep: maybe 2 hours here and there and eventually I just gave up. Unlike most flights, it was really hot in the cabin which didn’t help with sleep. I should have taken the sleeping tablet that was on offer by my travelling companion.

iQ – Qantas’ entertainment system had a lot of choice. They had a lot more recent movies than I’ve experienced on a lot of other flights.

The Crew – the crew on-board were fantastic. They were friendly and attentive without being too in your face. They had a great knack of knowing when to be chatty and when to leave you alone. They were also very helpful with some suggestions on what to do and where to go in our ultimate destination, New York. Upon touchdown in Los Angeles, my inner 9 year old self was beaming with excitement as  I was invited into the cockpit to have a look before disembarking.  Nice end to a good flight.

QF A380 COCKPIT

Overall: Despite the lack of sleep, I enjoyed the overall Qantas First Class experience. I absolutely rate the service; it has been friendly, efficient without feeling forced. Can’t wait until next time. Hopefully, there will be a next time.

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FLYING EMIRATES FIRST CLASS BROUGHT TEARS TO MY EYES

Emirates EK144 ADL-DXB

Seat: 1K

Cabin: First Class

Configuration: 1-2-1 (2 rows of private “rooms”)

Everything about this was first class. Check in was easy, the welcome on board was friendly, but not too over the top.  Of course the private cabins are a little oasis in the sky. Slide the doors close and you are in your own little world. There are nice little touches, such as the fresh orchards in a wall sconce, the little bowl of snacks to munch on during the flight, and there is a “mini-bar”. The mini bar is probably not needed as it is only filled with non-chilled water and soft drink, but it does have a wow factor.

Menu – didn’t have any trouble choosing from the selection on the menu. As it was now 10pm, I didn’t want much to eat before sleeping, so I chose the Caviar and washed it down with a few glasses of Dom Perignon 2006. Both were very nice. I also manage to compliment dinner with a few glasses of Chivas Regal…so I had a good buzz on!!

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The seat is comfortable and fully reclines into a flat bed. While you are changing into your stylish pyjamas (the new moisturising ones),the cabin crew make up the bed for you with a mattress and duvet. I managed to get a good 6 hours of sleep, but it was a very bumpy flight, so a deep sleep wasn’t forthcoming.

Another cute touch is that when the main cabin lights are dimmed, all of a sudden you are transported to another place as the cabin lights up like a night sky with twinkling stars.DSCN3763

ICE – the entertainment system (Information, Communication & EDSCN3758ntertainment) had a lot of choice. On previous Emirates flights I have struggled to find much to watch, but this time there a lot of selections that I wanted to see. This possibly says more about the current movies, rather than the system itself.  I chose to watch LION, and after a skinful of scotch and champagne, I was grateful for the sliding doors so that I could cry in private!!!

Overall: Great flight, great service, great product….and everyone should try to sit up the very pointy end of the plane at least once in their lives.

Footnote: The big surprise was the plane didn’t dock at the airport but a few miles away 20170408_052915(felt like it anyway) and Emirates had a luxury First Class bus pick us up (all 2 of us). It was very special and I felt like a rock star! It was a really nice finish to the flight. I am pretty sure by now there was tears of joy.

As I was staying with friends, and it was still 5.30am and way too early to go to their place, to kill a bit of time, I didn’t take advantage of the “Express Pass” for Immigration or Customs. The efficiency of the airport meant that I still got through quickly, and being First Class my luggage was the first to appear on the belt….the complimentary limo was ready

Chauffeur Drive

Chauffeur Drive

and waiting so I was whisked off by 6.30 to Dubai Islands to catch up with friends. Now, that is another story (and more tears) for another time!

Image

FLYING ON DEATH ROW

I didn’t even know that Row 87 existed.

I do wish, however, that I never ‘discovered’ it, but here I am sitting in it on QF 11 heading to New York via Los Angeles. It has felt like a never ending journey, and I still have 14 hours to go.

Just getting on this plane felt like a journey in itself as I passed through Economy cabin after Economy cabin. It felt like when you drive through a city and you leave the good suburbs behind with their manicured lawns and tree-lines streets and in each new suburb, the front yard is a little more overgrown and with each passing suburb the number of rusted car carcasses increase.

The upside to being in Row 87 is that the 5 toilets for this section are only 1 row away. You get to feel the humanity up close and personal, as everyone crowds around your seat doing their little “hurry-up-I’ve-got-pee” dance, while making judgements of what you are watching. Look, I haven’t seen Kung Fu Panda, OK? Don’t judge me.

