Monday, 29 August 2016

How nostalgic is it getting a new passport?

My old faithful passport. With me since 2007 and a bit battered, but now officially and deliberately damaged to render it unusable.

Bali Hi!

Mickaeli and I are heading to Bali in September. Like the time you thought it was a good idea to wear shoes without sox and it just became smelly and uncomfortable, this has been a quick, recent decision, with the unforeseen complication of needing a new passport. On the other hand, I don't think the Four Seasons at Sayan will be smelly or uncomfortable.

My old passport would have run out at the beginning of February 2017 - which would have meant (by a whisker) less than 6 months validity on my passport by the time we exited Indonesia.

My travel agent said 'Don't even think about trying to use that old passport', and having no wish to endure any Shapelle Corby type experiences in Indonesian detention, I have taken his advice.

Airlines, not to mention immigration departments are almost universally strict about the 3 or 6 month rule.  And that means that your passport needs to have 3 or 6 month validity for the whole of your stay - up until you exit the country you are travelling to - not even a day less.

Sort of online application

So on 2nd August, being a person of a modern technological persuasion, I filled out my application form online, (surprisingly efficient for a government website - I'm talking about you printed it, and wandered around the corner to our local Post Office sub-branch to lodge it. Conveniently they also do passport photos - you know the ones that make you look guilty of almost any crime you can imagine, or at the very least someone to be avoided on public transport.

After a bit of checking, signing, offical stamping, hair arranging, photography, idle chit-chat and parting with around AU$300, I came away with 4 spare photos, an information sheet on what to do next, a very long receipt with lots of application codes, and the vandalised passport you see above.

Now the rules about how the photograph needs to appear for your passport are very strict. I thought going to an official passport agent for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that promised  'We'll help ensure your passport application meets Australian Government requirements.' would in fact ensure that my application did meet Australian Government requirements.

Not so.

A week later, I almost missed an email from the lovely Bharathy at DFAT informing me that my photo didn't cut the mustard. I couldn't agree more. All I needed was an accompanying profile shot with an ID sign, and I looked like an inmate of some prison/asylum, or alternatively a phrenology exhibit.

Bharathy was not interested in my cosmetic appearance it turned out when I called her number. There was a printing artefact like a shadow on the print, which meant their highly sophisticated image security system rejected my photo. No biggie. I popped around the corner, and my sub-branch manager re-took my photos, at no extra charge and signed a few more forms. He offered to lodge the form via his courier system - but advised it would be quicker if I personally dropped it off at the central Sydney office. Since its only about 25 minutes away by public transport - I hopped on the train, and hand delivered the revised photos and accompanying paperwork myself. Very efficient - not even a queue to wait in.

The advantage of the online application is that you get a tracking number, so you can log-in and check on progress. Although 100% complete on 17 August - the system advised collection from 19 August onwards.  That Friday was a little fraught with work, so it took me until the following Monday to collect. Again no queue, just a momentary wait while the counter attendant logged in. A women of few words, the sight of my old vandalised passport and receipt was enough to make my new passport mine!

Shiny and new with a new translucent wallet holder! (not shown)

Passport nostalgia

This is only my 3rd passport ever. My first was acquired in 1988. Unfortunately in those days, they didn't render it useless, and return it - they just destroyed it once your new passport was issued - so I can't riffle nostalgically through that first one.

I can riffle nostalgically through my last one - which I will have to do when I make my application for a Russian Visa next year. They need 10 years of your travel history, and my memory just ain't that good without assistance.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Qantas Holidays honours its online Four Seasons Bali pricing mistake deal - possibly at its own cost

This saga started on a whim just over a month ago when my partner Mikaeli came home after a long hard workday on a rainy cold winter evening in Sydney and said 'We have to escape this winter'. This was only a couple of days after a firm but polite conversation about budgets and discretionary spending.

Naturally, my interest was peaked, never being one to resist the opportunity to catch a plane and escape to a nice hotel somewhere warm.

