Qantas Flight 7/8 – Sydney & Dallas
I don’t really want to call myself a travel blogger. However, I thought it would be useful to have some information about this flight out there. The existing information isn’t bad, but there are a few aspects that I couldn’t find as many details about as I would have liked to.
Qantas Flights 7 and 8 are always Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to Sydney (SYD). At the time of this writing they are operated on the Airbus A380. This flight is very long. The flight to Sydney takes just over 17 hours, and the flight to Dallas comes in at just under 16.
One thing that worries me about this flight is that there is only one per day. That means if you are doing anything other than using it as a nonstop flight, you risk having to wait a whole day if your connection is late. I was arriving directly to DFW on the way out, so this was not a problem on that end. However, on my return, I had a connecting flight from Melbourne to Sydney, which ended up being delayed. The problem was I only had one hour and ten minutes to make the connection. What I wasn’t fully aware of is that at Sydney airport, you are transferred by bus between the domestic and international terminals, which takes time. You must exit through customs, which takes time. You must go through a stricter security checkpoint, which takes time. The “good” news was that the Dallas flight was also delayed, giving me just enough time to make it. Although everything worked out in the end, I probably wouldn’t try to do the same thing again.
Another scheduling thing to remember is that Sydney Airport has a curfew, meaning that no flights can land before 6AM. According to our captain, although we arrived in the area around 5:30, we still had to que behind several other aircraft, making our arrival into the airport more like 6:30, rather than the scheduled 6:05. I didn’t have anywhere to be, so I didn’t mind, but this could be frustrating if you were trying to make a connection. Also, flight times change based on the season, so if your flight isn’t set to arrive at 6:05, this shouldn’t be as much of a problem.
I know that people like to complain about airplane food. The complaints that people generally have about it also applies to the food on this flight. I didn’t really have a problem with it, but I wouldn’t want to have to eat it all the time either. Here are some photos for reference:
Above is the tortellini. Below is the scrambled eggs.
What I do have a problem with is their menu.
My problem with their menu is that it uses really big words that I don’t know how to pronounce. I can roughly determine what the food I’ll be getting is, but I didn’t appreciate how stupid I felt trying to tell the flight attendant which of the three meals I would like. I much prefer the ANA way where they assume no one speaks their language, and bring out very accurate pictures of what the food is, and ask you to point to the one you want.
Another aspect of the food is the snacks. I was happy with the frequency at which I was offered them. The snacks offered on the way to Australia were merely adequate. I enjoyed the snacks offered on the way to the US much more. In particular, I enjoyed the platter of prepackaged snacks that they brought around and allowed you to pick whatever you would like. This consisted mostly of things made in Australia, and that are hard to find elsewhere.
The inflight entertainment system in Qantas’ A380s is on the older side. There is a USB Port available (on the front of the armrest), but I think it was originally intended for media playback, and not for charging your phone. My phone took around five hours to charge. I imagine it is only capable of supplying 500mA, so if you have an iPhone, it would probably refuse to change. I believe there are also A/C ports available, but I didn’t need to use it, and didn’t happen to locate it by chance.
Perhaps more important is the selection of content that they have available. At the time of my flight they had plenty of movies available. However, I’m more interested in TV Shows, of which they also had quite a few. The thing that was particularly interesting is that they didn’t just have one or two episodes of each show, they had entire seasons. This made it easier to stay entertained once you found a show that you liked.
Something else I liked taking a look at was the flight map and the tail camera. The flight map is ridiculously detailed at times, to the point where I was able to determine exactly which coastal city we were flying over in California. Unfortunately, the tail camera is very low resolution, and you aren’t going to see much apart from takeoff and landing. Also, it took longer than expected to load, leaving me wondering whether it was broken.
The seating arrangement on Qantas’ A380s is the best they could do with what they had. The outer sections are three seats wide, and the middle section is four seats wide. My personal preference for flights of this duration is to sit in an aisle seat of the middle section. The main thing I accomplish by picking one of these seats is being able to stand up whenever I’d like. Also, I have less of a chance of having to stand up to let someone out. In theory, people don’t book middle seats in the middle section unless they want to sit next to someone they’re traveling with. In which case they are more likely to ask that person to stand up than to ask me. I was lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me on one of my flights. On the flight back I wasn’t as lucky, but fortunately people who choose these seats often sleep most of the time.
You wouldn’t think there would be much to say about airplane toilets. The truth is, there are only the slightest bit larger than other aircraft I’ve been on. The toilets themselves do their job and I don’t have any complaints about that. The only thing worth mentioning is that there were always people waiting to use them. It could be the type of people that are taking this flight at this time of year (there did seem to be a lot of families), because it seems like the number of toilets was sufficient. Also, don’t bother trying to use the toilet during the two hours or so before landing. People seem to take much longer during this time, probably in an attempt to take a shower or something.
The Small Plane Effect
To be honest, I was expecting the world’s largest passenger aircraft to feel a lot larger. I thought that every once and a while I’d get up on walk the length of the plane and maybe even go upstairs. This did not happen. I’m not sure if you are actually prohibited from doing this, but the way the plane is setup certainly implies that you shouldn’t. Even within economy, there are several sections which get divided by curtains after takeoff.
Of course jetlag will have a different effect on different people, but I’ll share some details that might help you determine how you will be affected. First, the flight to Sydney departs at night and arrives in the morning. Chances are you won’t be able to just arrive and go to sleep. Knowing this, I tried to sleep on the flight, which got me around an hour of sleep. Also, depending on the type of accommodation you’ve booked, you may also have trouble finding a place to store your luggage. Going in the other direction, there shouldn’t be as many problems. First of all, the flight is slightly shorter, but also, it arrives at a more manageable time of day, the early afternoon. I can’t comment in as much detail on the challenges associated with this direction because I live on this side and just drove my personal car.
These are the main things I noticed about this flight. If you have more questions about this flight, you can comment below.