There’s nothing quite like flying with one of your home-based carriers, especially if you’ve been living away from the country. There’s always that sense of familiarity and friendliness when stepping on board; this is especially the case when flying with Qantas. I flew the airline twice on a recent visit to Australia.
MELBOURNE TO SYDNEY ECONOMY CLASS
I took QF 458 from Melbourne up to Sydney for a 1-hour hop on one of the world’s busiest air routes. Five minutes after departure, a crew member was walking through the cabin offering headsets. A couple of minutes later, an announcement was made explaining the dinner choices of a Falafel salad or the Penne Pasta. Twelve minutes after takeoff the cabin crew were already in the cabin with their trolleys, a total of 7 crew worked in economy class, three crew working on one side of the aircraft and four on the other.
I decided to try the Penne Pasta and received my meal 20 minutes after we departed Melbourne.
The dinner box was well designed offered a good quantity of food and was a decent tasting meal. Compared to European airlines, this main meal offering is better than what’s offered on most European airlines with similarly timed flights.
About 30 minutes into the trip, the crew came through to provide a small treat of an Allen’s Fantale, and about 5 minutes later, they were already collecting the rubbish.
It was a very efficient flight, and before I knew it, we were descending for Sydney Airport.
SYDNEY TO PERTH BUSINESS CLASS
My second experience was a lunchtime service from Sydney to Perth on their A330 in business class. As I was about to board QF 581, I presented my boarding pass, and the reader rejected it. Little did I know, but there was a problem with one of the aircraft doors in the forward cabin, the airline had to offload or downgrade 12 passengers from business class. I drew the short straw and had to wait in Sydney airport for about 9 hours. The gate agent and ground staff could’ve handled the situation better, but since I had booked an award ticket with another airline, they couldn’t care less.
I headed back to the lounge where the staff were accommodating and tried their best to get me on the next available flight. It wasn’t to be, though, and I was stuck, so I spent the day working there. It ruined my day and my plans that I had for the afternoon in Perth, but it was out of my control.
During my delay, I visited the Qantas Heritage Collection, which you’ll find right near Gate 13 on the Mezzanine level (look up!).
It’s an exciting space with plenty of memorabilia and information about Qantas. I found it thoroughly enjoyable and spent about one hour here. Finally, I boarded my flight to Perth, which would take about 5 hours. I found a copy of the inflight menu on the tray table, and front cover design caught my eye almost immediately.
The cabin crew offered a welcome drink of water or a Pear and Spiced Fig juice from Batch & Co. I opted for the juice, which was zesty and luscious; the brand used is a premium cocktail mixer that is made from natural fruit concentrates.
Here’s a look at the inflight food options for this particular flight.
Ten minutes after takeoff, the cabin crew moved through the cabin to take everyone’s meal orders. It took 30 mins for the crew to appear in the cabin and commence service. I ordered the roasted pumpkin soup and the feta, cucumber, chickpea and lentil salad.
The meal service was trayless, linen was placed on my tray table, and it felt like I was dining in a restaurant.
One thing I noticed was the elegant cutlery design, it was aesthetic and the shape was unlike anything I’ve seen in a premium cabin. Caon designed the cutlery, a firm in Surrey Hills Sydney, and the brushed stainless steel set is featured in Qantas First, Business and Premium Economy class cabins. The porcelain is fine bone China from Noritake, who have been making inflight tableware for Qantas since 1962.
As the cabin manager delivered my soup, he offered me a choice of drinks and asked if I would like some bread. As he placed my bread on the plate, he explained the bread came from Brasserie Bread in Sydney. I must say the bread was some of the best I’ve sampled inflight, and it was crunchy in most parts, full of flavour and a quality product. The bread was paired with a fantastic European style butter from Pepe Saya in Sydney; in my opinion, this is the best butter in Australia. It’s not only great to use in cakes and recipes, but it also tastes great and has a lovely creamy and rich buttery flavour.
I thoroughly enjoyed the soup, it was served piping hot and was delicious, I drizzled the small side salad with my Birch & Waite Balsamic and Olive Oil Vinaigrette dressing and enjoyed it.
My main meal arrived as soon as my starters were cleared away, I wasn’t impressed with the feta, cucumber, chickpea and lentil salad. I loved the chunks of feta and enjoyed eating it, I felt that the rest of the salad was quite bland.
Finally, dessert was a banana pudding with butterscotch sauce, and I loved every bite. It wasn’t overly sickly sweet, and I’ll admit I would have liked more, but the quantity offered was more than enough.
The crew completed the service within two hours after takeoff, and for the next three hours, I watched movies and relaxed in my seat. There was no other service on this flight; however, the crew did pass through the cabin on regular occasions to check on passengers.
Perhaps I made the wrong choice of main meals on this flight and should have sampled one of the hot dishes. Regardless, it was still a great flight, with professional Qantas service, and a very comfortable seat.