Sunday, December 1, 2013

Australia September 2013 - Qantas Airways 422 Economy Class (MEL → SYD)

***This post is part 5 of a full trip report. The index can be found here***

Since there is currently no rail connection to and from Melbourne International Airport, the SkyBus express shuttle remains the quickest and most direct option for passengers. Operating out of the Southern Cross Station at the west end of the CBD, SkyBus runs 24/7, including all public holidays. In addition, buses leave every ten minutes during regular business hours.

Southern Cross Station

I arrived at Southern Cross Station just before 8:00 am and followed the signs to the SkyBus terminal on the lower level. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time on their website, or through the small kiosk at the station. One-way tickets are $17 AUD while return tickets are $28 AUD. There are also a number of family options available for a discount. With so many departures, there is hardly ever an extended wait for the next shuttle.

SkyBus ticket booth

The bus was comfortable, and had plenty of storage space even for the largest luggage. Within 20 minutes, we arrived at Terminal 1, home to all Qantas and Jetstar domestic flights. I stepped into the cavernous, modern-looking hall and quickly located the automated check-in kiosks. While most U.S. airports also have self-check-in options, something completely new to me were the automated bag drop stations.

Qantas has basically eliminated the need for inefficient human-operated check-in counters by allowing passengers to do everything themselves. The check-in kiosk prints out your boarding pass and checked luggage tag. You then scan your boarding pass at the bag drop station and place your luggage onto the conveyor belt. Once the weight is calculated, your bags are whisked away automatically. Of course, there are still a few agents standing by in case anything goes terribly wrong.

Terminal 1

Check-in kiosks

Automated bag drop stations

Security took all of five minutes, and immediately past the perimeter was a huge food court, mostly filled with fast dining options. Krispy Kreme looked especially enticing, but I used my better judgement and walked directly to the departure gate instead.

Security queue

Food court

Qantas provides complimentary WiFi throughout Terminal 1, and surprisingly, it was extremely fast. I killed the next hour catching up on email and doing some last-minute trip planning for Sydney. By 9:30 am, I noticed a group of people had begun to line up at the gate, even though no announcements had been made.

Gate 3

Our 767-338 to Sydney

Then, strangely enough, boarding actually began with no announcements, no priority access, nor any sense of order for that matter. I'm more used to Asian carriers having a chaotic boarding process, so this free-for-all from Qantas certainly surprised me. Nevertheless, I eventually made my way through the slow-moving herd of passengers and onto the jet bridge.

Qantas 422
Boeing 767-338
Melbourne (MEL) - Sydney (SYD)
Friday September 13, 2013
Departure: 10:00 AM (scheduled) / 9:59 AM (actual)
Arrival: 11:25 AM (scheduled) / 11:46 AM (actual)
Duration: 1h 25m (scheduled) / 1h 47m (actual)
Seat: 40K (Economy)

Having been recently named the third busiest air route in the world, it makes sense that Qantas would need to operate several wide-body aircraft per day between Melbourne and Sydney. Even on such a short flight, I really appreciated the extra space and low-density layout of our 767-338.

All passengers entered through the forward door and walked past the business class cabin. The wide leather seats looked quite comfortable, but sadly, I had to keep walking until I entered the economy cabin. After putting away my belongings in the overhead bin, I got settled into my window seat at 40K. Despite being a very full flight, the seat next to me remained empty.

Business cabin

Economy cabin


The interior was immaculate for an older aircraft, and seat pitch was a very reasonable 31 inches. While everything looked fairly standard as I surveyed my surroundings, I did notice something in the seat pocket in front of me. At first, I thought someone had accidentally left their iPad from the previous flight, but I quickly realized that every seat had one.

Once I turned it on, I recognized that it was a fully-loaded portable AVOD system. The only downside was that the flight was too short to really take advantage of the contents. Also, there was no onboard WiFi to browse the web. Still, this was way more than I was expecting for a one-and-a-half flight. Each seat had a special attachment on the back so you could hang your iPad up for easy viewing.

iPad AVOD system

After a long delay on the tarmac, we took off smoothly and gradually ascended above the overcast skies over Melbourne. Once we leveled out, flight attendants went to work delivering the drink and snack service. While there wasn't much in terms of selection, I did enjoy the maple and pecan cookie and fruit juice that were handed out.

Maple and pecan cookie with juice

I played around with the iPad a bit more, watching an episode of Family Guy and listening to some music. After a brief stint at cruising altitude, we began our slow descent into Sydney. As we approached the airport, the captain came on and announced that, for some unknown reason, our aircraft had been directed to land at the furthest runway, which was somewhat unusual. As a result, our arrival time would be delayed even more.

We landed without incident and began our long taxi to Terminal 3, which serves all Qantas domestic flights. Despite the delays, we ended up being only about 20 minutes behind schedule. After deplaning, I followed the signs to the baggage claim, where I picked up my checked backpack after a brief wait.

Qantas galore at Terminal 3

Baggage claim

Getting into downtown Sydney is extremely convenient from Terminal 3. Simply follow the signs to the Airport Link station, and purchase your tickets before heading down to the platform. Currently, a one-way ticket from the domestic terminal to Circular Quay costs $15.90 AUD, including a $12.00 AUD GatePass airport surcharge. A one-day return ticket costs $31.80. If you already have a MyMulti ticket, then all you have to pay is the $12.00 AUD surcharge.

Stairs down to the Airport Link station

Ticket booths

If you are heading into the city, follow the signs down to Platform 1. Trains run every seven minutes during peak hours, and every ten minutes during off-peak hours. The double-decker trains were spotless, and had plenty of open seats. During rush hour, however, it may be standing room only. In just under half an hour, I arrived at Circular Quay and exited to the beautiful sight of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Platform 1 to Sydney

Circular Quay Railway Station

Beautiful view upon arrival

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