Aircraft Qantas Airbus Industrie A380
Route Singapore Changi (SIN) to Melbourne Tullamraine (MEL)
Class economy, seat 51C, which is right next to the galley
Seat pitch and seat width 31 inches and 18 inches respectively
Seat configuration three-four-three
Luggage allowance One bag no more than 23kg checked in luggage and one piece of hand luggage also no more than 23kg…but you couldn’t take an extra laptop bag or briefcase (although I saw many people doing this anyway)
Airport and lounge access Singapore Changi is a hub for many airlines including Qantas, until the Emirates deal kicks in and it switches to Dubai of course. I was only there for 45 minutes while my flight was refueled so I barely had time to investigate. However, as you’d expect, the airport was immaculately clean although very busy.
There are an abundance of shops to wander around although most of them are high-priced designer shops such as Gucci which really doesn’t interest me at all. There are plenty of duty free shops too and all the staff were incredibly helpful, which again, I love about Singapore. There are also plenty of food courts and coffee shops to choose from and they seem to accept many different varieties of currencies – I was able to pay for my double espresso with Australian dollars so saved me needing to exchange into local currency or US dollars.
What I really like about Changi is the outside rooftop area that is available. Although it may not be “fresh” air, it sure beats having to sit in the heavily air-conditioned departure lounge getting numb-bum on the rows of seating, or even the floor if all seats are taken. There’s a bar area up there too, should you wish to pay for a refreshment, and a cactus garden as well.
Scheduled flight time 6 hours 55 minutes
Punctuality The aircraft was about 15 minutes late leaving the departure gate, but we landed early so this lost time was made up for in the air.
Condition of the aircraft Being a new A380 the aircraft was as you’d expect, in very good condition. The seat area had no marks or tears and the toilets were kept in a clean condition, although for such a big aircraft I feel that they could do with more toilets overall – there were only three for my section of economy and then a further three for the section next to that.
In-flight entertainment Each seat features an entertainment system with more than 100 on-demand movies, 500 television programs, up to 1,000 audio CDs, 30 PC-style games apparently, but let’s face facts, the system is judged purely on the quality of the “new release” section of the movies.
As with every long-haul flight I’m on, once I’ve settled into my seat, the first thing I do is open the entertainment guide and plan my viewing delights for the duration of the journey: some comedy shows to get me started before a movie with dinner, then maybe a sleep followed by another movie and then probably watch the airplane tail camera or flight path video while dozing before we land. I’m always disappointed with the selection of comedy shows on flights. I know they have to cater for a wide demographic, but I honestly fail to see how How I met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory can even be classified as comedy… Any show that needs that much canned laughter to try and prompt the audience into laughing really deserves to be cancelled and all copies deleted so nobody ever gets to see it again! Fortunately, the selection was saved by three episodes of Modern Family and I’m back on schedule.
The movie selection was actually pretty good. The new releases had films that I know haven’t even been released in Australia yet (Cloud Atlas, The Master) but also had the other usual suspects in there such as Life of Pi, Argo and Lincoln. There was also an impressive “Oscar Classics” selection that I dipped into for my second movie of the flight (Witness).
As for the actual IFE system itself, the screen was a decent size and gave an above adequate viewing experience considering I had just got used to my friends 55” LED TV for the last week or so. The control unit was housed in the top of the arm rest, under the padded bit. This did prove annoying when the person in the seat next to me was leaning on the rest so I couldn’t get to the controls without him moving his arm first. I much prefer when they put the remote control below the screen on the seat in front of you like some other airlines do. However, the system could also be adjusted by the touch-screen which wasn’t as clunky as I had remembered from previous flights and seemed quite responsive.
The system was easy to navigate and had more features than I needed, so didn’t investigate much beyond the entertainment. However, the clock showing a countdown until we landed was nice and the picture from the airplane tail camera was pretty clear giving a nice sunrise shot as I approached Melbourne.
Comfort I’m not the biggest of blokes so I find economy seat sizes perfectly acceptable – I’ve also never been in business or first class so don’t really know what I’m missing. I found the seats very comfortable although with a big fella being sat next to me, it did feel a little cramped. The base of the seat slid forward as it reclined giving you a better sleep position, but turning in your seat was a little difficult.
My seat row was right next to the galley which wasn’t ideal. However, it also didn’t bother me as much as I would have thought. I got my drinks and meals first and once I had my headphones on, I didn’t really hear any noise.
However, what really did cause me issues was the air-con temperature, which was set on Damn Cold. Despite myself and some of the other passengers around me requesting for the heat to be turned up, it seemed to remain on that setting for most of the journey. I’ve never really used the blanket they provide but I had to on this flight.
Service The service was OK. Nothing amazing, but they did everything required of them in a polite and nice way. They brought me drinks when requested, the food service was polite, they tried to turn the air-con heat up but didn’t seem to manage it… Like I said, OK.
What actually made me have mixed emotions was the treatment of the passenger in the window seat of my aisle. We had briefly chatted before take-off and he seemed a very pleasant chap. While taxiing before take-off, a steward welcomed Dr. Smith by name (name changed to protect the innocent although he was a Doctor) and wished him a pleasant flight. Then a minute later the head steward type person also came along, welcomed Dr. Smith again, said if there was anything she could do to make his flight more comfortable then he should let her know then wished him a pleasant flight. Wow, who was this person sitting in seat 51A? I felt annoyed that he was getting special treatment, why not me?!
Firstly, I felt very comforted by the fact that I had a doctor sat two seats away from me. If there was an emergency, I was covered. However, now I was intrigued… was this guy a celebrity doctor? A world famous surgeon perhaps? I had to know. As I said, this chap was very pleasant so I felt comfortable asking him why he was getting special treatment he smiled and said it was because he was a platinum frequent flyer member but he’d used his points to pay for the flight hence why he was in economy, not first class.
My intrigue now turned to envy. I wanted to be a platinum frequent flyer. I wanted to be singled out by name and wished a pleasant flight by the head steward type person. I’m not a platinum frequent flyer member though and neither have the time, job or money that will ever allow me to become a platinum frequent flyer… Doh.
Food and beverages After take-off there was a round of drinks served and the menu was handed out – chicken or beef – followed by the main meal. I chose the stir-fry beef with egg fried rice and was disappointed. The egg fried rice had one big lump of egg in and that was it and the beef was a little salty. I actually don’t mind airplane food for the most part, but this was a little disappointing even for me. The salad was OK, but who can’t do salad, right?
There was a choice of wine…um, red or white. So, I went with the Australian Shiraz and it was very pleasant. Another please. There was a morning snack as well, which consisted of a Danish, yoghurt and fruit salad. Although pretty basic, this was actually nice and refreshing without being too heavy. The coffee didn’t taste good at all though.
Flight frequency Twice a day in both directions
Cost of ticket AUS$1,977 return Melbourne to London Heathrow. I used the Qantas Points ‘n’ Pay option and my 84,000 points managed to get the price down to $1,124 which I didn’t think was too bad.
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