Every time I hear the toilet’s vacuum flush (which is constant) I secretly imagine another “pee dancer” being sucked out of the plane. This would really free up some space up front. Whoosh. There goes another one.

Of course it is worse around service time when the people sitting at the front of the plane (not the real front, but the Economy front) have already finished their meals. I believe that eating celebrity-chef-inspired food off a tray must trigger a message in your bladder saying “I’ve gotta go….now”. Like watching the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti, they all get up at once and head for the toilets at the rear of the plane. Like the crocodiles in the Mara river, lying in wait to impede their progress is the food trolley as the Crew try to serve the rear of the plane. Then the life and death struggle begins as the Crew play Frogger (old school arcade game reference…ask your parents) as they go backwards and forwards trying to negotiate space and hand out lukewarm “sorry we don’t have your choice” meals to those in the surrounds of Row 87.

Whoosh. There goes another one..

This A380 is so big that doing a lap, as recommended in the inflight magazine to avoid deep vein thrombosis, I was in more danger of pulling a hamstring as I recorded 5,579 steps on my Fitbit. I was certainly in more danger of causing an injury to the protruding limbs finding their way into the aisle. I was thinking I could really do some damage with one of those food trolleys….no wonder cabin crew are always smiling. They know the game.

Whoosh. There goes another one.

The seat configuration in this section is 3-4-3. The new livery still doesn’t hide the fact that you are trapped in like sardines. Another upside to Row87 is that most people want to sit as far forward a possible. No-one willingly allocates themselves seats so far down the back. It’s a bit like Daveron Park, you’ve heard of it, but you don’t know where it is or know anyone who has ever been there. This “I’m-not-going-to-the-dark-side” attitude in seat allocation has mean that I have an empty seat next to me. This little sardine feels less like the one that John West rejected.

Whoosh. Another one gone.

Of course the reclining seat in front still feels like a personal attack from the enemy. Nothing is more confronting than watching the seatback coming towards you at an alarming rate. Too late, no time to untangle your legs. Too late to lean down to get any of your comfort items from your bag under the seat. Too late to use the tray table as the angle of the seat prohibits any practical uses. Too late to watch the entertainment system in any comfort. When I was young, my mother used to warn “don’t sit close so to the tv, you’ll ruin your eyes”. She was a very wise woman. And while we didn’t end up with square eyes, she knew that watching a screen 5cms from your face is not a good thing.

Whoosh. Another one gone.

Oooooh fancy celebrity chef inspired “hot chicken panini” just arrived. I’m now eating lunch at 4.58pm Adelaide time and 11.58pm LA time. It must be celebrity chef inspired eating time.

Whoosh. Bye bye, whoever you are.

Another added benefit to sitting in Row87 is that you get to spend more time on the plane than those at the front. When the plane lands and the “quick-every-one-stand-up-ding’ can be heard, you get to stand in the aisle for what seems like hours. I’m sure those at the front of the plane had already disembarked, claimed their luggage, passed through customs, navigated the traffic and were already home in bed before Row87 has even advanced to Row 86

Whoosh. Whoosh. Uh oh a double whoosh. I wonder if that’s two gone, or something quite stubborn not going?

Row 87 is also known as Death Row. It’s a long walk to freedom.

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LOOK, BUT DONT TOUCH

Every now and then The Dont Forget Travel Group is  invited to do a plane inspection if there is enough time between landing and take off. This week we got to check out Singapore Airline’s Flight SQ278  which flies between Adelaide and Singapore.

Landing at Adelaide Airport

Landing at Adelaide Airport

I have been on this plane many times but never really taken a lot of notice (because the service is so good)  and I could bore you with lots of detail about it being an Airbus A330-300 with 255 seats in Economy and 60 seats in Business…but why tell you when we can show you……

Unfortunately the plane was a little bit late so we didn’t have much time to really check out all the features. Maybe next time (if they let me back on!!)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

“From the four walls that currently surround you to the infinite potential of space, this week we’d like you to show us your take on room, rooms, or a room.”

Not one for being obvious, I didn’t want to fill this challenge with lots of photos of great hotel rooms. Instead I chose a few of my favourite “rooms”.

Athens

Athens

Ok I just said I wasn’t going to fill up on hotel rooms, but this is the view from my favourite hotel room overlooking my favourite city in my favourite overseas country. Whenever I can see the Parthenon sitting proudly atop the Acropolis, I feel happy….and very much at home. I’m sure I must have been Greek in a former life!

 

 

 

 

Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class

One of the biggest gripes that travellers have is the lack of room offered by airlines. Maybe one of reason why this is so is because Singapore Airline’s stole everyone’s extra space and added it to Business Class on their A380. There is so much room it can fit 2 champagne drinking passengers.

