Date: June 23, 2018
Flight No.: QF26
Route: Tokyo Haneda to Sydney Kingsford Smith
Type: Boeing 747-400
Qantas, the flag carrier of Australia and the third oldest airline in the world, operates a fleet of ten Boeing 747-400 (including 747-400ERs of which it is the sole operator) aircraft on some of its routes connecting Australia to the rest of the world.
Given that the airline will retire its Queens of the Skies in the next couple of years, I was excited to fly on it from Tokyo Haneda to Sydney on my way to New Zealand back in June. In this review, I’ll recount what flying onboard Qantas 747-400 in economy class is like.
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.
Checking-in for Flight QF26 at Tokyo Haneda
I arrived at Haneda airport around 7:30PM – two and a half hours before departure – and after doing some last minute gift shopping, I headed to Qantas’ check-in counters.
While there was already a small queue forming at the economy class counters, I was able to use the business class queue thanks to my British Airways status, and so it was my turn to check-in in no time.
When I asked to change my seat from those that were randomly assigned to me, I was surprised to see the check-in staff calling (with a phone) another staff just sitting two counters away rather than talking directly.
In either case, the seat assignments for both my flight to Sydney as well as the connecting one to Christchurch were modified and so I could walk away from the counter with a pair of boarding passes and a baggage receipt.
About an hour later, after a quick dinner with my girlfriend, I headed through the security and immigration, and to JAL Sakura Lounge for a quick visit.
Getting Onboard a Qantas Boeing 747-400
The boarding was scheduled to start at 9:20PM – forty minutes before departure – and so I left the lounge ten minutes before that.By the time I got to the gate, many of the passengers were already gathered in the area, and at 9:16PM, the boarding started.
As I was able to use priority boarding, I was one of the first passengers – and the first economy class passenger – heading down the jetway and catching the glimpse of the 747.
While Qantas operates 747s in a variety of configurations, this particular one was equipped with a total of 364 seats in three classes – business, premium economy, and economy.
Since I boarded through the second door and turn right, I didn’t have a chance to see any of the 58 fully-flat business class seats located in front of the first pair of doors and on the upper deck.
I did, however, briefly pass through the premium economy class cabin equipped with 36 seats in a 2-4-2 layout on my way to the very back of the aircraft.
The aircraft featured 270 economy class seats in a 3-4-3 layout (switching to 2-4-2 at the back where the fuselage gets narrower) each of which was equipped with a personal IFE screen.
My seat was 73G, an aisle seat in one of the very last rows of the aircraft, and upon boarding, a blanket, a pillow, and a (for economy class) relatively decent headset could be found on it.
Departing Tokyo and Qantas Economy Class Dinner
At 9:40PM, the flight’s captain, Phil, welcomed us on board over the PA and mentioned that we were waiting for one more passenger before being ready to go. He also mentioned that the flight would be 8 hours and 45 minutes long and that it would be “a pleasant morning in Sydney” when we arrived.
Not long after that, the cabin crew distributed menus for the flight which included three main options for dinner – which I found to be quite generous given that it was a 10PM departure.
The doors were closed at 9:43PM, and at 9:49PM – eleven minutes ahead of schedule – we were on our way to the departure runway. While taxiing, the safety video was played, and at 10:15PM, we took off.
Just six minutes later, the seatbelt signs were switched off and the service could begin.
First, bottles of water and Australian immigration forms were distributed.
The dinner service followed about an hour later. Given that it was close to midnight by then, rather than going with one of the hot options, I decided to go with the sushi. And, while it was supermarket quality – meaning edible but nothing to rave about – I still appreciated having that option on the menu.
Given that I love mangos, the dessert – mango mousse – was the most enjoyable part of the meal for me. On the other hand, I found it strange that there was no butter to go with the bread roll.
Also, I found it interesting that rather than serving everything on a single large tray, the main came on a small tray and the sides came by themselves. As for whether I found it better than a large tray or not, I am not sure – but I guess it provided a bit of extra space both when eating and when finished.
With the meal finished around midnight, I decided to call it a day and try to get some sleep.
One-Hour to Landing: Qantas Economy Class Breakfast
I woke up after about six hours of sleep – around 7AM Australian time – just as the breakfast was being served. Unlike with the dinner, there were no options. Instead, everyone got a decently sized fruit plate, a muffin, and tea or coffee.
After the breakfast, I took a look around the cabin and noticed that throughout the flight, there’s also been muesli bars (and also eye masks and toothbrushes) available in the galley – and placed on cool looking shelves.
Qantas 747-400 In-Flight Entertainment System
Back at my seat, I filled out the immigration and then explored the in-flight entertainment system, iQ, a bit.
In terms of the hardware, the screen was not of the highest resolution, and the touchscreen feature was not as responsive as it could have been. Given that there was no remote control, there was no way around using the touchscreen, though.
On the other hand, the content was fairly impressive – as one would expect from an airline operating some of the longest flights in the world.
While it was no Emirates’ ICE, there was well over a 100 movies ranging from the latest blockbusters all the way to “Bond classics.” And, there were quite a few box sets – TV shows with a complete season or even several seasons.
There was also plenty of music to listen to – both in the form of full on-demand albums as well as “radios.”
The one issue I had with the IFE – besides the touchscreen – was the fact that it didn’t seem to be equipped with a moving map feature. (I tried tapping the area showing the flight time left, but that didn’t work, and I couldn’t find it anywhere else in the menu.)
Arriving at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport
The flight started to come to an end when, at around half past seven in the morning, the captain mentioned that we would start our descent in five minutes and that it was 7 degrees Celsius in Sydney.
Shortly before 8AM, the cabin crew prepared the cabin for landing, and at 8:04AM, the seatbelt signs went on.
We landed at 8:12AM, and reached our gate at 8:16AM – fourteen minutes ahead of schedule.
Qantas 747-400 Economy Class Tokyo – Sydney Summary
Having never flown on Qantas before, I was happy to try the “Flying Kangaroo,” and even happier to have the chance to fly on one of its 747s before their retirement.
In terms of service, I found both the hard product and soft product to be perfectly adequate for a sub-ten-hour flight. It was nice to have a choice of three meals (although the sushi was mediocre) and an entertainment system with plenty of content and full TV show seasons.
The one downside, though, was the lack of the in-flight map. (But then again, I might just have missed it?! If so, please let me know in the comments.)