The flight to Dallas was my ticket home and a chance to try Qantas’ Menu Select. Menu Select is the name Qantas applies to its system of ordering onboard meals before flight. Many airlines grant that privilege to first and business passengers. Qantas’ Menu Select also applies to economy and premium economy passengers on certain international flights.
Other posts about the Bali trip:
QF Flight 7 – Sydney, Australia (SYD) to Dallas, TX (DFW)
Great Circle Distance: 8,578 statute miles
Estimated Flight Time: 15 hours and 25 minutes
Class of Service: Economy
One Long Flight
In terms of distance, at 8,578 statute miles, this was the longest flight I’ve ever taken. Sydney to Dallas ranks as the seventh longest airline flight in the world. Traveling to SYD, the scheduled flight time is 17 hours and 30 minutes. Going in the opposite direction, prevailing winds aloft shortens the scheduled time to a mere 15 hours and 25 minutes.
Here is the list of the 10 longest flights by distance in 2019. That list, however, and all flight distances used by airlines are inaccurate because they are computed based on great-circle measurements. A great circle represents the shortest distance between two points on a sphere. Earth ain’t no sphere. It is an oblate spheroid. Due to rotation, our planet bulges at the equator and flattens at the poles. Great circle measurements ignore these variations.
(In 2014, I flew what is now the 10th longest flight in the world from Johannesburg, S.A. to Atlanta, GA. Although scheduled for 16 hours and 50 minutes, I had the pleasure of enjoying that coach seat for almost 19 hours. Just before rotating, the pilots rejected takeoff in response an alarm that a cargo door was ajar. Passengers remained onboard while the fault, a sensor, was identified, corrected, and mechanics completed their required paperwork.)
Qantas A380-800 Economy Class Cabin and Seat
The Qantas fleet includes 12 A380-800s. Each A380 is named after an Australian aviation pioneer. I could not see the name on this one during boarding or deplaning. Any airline that names its planes gets extra credit in my book. Now if Qantas would add nose art.
Qantas began receiving A380s in 2008. So this plane could not be much more than 10 years old and possibly younger. (My car is older than that.) Yet it appeared much older.
Qantas A380s have 371 seats in economy, 35 seats in premium economy, 64 seats in business class, and 14 seats in first class. Economy seats are arranged 3-4-3. They have 31 inches of pitch and are 17.5 inches wide.
I was assigned seat 49C, an aisle seat in the second row on the port side of the lower deck forward economy cabin. This seat is next to a galley. If the plane was full, it would not be my first choice. This flight, however, was nowhere near full. I, and many other economy passengers, enjoyed a whole row. That took much of the discomfort out of 31 inches of pitch this flight.
Qantas furnishes economy passengers with a good-sized pillow, a blanket wrapped in plastic, and headphones. The headphones, while not noise cancelling, produced better audio quality than earbuds. Qantas supplies economy passengers with a basic amenity kit on some flights. Apparently, this flight, which is the second longest flight Qantas flies, didn’t qualify.
110 volt AC and USB power is available. AC power is shared. Each video monitor has a USB connection. USB power charges very slowly. AC power is limited to 75 watts per outlet. When that amount is exceeded, power shuts off and cannot be reset in flight.
Economy seats on the lower deck can make and receive phone calls and texts. Texts cost $1.90 and calls to the ground are $5.00 per minute. Passenger to passenger calls are free.
Each seat has seatback video. There is a wide selection of movies, TV shows, documentaries and games. The 11 inch video monitor delivers an adequate picture, but not equal to the current high-definition screens.
The flight departed from Gate 9, just below the outstanding Qantas First Lounge.
Economy In-Flight Service
It took the flight attendants quite a while after takeoff to begin the service. No rush really I guess. Qantas slips menus for the meal services in the seat back pockets.
I needed no menu for the first meal. I preordered it through the system Qantas calls Menu Select. A short video from the Qantas website explains the process.
Using Menu Select is easy. On the Qantas website or app go to Manage Booking and choose Menu Select then pick your meal. The system is available on many international flights from seven days to 12 hours before departure. Despite the video heading, checking in is unnecessary.
On this flight Menu Select let me choose the first meal but not the mid-flight or arrival service. The neat thing is when using Menu Select, meals are delivered before the regular meal service in coach. That is also the way it works when ordering a special meal like kosher or low sodium.
I ordered chicken. The attendant brought it to me without asking.
The food was tasty. The bread was warm. And the minimalist tray eliminated much of the clutter that comes with many economy meals on other airlines.
Australian wine, of course, was the accompaniment.
Not as great as the food in the lounge, but no complaints.
Qantas stocks the galley at the rear of economy with snacks and beverages that passengers can help themselves to. I didn’t try them and just had the mid-flight snack the flight attendants delivered eight hours into the flight.
The arrival meal was served 90 minutes before landing.
There wasn’t much else to do on this flight other than watch a movie or two and grab some shut eye on the best imitation of a lie-flat seat economy class offers. Actually, I can’t lie flat even on three seats. I found the most comfort in sitting upright with legs stretched out diagonally under the seat next to me.
Deplaning was through the first-class section just in front of economy on the lower deck. I snapped a picture of the first-class seats on the way out.
QF 7 was a long but enjoyable flight. I couldn’t ask for anything better than having a whole row to myself in coach. Menu Select worked as advertised. Economy passengers get the same opportunity as those in business and first class to ensure their meal choice is available. I wonder, though, about the feasibility of the program if 300+ economy passengers use it.