Let me say from the beginning: This trip got me and Quantas off on a wrong footing from the outset.
First, online check-in twice politely directed me to check in at the airport. Which a) is not something I like doing as checking in early among many other things allows the best chance for a decent seat and b) not something I at all enjoy queueing for when I’ve had to leave the hotel for the airport at 4:50am…
And it was not just any odd queue – it was a 30-40 minutes long queue. I’d guess on close to a 100 people in it – and 3-4 counters open out of 8. OK, ample time to fill out the departure card…
Next up: luggage. At check-in they asked if I had luggage to check – no, just my Red Oxx Metro Briefcase and cabin trolley. Apparently no issues with that. Until I came up the beginning of the queue for passport control and a stern lady asked me to put the trolley on the scales. Result: approx. 2 kg too much relative to Quantas’ 7 kg limit.
7 kg? Take a lesson from BA, dear Quantas – when we flew to the US, they allowed 23! Other comparisons, in the low-cost airline field: Ryan Air (not known for frills): 10 kg. easyJet: Size restriction only, no weight limit. So, dear Quantas – come again!
Back down, asked if that was really, truly, honestly so. Yes, it was. “It’s a small plane” – which is a new term for a Boing 737-800s in my book, And no, I couldn’t gate check the bag either. I did let the staff know that I already now was considering this Quantas experience the worst I’d had for a long time… Making sure, of course, to stress that I didn’t direct this criticism at them personally but at the rigid and limiting cabin baggage rules, the lacking online check-in, and the massive queues of the morning.
OK, one small ray of sunshine: while I’d been down at the check-in counter, the queue for immigration (or emigration?) had dissolved. Through security, no issues.
Then, at the gate, I realised that I hadn’t even checked what seat they’d allocated me. 28E. Way back, which is not something I’d battle, and a middle seat – which is. I made my kind inquiry as to whether a somewhat better seat might be available – and were told that there were very few open seats, all middle. Hm. Persistence. Asked if they could tell me why online check-in hadn’t worked – as I’d normally would have used that to avoid exactly this predicament.
The apparently superior gate agent stepped in and kindly told me that the lack of online check-in was likely to be because very full flights such as this one “locked down “ at least the last 20% of seats for airport check-in so that families could get seats together and such. Not an unreasonable approach, I reckon – only, it had a very poor match to the extremely few people I saw dropping off luggage at the online check-in counter during my long trek to the counter downstairs – and the corresponding large number of people in the check-in queue… Or, of course, people travelling from NZ to AUS just haven’t realised that there is such thing as advance internet check-in (and no, I don’t believe that, either).
Anyway, she let me know that as soon as the counters downstairs closed, she would check for no-shows. And, with my sincere gratitude, she eventually managed to get me moved to 4C.
Boarding by row numbers – which meant that I of course got on late-ish but still with some 20-30 passengers coming in after me. Care to take a guess on how much space there was in the overhead bins for luggage such as my confined-to-the-hold trolley? Yes, you’ve got it – plenty. And how many others carried similar ones, by the look of how they carried them, equally heavy or heavier? Yes, quite a a few. So in the game of carry-on roulette, I apparently landed on the dreaded zero today – just able to conclude that the rules were enforced rigidly but not uniformly. Oh well.
Last thing on that issue: The lady at the scales upstairs told me that I could go down to the airline and if they ok’d the bag, she’d let me through. Downstairs they claimed that I had to check it in – because the people upstairs would not let me go through with it. Very convenient to have someone else to put the blame on when you have an unhappy customer – just sad that it became clear that at least one of the two parties were not correct and honest about it. In customer service as in so many other circumstances: own up, take what’s your responsibility on your shoulders. Do not seek the easy way out and say “oh, it’s them there” – especially not if you’re not 1000% sure they will not say the same about you.
The flight, then? Decent seat, bad breakfast.
4C was the first row after business – and as such had plenty of leg space. Turned up that we were only two on the three seats, so 4B moved to 4A and we had storage space on the middle seat and an extra table to pile trays etc. on. Always nice.
The breakfast with scrambled eggs, yoghurt, a muffin and coffee? Well, the scrambled eggs had an odd taste that reminded me more of cod than of eggs and the coffee must be on the shortlist of the worst coffee I’ve ever had on a plane. About the only thing I could not detect of taste in my white coffee was coffee.
But as I left the hotel well before breakfast was available and at this time I knew that my blood sugar was heading for the basement – beggars can’t be choosers and I guess it did its nutritional job.
As for the rest – nothing out of the ordinary. Not better or worse than any other flight. But altogether, with the help of a Draconian lady in the ALK airport, Quantas lands with two cobblestones.
Fly safely, out there!