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FLIGHT REVIEW: Tow bar pin breaks on Melbourne to Sydney Qantas Economy. But this time I get a meal!

FLIGHT REVIEW: Tow bar pin breaks on Melbourne to Sydney Qantas Economy. But this time I get a meal!
Series: TRIP: Sydney Melbourne return in Economy, April, 2023

Normally, I would not review in detail a short domestic flight travelling in Economy on Qantas. I do these all the time. But given my less than complimentary report on the flight into Melbourne from Sydney a few days earlier, I thought it was only fair to review this much better experience, despite the tow bar breakdown.

a plane parked at an airport
More usually used on this short haul domestic route, a Boeing 737-800 at Melbourne Airport [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Flight: QF 470
Route: Melbourne (MEL) – Sydney, Australia (SYD)
Date: Sunday, 16 April 2023
Depart: 5:00 PM
Arrive: 6:25 PM
Duration: hr 25 min
Aircraft: Airbus 330-200
Seat: 25B (Economy Class)
Cost: AU$ 401.85 (cost of return fare).

airplanes at an airport
View from Qantas Melbourne Business Lounge [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Introduction to Qantas flight review

This trip to Melbourne had not started well. While disembarking the Sydney to Melbourne flight a few days earlier, I aggravated a hamstring injury. That made it difficult to walk and required a knee support. Melbourne is a walking city, and usually, we would walk to most destinations since they are in, or close to the city centre. As it happened, it rained all weekend, so catching cabs would have been necessary anyway.

ARU Melbourne Duck Sausage
ARU Melbourne Duck Sausage Sanga, Leatherwood Honey, Onion, Peanut Hoisin [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

We checked out of Le Méridien Melbourne about midday, having been granted a late check-out. We left our bags, and headed off to Aru in Little Collins Street. After a truly delicious lunch, we collected our bags from the hotel and waited for our Uber to the airport, arriving about 3:30 pm, and heading for the Qantas Business lounge.

a screenshot of a phone
Not the text you want to receive. [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Upgrade Qantas flight

Given my injury, I thought we might as well bid for a points upgrade for the trip home, even though it’s a fairly short flight. Travelling on an Airbus A330, with 28 Business Class seats and having Platinum status, I though the odds were fairly good. Not good enough, unfortunately. Our upgrade request was denied.

Qantas Melbourne Business Class Lounge, April 2023
Qantas Melbourne Business Class Lounge, April 2023 [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Qantas Melbourne Business Class Lounge

I have been a fan of this Qantas Business Lounge since it opened. Probably because it is newer and possibly larger than the lounge in Sydney. This visit – not so much. The food offering is awful. And by awful I mean the same as in Sydney, other than the Spice Bar. However, I do love the central bar and the view. So there is still that.

people sitting in an airplane
Economy Cabin on the A330-200 prior to take-off [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Qantas Flight

Boarding for our flight was called close to the scheduled time, and we arrived to board at around 4:50 pm. Given it was a A330 with 271 seats, it took longer to board than a B737. Having said that, boarding was very efficient.

a group of buses parked in front of a building
Melbourne Airport views during pull back [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Safety Video

The safety video was played at 17:05, or at least the soundtrack was, since there were no seat-back of overhead screens back in economy. Seat backs consisted of a device holder and two USB ports, with a preloaded iPad in the seat-back pocket. More about that later in this post.

a yellow fire truck and a car on a runway
Fire truck, but not for us [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Captains Announcement and tow bar breakdown

At 17:13 the captain updated us that luggage was still to be loaded, and some paperwork needed to be done, but after that we would be on our way. At 17:15 we commenced our pullback from the gate, and then there was this weird shuddering in the cabin, accompanied by an ominous noise. The Captain soon made another announcement.

The shudder had been caused by the tow bar pin breaking on the push-back tug. So a new pin needed to be found and installed. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Less than ten minutes later at 17:23 we were on our way again, heading towards our runway.

a bottle of wine and napkins on a table
Meal service – Simone’ Lougue’s Kitchen chicken pie and a cheap and cheerful Shiraz [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Meal Service

By 17:33 we were in the air, with the seat belt sign being turned off a few minutes later. Given the short flight, the meal service was swift!

a small box of food
Simone Logue Chicken pie ‘Handmade with love’ (retch!) [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

From memory, there was no choice back here in economy. The chicken pie or a packet of pretzels I think. The chicken pie looked and tasted good, unlike the torpedo whatevers of the flight to Melbourne. The Shiraz served with it was the same as offered on the trip from Sydney. Perfectly reasonable wine.

Seat backs designed to hold tablets, yours or theirs with USB chargers either side [Schuetz/2PAXfly]


There were no seat back or other screens on the plane. In economy, iPads were available in the seat pockets, pre-loaded with a variety of Qantas Entertainment content. I didn’t use mine, as I had other sources of entertainment.

Pre-loaded iPads [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

On-screen instructions were available that made use of the tablet easy to follow. The content seemed to mirror that available on the Qantas seat back system on other aircraft. Whether it was similar to the catalogue available on domestic Boeing 737s or international aircraft, I couldn’t say.

a tablet with a screen on it
On screen instructions [Schuetz/2PAXfly]
a screenshot of a television screen
Selection of movies and series available [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

I’m not sure whether the volume controls for audio content even functioned on these seats. Maybe they are broken down like the tow bar pin. Still you could use the call bell and overhead light switch.

a seat with buttons and buttons on the side
Chair arm controls. Does the audio even work? [Schuetz/2PAXfly]


Twenty minutes later at 18:16, the captain instructed cabin crew to prepare the cabin for landing, as we flew over Sydney.

a map with a green line

Minutes later on went the seat belt sign, and we landed at 18:48, and headed for the gate and air bridge. We arrived at 18:44 when a request to ‘disarm doors and cross check’ was announced.

We had arrived later than scheduled. Some passengers were on a very tight connection to Tamworth. The captain asked other travellers to remain seated until the transfer passengers had disembarked.

We were off the plane, and heading to the Taxi rank by 7pm.

a view of clouds from an airplane
Sun setting while in the air approaching Sydney. [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

2PAXfly Takeout

I wouldn’t normally do a full review of a domestic flight in economy. But I thought this was interesting since short haul domestic on wide-body A330s is not common, but they are regularly scheduled on the Sydney to Melbourne route. Then there was the tow bar incident with the pin breaking. The good service, and better food on this flight balances my review of the excerable food provided on the previous flight from Sydney to Melbourne earlier in the weekend.

This was a pleasant flight in economy with acceptable catering on this quick domestic flight. The interior of the A330 for this flight is showing its age. Fortunately Qantas has in place plans to replace them known as Project Winton.

I’d choose this aircraft, the A330 over the Boeing 737-800 any day. It’s 2-4-2 configuration in economy works well for couples. The 31 inch pitch is larger than on the B737s with 30 inches, and the 17.5 inch seat width in some layouts is better than the 17.2 on the Boeing 737s

All round, a better passenger experience on these wide body jets.

Other Posts in the Series
<< HOTEL REVIEW: New Le Méridien, Melbourne. Where I used to dance my sox off!


  1. NedsKid

    Tow bar shear pins break with regularity – it is what they are designed to do. They are designed to fail when there is excess of pressure on the nose gear, such as turning during push back. It breaks before the aircraft does.

    • 2paxfly

      Hi NedsKid, thanks for the comment. Letting a minor part break in order to save something bigger is a familiar engineering solution. Thanks for pointing out that this principle applies in this case, and adding to may aviation knowledge.


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