Eveline Harvey

Eveline Harvey is nzherald.co.nz's travel editor.

Flight check: Sydney to Brisbane on Qantas

Eveline Harvey takes a domestic hop up Australia's east coast aboard QF520.
The lunchtime flight from Sydney to Brisbane departed right on schedule and wasn't too crowded. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Edwin Ieong
The lunchtime flight from Sydney to Brisbane departed right on schedule and wasn't too crowded. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Edwin Ieong

The plane: A Boeing 767-338.

Class: Business.

My seat: 2J - on the aisle, I see now, although my travelling companion didn't protest when I mistakenly plopped myself into the window seat. Is there a type of dyscalculia that makes identifying the correct aeroplane seat a challenge? If so, I think I have it.

On time: We pulled back from the gate bang on schedule.

Fellow passengers: Mainly holidaymakers, either heading north for a break or returning home from vacations in Sydney or further afield. A handful of business travellers - although this wasn't an ideal commuter flight as it left Sydney just after lunch - and a couple of travel journos.

How full: Not very. There were a couple of seats free in Business and the Economy section resembled a gap-toothed primary school student when I took a look back there.

Entertainment: I wasn't expecting anything more than an in-flight magazine, so it was a pleasant surprise to find in my seat pocket an iPad that offered access to Qantas' Q Streaming programmes. These are streamed to the iPads from a content server via an inflight wireless network, which connects automatically once the seatbelt signs have been turned off. Not essential on the short hop to Brissy, but very welcome on Australian domestic flights that last much longer, I'm sure.

Steward Peter explained that the iPads, which had been available in-flight for about 12 months, were a stopgap measure until seat back-mounted electronic screens like those on Qantas' international flights are installed. There was an option to attach the tablet to the back of the seat in front by threading its cover behind a strip of fabric. It was a bit fiddly, but did the trick.

Browsing through the viewing options, I settled on the first of a two-part series on Charles Darwin's rival in the matter of evolutionary theory, Alfred Russel Wallace. Part biographical depiction, part nature doco, it was brilliantly presented by comedian Bill Bailey, who ventured into Wallace's former stomping ground of Borneo and - on trying the notoriously putrid-smelling durian fruit - declared it tasted "like someone made a quiche and left it in a car for four days ... delicious".

The streaming froze three times during the flight, but only for a split second each time, so it didn't really affect the viewing experience. My only complaint is that I didn't quite have enough time to watch the whole 50-minute programme as Q Streaming is turned off again before descent.

The service: Very friendly and attentive without being overbearing.

Food and drink: We were offered a glass of bubbles before take-off and I was tempted but, having been up since 3am to make my preceding flight from Auckland and with the prospect of a rental car to pick up in Brisbane, I settled for water. Lunch consisted of a cheese box, followed by a deliciously-fresh poached chicken salad with ranch dressing and a slice of sourdough bread.

Toilets: I didn't feel the urge on this short flight but the rest rooms at Qantas' domestic business lounge in Sydney were shipshape.

Luggage: In Business, you're allowed two pieces of up to 32kg as checked luggage but my upgrade wasn't guaranteed so my single hold bag was lighter than the 23kg limit for Economy passengers. On board, I had my handbag and laptop, which were stowed easily under the seat in front of me for take-off and landing.

The airport experience: Couldn't be faulted. I had not been looking forward to rechecking the luggage from my Auckland-Sydney flight for the domestic leg, but it was only a short, covered walk to the baggage drop area and security screening took place then and there before we were taken by bus to the domestic terminal, meaning we had nothing to do but relax and wait for our boarding call. A window seat in the business lounge afforded both plane- and celeb-spotting opportunities (Manu Feildel of My Kitchen Rules, if you must know), the coffee was hot and strong and free. WiFi was available, though I chose to read a book.

Would I fly this again: In a heartbeat.

Eveline Harvey travelled courtesy of Qantas.

- NZ Herald

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