Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Qantas QF767 : The Final Flight of the Boeing 767

Well we've known the B767 days were numbered in the Qantas fleet for quite some time now, but since Alan Joyce fast-tracked his turnaround plan for the airline, the day came somewhat earlier than many had hoped. December 27, 2014 was the final day of Boeing 767 passenger operations for Qantas, and indeed it would be the final flight of a Boeing 767 with passengers in Australian domestic service period. 

The Boeing 767-200 and Boeing 767-300 have been an integral part of the aviation scene in Australia since about 1983 (with Ansett) and for many it was the preferred method of travel between the east coast capitals for decades. The type has been in service with Qantas for 29 years and was it's first twin engine aircraft.

So it was with some sadness that I booked my seat on flight QF767 from Melbourne to Sydney to farewell what I think has been a very significant part of Australian airline history. Here is how I experienced the day....




Friday, December 26, 2014

Quick Trip Around Asia : The Videos

In case you are not subscribed to my YouTube channel, here are the videos associated with part 1 and 2 of this latest series of reports:



And for a sneak peak at Part 3, here is the video of the flight Bangkok to Tokyo Haneda:


Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Quick Trip Around Asia Part 2 : Thai Airways First Class Sydney to Bangkok Boeing 747-400

After arriving from Melbourne on QF400 I collected my luggage (Qantas won't interline to non alliance partners on separate tickets anymore), and took the train between terminals. They charge $5.70 for this 2 minute journey, which other airports in the world charge to transfer between terminals I wonder? Qantas does offer an inter-terminal transfer but I couldn't use this as it is airside and I had to go landside to get my luggage.

Fortunately the luggage didn't take too long and I was over at the Thai check-in counters by 8am. Here are the details of todays flight:

FLIGHT
TG476
AIRLINE
Thai Airways  International
ROUTE
Sydney to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
GATE DEPARTURE
10.00 (Scheduled) / 10.02 (Actual)
GATE ARRIVAL
15.25 (Scheduled) / 15.44 (Actual)
FLIGHT TIME
9 hours 12 minutes airborne
AIRCRAFT
Boeing 747-400 HS-TGO



Check-in for Royal First, Royal Silk and Economy

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Quick Trip Around Asia Part 1 : Qantas Business Class Melbourne to Sydney Airbus A330-200

Last month I decided I needed to satisfy my cravings to fly again so I planned and booked a very hectic 6 day trip from Melbourne including stops in Bangkok, Tokyo, Osaka and Hong Kong. This is my report of the flights I took on this trip. They include Qantas business class, Thai Airways first and business Class, Japan Airlines economy class, and EVA Air business class, including a Hello Kitty flight.

This post is about the first part of my trip, the short hop between Melbourne and Sydney to connect up with Thai's 10am service to Bangkok. I have  done this a couple of times before and I always choose the QF400, 6am service.  It is almost always on time and leaves a nice 2 hour 30 min transit time in Sydney. The only downside is just how early in the morning it is. Since I was flying onwards in First Class from Sydney, it seemed only natural to fork out a few extra points and fly in business class on the first leg. Here is the review of this short flight:

FLIGHT
QF400
AIRLINE
Qantas Airways
ROUTE
Melbourne to Sydney
GATE DEPARTURE
06:00 (Scheduled) / 05:58 (Actual)
GATE ARRIVAL
07:25 (Scheduled) / 07:32 (Actual)
FLIGHT TIME
1 hour 7 minutes airborne
AIRCRAFT
Airbus A330-200 VH-EBV


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Air New Zealand B787-9 Premium Economy (Sydney to Auckland)

Earlier this year Air New Zealand announced the retirement of it' Boeing 747-400 fleet. As part of the farewell celebrations they scheduled a one off Auckland-Sydney-Auckland service, and as a fan of the Jumbo Jet, I booked a ticket. Sadly about a week before the flight the airline cancelled the service with no explanation. It was quite disappointing. However, the replacement aircraft was the brand new B787-9 and that would be a new type for me so I decided to go ahead and fly anyway. I managed to snag a seat in the Premium Economy cabin for a small surcharge, but please be aware that whilst I had a premium economy seat, ANZ do not offer a premium economy service on Trans-Tasman flights. So the soft product that you will see on this review is identical to the basic 'Seat Only' economy class service.

