So as some of you know we recently took a huge journey to visit family on the other side of the world in New Zealand. After much exploring we decided to take a non stop flight from London to Melbourne with Qantas, then another flight from Melbourne to Auckland (also with Qantas).
The flights with Qantas were £2,355 plus another £150 for seat booking -needless to say this was more than we’d ever spent out for flights for us all before and based on our research we had high hopes for our journey.
Now travelling for 35+ hours with a three year old is a daunting prospect at the best of times but being that I don’t much like flying it was always going to be a challenge.
Our booking process was really easy and Qantas were easy to reach by phone for our additional queries as well. We had some confusion about the flights as they were advertised as non stop but the receipt said that it had a stopover in Dubai – after a quick call we were reassured this would be a brief refuel stop and we’d hardly notice. This put my mind at ease as I didn’t relish the thought of 4 separate flights each way.
Once we’d booked we started to get excited – this was helped by the the Joey Playbox app which is designed for kids but if I’m honest we all enjoyed playing with. You can design your own airport, sticker up luggage with cool tags, design paper airplanes and play a game based on the old Nokia snake game where you collect baggage which my husband and I became quite competitive on! We were also promised a kids activity pack on the flight for the little one and we added this to the things for her to do mental tick list.
Before we knew it the few months between us booking and travelling had passed and it was time to go. We’d been able to print off our boarding passes quickly and easily and checking in with our luggage was great. We had a luggage allowance each of 30kg so 90kg between us which was plenty for our 10 days in NZ. The hand baggage allowance was slightly harder at 7kg per person and we found this a challenge – most bags weigh around 1kg or 2kg so this really cut the allowance down and when you are flying with a 3 year old the hand baggage is hugely important. On top of this hand baggage allowance you are also allowed to take on a small personal piece of luggage such as a handbag, laptop computer, overcoat, small camera, a reasonable amount of reading material or a small amount of duty free goods where permitted though. We made use of this extra bag but really a couple of extra kgs in hand luggage would have made all the difference.
We were flying economy in an Airbus A380 and we weren’t overwhelmed by the legroom available – as with so many flights it was fine until someone reclined their seat and then we became very short on space. Even the smallest of our group struggled once the seats in front were reclined and as we were primarily on a night flight this was most of the time.
The plus side to the flights are the staff – the Cabin Crew on Qantas were superb. They were constantly racing around answering calls and helping people out. We watched them help out a family with an unhappy child and a woman who was feeling very claustrophobic and they did this with a smile and without an ounce of panic or short temper. The service was friendly and felt as personal as it can be with hundreds of people for the team to try and please.
Sadly the downsides did outweigh the good points for us though. Qantas have recently relaunched their menu and while none of us are fussy eaters but I have to say we did struggle. Particularly with the children’s menu – on all flights both outbound and inbound our daughter didn’t find one thing she enjoyed. It was all very bland and nondescript and we found the limited options quite challenging which is tough when you are on a long flight. The other thing was they never stopped feeding us! We said no to crisps, wraps and rolls many times as it was just a constant bombardment of meals and snacks. When you are already cramped on a plane the last thing you want is to be feeling all heavy and full as well.
The fact that 70% of the flight was at night is tough as well – I know this can’t really be helped but it meant we couldn’t walk around as much as we’d like and our daughter didn’t get an opportunity to play quietly and chat to us as much as we would have like. This created a difficulty later down the line as it’s impossible to ask a 3 year old to stay still and quiet for 13 hours!
The other thing was the non stop element of the flight – the ‘brief fuel stop’ in Dubai turned out to be over 2 hours each time. This, to us, isn’t what we expected from a ‘brief fuel stop’ – it was a struggle to get everything off the plane for two hours to then come back to your seat afterwards. It might not sound like that much of a deal but with an overtired 3 year old at 10:30pm it really is hard work. We’d hoped for a route that would avoid lots of getting on and off of planes but this particular route couldn’t do that for us.
So the crux of it is – would I fly Qantas again? The answer is yes but not back to New Zealand. The flight times make a long flight with a child even more hard work, there isn’t enough space in economy, the food isn’t good, the hand luggage allowance is restrictive when you are travelling as a family and the fuel stop is too long for the flight to ever be considered non stop.
Would I fly Qantas again anywhere else? Yes I would but only because of the staff – we’ve flown with many of the big airlines over the years and the thing that makes Qantas a success must be the friendly, approachable and incredibly professional staff.
So all in all – 2/5 for the flight but 5/5 for the crew.
If you have a flight with Qantas coming up and I can answer any questions or queries for you then get in touch using the comments or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org