Saturday, 5 January 2013

Trip report 13: MEL-BNE (QF C); Hilton Brisbane; BNE-SYD (QF C)

Getting back to Tullamarine was a lot easier than getting there, probably because it wasn't rush hour and raining hard. I'm flying QF Business Class as a way of burning my small and now much shrunken pile of BA Avios, after last times experiences, I would be very dubious about paying for QF Domestic Business and after this time, I certainly wouldn't pay for it.

I used the self-service check-in and bag drop and went quickly through priority security who were pleasant as I got called for a swab. Straight off after that to the Qantas Club where I proceeded to have an early lunch - remembering the catering debacles of last time. Some sliced meat, some cheese, some bread and a couple of long blacks and I was pretty much set up, which turned out to be a good idea. 

Boarding onto the 737-800 was on time and my seat opponent was a nice little old lady off to Brisbane for Christmas. Service was fairly prompt, but I was quite shocked that "lunch" had been downgraded again, it was a hot meal or salad. Now it was a "plate", the choice being cheese or cheese by the time they got to me. The cheese plate was scattered with nuts, so I declined and just had a peppermint tea.

(For those that don't know, I have a minor nut allergy, walnuts and pecans, so I avoid anything that contains "nuts" especially chopped mixed nuts. Most are fine, but I'd rather not take the risk.)

Anyway, we arrived at Brisbane on time, bags came off fairly quickly and I found myself in a taxi within about 20 minutes of landing. The driver took a somewhat unusual route to get to the Hilton, which was a bit more expensive that I was used to. His excuse was "traffic". I got the usual warm welcome and my room was ready, it was a corner room on the executive floor which meant it was a little larger than other rooms at this hotel, it has also been recently refurbished, a nice room with a good view down towards Eagle Pier.

I did pop up to the lounge for canapes, but it was rammed (which I find to be uncomfortable) and so I just had a glass of water and left. I then wandered through the refurbished Wintergarden up to Queen Street and then down to the Eagle Street Pier where I had a nice plate of linguine with Moreton Bay Bugs and a glass of white wine.

Brisbane was a bit of a whirl as I only had two full days there. The friday was breakfast with one friend, lunch with another, an afternoon at the art gallery which was very enjoyable and then dinner at the hotel with a third friend. The bar meals at vintaged are very good and what was once a dead hotel bar now seems to be somewhat of a hot spot.

The second full day was nearly as busy. Laundry in the morning, a bit of serious beer drinking at lunch time with friends and then a, ahem, date in the evening. It was a very nice date. It was probably a good job that I was so busy, because the hotel had changed their wifi provider. The new service hadn't quite done their maths right and getting onto wifi involved sitting by the door with the mac on top of the in-room safe.

However, apart from that, a solid performance by the Hilton Brisbane as usual. Lounge breakfasts were superb, I didn't investigate the lounge at other times except to notice that afternoon tea was sparser than I remember, but at the same time, there were very few people up there for afternoon tea.

On check-out I was offered a very reasonably priced airport transfer in a better car rather than the sometimes scabby Brisvegas taxis. 50 AUD wasn't much more than I paid for the taxi in and it was a much better experience.

Check in at BNE was the same self-service job, but the lounge was fine if rather full. My flight incurred a delay, which meant I got to see the bar open and a very good selection of food come out. I made a decent lunch out of the offerings, the cheeses and salads were very good.

We eventually left on the 767-300 about 90 minutes late, my seat opponent was a hot Maori guy. There was a cheese plate or a ploughmans and i declined both, one was scattered with nuts and the other looking minging and microscopic.

Despite leaving so late, we had a pretty direct run into SYD and only arrived 65 minutes late, SYD bags take a while to come off so, I popped outside into the sunshine before they came off and then it was in by taxi to the hotel.

All in all, I am no longer impressed with QF's domestic J, I do like the lounges though.

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