Moet et Chandon Cellars

Moet et Chandon Cellars

Speaking of champagne…..(nice segue) this stairway leads into the room that I discovered that I actually do like champagne, when you drink it at the source. This stairway leads to the Moet et Chandon tasting room which is at the end of a labyrinthine network of underground tunnels and cellars. After a tour of the cellars the corks were popped, the bubbles fizzed and my tastebuds did a hallelujah dance. The French sure know how to make champagne. Up to this moment I had only given a polite smile through gritted teeth whenever I had to have a glass.

Belvedere Ice Room Whistler

Belvedere Ice Room Whistler

Speaking of drinking… (another nice segue) one of the strangest rooms I have ever been in is one made completely of ice. The walls, the bar, the shelves, the seats were made of ice. It was called the Belvedere Ice Room and served ice-cold vodka.  On a trip to Whistler I found myself in this room tasting vodka after being kitted out in a heavy fur-lined jacket. It was great fun. The downside was that due to the freezing temperature, you can’t stay all night in the room, even though the cold spirit is warming you on the inside.

Bayon Temple Campodia

Bayon Temple Campodia

There are many different type of spirits (yep, another segue), some alcoholic and some spiritual. On a recent trip to Cambodia, while exploring Bayon Temple’s many rooms I was surprised to come across this buddha . Despite believing that the temples of Siem Reap were abandoned, it was obvious that I was wrong. The Buddha had been cloaked in a bright saffron-coloured sash and surrounding the seated figure were many offering. Some of them were recent offerings proving that this was still an active place of worship.

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In their day, the temples of Siem Reap would have been considered opulent, (here comes another segue) but nothing like the opulence experienced at an exclusive dinner in the Hall of Battles, one of the majestic rooms in the Palace of Versailles.  Believed to be the first dinner staged at the Palace since Napoleonic times, it was a privilege to feel like a privilege member of French Royalty.

Speaking of privilege (ok enough with the gratuitous segues), I have had the privilege and pleasure to have this as my view from my Santorini room.  Really don’t think there is anything more to say…just open a bottle of ouzo, nibble on some grilled octopus and just enjoy.

Santorini Greece

Santorini Greece

The Don’t Forget Travel Group is taking part in the weekly photo challenge, but with the added twist that every photo has to have a travel element to it. Enjoy! #postaday

 

 

CATTLE BATTLE

TITLE“Who has the best Economy Class?”

This a question we receive daily. It is also a question that is hard to answer because it is so subjective. Its time to go out on a limb and rank the Cattle Classes of Adelaide’s international airlines. The exception to this is the inclusion of Qantas, despite not flying internationally from Adelaide, because so many travellers are Qantas Frequent Flyers and desire to stay loyal to the airline and begrudgingly will fly interstate to catch an international flight.

The airlines have been ranked from highest to lowest in the following categories: price, frequency, seat width, seat pitch, seat configuration, number of passengers and convenience.

Table

The winner of the Cattle Battle is……..Singapore Airlines, Organic Cow2

earning them the status of “Organic Hand Reared Cattle”.

 

 

Singapore Airlines (50 points)sq logo

Flight: SQ279 Adelaide to Singapore

Plane: Airbus A330-300

Configuration: 2-4-2, Seat Pitch: 32, Seat Width: 19in (48.3cm)

Number of seats: 255

Departs daily at 11.55am and SQ277 departs M, Th, F, Sa, Su at 7.15pm

 

free rangeThe next category is the “Free Range Cattle”

 

 

 

Malaysia Airlines (44 points)mh logo

Flight: MH139 Adelaide to Kuala Lumpur

Plane: Airbus A330-300

Configuration: 2-4-2, Seat Pitch: 34, Seat Width: 17in (43.2cm)

Number of seats: 250

Departs Tu, W, F, Su at 10.00am and M, Th, Sa at 2.30pm

 

Cathay Pacific (42 points)cx logo

Flight: CX105 Adelaide to Hong Kong

Plane: Airbus A330-300

Configuration: 2-4-2, Seat Pitch: 32, Seat Width: 18.45in (46.9cm)

Number of seats: 175

Departs daily at 12.20pm

 

barn raisedThe third category is the “Barn Raised Cattle” status

 

 

 

Air New Zealand (39 points)nz logo

Flight: NZ791 Adelaide to Auckland

Plane: Airbus A320

Configuration: 3-3, Seat Pitch: 30, Seat Width: 17in (43.2cm)

Number of seats: 168

Departs daily at 11.40am

 

