QF428 (MEL - SYD)
Plane Type: Boeing 737-838
Reviewer: Malcolm Lu
Every year, my work awards an overseas incentive holiday for our distributors and staff, bringing us to beautiful places which also allows me to fly on Airlines I have not flown on before. Last year we went to Tokyo on Japan Airlines ( a first for me ), the year before that to Taipei on China Airlines. This year, we flew Down Under, to Melbourne and Sydney with Qantas. I have never flown with "The Spirit of Australia", but have heard a great many things from friends that did. Our initial flight was onboard QF36 from SIN to MEL, followed by a domestic connection via QF428 from MEL to SYD, and lastly back to SIN onboard QF1. So in a single week, I got to fly on Qantas's Airbus A380 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft. I decided to start with the smaller Boeing 737 flight review first, followed by the A380 later.
Our flight to Sydney was operated by VH-VZC, an 11.4 year old Boeing 737-838. Qantas listed 2 types of Boeing 738s in service, one with Personal IFE Screens and the other with overhead video screens. The aircraft I got was the latter, though it does not provide you with a personal video screen, the Airline does have Wireless Q-streaming onboard to work with your mobile devices such as tablets and mobile phones in flight mode. It is quite an ingenious method of providing entertainment to passengers onboard without the need to replace all the seats of the aircraft, and at the same time saves cost for the Airline. The Economy class cabin configuration is the standard 3x3 single isle, with 162 modern looking seats. Seats were 17.2inches wide with a recline angle of 30 degrees. Leg room was reasonable, slightly less cramped than the previous 737-800 I flew on, which added to the comfort of the aircraft. The cabin itself does not feature Boeing's new Sky Interior, still retaining the previous generation of lighting, ceiling and overhead bins on the aircraft.
The Flight & Service
Taxiing out on the runway was fast, and soon we were in the air on our way to Sydney. Flight time was 1hour 5mins, with a small cream bun and drink provided as an inflight snack. The flight itself was a bit turbulent, but that cannot be avoided. Thing started to smoothen out as we approached Sydney, and before I knew it, we were already on final approach in.
Up until this point, everything with Qantas was good. The crew, the plane, the service was truly not bad at all. So after QF428 landed and my whole group of 60 disembarked the aircraft, we proceeded to baggage claim to collect our luggage. When I collected our bosses luggage, I noticed a corner with the base wheel of the luggage was completely dented inwards. Now bear in mind her luggage was a hard shelled Samsonite. I'm no expert but such damage could only be caused if the luggage was dropped from a certain height and the luggage landed on that corner. So we went to the Qantas baggage counter to make a report, which took awhile as the counter staff said their system was slow. We spent about 45mins at the counter making the report, and ended up with a very insincere 'I'm sorry but there's nothing more I can do' from the staff. So finally they inputed the information onto the system, but needed our end to make a report on Qantas's Customer service website and to upload the photo evidence of the damage to the site, which we did. However, at the final step of submitting the report, 'A Server Error' Occurs and we have to restart the report all over again. We did this 4 times before we gave up and I decided to just call the hotline provided and make the report verbally to a customer service agent. I spent about a good 15-20mins on the phone with the agent, and that wasn't too bad until he tried to throw some Aussie humour at me. When he asked what brand of bag it was, I told him it was a Samsonite Hard shell baggage, to which he replied "Aw if it could dent in so easily perhaps it isn't a Samsonite." I was baffled and pissed. In my mind, I was thinking "Aw if you guys didn't throw the damn thing off the 737 perhaps it wouldn't be damaged in the first place." Anyway, with all the reporting logged in, photos emailed and sent, all there was left to do is wait for Qantas's reply on the case, which till today (6 days), have heard zilch from them. Way to go Qantas!
On a side note, there were 3 other damage baggage reports from our tour group, and 1 missing luggage that ended up on a later flight from Melbourne. Yes I do understand these things happen, it's the tone of service and the general lack of concern or response from the Qantas staff that really irks at me.
Well with that I shall end this quick look into Qantas's B737. Coming up next is a review of their Airbus A380. Stay tuned!