Impressions: Qantas A330 – Sydney to Perth
I’m not going to do a full review, as I’ll be doing that as part of the trip reports for my quick trip to Auckland. Same airline, plane, and seating but different route. Also, we have a popular review from contributor ‘Seat 2B’ of a trip to Jakarta that covers the same ground.
Instead, here are my impressions of the service experience including food and beverage..
By way of introduction, let me say that I have heard all the complaints about ‘battleaxe’ or ‘old boiler’ crews (the sexism of this is so obvious, I will respect you more for not pointing this out in the comments). I’ve heard and had limited sympathy for those who have complained about the diminution of size and quality of meals on Qantas. And, been sobered by the comments about the lack of service from staff on Qantas. But this flight has firmed my view on a few of these points.
Price in cash & points
The fare was bought on the Qantas website less than a week out from the date of travel. The cost of this return economy airfare SYD – PER was AU$826. Plus a requested one-way upgrade which was granted 4 days out and cost 25,000 Qantas points for each passenger.
No hot or cold towels for anyone in business. Not vital, but nice to wipe off the grime of the day. And it’s not that they didn’t get loaded – they did, I know, because they were sitting in the business class toilet when the paper hand towels ran out.
I was travelling with my husband, and he got a pre-takeoff drink (admittedly he was only offered non-alcoholic options). For me – not a thing, nothing, nada, zero.
On this plane, there was a mini business cabin – which was nice, located after door 2 – which was not nice, as the entire economy class passenger list passed us by, which made settling in and storing things in the overhead locker difficult.
Possibly the most inattentive crew I have come across. This was worse than being in Economy in a 737-800, where I average three alcoholic beverage offers on a 2-hour flight. On this 5 hour flight, I got 2 offers. Actually – I stand corrected, I had forgotten thatn gin & tonic I had about an hour into the flight (an hour!) Admittedly I declined the 2nd wine offer, but on a long flight like this, a girl is entitled to change her mind.
When the meal was delivered, I got a wine offer, and just presumed a water offer would follow – but no, nothing of the sort. I had to ask for it later.
When my main course was half eaten (it was on the disgusting side of edible – see more on this below), and I indicated I was finished, the entire table setting was removed. I sort of tried to retain my napkin (yep on planes I have a habit of dribbling wine and food down my front!) – but the managing flight attendant was having none of it.
I did get offered desert later – so there is that.
Other than a rather ‘by the book’ acknowledgement of my platinum status by the flight manager, there was absolutely no unnecessary banter with any of the staff – other than when I asked a flight attendant for more sparkling water, and she mistakenly offered me still. On pointing this out, and me apologising for being ‘difficult’, she said ‘Its no bother, anything to delay going back there (as she indicated economy)’. Exactly.
Food and Beverage
It has been my impression for some time that the quality of Qantas food and beverage service has been jumping off a cliff. On domestic economy this is really noticeable. Some of those snack boxes are really horrid, not to mention the hot meal boxes which are all pasta and just a memory of ragu.
Here is the selection in Business on this flight:
For the first time, while travelling in business class, I can honestly say that there was not one main course I found appealing. I wished I’d eaten in the business lounge before boarding – not that their food offering is very impressive (a story for another post). But at least they had a stew/curry that looked like it contained actual ingredients.
I had the Duck salad. The pink grapefruit was so overwhelming as to make the salad unpleasant. It is listed as Pomello on the menu – but I have my doubts.
The tacos were just downright disgusting. What is Neil Perry thinking? You know how taco eating tends to be a slightly sloppy experience at the best of times, or is that just me? Well, do it on a plane, and you will be begging for an Emirates a380 first class shower!
The cheese plate was OK – did its job. I know that crackers need to be stored in plastic, but do they need to be served with their cellophane covering? The cheese didn’t, and suffered from that hard to-long-exposed-to-drying-air skin. The walnuts and grapes, I can report were fresh and delicious!
So that was the meal. Impossible to be overfed, or indeed drunk – let me tell you, with inattentive service, and not nice food, presented badly. I should say that my husband did have a great main meal of fish. So there is that.
These were the series one version of these seats, with no retractable privacy guard. This was the first time I have travelled in them with a companion – my husband. Did I mention that he’s my Husband? Well, they do afford an amazing amount of privacy, especially in that little mini-cabin at the back of business after door 2. However, it’s really difficult to communicate with your companion, if you are travelling with someone.
I was sitting in a seat without the bench to the aisle side. I thought the privacy would be bad – but not as much as I thought due to the staggering of seats on the other side of the aisle.
I have previously mentioned that the seats, although having simple and reactive controls, lack the ability to cradle you in a ‘Z’ position. On this 5 hour flight – this became a less than desireable attribute. To put it plainly, my bum hurt, and it was difficult to find a position that was comfortable.
2Paxfly Take out
Qantas has been on a cost-saving drive, which has made them go into profit and seen their share price rise from under a dollar to over five dollars. The question is: Has this been at the cost of service, food, and quality? I think it has. The only thing that keeps me loyal to Qantas (besides my newly acquired Platinum Status) is their extensive schedules to places I want to go over Virgin Australia’s more limited schedules.