Qantas: A review

I need to start with two apologies. One is that I haven’t written in a long time and that is not excusable, maybe it’s because I haven’t been out and about for a while and part of that reason is GTA. The other is that this article is part rant so if you know me then this is nothing new…

I enjoyed reading about British Airways by Steph so I thought I would also contribute my 2 cents with a review of a Qantas flight I just had. But let’s rewind a little to ‘getting to’ the actual airport in the first place:

For the first time ever, I was late for my flight. This was both humiliating and career limiting as my boss had to check in for me and by the time I received my final call from my boss while on the airport shuttle, I had only 2 mins before they would close the gate and I would be stranded in Sydney and not in Perth where I needed to be. Things were not looking good, and it was raining, and the traffic was terrible, like wanting to pee but being nowhere near a restroom.

I actually am reserving the right at this moment to tell you that it wasn’t my fault as the Airport shuttle service decided that 4:30am would be the pickup time and that they would get my address wrong so 10 mins was wasted dicking around and then I had to sign a bunch of stuff about my return flight etc. before the driver would actually move off from my driveway. Usually 4:30am is sufficient to get to the airport in time for a 6:30am flight however this day combined with whatever the sky threw at me equaled to me running from one end of the terminal to my gate… on the other side of the terminal. I worked cardio properly that day and vowed that I needed to get my fitness sorted. Luckily I had an excellent pair of ECCO business shoes on so the run was actually pretty good and I wasn’t in pain from uncomfortable shoes at the slightest. In hindsight I think I looked 100% heroic with belt and laptop slip in arm and cabin bag in tow at full sprint wearing business gear, you should have been there you would have gasped at the manliness of it all. When I got there one of the female attendants on the flight was standing alone at the gate waiting for me and she even asked me if I was OK when I feigned gasping for breath like a dying man. She graciously helped me with my bag and we walked to the plane together and she stowed the bag when I got to my seat which happened to be in the emergency exit when I am sure I didn’t book it. So far so good, I was late and looking like a lunatic but was afforded every comfort like I was the first to get in. All the more sad when the news that morning was about Qantas sacking 1000 staff and in the red financially.

Now that I was on board and getting comfortable I got myself a Coke and relaxed, the food that morning was potato cake, scrambled eggs and a pear muffin with yoghurt and some water and tea, oh and apple juice with 4 tic tacs, it was a smorgasbord of food (ok that might be an exaggeration). The attendants serving were courteous and efficient and I got my food pretty much before everyone else and I had choice so being late wasn’t all bad, except for the death stares from everyone in business and first class (walk of shame anyone?).

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Potato cake was OK actually. Eggs were a bit bland and I only found the salt after I finished – my sleuthing skills are crap. Also spot the 4 tic-tacs.

Touchdown in Perth was seen to approximately 3.5 hours later through which I learned that the infotainment system was not very touch sensitive and the table you see before you in the image above ¬†all folded out of the armrest . As it was partitioned into 2 halves the structure of the little table (only in the emergency rows) is a little weak and I was worried the whole time I had my 15″ Macbook Pro retina sitting on it (the Macbook not me) that it would collapse and my laptop would be damaged and I would not love it anymore.

All in all a comfortable flight with not too many disruptions via the announcements. I watched “The Crash Reel” a rather touching story of Kevin Pearce’s fall from snowboarding superstardom to traumatic brain injury (TBI) sufferer. As before touch control on the screens were not fantastic but that might be because I have dry hands. True/funny story, on the way back from Perth I was tapping slightly harder on the screen (this time behind another passenger) and I think I annoyed the heck out of her because the touches weren’t registering, I was very careful to press extra hard after that (and not tap hard – I’m not a toolbag… I think).

Getting back into Sydney was on Qantas again and the service was great. I managed to break the tab to open my can of Appletiser and got a replacement in a snap. Going home from the airport the shuttle service was once again shoddy by not turning up at the right time, not calling and then being late by which time I was already on the way home at 10pm from a 8:30pm landed flight, suggest you steer clear of this unless you plan to be late in which case maybe tell them you are on the earlier flight than you actually are and maybe you might be on time*.

*OK I might have had a bad run (2 trips) and I get that, I am sure you have had no problem with the airport mini-bus before right?

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Qatar Airways: A Review

As Shaun mentioned, we’ve all been recovering from stomach bugs and having had a terrible day yesterday, I am finally over the worst of it. At least I hope!

I flew on a Wednesday from Frankfurt Airport to Singapore via Doha with Qatar Airways in economy class. The first flight was with a 747 and the second with a 330. Usually I make a stopover in Singapore on my way to and from Australia, so this journey was shorter and more comfortable than usual. 6 hours of flying followed by a 55 minute break and then another 6-7 hours of flying.

I expected a little more of Qatar Airways than I usually do when preparing for a big trip because I had heard lots of great things about the airline, and I have to say that I have mixed reviews.

The Service

In general the service on my two flights was great. On the first flight I had the nicest stewardess I have ever had. She brought all the things requested with a smile and even had small chats with me and the girl sitting next to me. We had a great time on the flight and were treated exceptionally well. At one point we ordered a drink and she brought it to us with a chocolate. She also said that if we ever wanted a cocktail in future that we should just bring the recipe with us and they’d make it.

The Food

On the first leg I had a dinner which was beef and potatoes with herbs (the other choice being chicken) which was quite good. It didn’t taste too much like the typical airplane food which was great. They also offered drinks many times during the flight which made it a very comfortable journey. At no point did I have to push the service button. On the second leg we were served breakfast and it was a choice between an omelette and garlic rice with chicken. I chose the chicken but regretted it. It was not very good and I did not end up eating much of it.

The ‘Bonuses’

One thing that I was quite disappointed with was the ‘warm towel’. Maybe I’ve just had it too good previously on Singapore Airlines flights, but these were mentioned on the Qatar Airways website so I was expecting real towels, but instead we were basically offered moist towelettes which had been steamed. The end result was that we received tiny cloths which were burning hot when still folded into tiny squares, which quickly became cold once unfolded.

The little bag which all passengers in economy class receive contained a pair of socks, ear plugs and a toothbrush. Pretty standard stuff.

The Negatives

The main thing that I was not so happy with was the stopover. I had 55 minutes to get to my next flight which I thought would be just adequate, however I got out of the first plane with only about 20 minutes to go. After this, I had to get on a bus to the airport where I then had to proceed to the next gate (which had changed location without any notice to connecting passengers) and then wait for another bus which took us on a 20-minute journey to the actual plane. I was not the only passenger who had this problem. By the time we got to the plane we were at least 30 minutes late, and then it took even longer until more late passengers arrived and the plane was ready for takeoff. It was a nerve-wracking experience which I would not like to repeat. I think the main concern of mine is that we were told nothing and I had no idea if the second flight had already taken off. The least they could do is to inform connecting passengers about what’s going on and get us to leave the plane first. When I got to the gate written on my boarding pass, the staff told me that the flight had already left, and I was left to worry until another staff member said that the gate had merely changed. You can imagine the sighs from all the other connecting passengers behind me as well.

This one is more my own fault, but another thing was that online check-in starts 36 hours before the flight. I assumed that it was 24 hours like the other airlines, and therefore did not get a good choice of seats. On the first flight I was in an aisle seat but for the second, longer flight I was squashed in between two men. So be aware of this!

Summary

All in all, I think that Qatar Airways is a relatively good airline and I have definitely had worse, however I would be wary when booking flights with a layover that is shorter than an hour. Of course, every flight is different and stewards and stewardesses vary, but my experience was generally positive. Once I return to Germany perhaps I’ll have some updates for this post…