REVIEW TIME: FLYING TRANS-TASMAN WITH QANTAS

Every month I put out a Review Time blog and vlog (as you see below) today’s Review Time is about flying short haul international with Qantas. I have flown Qantas domestically and have a full review coming up in a few months’ time.

Also, I am flying with Qantas long haul in October, so I will be doing a full review after I have returned from that trip.

FLIGHT: Qantas flight QF134

ROUTE: CHC – BNE

DURATION: 3 hours 30 minutes

FREQUENCY: 1 flight daily from CHC, however Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia also fly direct to BNE from CHC

CLASS: Economy

WHO IS QANTAS?

Qantas (QF) is Australia’s national airline and by fleet size, international flights and destinations.

It is the third oldest airline in the world after KLM and Avianca, with their history dating back to 1920 in outback Australia as a taxi, mail and joy flight service.

Qantas currently fly to 65 domestic destinations and 31 international destinations in 14 countries across Asia, Africa, Oceania, Europe and the Americas.

Recently Qantas has announced it will be flying direct from Perth to London Heathrow as of March 2018 using their new Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet.

Quick Fact: Qantas is an anagram for Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Service

BOOKING WITH QANTAS

I flew to Brisbane from Christchurch on 18 September 2016. This flight was a one-way flight as I was also heading to Tokyo, Japan on 19 September 2016. This was booked on 4 August 2016 and I paid NZD$209/USD$143.42 one way.

As there was an All Blacks game in Christchurch that weekend, the prices were slightly higher with the other carriers, so Qantas, was the cheapest carrier on booking.

This was booked directly with Qantas on their website http://www.qantas.com

If you pay with a credit card, there are fees however, you can avoid this by paying with the POLI bank transfer service if you have an Australian internet bank account.

MEALS, LUGGAGE & OTHER EXTRAS

Qantas is a full serviced airline, so 30kgs of luggage, a meal and entertainment is included in the price, if you wish to sit in a certain seat of the plane, you have to pay $35.

Qantas is part of the One World group which means that if you have an airline membership with any of their member airlines, you will be eligible to earn points on Qantas flights. As I am a member of Qantas Frequent Flyer program, I earnt 1000 points and 20 status points on this flight.

Check with your respective memberships earning calculator to see what points you may earn from this flight. Generally, this is a discount economy flight if you are utilising a Qantas Frequent Flyer membership.

With your meal incorporated in the price, it does mean that you can order a special meal that suits your dietary requirements, unlike what I showed you last month with Jetstar. Meals that are available with Qantas must be booked 24 hours prior to departure and Kosher meals 36 hours prior to departure.

There is also a no meal option if you choose not to have a meal on the flight. If you have severe food sensitivities or allergies, you are welcome to bring your own food on the plane, be aware that flight attendants are unable to reheat your food for you.

Also, make sure note about liquids and gels before passing security and immigration and remembering to dispose of any unwanted food before landing in Australia, as they have one of the strictest biosecurity laws in the world where jail time is a maximum penalty.

All beverages are included in the price, including tea, coffee, juice, soft drinks and water. Qantas is supplied by Coca-Cola, so breathe a sigh of relief when you’re like me and drink Coca Cola without needing to hurt someone.

CHRISTCHURCH AIRPORT

Christchurch Airport is located 12 kilometres away from the city centre of Christchurch and is the main gateway to the South Island of New Zealand.

It is the second busiest airport after Auckland and is the only other airport in New Zealand (other than Auckland) that can handle both Boeing 747, Boeing 777, Airbus A330-300 and Airbus A380-800.

In late November 2016, Emirates began commercial daily flights from Sydney using an Airbus A380-800.

The best way to get to and from the Christchurch Airport is through SuperShuttle. Since the time of getting this flight in September 2016, the flight has changed from a 2pm take off time to a 6am take off time, which means getting the SuperShuttle is the most inexpensive way to get to the airport at 3am.

As I had a 2pm flight time, I caught the Christchurch MetroBus out from Addington to the Airport. I caught the O Line from Addington to Central, then the 29 Bus to the Airport. In total it cost me $2.55 as I have a MetroCard, however, if you do not have one, it will cost you $8.50, so it does pay to own a MetroCard if you are visiting Christchurch.

With the many of the airport check-in counters utilising both international and domestic flights it does get busy. I recommend arriving when check-in opens three hours prior to ensure that you do get checked in, particularly if you are travelling with a family or have lots of luggage.

Immigration opening times are also staggered as well, opening 90 minutes prior to departure, so if you are arriving early, take advantage of the food outlets that are there before security, I personally recommend Wishbone, as it has a lot of allergy friendly foods and, also paleo meals as well which they can heat in their microwave for you.

Once you have passed immigration, there is a duty-free outlet, a couple of coffee shops including the very overrated Coffee Club and a Currency Exchange outlet, so I definitely recommend eating prior to passing immigration, particularly when the Coffee Club franchise loves serving defrosted avocado to you.

If you are flying Business Class or hold a Priority Pass or Qantas Club membership, you are welcome to access the Manaia Lounge, which is used by multiple airlines. Last time I personally entered this lounge was in 2010, and it was pretty meh. So, I can’t guarantee if it’s the same 7 years later. But if you wish to grab a free feed or a quick shower or even free Wi-Fi, by all means – check them out.