FLIGHT
NZ104
AIRLINE
Air New Zealand
ROUTE
Sydney to Auckland
DEPARTURE
12:30 (Scheduled) / 12:28 (Actual)
ARRIVAL
17:30 (Scheduled)  / 17:24 (Actual)
FLIGHT TIME
2 hours 32 minutes airborne
AIRCRAFT
Boeing 787-9 ZK-NZE

ZK-NZE Arrives from Auckland

Monday, October 20, 2014

Regional Express Saab 340B : Melbourne to Wagga Wagga ZL3258

The Saab 340 has been on the Australian aviation scene for about 30 years, and it is still going strong. In fact we are home to the world's largest operator of the type, Regional Express, or simply 'Rex'. Rex was created after the collapse of Ansett Australia and is the amalgamation of the former regional airlines 'Hazelton' and  'Kendell'. They fly a fleet of almost 50 of these Saab's to many regional destinations throughout the country. Today I would be flying on the morning service between Melbourne and the NSW regional city of Wagga Wagga.



FLIGHT
ZL3258
AIRLINE
Regional Express ‘Rex’
ROUTE
Melbourne to Wagga Wagga
DEPARTURE
Schedule 0900 / Actual 0930
ARRIVAL
Schedule 1000 / Actual 1030
FLIGHT TIME
45 minutes airborne
AIRCRAFT
Saab 340B VH-EKH  (Age 19 years)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Etihad First Class - Abu Dhabi to Melbourne on the B777-300ER (EY460)

I was incredibly lucky a couple of months back to try out Etihad First Class on my flight home from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne. Here's my review of their premier product....

FLIGHT
EY460
AIRLINE
Etihad
ROUTE
Abu Dhabi – Melbourne
DEPARTURE
22.20
ARRIVAL
17.30
FLIGHT TIME
13 Hours 10 Minutes
AIRCRAFT
Boeing 777-300ER (A6-ETM)

My day actually started in the airport hotel, the Premier Inn Abu Dhabi International Airport. I was there during a long layover. It's a basic but very good quality hotel and I found it very comfortable. I would recommend it to anyone with long transits. It is connected to the terminal complex and very reasonably priced. I departed the hotel at about 7.30pm, and checked the departures board as I left:


Friday, September 12, 2014

British Airways Economy Class : Istanbul to London on the Boeing 767-300ER (BA677)

On my last trip to Europe I found myself in Istanbul with a need to get to London, I had two options to consider: Turkish Airlines or British Airways. I ended up selecting British Airways because I got a terrific price and it was on one of my favourite planes, the Boeing 767-300. BA operate three times a day between Istanbul and Heathrow, two of the flights are on boring Airbus A320's and then there is this flight, on the class B767. This is a short pictorial review of flight BA677.


FLIGHT: BA677
ROUTE: Istanbul Ataturk to London Heathrow
DEPARTURE: 17.35
ARRIVAL: 19.35
DURATION: 4 hours
AIRCRAFT: Boeing 767-300ER (G-BNWB)

I had pre-organised a private transfer (20 Euros, quite reasonable) from my hotel in Old Town to the airport. It took about 40 minutes or so to get there.

Outside IST

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class : Munich to Doha QR58

A few months ago I was looking for interesting ways home from Europe when I discovered award availability on Qatar Airways business class from Munich to Doha. Since the flight was with a carrier I had never flown before but heard great things about AND on the Boeing 787, I jumped at the chance and booked right away. I used Qantas frequent flyer points for this booking, which was possible since Qatar Airways have joined the oneworld alliance.


FLIGHT: QR58
DEPARTURE: Munich @ 16.35
ARRIVAL: Doha @ 23.05
CLASS: Business Class
AIRCRAFT: Boeing 787-8
PASSENGER LOAD:  18 out of 22

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Etihad Regional (Darwin Airlines) Saab 2000 : Stansted to Dusseldorf (F7275)

As part of a trip to Europe recently I wanted to try and fly on something a little bit different. Whilst researching ways to get from London to Munich I found a route sold by Air Berlin from Stansted to Munich via Dusseldorf with the first leg being flown by Etihad Regional on a Saab 2000! With so few Saab 2000's in operation, and certainly none in Australia, I jumped at the chance. As it turns out I flew on the first day of Etihad Regional operations to London's Stansted Airport.

FLIGHT: F7275 (Etihad Regional, operated by Darwin Airlines
FROM: London-Stansted @ 16.10
TO: Dusseldorf @ 18.25

I took the train from London to Stansted which was convenient, fast and easy  (although I think expensive at approx $40 AUD one way, next time I need to book in advance):


Friday, July 18, 2014

MH17: Thoughts with the victims and their friends and families

I was absolutely shocked to see the news of MH17 unfolding over the last 24 hours, I am truly devastated. I would like to express my condolences to the families, friends, coworkers and anyone who know those who died. It really is quite incredible that another disaster has hit Malaysia Airlines. It's hard to express how most people feel, it could easily have been any one of us who perished.

Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cathay Pacific Business Class : CX134 Melbourne to Hong Kong

Last month I finally got to try out the latest Cathay long haul business class seat. It was a long time coming I suppose since the seat has been in operation for well over a year and now features on all flights between Australia and Hong Kong. All CX flights to Australia are operated by the Airbus A330-300 in a 3 class configuration with economy, premium economy and business class. Today I will take a look at flight CX134 which departs Melbourne at 7.40am during the winter months, and 8.40am during the summer months. I warn you, there is a lot of photos... 51 in total!

A fairly quiet check-in zone at MEL

Friday, June 13, 2014

Turkish Airlines Business Class : TK65 Bangkok to Istanbul on the A330-200

Turkish Airlines has been rapidly expanding in recent years and now has a huge worldwide route network that rivals that of the big middle eastern carriers. I had heard good things about the airline so I decided to give them a go and visit Istanbul for the first time. The flight I am reviewing today is TK65, the daytime service from Bangkok to Istanbul. When I booked it was scheduled to be on an Airbus A330-300 with the latest business class product. Unfortunately when I went on Flightradar24 the night before the flight to see which aircraft had left Istanbul to operate the service I found out my flight had been swapped to the smaller A330-200. 

I suppose the fact that there was a military coup with strict curfews in place in Bangkok at the time meant that the flight would be lightly loaded but unfortunately it meant I would be stuck in the older and much less exciting angled lie flats for the 10 hour journey. Disappointing but there was nothing I could do about it.


Turkish Check-in counters at Suvarnabhumi Airport

Friday, June 6, 2014

Cathay Regional Business Class on the A330-300 : Hong Kong to Bangkok CX703

On my recent 'flyventures' I had an opportunity to sample the new regional business class offering of Cathay Pacific. Whilst I say new, it is in fact already a bit over a year old, but it is the latest product offering from Cathay for regional flights. This product is used on short to medium haul flights, I think services to India/Pakistan/Sri Lanka may be about the longest flights that feature this product.

My flight today was CX703, a 17.05 departure to Bangkok from Hong Kong, which continues on to Karachi. The aircraft was an Airbus A330-300 B-HLO, a 13 year old aircraft delivered new to Cathay in 2001.


Friday, May 30, 2014

The Jetstar Boeing 787



Jetstar are slowly changing the long haul fleet over from the Airbus A330-200 to the Boeing 787-8 and so far they have 4 aircraft in service. I recently took a ride on VH-VKE which was just 2 weeks old at the time. I rode on it between Melbourne and Sydney, which was a domestic tag for a flight that originated in Phuket. As such it departs from the international terminal but they do sell tickets for domestic passengers too.

VH-VKE at the gate

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What's up next

Just an update as to what is coming up on the site....

I recently took a ride on a Boeing 787 for the first time ever, it was just a short flight from Melbourne to Sydney on Jetstar but it was fantastic. Expect a full pictorial report tomorrow night.

As for my upcoming travels I have the following to report on over the next couple of weeks:

- Cathay Pacific business class long haul A330 configuration
- Cathay Pacific business class new regional A330 configuration
- Turkish Airlines business class A330-300
- British Airways euro traveler (economy) on the B767-300
- Etihad Regional on the SAAB 2000
- Air Berlin economy on the A320
- Qatar business class on the B787 dreamliner
- Qatar economy class on the A320
- Etihad diamond first class on the B777-300ER

So as you  can see there is lots to look forward to, all new products that I have never reviewed before. So stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Virgin Australia VA878 : Boeing 737-800 Sydney to Melbourne in Economy

It is probably obvious to my readers that I am more of a Qantas/Jetstar flyer domestically in Australia, but in the interests of  fairness here is a look at a short flight I took recently on Virgin Australia between Sydney and Melbourne. The flight is VA878, the 6.30pm departure from Sydney with an arrival time of 8.05pm.

The flight I took was being operated by VH-VUN which is still in it's red Pacific Blue colour scheme. I assume it will be repainted fairly soon into the much more stylish and modern Virgin Australia scheme. Here is what VH-VUN looks like at the moment:


Monday, May 19, 2014

Thai Airways International - Domestic Business Class Report on the A330-300 (TG110 BKK-CNX)

A quick report here on what you can expect in business class domestically in Thailand. This trip was on TG110 from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi to Chiang Mai on the Airbus A330-300. The aircraft operating the flight was HS-TEJ, a 16 year old model configured with the regional business class recliner seats. The flight was due to depart at 1.10pm and arrive into Chiang Mai at 2.20pm.