Our original plan was to squander our remaining points (the ones that hadn't already been foolishly spent on a first class trip to Europe next year (a story for another post) on our winter escape. But it looks like the rest of Australia has the same idea, so points fares are hard (not impossible) to come by to the destinations we fancied - Bali, Fiji, Noumea (New Caledonia) and Vanuatu - if they have fixed that runway.

The offer I found

In the shower of travel related email newsletters I get, something caught my eye, and took me to the Qantas holiday site. Deciding it wasn't suitable (code for too expensive) I poked around a little more on the website to see what else was available.

I don't have an original screen grab, and they have withdrawn the offer but this is sort of what we saw - but with a way different price, and for 7 nights with an upgrade to a Villa:

This is a screen grab from 10 August. I saw the screen on 11 July initially - with a very different price.
The price I saw was from $1224 (US$940) per person and was for 7 nights, with an upgrade to a villa.

Out with the calculator, comparison shop on the Four Seasons website, and that works out at AU$350 (twin share) a night - versus AU$799 (US$612) a night on the Four Seasons site for the same Villa (todays price - with lowest price guarantee) - so less than half price if you include the upgrade to a Villa. And that's not even counting the other inclusions of transfers, breakfast, wifi etc etc.

A deal too good to refuse.

I checked some dates for flights eyeing the possibility of some points based fares and then enquired straight away.

Initially, the consultant said - 'Oh - I think we have sold out our allocation. Let me check with the hotel and get back to you'.  I held for a while, and she said, 'Yes they will honour it, what dates would your prefer?'  

Well - we had worked out some possible dates, but actually, I wanted to get some availabilities first so I could look up points fares, and then hopefully juggle the two.  The consultant advised that it wasn't that straight forward - you needed to make a booking and pay a deposit within about 5 days to secure the deal, and the deal was specific to the dates.

So, I agreed. I had a partner to consult as well as points fares to look up, so better get the deal held for sometime before I dick around with the details.

The consultant put in some dummy flight details (so that the transfers could be booked), and promised to send me a booking confirmation any minute.

I got a booking ‘Invoice’  via email a few minutes later for more than twice as much as the price advertised. I rang them back. . .

. . . 'I know that the price was 'from' but I thought that meant it might increase by one or two hundred dollars, not more than twice as much!' I stated politely.

'Must have been a pricing or marketing error, - just hold on' she requested.  After a few minutes wait, she reported that something definitely had gone wrong, 'Must be a pricing or marketing error . . .' and that it was being referred up the supervisor chain and they would have to get back to me in a day or two - it might even take a week.

I vaguely thought - do I want to get all nasty on them, and threaten a social media campaign, and to get the advertising regulator, on to them about false advertising? etc etc - and then I thought - I don't think I can be arsed. The probable outcome I figured would be that they would come back sayin it was the price she had given me and we would decide it was too expensive and not proceed.

From then on, about every week, I would get an automated email requesting that I pay a $110 deposit to secure my booking, and each time I would call, ask them to look at the booking notes, and they would say 'Oh that is strange - I'll extend the period by another week until this is resolved'. And so it went on, perfectly politely, with me expecting them to come back and say, no, sorry - that is the price, take it or leave it.

Except they didn't.

Just when I had given up, on 1st August, I get a phone call saying that they would honour the advertised price. WhooPeeee!

It would have been rude to refuse.
That's for 7 nights at teh Four Seasons with an upgrade to a Villa, people!

Well done Qantas

Next call - to our regular travel agent to arrange airfares.  I give him all the details, and tell him that he is welcome to take over the booking (which means he gets a commission), and to get on and organise our flights.  He calls back, and says 'Boy have you got a great deal. I think Qantas is paying for half your holiday'. He had to be put up the food chain to a supervisor, who said, no - he couldn't take over the booking given the amount it was costing Qantas Holidays already. Fair enough.

So I don't know who made the mistake, but my ex-Qantas contacts say it does happen, and when it does, it ends up being costly.

As to Qantas honouring the deal - good on them for doing it voluntarily without a cross word from me.

I think good consumer protection here in Australia, and the power of social media means large travel organisations are much more pro-active on this sort of error than they used to be. And they score lots of loyalty points from me.