Virgin Australia (37 points)va logo

Flight: VA4194 Adelaide to Denpasar

Plane: Boeing B737

Configuration: 3-3, Seat Pitch: 30, Seat Width: 17in (43.2cm)

Number of seats: 144

Departs M, W, F, Su at 9.50am and VA4193 departs Sa 2.50pm

 

Jetstar (34 points)jq logo

Flight: JQ118 Adelaide to Denpasar

Plane: Airbus A320

Configuration: 3-3, Seat Pitch: 29, Seat Width: 17in (43.2cm)

Number of seats: 180

Departs M, W, Sa at 7.30am

Flight: JQ195 Adelaide to Auckland

Plane: Airbus A320

Configuration: 3-3, Seat Pitch: 29, Seat Width: 17in (43.2cm)

Number of seats: 180

Departs M, W, Sa at 4.25pm

 

Caged CowsThe final category is the “Caged Cattle” status and will surprise many which airlines fell into this group.

 

 

Emirates (31 points)ek logo

Flight: EK441 Adelaide to Dubai

Plane: Boeing 777-300ER

Configuration: 3-4-3,  Seat Pitch: 32, Seat Width: 17in (43.2cm)

Number of seats: 304

Departs daily at 10.35pm

 

Air Asia X (22 points)air asia logo

Flight: D7 246 Adelaide to Kuala Lumpur

Plane: Airbus A333

Configuration: 3-3-3, Seat Pitch: 32, Seat Width: 16.5in (41.9cm)

Number of seats: 365

Departs M, T, Th, Sa, Su at 11.00am

 

Qantas (out of Melbourne) (17 points)QF logo

Flight: QF93 Melbourne to LA

Plane: Airbus A380

Configuration: 3-4-3, Seat Pitch: 31, Seat Width: 17.5in (44.5cm)

Number of seats: 371

Departs daily at 11.20am

 

The argument has now been settled…..or has it?

 

 

WE’RE BEING SOLD A POLISHED TURD

Air travel is so glamorous, right? Wrong, it’s a polished turd!
Polished Turd

Lately there has been a lot of interest, in social and mainstream media, about an Australian chap who wrote to Jetstar asking for compensation as he was seated next to an obese man that he called an infant hippopotamus who smelled like blue cheese and a Mumbai slum. Ignoring whether he was justified in ridiculing this man (we can discuss personal hygiene whilst travelling another time), did he have the right to demand his money back?

Let’s face it, he wouldn’t have asked for his money back if he was on the 13B bus to Burnside, and essentially a plane is just another STA bus with wings, isn’t it? What makes him, and others feel that they are owed something when it comes to flying. Is it the fact that that they have paid a sum significantly higher than a ticket on the 13B? Possibly not as behaviour seems to be the same if it is a domestic or international flight.

Why have people got an over-inflated perception of what to expect on a plane, as well as an over-inflated self-belief of what they feel they are entitled to?

It’s the airlines fault, all of them!

The airlines have learnt how to polish a turd, tell us how glamorous it is, and then throw that turd in our faces, and then run away when we complain.

We are marketed at with glamorous aircrew, lay-flat beds snuggling your fluffy down doona with a smug look on your face (that is of course, after receiving your turn-down service and chocolates). Add in the cool bars that would be at home in a hip NY nightclub, as well as the food, sorry, cuisine designed by a Michelin star chef (what, Gordon Ramsey isn’t in the galley preparing my hoisin duck on a radicchio salad with a jus made from the teardrop of citrus and pomegranate pearls – but I can hear a tirade of cussing emanating from somewhere). Of course the free-flowing champagne is French, and served in glass and the cutlery is real metal and the table cloths are just that, cloth!

If you do see any pictures of Economy class, it is invariably a shot of wide expanse of empty seats. If there has to be people then it is generally of two overly-happy people sitting in an empty row so as to give the impression that they have so much room – the rest of the plane is empty. There is no-one behind them with their knees up around their ears when the set in front is reclined. There are no plastic cups. There are no flimsy knives and forks. There are no grey coloured reheated salmon dishes.

Travelling is no longer the exclusive domain of the wealthy; it has become so affordable (in fact prices really haven’t changed that much in 20 years, whereas wages have increased significantly). This has resulted in airlines cramming more people into the same space, meaning less room for the masses down the back.
It is basically false advertising and we buy into it. No wonder people are bitterly disappointed when the reality does not meet the expectation. The glamour of air travel is a complete lie.

The last time we got completely sucked in was when we believed that the Big Mac was going to look like the fresh, brightly coloured, almost “healthy” picture above the ordering counter!