The Two Million Mile Honeymoon Luxury Travel at Budget Rates

QANTAS Business Class 747 JNB-SYD

Boeing’s 747 with its iconic hump on the front of the upper deck is probably the most recognizable aircraft on the planet.  Entering service in the 1970′s these Jumbo Jets transformed commercial aviation as they were more than double the size and had a much longer range than any previous aircraft.  Most airlines are phasing out these old 747′s in favor of the more fuel efficient 777′s, 787′s, A330′s, or the behemoth A380.


Qantas 747 with the iconic hump (mostly covered by the jet bridge)

Despite flying on literally hundreds of flights in my life, this was the first time I have ever been inside a Boeing 747, so I was pretty excited.  A few types of aircraft really bring out the nerd in aviation nerds and this one might be at the top of the list because of its historic importance (it’s the plane they use for Air Force One) also because of the upper deck.  Personally, I just think stairs on a plane are awesome.  And, of course, I made sure we had seats on the upper deck so we could make good use of those stairs.


Stairs to the Upper Deck

And also so we could pose for photos (in our Qantas PJ’s) on the stairs in the middle of the night while everyone was asleep.


Stairs on a Plane!


I have had it with all the motherf@$king stairs on this motherf@$king plane!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Before our flight from Johannesburg to Sydney we were invited to wait in the Shongololo Lounge which is a private lounge contracted by a number of airlines that only operate a few flights a day out of JNB.  The lounge was very nice and the food and drink was well stocked.  Dhara had pasta while I had chicken wings (a messy choice for an airline lounge but I liked them).

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A couple of years ago Qantas started retrofitting all of their 747′s to have the newer, more spacious Business Class Seats they use onboard their A380.  I thought they had reconfigured all of their 747′s (and the seatmap for our flight confirmed that we were supposed to be flying on a reconfigured plane) but when we boarded the plane we noticed it was an old version with the slightly smaller, older, less comfortable seats.  The older configuration has 24 angle-flat seats on the upper deck while the new configuration has 18 fully flat seats.


Qantas 747 older style Business Class


Qantas 747 older style Business Class

Despite the disappointment over the older seats I was still pretty excited to be in Business Class on the upper deck of a 747 and even more excited when the flight attendants welcomed us onboard by handing us Qantas pajamas with their kangaroo logo on the front.


Qantas Business Class Pajamas


Qantas Business Class Pajamas


Qantas Business Class Pajamas

They also gave us amenities in a bag designed by Kate Spade which Mrs. Potatohead was pretty excited about.


Kate Spade Amenities Bag

The flight attendants offered champagne and newspapers on the ground.  I accepted the former and declined the latter.  Despite the older style, the seats were still very comfortable and they had great storage compartments which I absolutely loved.  It was so convenient to store our carry on bags next to our seats so we didn’t have to get up every time we wanted to pull a pen, or jacket, or pair of headphones out of our bag.


Great storage space right next to the seat

After we reached our cruising altitude the flight attendants came through the cabin to take dinner orders and breakfast order forms for the morning as well as to distribute cards to let Business Class passengers skip the line for customs and immigration in Sydney.  The meal service started shortly thereafter.


Express cards to skip the line at customs & immigration in Australia


Breakfast Order Form for the following morning

We sampled a bit of Australian Beer starting with James Boag’s from Tasmania which wasn’t bad, then tried XXXX Gold from Queensland which was awful, and finally tried James Squire’s Pale Ale which was very good.  For dinner I had a chicken salad and the fish with chili sauce.  There’s not really a nice way to put this, but the food was just not very good – definitely one of the poorer Business Class meals we’ve been given.


James Boag’s Beer from Tasmania


Chicken Salad Starter


Fish with Chili Sauce

After dinner I watched Iron Man 3 on what I would consider to be a very small screen for a Business Class Seat.  Also, the in-flight entertainment system completely shut down before the movie ended and did not come back on for about seven hours which must have been an absolute nightmare for people in economy – seven hours of a flight starring at the blank screen in front of you.  I was a little annoyed at not being able to finish the movie I started but reclined my seat to the sleeping position where I was able to get a good seven hours of sleep despite the slight angle of the seat.


Small, older style screen

We were woken about an hour before we touched down and served a nice breakfast as we were treated to clear views of the Sydney Harbour on our approach.  Using the Express cards we were given on the plane we were through both immigration & customs in a matter of minutes.


Sydney Harbour on our approach

 Overall, we felt we had a decent experience despite a number of shortcomings.  The negatives included the food, the angle flat seats (as opposed to completely flat seats), the small entertainment screens, and the breakdown of the entertainment systems.  The positives were the affable flight attendants, being on the upper deck of the 747, the great storage space next to the seat, the awesome view on Sydney on the landing, and – of course – the Kangaroo PJs.

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