Image of from one of the Villa's © Four Seasons

Our Flights

So, the airfares. Bali is a very popular destination from Australia, but frankly all the return flight schedules are awful. There are three airlines that fly direct from Sydney, and their schedules for our dates are:

GA  715    SYD DPS   10.25   14.40
GA  714    DPS SYD   23.30  #07.25

JQ   37   SYD DPS   16.40   21.05
JQ   38   DPS SYD   22.35  #06.15

and Virgin Australia
VA  65  SYD DPS  11.35  16.20
VA  64  DPS  SYD  01.10  09.15

Potentially we could have marshalled points for Virgin Australia - but their redemptions are very points intensive, especially if they have run out of their lowest Reward Seat category. Even in that category your looking at about 45,000 points return in economy, or 99,000 in business, both plus fees.

Let me take the suspense out of this. We're travelling Garuda on a A330-300 in economy and business.
Image from Garuda website
On Jetstar it would be 40,000 points economy, and 80,000 in Business - but remember this is low cost airline business - all-be-it on a 787.

We have ended up booking paid fares with Garuda (we didn't have nearly enough for points travel) - with our travel agent successfully requesting a cheaper fare bucket than was publicly available (another reason to use a travel agent!).

Cost of our blended economy/business fare is AU$1,711 per person inc taxes. Marginally cheaper than Jetstar (AU$1,723) although they don't have flat beds in business, but do fly B787's. Virgin were most expensive at AU$2,200.

Garuda have vastly improved their service over the last few years - gaining a 5 star rating (for what its worth) from Skytrax.  Our trip will be on an A330-300 with a 2-4-2 seat plan in economy, and unfortunately their old 2-2-2 formation in Business. We won't get to experience their new 1-2-1 business cabins installed with Super Diamond design seats from B/E Aerospace on their newly ordered A330-300's.

Although flying out Economy, we are doing the overnight return in Business Class, and they are the only ones with flat beds. As our travel agent said - who wants to ruin a nice relaxing holiday by flying the redeye in economy home.

Reviews coming in September:

  • Lounge Reveiw - Sydney Skyteam Lounge (if I have interpreted the entry eligibility correctly)
  • Flight Reveiw - Garuda GA715 A330-300 to Denpasar in Economy
  • Transfer Review -  Denpasar to Ubud
  • Hotel Reveiw - Four Seasons at Sayan - Villa
  • Transfer Reveiw - Ubud to Denpasar
  • Lounge Review - Garuda Lounge - Denpasar Airport (Ngurah Rai International)
  • Flight Review - Garuda GA714 A330-300 to Denpasar in Business Class 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Vietnam Airlines London to Ho Chi Minh City, for some R 'n R, and an urban break

Vietnam Airlines VN50 
London Heathrow (LHR) – Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon (SGN)
Monday, January 02, 2016 
Depart: 12:00 noon
Arrive: 06:25am (03 January 2016)
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9 
Seat: 3D (Business Class)

After our frantic four week visit to London, Cornwall and Tromsø in Norway, we thought we deserved a break so booked 5 nights in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) on our return to Sydney.

We would be back on a 787-9 for this flight, our second experience of the Vietnam Airlines product.

Our flight departure time was changed almost without us noticing it, so instead of a 2:45pm departure, we were now scheduled to depart at midday.

I hate rushing at an airport and prefer to arrive early and spend some time relaxing in the lounge before hand. So that nearly 3 hour change in departure, meant we needed to leave our Fulham accommodation closer to 8:30am and travel at rush hour rather than after 10am. Then I remembered we were leaving on Sunday. Not even London has a rush hour on Sunday. However our plans changed from getting up at a reasonable time to pack, to packing the night before.

Commencing the process of relaxation - Bloody Marys - and they were not the last consumed in the Skyteam Lounge before boarding.
Our trip to Heathrow Terminal 4 by minicab - actually a van - was uneventful and we made good time.

Next stop the Skyteam Lounge, which I have previously posted about.

