TRIP REPORT: Qantas QF477 Sydney to Melbourne in Economy – call that a meal?
I wouldn’t normally report on a pedestrian trip like a Melbourne to Sydney domestic flight. However, as one of the busiest routes in Australia, and in fact in the world, I thought it might be interesting to document the service on this well-patronised route.
Content of this Post:
Qantas essentially runs flights every 15 minutes during the peak periods of the day. Flights are often delayed, although usually by minutes rather than hours, and because it is a busy route, flights get cancelled more frequently than on some other routes. You can see where this is heading, can’t you?
According to Lucas Baird in the AFR, Qantas isn’t doing too bad in the cancellation (3.4%) and on-time departure (75.5%) statistics, but its sister low-cost airline Jetstar is cancelling one out of every six Sydney to Melbourne flights (15.7%)!.
Flight: QF 477
Route: Sydney (SYD) – Melbourne (MEL)
Date: Friday, 14 April 2023
Depart: 5:45 PM
Arrive: 7:20 PM
Duration: 1hr 35 min
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Seat: 22 F (Economy Class)
Cost: part of a return ticket AU$402
What we booked
We were originally booked on flight QF479 departing 6 pm on Friday, which [spoiler alert] is basically when we departed – but on a different earlier flight.
During the day on Friday, we received several contacts from Qantas, including when we went to check in, inviting us to move to an earlier flight at no cost. Having secured one of my favoured sets of seats on the flight, I was unwilling to change. We were also not on any deadline for arrival, so knowing that there were more than half a dozen flights leaving after our booked flight, I was not worried… other than a slight foreboding.
We received notification at 12:37 that our original QF479 flight has been cancelled by text. We got a follow-up message at 12:37 advising that we had been rebooked on flight QF477, departing at 17:45 – 15 minutes before our previous flight.
That didn’t happen.
We didn’t pull back from the gate until 18:07, with the safety video being played simultaneously. It was 18:13 when we left the ground, with cabin service starting fairly promptly at 18:28.
The captain apologised for the delay, saying that the cabin crew had arrived late into Sydney, thus causing the delay.
Now, this is not intended as a brag, just a statement of fact. I have had some kind of premium status with Qantas for probably 15, maybe 20 years. That has allowed me to choose seats at the front of the plane. For a long time, before Qantas started charging for them, we used to book rows 13 or 14 – the exit rows on a Qantas 737-800. Since I have been Platinum, I have had access to the front of Economy class, so for the last five or more years, I just haven’t had a seat beyond, say, row 8. Row 22 is a long way from there.
It’s universally recognised that catering has gone backwards on domestic flights in Economy. I am pretty sure I can remember back in the 1980s when you still got a full hot meal on melamine crockery with metal cutlery and on a tray on this short hop to Melbourne.
This is what we got – in a cardboard box, but hot.
… and this is what was inside. I will call them torpedo-shaped, but I have heard rather unkinder descriptions. Still can’t identify this food? Let me help you with the description on the packet:
I’m not sure what I find more frightening, the notion of Soy Protein Isolate, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, or an ingredient that is called ‘Natural Flavours’, or the fact that Marinated Chicken is only 11.4% actual chicken.
My late mother couldn’t have eaten this as she was allergic to eggs and crustacea, and neither could my cousin, who can’t eat gluten. Of course, there was no alternative unless you call a small bag of pretzels a substitute.
On the positive side, the Shiraz was good. Cheap but good.
Sydney T3 Change – nixed the travolator
And finally, just a change at Terminal 3 that should be noted. The travelator running between the main security entrance and the teen-numbered gates has been removed. I would be interested if this is of concern to passengers with physical disabilities.
I used to defend Qantas pricing against that of Virgin Australia and Jetstar by arguing that if you included the cost of checked baggage, the meal and refreshments, Qantas cost about the same, along with (on the whole) better service from check-in through Lounge and onboard service. I’m no longer sure about that.
You could be ahead if you travel on Qantas during happy hour when free wine and beer are distributed. That is as long as you are prepared to insist on a second drink since they don’t seem to be offered voluntarily these days. If you want spirits, you better travel on Virgin Australia and buy your drink, especially if it is rum or gin-based.
But now, with meals of this deplorable quality, maybe it’s better to save some money on the fare and buy on board something that you actually want to eat, which puts you back to travelling on Virgin Australia or Jetstar. I’m excluding Bonza and REX from this comparison since I have not travelled on either.
Most people could walk between Sydney and Melbourne without eating.
Sure – happy to see you walk 878 kilometres without eating. That’s not my point. My point is the decline in onboard food service, while airfares are high – as is Qantas profit.