A beautiful Qantas Boeing 747-400 – Photo: Owen Zupp
This is a guest post written by Owen Zupp, who has previously written a few great stories on AirlineReporter. Zuppâ€™s background ranges from charter work and flight instruction to ferry flights, flight testing, and he has served as both a Chief Pilot and Chief Flying Instructor. With over 25 years in airline operations, Owen has flown both domestically and across the globe from his Australian base. He holds a Masters Degree in Aviation Management and his writings on aviation have been published around the world and received various accolades and awards. He is also just a cool guy! -Editor
When it comes to the QANTAS Boeing 747, as the Beatles famously sang, â€œI heard the news, today. Oh boy!â€ â€¦. although not officially. There may be life in the old girl yet.
The news broadcasts were showing footage of the â€œQueen of the Skiesâ€ making a flypast of Sydney Harbour, proclaiming that it was the final commercial service for the 747 in QANTAS colors. Meanwhile, my website and phone were bombarded with a common theme, â€œIs it true?â€ To be honest, I believe that it is highly likely, although I am yet to see an official announcement.
Since the commencement of the Stand Down, I have doubted whether the QANTAS 747 would return into commercial operations when the pandemic has passed. It has been a fine servant to the airways and all that it has safely conveyed, however, its planned retirement was well underway, before Covid-19 ever took its vile grip on the world. Still, there is no official statement to say that the 747 has retired from commercial service with QANTAS. Even so, it seems an opportune time to reflect on ‘the Queen”, as she is set to be on the ground for the time being.
This is a guest post written by Owen Zupp, who has previously written a few great stories on AirlineReporter. Today, he is sharing some parts of his new book, Boeing 747. Queen of the Skies: Reflections from the Flight Deck (we get no kick-back from the book, just want to share some cool AvGeekness — yes, that is now a thing). Zupp’s background ranges from charter work and flight instruction to ferry flights, flight testing, and the airlines. He has also served as both a Chief Pilot and Chief Flying Instructor. With 20 years in airline operations, Owen has flown both domestically and across the globe from his Australian base. He holds a Masters Degree in Aviation Management and his writings on aviation have been published around the world and received various accolades and awards. He is also just a cool guy! -Editor
To many, the Boeing 747 is more than merely a means of air travel. Affectionately called the â€œQueen of the Skiesâ€, its arrival transformed the globe and over more than half a century it has carved its own niche in the history of aviation.
Its significance was recently impressed upon me by the number of queries I have received, both in person and via my website, that relate to the Boeing 747. Even though my career has seen me operate a hundred different types – the â€œQueenâ€ continues to consume the lionâ€™s share of interest.
I have been fortunate in that as an airline pilot and aviation writer, I have been privy to some very interesting 747 operations. From flying over the Antarctica to ferrying a fifth engine beneath the wing, I have been able to research and share a range of experiences.
When my girlfriend Molly and I first started planning our trip to Australia, I was skeptical that we would find any award availability in a premium cabin. With flights from the west coast to Australia averaging 15+ hours, premium cabin awards are extremely difficult to find, especially for more than one seat. During the several weeks that I searched, I rarely found any coach availability on desirable flights, and no premium cabin award space at all. Finally, one fateful Saturday afternoon, I hit the jackpot. I found two seats in First Class on Qantas, using Alaska Airlines miles. Score!
As part of a larger trip to Australia and New Zealand, my girlfriend Molly and I recently had the opportunity to fly in multiple cabins across the Qantas international and domestic network. The trip started out with a fantastic experience in their First Class cabin (review coming shortly), followed by flights in Business Class, Premium Economy, and Economy. Todayâ€™s story will cover those short-haul flights within Australia and New Zealand.
The Qantas Economy Experience:
All our flights within Australia were operated on either a Boeing 737-800 or an Airbus A330-200, and the economy experience was fairly consistent throughout the flights. On the flights operated by a 737, there was a seat-back entertainment screen, which is always nice. For the flight on the A330, individual iPads were provided. I found the in-flight entertainment on both systems to be quite responsive, and the system had a good amount of content.
Thereâ€™s quite a bit of debate around AirlineReporter as to whether itâ€™s sensible to recline your seat. Our fearless leader, David Parker Brown, has stated multiple times that he doesnâ€™t recline while airborne. On our Qantas flights, the whole recline situation was a bit complicated, as the Qantas seats recline a LOT. So if the passenger in front of you reclines, you really have a significant lack of personal space. As a result, if the person in front of you reclines, you pretty much have to recline as well. Thankfully, at meal time, the flight attendants were good about asking passengers to adjust their seat to the upright position.
Qantas Airbus A330-200 aircraft now feature the upgraded business class cabin â€“ Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Over the last 18 months, QantasÂ has been progressively upgrading their business class product on their Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The new business suites bring the product in line with the ever-increasing trend of direct aisle access for all business class passengers, as well lie flat beds — a first for Qantas on the domestic market. The upgraded A330-200 cabins are configured with 28 lie-flat seats in a 1-2-1 configuration that can remain in the recline position during takeoff and landing.
It has been quite some time since I last had the opportunity to fly domestically in business class with Qantas, and with my annual trip to Australia, I thought I would burn some Qantas frequent flyer points to check out their new business suitesÂ on the popular Sydney-Melbourne route, a very short 95-minute flight.