We wandered down to the gate as soon as our flight was called, and negotiated our way to the priority queue, and onto the plane. Unlike our previous pre-Christmas flight, apparently now on the 2nd of January, it was definitely a Christmas flight:

A blue and white Christmas apparently, although who ever made the seasonal video did not get the colour theme memo.
Flight attendants overall on this flight seemed a little more upbeat than our last flight with Vietnam Airlines - or maybe I was just more willing to be demanding in my requests for service.

Other than the addition of Christmas decorations the cabin was the same as our previous 787 flight VN51 HCMC to London. 

The seating plan was the same as on our previous 787 flight from Vietnam. Reverse herringbone in a 1-2-1 configuration of the popular Zodiac Cirrus seat. My partner Mickaeli thought the pitch was a little tight, and indeed if you had your seat in any type of recline, getting out without returning it to the takeoff and landing position was difficult - even when you lowered the  arm rest.

Arm Rest that can be lowered, with small storage area on the right, deep enough for an iPad. When the seat is reclined, it can be difficult to get out of the seat, even when the arm rest is lowered.

Seat controls were clear and simple, and did their job well.
Amenity kits co-branded with Charriol were in contrast to the blue Chopard ones distributed on the Sydney to HCMC journey. Contents were pretty much the same but different branding. We were in the same seats as our outward journey for our 10 hour 40 minute flight to Ho Chi Minh City.

Charriol co-branded amenity packs - in contrast to the Chopard amenities on the SYD to HCMC leg. Brown socks already on my feet. Yes that is my first glass of champagne in the upper right - served in a wine glass.

I love these kinds of flights. 10 hours gives you time to have a drink, really enjoy a meal, settle down to a movie, and then have a good sleep.

Vietnam Airlines don't distribute pyjama's to their Business Class passengers, but fortunately we had packed our black Virgin Australia ones, so I slipped into them once we were in the air. They do however supply slippers as well as socks - which make me feel much better about foot hygiene when visiting the bathrooms.

Menu's were distributed, and our orders - including for breakfast were taken before takeoff. I always find this a little weird. It's like telling cook what you want for dinner tomorrow night (I'm kidding, like I have staff!).

Business Class Menu cover - with just a hint of Lotus petal.
Choice of two entrée (starter) and five Main courses (entree)

I always mean to order the asian option, but then I worry that in my addled state, I will slurp and spill noodle juice all down my front - so I stick with the western omelette.

Not too specific about the Champagne and wines, and refills were done in the galley, so I never did get to find out what the champagne was. It tasted fine, although not noteworthy.

I ordered the foie gras (the French colonials handed on some great traditions to the Vietnamese).

I know I should at the very least feel guilty about the force feeding of geese, but it's still delicious.

Soup, salad and foie gras came on one tray. Service on this flight was brusque, but observant. Rarely was there pro-active service, but all requests were met in a timely manner, and with grace and mostly a smile - and at worst a concentrated look.

Having experience this attitude on the way over, I felt much more comfortable with it, knowing that a smile and finger pointing to my glass would get me a quick refill.

Sorry - I downed the Broccoli and Potato cream soup pretty quickly, and obviously before I took this photo of the foie gras and sourdough. It was after 1pm, and I was hungry.
I'm allergic to fish, and the pig cheek just sounded too much, so it was either the chicken thigh and fried rice or the beef. In my experience, its pretty hard to get a good piece of steak in the sky, but in this case it was not bad, although well past the medium rare I would have preferred.

The steak - a fillet I think, was fine - mainly due to the sauce. - although I am not sure it was actually horseradish.  Beans with sultanas, tomato and potatoes were on the good side of OK.
I watched a couple of episodes of American Horror Story - Hotel on my iPad, but my heart wasn't really in it. The in-flight entertainment selection was limited but diverse. I mean, there was not a lot of options, but a lot of categories including new release films and some recent and old classics. The entertainment catalogue as you would expect was skewed towards asian tastes.  You can have a look at their current selection and get the idea. I didn't use their noise cancelling headphones, because I now am the proud owner of a pair of Bose in-ear Quiet Comfort 20 headphones (thank you Father [Mickaeli] Christmas!).

