A few weeks ago my lovely friend Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella wrote about an express lunch she had in half an hour and it reminded me of a Qantas Business Class flight to Canberra a few Saturdays ago that was kind of similar. The actual flying time this day was also 30 minutes and it was amazing to see the crew serve a hot breakfast to the 20 or so Business Class passengers, the passengers (myself included) eat, and then have the crew clear all the tray tables before landing at Canberra Airport.
My short hop to Canberra was on one of the few Boeing 737-400 jet services Qantas operates from Sydney into the nations capital with most flights operated by the all economy class turbo-prop Dash 8’s. These jet services are mostly operated by these ‘well seasoned’ 737-400’s and a couple of the newer 737-800’s, with refurbished 717’s coming into service soon.
Boarding commenced at 8.00am for the 8.20am departure and almost all of the seats in Business Class occupied. Qantas operates four of the -400 variant of the Boeing 737 aircraft with 20 Business Class seats compared to the newer -800 (of which they have 28 aircraft) seating only 12 in Business Class, I gather these extra Business Class seats are for politicians traveling to and from the capital. The recliner style seats have a seat width of 20″ / 50.8cms and a seat pitch of 38″ / 96.5cms with a strange trio of armrests between seats and narrow drop down centre tray table.
This 23 year old aircraft – Cloncurry – registration VH-TJI – has an interesting history and has not always been with Qantas Airways. Delivered to Australian Airlines – the predecessor to Qantas domestic services – in September 1990 and named Swan, the aircraft was repainted in Malaysia Airlines livery and leased to the airline the following month of that year. Returning to Australian Airlines two years later, the aircraft was again repainted, this time in the livery of Air Vanuatu under a joint operation between the two airlines.
The aircraft, now named The Spirit of Vanuatu, flew for Air Vanuatu for the next 4.5 years and during this time the ownership was transferred from Australian Airlines to Qantas Airways under their merger in October 1993. At the end of the lease with Air Vanuatu in early 1998, the aircraft returned to Qantas and was named again Swan until 2003 when it was renamed Cloncurry.
Prior to take off, cabin crew came around and offered a a glass of juice or water to each of the Business Class passengers.
It was a quick departure on the southern main runway from Sydney and as soon as we were in the air the captain announced our short flying time of 30 minutes. This had the crew buzzing about as soon as the seat belt sign was switched off, asking if we were joining them for breakfast and a tray was brought individually from the galley and not on a trolley as normal.
O.k. so lets get to the breakfast, the dish – scrambled eggs, sausages, tomatoes and spinach – was pretty good. I’ve had several breakfasts on flights with greyish rubbery eggs and tastless dry sausages but the eggs here were light and fluffy and the sausages were packed with flavour and still juicy! The tomatoes and spinach also quite flavoursome.
The crew kept a close eye on when passengers were finished their meal and whisked the trays away just before decent. There really wasnt much time left to do anything before the fasten seatbelt sign came on and the cabin was being prepared for landing in Canberra.
Its was a quick and comfortable flight with a delicious hearty breakfast in an express manner 🙂 Well done to the crew on the quick professional service performed on this short sector 🙂