Hello everybody. Welcome back to The Navigator's Log.
First, thanks to everyone who reached out following the mailer last week. Is was lovely to catch up with you and keep in touch. For those of you who have been following Instagram over the past few eeeks, you will be pleased to know the pictures will now start to be in some sort of sequence.
Now, onto our trip. Finally - after just over 300 excruciating days since we booked it is here #holidaystartsnow.
Today is a travel day, so we are taking the opportunity to talk in detail about the flight.
Boeing 747-400. This is probably the last time we will fly on the Queen of the Skies as the 747 will be replaced on this route in December by the A380 during peak periods and then the Dreamliner 787 during non peak periods.
This is the third time we have taken this flight. It suits our needs perfectly, whether it is a stop in itself or a transfer to Europe, Japan or SE Asia.
Business – 15A & 15B, upstairs in the bubble.
Business class also provides free access to the Qantas Club - no complimentary passes required. The Sydney lounge has been updated since we visited last year, with new chairs and the worn out carpet replaced. Lovely and spacious, in comparison to the American Express lounge which we checked into first using our American Express Platinum card. The Amex lounge is small and subsequently crowded - we bailed out straight away after failing to find a seat.
Qantas Frequent Flyer (oneworld). This is a oneworld Classic Flight redemption, booked using Qantas points. It cost 280,000 points per passenger plus fees and taxes for a six leg, five stopover itinerary of no longer than 35,000 miles.
A full description of the reward is beyond the scope of this travel diary - check out https://www.pointhacks.com.au/qantas-round-the-world-classic-award-guide/ for a detailed description of how this works.
There is a Cathay Pacific Asia Miles version of this reward which has similar terms and conditions but costs less points. Our trip is just over 31,000 miles so would cost 210,000 Asia Miles points for the same itinerary. Next time we will do this.
8.5 hours flying time, although it takes over 30 minutes to taxi to the south end of the runway for take-off. We push back on time and despite the long taxi as well as having to circle twice over Hong Kong we arrive on schedule.
The flight is smooth, apart from some occasional shimmying and shaking as we skirt around tropical storms.
Qantas flies twice daily from Sydney to Hong Kong.
This seat is the same as the A380 business class and although they are well over 10 years old are still more than up to the task. Upstairs in the bubble there are 18 secluded seats arranged in a 2+2 configuration. The seats can lie flat and are infinitely customisable for pitch and recline. There is also a massage feature which is wonderfully soothing.
The seat has a protective shell which makes the head area cosy but not claustrophobic when the seat is reclined. In this mode the footrest is cantilevered and I have read complaints that it sags somewhat. We did not notice this as a problem - in fact it is nice for the foot area not to be enclosed because it is easy to whack your feet or knees when fully reclined.
There are plenty of storage areas for carry on baggage, including lockers against the window right at elbow height. Each seat also has plenty of nooks and crannies for phones, cables, reading glasses, magazines and so-on. There is a 240v power socket with a universal plug and two USB ports for charging devices.
Both of us managed a deep sleep after lunch, so there was no chance of jetlag. Being able to properly stretch out makes so much difference - #nevergoingback.
The only possible downside is the lack of direct aisle access for the passenger in the window seat. This only occurs when the other traveller has their seat fully reclined - otherwise there is plenty of room to get passed.
An 11 inch touch screen pops up and folds out at the touch of a button. Personally I do not find the screens particularly responsive - it takes a long press for the screen to recognise it needs to do something.
There are oodles of movies, TV shows, news programmes, games and music - more than enough to fill up the flying time. The Navigatrix watched 'Breathe' and while the Navigator was tempted by the James Bond collection (in particular 'Goldfinger': "Do you want me to talk?" "No Mr Bond. I want you to die!" or "I am Pussy Galore" to which Bond replies "I must be dreaming." Classic.) in the end he was content to write, sleep and eat.
A multi-stop itinerary such as this has baggage rules set by the Most Significant Carrier (MSC). The MSC for our itinerary is Finnair and their rules for business class are three bags per passenger at 23kgs each. We didn't check properly and one of our bags weighed in at 26kgs - oops. No problem, Qantas waved us through. "It's business class," they said.
Each passenger receives an amenity pack of socks, eye mask, earplugs (these will be useful at the Formula 1), cosmetics and toothbrush. Each pack has a motif from an Australian designer - we did a swap with the travellers across the aisle to make sure we had two different designs: Fairy Bread and Maaate.
There is a blanket, pillow and seat mattress. Alas, no pyjamas as this is a day flight.
Impeccable, as is always with Qantas. There is just the right mix of chattiness, willingness to satisfy special requests as well as getting the job done.
Bottled water is handed out after take-off and drinks and nuts are served a little later. The water is topped up regularly.
Our food order was taken just a little later. We both ordered the kebab for entrée. Then the Navigatrix had chicken and the Navigator ordered pasta. Both meals were quite good - much better than last time. Neil Perry must have listened to our feedback. This was served individually with crockery, metal cutlery and a tablecloth. The downside to this is it takes a while for the food to arrive but who is in a rush?
We could have pre-ordered our lunch online (the same menu applies). The benefit of pre-ordering is that your choice should be guaranteed - I heard some comments during ordering "ooh, we will have to check downstairs about that" so one does take their chances. The Navigatrix has given up on ordering gluten free meals, which are quite often lacking any taste. Generally there is always enough choice in business class to manoeuvre around gluten.
Dessert is served from a trolley after lunch is cleared away. We chose Maggie Beer ice cream and a chocolate tart which were both delicious.
A late afternoon snack of either a chicken sandwich (sorry... ciabatta) or stir fried vegetables and rice was served prior to landing.
There is very little to complain about with Qantas. The service is familiar and relaxed, the seats are comfortable and the food is good (but not necessarily great). The only downside is the additional fees and taxes incurred with Qantas on a frequent flyer redemption but our preferred flight on Cathay Pacific was unavailable, so we had no choice. Not that this was a problem.
9 out of 10.