My trip started with the taxi driver taking the long way around the back of the airport, which was fine by me as I like the view:

View from the Taxi of an A330 touching down

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Nok Air : Hat Yai to Bangkok on a B737-800 DD7115

Following on from my recent look at a short flight on Air Asia, let's now look at another low cost carrier in the region, Nok Air. This carrier is in its 10th year of operations and now operates a fleet of 15 Boeing 737-800's along with several turboprops. It has a very extensive network of flights throughout Thailand and although it is a low cost carrier they do offer several inclusions that a traditional LCC does not. Those are a snack and drink on board, free seat selection and a 15kg baggage allowance.

HS-DBO operated this flight
Today I am looking at a flight from Hat Yai to Bangkok, flight DD7115, with a scheduled departure time of 19.55 and an arrival at Bangkok's Don Muang at 21.20. The flight cost me 1199 baht (USD40), so it was quite a bargain.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Air Asia : Kuala Lumpur to Hat Yai in Economy Class

My other half is originally from Hat Yai so every now and then I find myself visiting this southern Thai city, like I did last month for Thai New Year (Songkran). On this trip I decided to fly via  Kuala Lumpur and take Air Asia. I booked online for a great price and showed up at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal with my pre-printed web check-in boarding passes. 

I had baggage to check-in so fronted up to one of the counters and handed over my passport and my bag. Fortunately  there was not much of a queue so the process was fast. My passport was checked, bag tagged and my printed boarding pass stamped to confirm my documents had been verified. Next it was upstairs to passport control and through security.

Once through security there is a small selection of duty free shops and food outlets in the LCCT. There is also free wi-fi. This was to be my last time using this terminal as KLIA 2 is opening in May which will see a huge upgrade to the facilities. I sat on a spare seat and made use of the wi-fi to surf the net and check Facebook. After about 30 minutes boarding was called and the usual mad rush of passengers crowded the gate area, eager to get going. 

It's a long walk across the tarmac to the aircraft at the LCCT, there is no airbridge's here. We were directed to a new Airbus A320 fitted with sharklets and as I  had pre-selected row 6, I boarded through the forward stairs.



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Emirates Business Class on the Airbus A380 : EK384 Dubai to Bangkok

In January I had the chance to fly on Emirates on one of my sectors en route from the UK back to Australia. The flight I took was from Dubai to Bangkok, operated by the Airbus A380. The flight number is EK384 and the departure time was scheduled for the ungodly hour of 3.05am! Arrival into Bangkok is at a more respectable 12.25pm.

At just after midnight I woke up in my Deira hotel, took a shower and grabbed a cab for the short trip to the airport. This flight leaves from the newest terminal, T3. It took me a while to work out where to find the First Class check-in counters, I was able to use them as part of my Qantas Platinum status since the two airlines are now partners. In fact I was booked on the Qantas codeshare  flight number QF8384. 

Outside the terminal at Dubai - clearly the home of Emirates

Friday, March 28, 2014

Qantas Destroys Frequent Flyer Program

This evening Qantas has announced a number of changes to it's frequent flyer program. Essentially they have now destroyed the program. Without going into too much details for most customers it means earning less frequent flyer points and less status credits (especially if flying with Qantas partners).

The changes also see the removal of anyseat awards booked in class award booking classes (i.e status credit and points earning award flights). This change comes into effect July 1.

I am extremely disappointed at these changes and as a result I am now looking to other programs to put my miles, e.g. AAdvantage and Virgin Velocity. I think Qantas has made a big mistake here, they are already struggling and in one announcement they will send thousands of loyal customers flocking to other airlines.

NOT HAPPY QANTAS.

For the changes go here: http://www.qantas.com.au/fflyer/dyn/program/fairer-flying

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Qantas Business Class : Bangkok to Sydney on a Boeing 747-400 QF24

Over the recent summer and school holiday period Qantas scheduled a Boeing 747-400 on it's Bangkok flight instead of the usual Airbus A330-300. I happened to be travelling the route during this time and although I was booked in economy I decided to do a points upgrade to try out the business class service on the jumbo! I received an sms to my phone confirming the upgrade. the day before and was able to select my preferred seat right away on Qantas.com.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Qantas Domestic Business Class - Sydney to Alice Springs on the B737-800 QF790

Here is a quick report on QF790, the daily service between Sydney and Alice Springs. This is a Boeing 737-800 sector and on the  flight I took in January I was lucky to score one of Qantas' newer models with Boeing Sky Interior. It was VH-XZF, just 8 months old at the time of this flight.

