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QF185 Sydney Kingsford Smith Intl (SYD) - Christchurch Intl (CHC)
Date: 12 March 2005
Departure (scheduled): 12:20
Arrival (scheduled): 17:15
Aircraft: Boeing 747-300
Cabin: Economy
Seat: 23D

There was little queue at security or immigration and we were soon walking through the large duty free shopping area that is the introduction to the airside section of Sydney's international terminal.

We headed to the Qantas Club which was much larger than I had imagined. The selection of food for breakfast was good, with some different options from the usual cereals and croissants fare that one finds in BA lounges. I was disappointed though that there didn't appear to be any internet access, and the wireless access (which is run by the airport) needed an account to access .

We could see gate 24 from the lounge and it wasn't long before our Boeing 747-300 was tugged to the gate. A little geeky, but I noted this was my first time on a 747 "classic", one of the older 747 variants that one rarely sees in Europe these days.

We headed for the gate at the advertised boarding time, despite it not having been called yet and this turned out to be a good decision as pre-boarding commenced just before we got there. We boarded straight away and settled into our seats right next to the entrance door.

Boarding took another 20 mins or so and it was obvious that the plane was not very full, maybe 50-60% at most. Pushback was timely and we were soon on our way to the runway. Take-off was to the west and was surprisingly quiet, again a benefit of sitting far forward on the 747 (even the classic).

I was surprised that this older 747 had PTV's in each seatback with 12 TV channels, 10 radio channels and a selection of games . I had expected only a main screen TV at best! However, it was necessary to go through 2-3 unavoidable programmes before the system was properly started. Unfortunately the Skymap was not available throughout the flight.

A food menu was given out and when the time came, I mad a bad choice, beef casserole with mash and peas. The mash was watery and the beef was pretty tough. I took about two mouthfuls and that was it, but I had eaten some breakfast in the lounge, so it wasn't too bad.

The flight was very uneventful, but with a strong tailwind we were soon on our way into Christchurch about 10-15 mins early. Landing was a bit wobbly, especially on touchdown when all you could see was grass out of one window and sky out of the other . But the pilot soon recovered it!

And that was it. My impression of Qantas was a little dampened from the last time I used them a couple of years ago, a little rougher around the edges, particularly on the food front. But still an enjoyable experience.