Date: June 24, 2018
Flight No.: QF129
Route: Sydney Kingsford Smith to Christchurch International
Type: Boeing 737-800
With more than 70 of the type, the Boeing 737-800 makes up more than half of the Qantas fleet and its the sole narrow body aircraft operated by the airline. As such, it’s also the aircraft type you are most likely to encounter on Qantas’ short-haul flights including domestic and trans-Tasman ones.
On my recent trip to New Zealand, I had a chance to fly on a Qantas 737 in economy class, on a trans-Tasman flight from Sydney to Christchurch.
Are you interested in trying business or first class for the price of economy?
If so, you might want to check out Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank - a free guide that I put together detailing some of the ways I was able to do so - and experiment with some of the methods mentioned in it.
Departing Sydney Onboard a Qantas 737-800
Having had a long transfer in Sydney, I spent a couple of hours in the city before returning to the airport and retreating into the Qantas International Business Lounge which I could access thanks to my British Airways Silver status.
I left the lounge shortly after 5PM and headed to gate 25 where the flight was scheduled to board at 5:10PM.
The boarding was delayed given that it wasn’t until 5:10PM that the pilots arrived at the gate. While an announcement was made saying that boarding would begin at 5:25PM, it wasn’t until ten or so minutes later that passengers needing assistance and with kids were called to get onboard.
Soon after, business class passengers and status holders were invited onboard, and so I headed down the jetway into the 737-800.
I passed through the business class cabin consisting of 12 seats in a 2-2 configuration and settled in my seat, 5D – an aisle seat in the second row of economy class. As for the seat’s leg room, it was a bit tight – especially given that it was about to be a three-hour flight.
Upon boarding, a headset was already placed on each seat.
We were pushed back at 5:57PM – just two minutes behind schedule – at which point the safety video was played. That was followed by a “biosecurity” video introducing the New Zealand customs procedures.
After a short taxi and a couple of minutes of holding, we finally entered the active runway and took off at 6:13PM.
Qantas Short-Haul Dinner Service
The seatbelt signs were switched off five minutes after take-off, and not long after that, the captain welcomed us onboard and mentioned that we were expecting to arrive about ten minutes ahead of schedule.
He also noted that it was clear with seven degrees Celsius in Christchurch.
About twenty minutes after take off, the dinner service started. While there were no printed menus like on the airline’s long haul flight, there were still three meal options:
- Mushroom tortellini
- Chicken salad
- Sweet and sour prawns with rice
I went with the mushroom tortellini which were just fine and which came with a bread roll. The bread roll, just as on all of the other Qantas flights on this trip, came without butter. On the positive side, I got a whole can of Coke Zero instead of just a cup.
Qantas 737-800 In-Flight Entertainment System
Qantas operates the 737-800s in two different configurations. One is not equipped with individual screens or with power outlets, and the entertainment is available on overhead screens and on passengers’ devices through “Q Streaming” – Qantas’ IFE wi-fi streaming system.
The one I was flying on, though, was equipped with individual screens which had a slightly better resolution than the ones on the 747 I flew to Sydney. Besides the screen, there were also a USB port next to the screen, and a universal power outlet between each pair of seats.
As for the IFE’s contents, they were roughly the same as on the 747 (see that review for details) besides the fact that the movie selection was not as extensive – there was only the “premiere” category. The 737 had an in-flight map function, though.
Cruising Towards New Zealand and Landing in Christchurch
Not long after the main meal service finished, the cabin crew passed around the cabin handing out tasty raspberry ice bars. After finishing mine, I worked a bit, filled out the customs form which even asked for my seat number, and then watched a couple of episodes of Futurama.
Then, around 10:15PM New Zealand time (which is two hours ahead of the time in Sydney) – or about five minutes before we commenced our descent, the cabin crew went around the cabin with drinks and Lindt chocolates.
The seatbelt signs went back on at 10:25PM, just as we encountered some turbulence. We landed at 10:44PM and got to our gate at 10:47PM – thirteen minutes ahead of schedule.
I got off the aircraft, went through customs and immigration and walked to Sudima – my hotel for the following five nights, but more on that in an upcoming instalment.
Qantas 737-800 Economy Class Summary
Overall, besides the slightly limited leg room, Qantas provided for a nice experience on the three-hour trans-Tasman flight. The in-flight entertainment content was sufficient, and it was nice to have a choice of three meal options even on this relatively short flight.