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TRIP REPORT: Flight Review – Sydney to Christchurch on Qantas in Business – same, same but different

TRIP REPORT: Flight Review – Sydney to Christchurch on Qantas in Business – same, same but different

This was a fairly standard Qantas Business Class flight over the ‘duch‘ to Christchurch. At the end of the flight, there was a little excitement with a medical incident onboard.

a screen with a picture of birds and a bird on it
Departure board, Sydney Airport T1 International [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Flight Details

Flight: QF139
Route: Sydney, Australia (SYD) – Christchurch, New Zealand (CHC)
Date: Monday, 4 September 2023
Depart: 6:55 PM
Arrive: 11:59 PM
Duration: 3 hr 04 min
Aircraft: Boeing 737
Seat: 2C (Business Class)
Cost: AU$810.66 One-way fare


Don’t expect a full review of this flight. I have reviewed a number of flights between the Australian East Coast (Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne) to New Zealand before, both on Boeing 737s and Airbus A330s. This flight was unremarkable, except for the excitement of a medical incident.

a white marble wall with black text
Qantas First check-in area Sydney Airport [Schuetz/2PAXfly]


Before visiting the Qanta First Lounge at Sydney’s Terminal 1 I had taken advantage of my OneWorld Emerald status and checked in at the Qantas First check-in to the right of the Qantas standard check-in facilities.

I’d checked in online and had no luggage to check in, so it was just a matter of staff sighting my passport.

a man standing at a table
The aeronautical ‘fins’ in the Qantas First Lounge, Sydney [Schuetz/2PAXfly]


I won’t go into further detail here, but you can read my impressions of this Qantas First Lounge visit here.

a glass door with a sign on the wall
Plaza Premium Lounge entrance, Sydney Airport T1 International [Schuetz/2PAXfly]


I left the lounge in time to get to my gate, which was scheduled to open at 6:10. However, by the time I had descended the escalators and reached the main hub of the terminal, I could see that boarding had been delayed by 25 minutes and was now scheduled for 6:35 p.m.

The boarding change was inconvenient mainly because the delay was too short of making me want to head back to the Qantas First Lounge but too long to stand about, and I hate sitting in a boarding lounge when travelling solo.

So, to amuse myself, I wandered past the entrance to the Plaza Premium Lounge and the Skyteam Lounge.

a glass doors in a building
SkyTeam Lounge entrance, Sydney Airport T1 International [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Boarding in fact started at 6:40 pm, and I was first in line when Business Class boarding was called.

a hallway with a metal railing
Heading to the gate, Sydney Airport T1 International [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Staff in the cabin introduced Jayden, who would be looking after us Business Class passengers for the flight. Once Business Class passengers had settled, Jayden circulated with champagne and water 10 minutes later.

There was a crew announcement that all doors had been closed at 7 pm, and we pulled back from the gate seven minutes later as the safety video was played.

We seemed to be heading for an airport tour since we didn’t reach runway R34 until nearly 20 minutes later. We were airborne by 7:25 pm, half an hour later than scheduled.

The seatbelt sign was turned off at 7:30 pm, and five minutes later, the flight deck announced that the weather in Christchurch was a bit drizzly. Arrival cards were distributed, and the flight attendant offered a pen to complete the form and checked whether I had completed it online.

a row of seats in an airplane
Qantas Business Class on a Boeing 737-800. My seat 2C [Schuetz/2PAXfly]


These were fairly standard Business Class seats for the Boeing 737-800 that would take us to Christchurch. Business Class was equipped with seatback screens, and the seat controls were those manual levers that I always have little success in making anything from recline to footrest deploy.

a blue ceiling with lights and a door
The view from my seat 2C in Qantas Business Class on a Boeing 737-800.[Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Meal Service on Sydney to Christchurch flight

Meal service commenced at 8:10 pm Sydney time, and was all done within a half hour.

Pickings for the dinner service were a bit slim on this flight. The choices were:

  • Mint and pea soup
  • Lamb salad with potatoes, juniper and pumpkin salad
  • Vegetarian option (sorry, I don’t remember the details)

To my mind, none of these were particularly appealing. Call me fussy, I know mint and peas is a classic combination, but its not one I endorse. Lamb salad reminded me of cold roast lamb sandwiches, my least favourite school lunch option. It was something about congealed lamb fat that put me off. The vegetarian option – which I think was stated like that did not sound appealing either. Despite my schoolboy prejudice, I went with the Lamb salad.

It’s good to see that Pepe Saya butter has reappeared, although I refused the round of sourdough. I just find that pre-sliced bread is always stale by the time it reaches my plate.

a plate of food on a table
Lamb salad with potatoes and juniper berries, plus pumpkin salad served all on one tray [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

This everything-on-the-same-tray feels more like domestic catering than what would have been served on an international flight pre-pandemic. Another legacy of Alan Joyce stripping out a billion dollars from the airlines underlying costs, no doubt.

Staff were attentive, with rounds of wine and bottled water being offered.

a person walking down a walkway
Arrival in Christchurch, New Zealand [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Landing – Sydney to Christchurch

We commenced our descent at 21:28 Sydney time, followed by the playing of the New Zealand quarantine video. Cabin lights slowly returned to full for our descent, and we landed just after 10 pm Sydney time or just after midnight Christchurch time, about 8 minutes later than our scheduled arrival.

About 5 minutes later, we were at our allocated gate, but the captain asked us to remain in our seats as paramedics were greeting the plane’s arrival and would be coming on board to assess a passenger back in economy.

I overheard one of the cabin crew explaining to another passenger that a passenger had been vomiting and had passed out on the flight. At 19 minutes after midnight, the paramedics boarded, plus someone with ‘FIRE’ written on the back of their jacket entered the flight deck. About 5 minutes later, a woman was escorted but walked off the plane with the paramedics.

The pilot asked us again to remain seated, relaying that because of the sick passenger, Quarantine staff also had an interest and were sending personnel to greet the flight. They soon came, and I was off the aeroplane, through customs and immigration, and in a cab by 12:50 am. That included some dithering about, as the Taxi rank was not clearly signposted inside the terminal—well, at least not clear enough for me.

people walking in a building
Arrival in Christchurch Airport, New Zealand [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

2PAXfly Takeout

This would have been a perfectly average short-haul international flight across the Tasman from Sydney to Christchurch if it were not for the bit of excitement with the medical incident at the end. Service and catering were OK, but not great. However, they were perfectly within current expectations for Qantas service in Business Class on this route.

Qantas really could bear to improve the catering on these routes. The flight is long enough to have a reasonably paced meal, more than every course on the same tray.

If I were not reviewing this flight, I would have dined in the Qantas First Class lounge back in Sydney and just had a few drinks and nibbles on the flight, given that it arrives around midnight New Zealand time or 10 pm Sydney time. The food would have been better quality, with more choice, and it would have been closer to my normal dinner time.

All in all, it was an average flight. There is nothing remarkable or offensive to report. It’s time to head to The George Hotel and get my head down.

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