OK time for an afternoon/evening nap. Since the entertainment wasn't doing it for me, it was time for rest, so on with the eye shades, in with the earplugs, and recline the seat.

I slept for 3 to 4 hours, and when I woke up we were over India about here:

One view from the flight screen

And another. It just cycled through the views as is normal.
Not much else to report really. I tried to sleep some more, but finally gave up, asked for more champagne, and read for a while.

About 2 hours out of Saigon, that old reliable the breakfast omlette was served.

To avoid that last rush hour for the toilet, I changed out of my Pyjamas and into a pair of light pants and T-shirt ready for our arrival in Saigon.

Although shorts are what I would prefer, most Asian men wear long pants as shorts are at the immodest end of acceptable. Our exposure to the actual 34ºC (93ºF) heat of Saigon would be transitory while we were going from airport to carpark, given that we would be largely moving from air-conditioned aircraft to air-conditioned airport, to air-conditioned hotel car, to air-conditioned hotel. Anyway, I always feel more appropriately dressed when arriving at a fine hotel in long pants, rather than shorts. I also have a psychological block about wearing shorts on planes. I've done it, but I don't feel comfortable about talking about it, so don't ask.

We landed pretty close to the expected arrival time of 6:25am, and our bags came out fairly promptly.  Immigration was pretty efficient, so we were in the hotel car in under an hour, and on our way to our second visit to the Intercontinental Saigon - and probably a long wait before our room would be ready.

2PAX Wisdom

The 787 is a lovely plane. I love the higher pressure, as I never feel as fatigued on these newer aircraft - including the A380 as I do on older aircraft with lower pressure.

The plane itself was under a year old, and looked clean and fresh. I like the reverse herringbone seats - but I, and especially my partner found the pitch a little tight, especially when trying to exit the seat when in any form of recline.

Service on this flight was better than on our previous incoming flight - although that might have been because I had got used to asking for what I needed, instead of just expecting pro-active service.

So - good to very good hard product, and once you know how to manage it, solidly good service, but not pro-active.

Catering was on the good side of average, and a lot better than much I have experienced in business class (Jet Airways, I'm talking about you!) Drinks were OK despite 'mystery champagne' and no published wine list.

Direct aisle access is wonderful, but the apartness you feel as a couple because of that large console between the middle seats - even though you are  facing into each other, does not make for an intimate flying experience when accompanied by a partner (like the otherwise abominable BA business class does). I'm sure there are better implementations of the reverse herringbone that I have yet to experience.

More stories from this trip

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Flight Review: Qantas A330-300 International Business Suite, Sydney to Jakarta - a hard and soft product improvement.

A new addition to the team here at 2PAXfly: Mark - contributes his first flight review. Mark loves to fly, and prefers a seat towards the front if possible. Here he details his very recent trip On Qantas to Jakata, Indonesia. Mark is off to the USA later this year, and I hope he will contribute a report on that trip too.

Qantas Airlines QF41 
Sydney (SYD) – Jakarta (CGK)
Saturday, July 23, 2016 
Depart: 13:50 
Arrive: 18:00 
Duration: 7h  
Aircraft: Qantas A330-300 
Seat: 4A

Last week I had my first experience of flying the newish Qantas A330-300 International Business Suite, which has been progressively rolled out by Qantas on their A330 fleet over the past 15 months.

Lounge and Check-in

Qantas Business Class Check-in at Sydney was very smooth and friendly, no queues what so ever. In Sydney Qantas provides an Express Path voucher to painlessly whiz through immigration and security. Plenty of time for a last minute shopping and a pre-flight lounge visit. The Qantas International Business Lounge was reasonably quiet once all the QF7 passengers on the A380 to Dallas departed. The service and standard of food and beverage is still high, however some of the furnishings are looking quite tired. I did notice on this visit that Qantas has recently introduced new (cheap looking) bar stools and high tables I presume to increase the lounge capacity in peak periods.