BOARDING

Christchurch Airport boards all their international flights from an aerobridge. I have also found that Qantas are super understanding if you have mobility or fear of flying issues and they will board you first.

Qantas flies on Boeing 737s Trans-Tasman. Qantas owns more 737s in their fleet than any other aircraft. In the last 2 years, they have done an overhaul on the interior, with the seats looking sleek in both the Economy and Business Classes.

Tip: If you want to see the Southern Alps, including Aoraki Mt Cook, make sure to secure a seat on the left-hand side, you will be amazed by the beauty of Aotearoa New Zealand.

As I was one of the first on board, you do feel a sense of you are at home, and the Flight Attendants were happy to be doing their job today. As I fly on this route frequently and some of the FAs do this route frequently, we’ve seen each other quite a bit, and they always welcome me on board.

I sat in seat 26A, it was just behind the wing and I was still able to capture a good takeoff and landing on my camera. As it was about 60% full, I ended up having 3 seats to myself which was great as I slept for about an hour

TAKEOFF

We took off a few minutes late, taking off from the south, we made a left-hand turn over the braided Waimakariri River and headed over the Southern Alps, unfortunately, it was cloudy so I was not able to see much of the happenings below until we crossed over Greymouth and left Aotearoa New Zealand.

The take-off from the Boeing 737 is pretty shaky, and you do hear the engines spool up, but it was a reasonably smooth flight.

When we descended into landing into Brisbane, we flew over the Southside of Brisbane, the CBD and then over the Gateway Bridge.

IN-FLIGHT SERVICE

Approximately 20 minutes after take-off, we were served our meals, we had a choice of chicken or fish and I chose the fish which was a Mediterranean style, with a spicy crust, potatoes, steamed vegetables and white sauce.

I was a bit nervous about having the fish, as sometimes fish can be horrendous on airlines but this was really good.

Qantas has recently rolled out a unique way to in-flight meal service with larger main meal portions, reduction in waste by removing trays and also offering passengers the opportunity to utilise the Eat on Q option, which is that you can select your meal from 7 days up to 12 hours prior departure. The only catch is that it on selected flights and unfortunately my flight was not eligible.

My flight to Tokyo in October is eligible for this option so I will show you when that happens.

As a drink, I had a Dark and Stormy cocktail, which is Bundaberg Rum and Ginger Beer, it would of been nice, if it wasn’t so strong. The Qantas FA’s free pour the liquor in to a cup and the amount that is in the cup exceeds a nip in my opinion, which overpowered the whole drink.

1 hour before landing, we were served a pre-landing snack, which was a Tip Top chocolate coconut ice cream. I don’t mind the ice cream, it’s a nice sweet treat, rather than a savoury one, but I would be just happy with some cheese and biscuits as well.

The food was just enough for the flight, I certainly didn’t feel hungry after landing, nor did I need to eat anything else.

In-flight entertainment is included in the price for this flight, it was a great range of Hollywood blockbusters to older TV shows and even the latest news updates as well. At the time, the movies that were available, really didn’t interest me, so I ended up watching a few episodes of The Gilmore Girls.

It never hurts to load your computer or mobile device with some movies and games in the case that you don’t find anything interesting to watch on your flight, or if you’re another vlogger or blogger like me, it’s great to use that time to edit some of your work or get a vlog ready for uploading.

Being a short flight, there is no sleep period or shutting of the blinds, it was quite bright for the flight and the cabin was quite active.

The flight attendants were attentive and happy to serve us, as mentioned previously I take this route frequently so it was good to see the Qantas staff recognise me and treat me as a VIP rather than another passenger. The service was quick and we were made sure that we were well looked after and hydrated.

This is a stark contrast compared to its codeshare partner, Emirates whose service is very hit and miss, and more on the miss part.

LANDING

When I arrived in Brisbane, it was raining and cloudy. It wasn’t until we were coming into approach to land that you were able to see outside.

We arrived approximately 10 minutes early.

This flight disembarks from the international terminal, and you will disembark from an aerobridge and straight into the terminal.

The process through immigration was very swift, especially with E Gates installed at all Australian airports for several years now.

Once you have collected your luggage, you will then speak to another customs officer, about your biosecurity declaration form and then you will be allowed to enter Australia officially.

If you require transportation into Brisbane you will need to head to the Airtrain station which is approximately a 5-minute walk, it is the fastest way into Brisbane, taking about 15 minutes, it will cost $18.00 to travel on the train, however it is the fastest way. Trains come every 30 minutes to Brisbane.

The transfer buses cost around $15 but can take up to an hour to get into Brisbane depending on traffic.

If you need to transfer to a domestic flight, there is a free Orange T Bus that comes every 20 minutes that will convey you to the domestic terminal. You can get the train as well to transfer, but it will cost $4.50, but make sure to research before arriving if you need to get to the domestic terminal faster.

OVERALL

I could not fault Qantas, they are my preferred way to fly for a reason – the service was great and the staff were friendly and treated me like a VIP.

In comparison to other carriers that do fly to and from Brisbane and Christchurch directly, Qantas are the forefront when it comes to service and being a full-service carrier.

Qantas unlike the other airlines that fly from Brisbane to Christchurch include meals, luggage and entertainment in their price, and may work out cheaper to fly with them rather than another airline.

Lauren flew with Qantas at her own expense.

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