Here is the business cabin featuring leather seats and audio video on demand in all seats:


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

British Airways Club Europe - Heathrow to Prague on the A320 BA858

Flying around Europe in business class is not exactly luxurious. The airline industry standard business class is actually just economy seats at the front of the plane with a middle seat blocked. There may be slightly more legroom and enhanced service but this really should be called 'Premium Economy' at best. Here is a look at what BA are offering at the moment on short haul European business class, which they call 'Club Europe'.

This journey begins at Heathrow Terminal 3. My destination on this early January evening is Prague, one of only a handful of destinations that British Airways still serve from this terminal. The vast majority of BA services are operated out of Terminal 5. British Airways still operate a business and first class lounge here though which is used by other carriers like Qantas as well. There is also a First Class check-in zone which was deserted when I arrived. My check-in was handled very quickly and my luggage tagged for Prague with priority tags too. I had an express departures card to use as well which meant I was through security nice and fast.


Champagne Bar in T3 First Class lounge

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Virgin Trains - First Class

Here's something a little bit different for the blog. A train report. I did a cruise report last month so why not a train!? This was one I had been wanting to do for quite some time, Virgin Trains in First Class. The route I was travelling was London to Manchester which operates every 20 minutes and takes just over 2 hours leaving from London Euston station.
 
Arriving at Euston

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Qantas First Class to London on the A380 : Part 2 QF9 Dubai to London

This is the continuation of my trip from Melbourne to London on Qantas' flagship Airbus A380, flight QF9. For part 1 go HERE.

After landing in Dubai on schedule with 13.5 hours of flight behind me it was time to head to the Emirates First Class Lounge in terminal 3. This is the lounge which features direct boarding  to the aircraft, but more on that later. As I was among the first off the flight there was nobody waiting at transit security so I was through and up to the lounge in no time.  First up it's time for a shower since Qantas don't have them onboard like Emirates do!


Monday, January 27, 2014

Qantaslink's New Business Class Equipped Boeing 717's

Qantaslink have recently acquired some used Boeing 717's that they have reconfigured into a 98 economy and 12 business class layout. They are going to be replacing the Boeing 737-400's used on flights between Canberra and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. In addition they will also operate all Qantas services between Hobart and both Sydney (daily) and Melbourne (4 daily). This is the first time that Qantaslink have operated a business class.

I had an opportunity this week to sample the service on a short evening flight between Sydney and Canberra on VH-YQS, a 10 year old Boeing 717 which originally was delivered new to Midwest Airlines in the USA back in 2004. In 2009 it went to Mexico for service with Click Mexicana, a low cost division of Mexicana. But they went bust in 2010 and the aircraft was stored. When it came time for Qantaslink to source some new B717's they found this one and did a full refurb.  So let's have a look what it's like:

VH-YQS at the gate

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Hot Breakfast on a 25 minute Flight

Is the Qantas service from Canberra to Sydney the world's shortest flight that still serves a full hot breakfast? It's only a hot breakfast in business class but I am still impressed that they have maintained it even in these days of cost cutting. It is 147 miles or just 236 kilometres as the bird flies between the two airports:



In economy a light refreshment is available but in business here is what I was served this month on the QF560 departing at 06.45am:


It's a couple of poached eggs,spinach, tomato with feta and sausages. The juice which on longer sectors would normally be poured by the crew comes in a bottle on the tray, and there is a banana on the side. Perfectly adequate and a good start to the day.

The crew on this Boeing 737-400 flight have to work VERY hard to get this  meal out to up to 20 business class passengers in a flight that can be as short as 25 minutes in the air, which leaves about 10-12 minutes to have the meal served, eaten and cleared away before seat belt signs are on for landing. During this time a full tea and coffee service is offered as well!

It's worth mentioning that these Boeing 737-400 services are currently being replaced by the Qantaslink Boeing 717-200 with 12 business class seats. After around 24 years in Australian service the B737-400 is about to be retired next month. It will be interesting to see how they compare with the Qantaslink operated flights at breakfast time. I assume the hot breakfast will remain but the Qantaslink crews may take a bit longer to become as experienced and polished as the fabulous Qantas mainline flight attendants that have been operating this route for many many years.

Farewell to the Boeing 737-400! Hello Boeing 717!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Qantas First Class to London on the A380 : Part 1 QF9 Melbourne to Dubai

This past Christmas I gave myself a gift. It was a first class ticket to London on Qantas and flying on Christmas day too! It was to be my first First Class experience on the Qantas A380 and I was looking forward to it for months. Did it live up to my expecations? Let's see....