Jul 222012
 

Returning from Xero’s Australian Partners’ Conference in Melbourne was again on Qantas, an evening flight rounded off a busy couple of days. Alas the free drinks on evening flights are no more for economy passengers.

Check in

Once again Qantas’ byzantine seat allocation only made aisle seats towards the back of the plane available.

This is an irritation if you aren’t a frequent Qantas passenger and for short hop flights, particularly for time and cash sensitive freelancers and the self employed it may be enough to choose the competition.

Apart from this irritation, web check in was straight forward and quick with only hand held luggage. Queues did not appear to be long at the check in desks for those with checked baggage.

Boarding

Evening flights out of Melbourne can be problematic as getting to the airport along the Tullamarine Freeway in peak hour can be slow. On this evening traffic was clear.

Surprisingly the security queues were massive as the two operating gates struggled with a relatively light load of passengers. Being early, this wasn’t a problem but others on soon to depart flights were being paged from the lines by anxious check in staff.

An 8pm flight out of Qantas’ domestic Melbourne terminal is a dispiriting affair if you want to grab something to eat as the overpriced food hall is shutting down and the range is dismal to go with the high prices.

Fortunately Gate One at Qantas domestic has ample power sockets so you can continue working instead of moping around the overpriced and depressing food court.

Onboard

Another rattly old 767. While well maintained, it’s still showing its age. Comfortable seats again.

Service

Again the cabin crew was delightfully pleasant and friendly belying Qantas’ reputation for surly service.

This could have been because the flight was nearly empty, which makes the restricted seat availability at check in even more frustrating.

It didn’t appear that the restricted seats had anything to do with weight distribution as the cabin crew invited us to move wherever we liked after the plane had taken off. This was an opportunity to nab a seat at the front of the economy class cabin.

Being an evening flight a meal was served – a basic penne pasta topped with tomato sauce and a tiny chocolate bar. The meal was fine although its size was closer to a snack.

Sadly alcoholic drinks are no longer complimentary on Qantas domestic so a ginger beer followed by a black tea were the accompanying refreshments.

On time performance

The flight was slightly late getting away but had a straight flight into Sydney and arrived ten minutes early.

Arrival

With an on time arrival and only carrying hand luggage, again there was no need to worry about baggage claim.

Not worrying about baggage is handy at Sydney Airport as you need all your wits when dealing with the Dantean circle of hell that are the airport’s taxi ranks. For first time visitors to Sydney, the inept management of something as simple as a line for taxis is a taste of the ticket clipping monopolistic incompetence that infests much of the state’s business community.

For most people it’s easier to get the train out of the airport unless you’re lumbered with luggage or travelling in a group.

Overall QF490 was a straightforward and easy flight with little hassle apart from the large security queues in Melbourne and messed up taxi rank at Sydney airport.

QF490 – 21 Jul 12. Dep Melbourin 8.00pm, arrived Sydney 9.35. Economy class ticket $180.

Paul travelled to Melbourne courtesy of Xero for their Australian developer’s conference.

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