Preflight Champagne at the Qantas International Business Club Lounge

Qantas A330-300 QF41 preparing for departure on the tarmac at Sydney Kingsford-Smith Mascot

Boarding was quick and orderly. Judging from the crowds at the gate Economy was quite full on this leg. Business Class passengers enter separately from the airbridge via the first door straight into the front of the Business Class cabin. The decor is all muted beige and greys, creating a calm dullness.

The seat layout is 7 rows of 1-2-1 staggered seating. The suites themselves are a Marc Newson collaborated version of the Thompson Vantage XL. There are two toilets one at the front near the cockpit and another at the rear right beside the galley.

Qantas A330-300 Business Class Cabin Interior with QF Kangaroo logo feature

Seat 4A welcome screen

Before take-off cabin crew offer business class passengers water, juice or champagne (on this leg it was Duval Leroy Brut). They also hand out passenger amenity kits, but no grey cotton Qantas Business pyjamas - given it is a daytime flight, however I'm told they are available on request.

Preflight Champagne and Qantas/Jack Spade branded amenity kit

The Qantas Business Jack Spade New York Mens amenity kit is pretty basic, it features socks, an eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste and some Aspar cosmetics. Ive got quite a collection of these now in different coloured bags, its not a particularly useful or impressive kit compared to Emirates or Singapore Air, I think its quite light on and overdue for a refresh. I do make use of the lip balm and socks but thats about it. 

Aspar men's lip balm, face moisturiser, and hand cream.

More about the Seat

Let's look a little more at the seat design and comfort. The A330-300 Business Cabin is laid out in 1-2-1 format meaning every passenger has direct access to the aisle. The window seats alternate with every second seat against the window with a console and storage unit shielding it from the aisle. The alternate window seats have the console and storage on the window side, and the seat is less shielded from the aisle. If like me you love to look out of the window when flying across Australia you should select seat 2A, 4A or 6A to be closer to the window. 

Seat 4A with large feather pillow and duvet 

Qantas LED in seat mood lighting and Marc Newson swivelling reading light

Qantas logo leather headrest design feature and fabric seat

QF41 Wheels up take-off from Sydney Kingsford-Smith at Mascot looking out over Botany Bay

Once we reached cruising altitude, cabin crew offered passengers pre-lunch drinks and cocktails. Qantas make a good spicy Bloody Mary with Absolut Vodka which was my choice on this flight, it was served in a generous heavy glass tumbler with lemon, ice, a Qantas swizzle stick and brazil nuts. Other business passengers were ordering more Champagne, Gin and Tonic's or Vodka and Dry Ginger.

The drink for all occasions - The Bloody Mary

The Qantas A330-300 business suite has a large adjustable high-definition touch screen. The screen is larger and clearer that those on the Qantas Business A380 or 747 SkyBeds

16 inch touchscreen.

Qantas Business A330 noise cancelling headphones

Dining - OK Neil Perry - what's for Lunch - and can I pre-order it from my phone ?

Now let's look in detail at the inflight dining. Here`s the entree (starter) and main course (entree for those in the USA) menu selections for lunch on QF41:

Qantas allows Business Class passengers to pre-select their inflight meals online up to 24hrs before the flight via its Q-Eat interface. 

Its optional as passengers can still choose from the inflight menu on the day. On this flight I took advantage of pre-ordering my meal via Q-Eat. Qantas sometimes offers on Q-Eat on-line meals that don't appear on the on-board menu. That's what I selected on this flight. When the crew came through the cabin to take passenger lunch orders from the menu, they informed me that they had already received my order online.

Q-Eat mobile interface

My Q-Eat lunch entree selection was the Queensland spanner crab okonomiyaki pancake. It took me back to my recent visit to Osaka where this was the most popular street food.

Japanese street food: Okonomiyaki - savoury pancake - 'Packet Shot'.

And here`s what the real thing looked like onboard when it was served (product versus packetshot). It was delicious, the bonito flakes waved around as they should, however it appears that the gallery crew got a bit carried away with the Japanese mayonnaise! 

Also served with the entree was warm sourdough bread with Pepe Saya cultured butter and a mixed green leaf salad with palm sugar dressing. Qantas offered a selection of different white and read wines from its cellar, I took the 2013 SA McLaren Vale Shiraz and mineral water. 

Japanese street food: Okonomiyaki - savoury pancake - 'Product Shot'.
For my Q-Eat lunch main course selection i chose the Confit Petuna Ocean Trout with various pickles and herbs. This was an online exclusive meal and did not appear on the onboard printed menu.

Packet shot

And here`s what the real thing looked like when it was served... It was probably one of the better inflight meals I have eaten in recent years. The ocean trout had been gently poached in olive oil (confit'd) with added butter keeping it very succulent. It was served with capers, mustard and cucumber pickles, radish, chervil and parsley. It did remind me somewhat of Tetsuya`s signature Confit of Ocean Trout but didn't quite reach those lofty heights.

Product shot

QF41 Dessert Menu

I chose the fruit selection with a chocolate truffle and a fine Cognac, quite a few other passengers were having the chocolate tart with a glass of sticky. Maggie Beer ice-cream was on offer as well.

Fresh fruit, with a chocolate truffle, and a slug of Cognac on the side

Coffee and Valrhona Chocolates to finish.

The Suite Seat in recline

Qantas provide a light mattress cover to their seats once you decide to nap. Let the flight attendants do it for you. They have experience, and tend to fit it better than us amateurs.

Time for a nap, A330 Business Suite with sleeping mattress fitted.

Business Suite fully flat sleeping position for a post lunch snooze - Coffin Class!

That's Entertainment Time

After a relaxing nap it was time to check out some of the inflight entertainment system. 

Qantas had a great selection of films, television programs and music on this flight. 

Of particular interest to me, they offer a choice of Australian Films, Arthouse films and World films,

The selection was more extensive, and more to my taste than my recent experiencs on JAL, Emirates or Garuda. Some of the features were offered in HD. Sound and picture quality was much better than that offered on the Qantas A380 Business SkyBed.

Screen grab of the Arthouse selection.

Qantas A330 Business Noise Cancelling Headphones.

The crew dropped by with some biscuits (cookies) and water while I was watching my film
An inflight view of the Mount Bromo volcano near Surabaya as we flew across Java

Snack Attack

About an hour before landing the crew moved through the cabin and asked any passengers who were awake if they would like a pre-arrival snack from the kitchen: Falafel, Rice or Noodles

Pre-landing snacks
With a surge in my appetite after finishing the film, I chose the Angus Beef Blackbean and Tofu Noodles with a freshly squeezed orange juice. 

Pre-landing snack and orange juice.

We descended through a beautiful sunset on the approach to Jakarta.

The flight attendants circulated with moist refresher towels and more water as the cabin was prepared for landing.


QF41 arrived on time at Terminal 2 Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, I was the second passenger to exit the aircraft and my luggage was almost the first bag out on the carousel.

2PAXfly Wisdom

This was a superior business class experience. The Qantas A330 Business Suite is very private and comfortable, so much so that I prefer it over the MKII SkyBeds currently on the Qantas A380 and refurbished 747 flights to the US, Dubai, Hong Kong, Africa, South America and London. 

The catering, service and entertainment out of Sydney were of a high standard on this route. Lets hope this is the business seat we will see on Qantas new 787-9 Dreamliners when these start service in 2017. 

Qantas main competitor on this route is Garuda who have recently revamped their inflight experience and service and just won the accolade of World`s Best Cabin Crew 2016. (Watch out for a review of Garuda's business class offering between Denpasar and Sydney in September - Ed) The Qantas crew working this leg were quite senior to say the least! 

Unfortunately QF42 from Jakarta back to Sydney was not as great as QF41, the on ground experience was a let down with slow check in, grotty lounge and a slight departure delay. The catering out of Jakarta was a much lower standard and there were problems with the inflight entertainment system for the first hour of the flight. 

The new A330 Business Suite however is a real winner and is a big plus for Qantas.

This week the sparkling brand new Terminal 3 Ultimate has opened at Jakarta Airport and Garuda will be progressively moving their International flights to that Terminal. It will be interesting to see how Qantas holds up against them on this leg both in the air and on the ground.