The atmosphere aboard our Qantas jetliner was relaxed as we cruised the stratosphere. I could hear the delicate clink of crystal as a couple toasted an anniversary. Gentle laughter as the crew joked with a passenger while delivering a piccolo of Champagne. The light clatter of silverware against fine china as another person finished their meal. These were sounds I was accustomed to, these sounds of Business Class… emanating from somewhere ahead of me.

On this flight I was a coach potato, sitting in Economy Class amongst the other coach potatoes.

QF649 – Cairns to Brisbane (CNS-BNE)
21 April 2016
Boeing 737-838 VH-VXQ ‘Retro Roo II’
Seat: Economy 5A
Departure: 12:55 Arrival: 15:05

Pre-flight I was holed up eating scones in the Cairns Qantas Club with my Mum when I noticed a familiar aircraft landing. It was Retro Roo II, the second Qantas Boeing 737 painted in a historical livery. Much to my pleasure the aircraft taxied right by the lounge so I took a picture or seventeen!

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Our flight was departing from Gate 19. As luck would have it, we were going to be on Retro Roo II – a wonderful unexpected bonus! We proceeded to the gate around 10 minutes before boarding so we would be nicely ahead in the priority queue. Qantas use a silver on black scheme for their priority customers which looks quite chic. Aer Lingus use the same colours for their Business Class menu covers and it never fails to look fantastic.

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Boarding commenced and we were number two and number three coach potatoes on board the aircraft. The Qantas interior is quite nicely designed with charcoal fabric seats in Economy class.

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The seats look quite elegant in the white cabin and I daresay the colour results in the seats being easier to keep clean. The view from row 5 allowed us to see a sliver of the Business class cabin which we’d regrettably not be sitting in today.

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I like the Perspex divider between Business and Economy. This features a motif similar to what can be seen elsewhere in Qantas. Sitting in Economy class, row 4 is probably the pick of the bunch. As you can see here there is oodles of leg room as it is immediately behind Business class.

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Leg room in row 5 is standard for the cabin and is ample enough for me. The seat pitch of 30″ is average for Economy class on any airline that aspires to be world class.

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With a nod to the tablet generation, it is possible to pop your tablet into the top of the seat in front so you can watch movies. Qantas has Q-Streaming on a lot of their aircraft, where you can stream content from the aircraft to your own device.

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The usual Qantas livery is Euro-white, featuring the iconic kangaroo. Here it is on the aircraft at the gate beside us.

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Soon enough, it was time for the safety video. The Qantas video is relatively new and is a real showcase of Australia. Watch this as it is very well done and reminds me very much of home. This video is for the Airbus A380 which is virtually identical to the one for the Boeing 737.

Not long after that we were in the air and on the way to Brisbane. This was the view of Cairns Airport during the initial climb out.

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After turning south, the Great Barrier Reef was on the left hand side of the aircraft. As luck would have it, that was where I was sitting today. We flew along with the reef below us for a good deal of time and it was a wonderful sight!

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Our flight was at lunch time and I was very interested to see what Qantas was serving in Economy class. The meals had been simplified, made healthier and presented differently. The crew arrived and with their friendly Australian manner enquired as to what I would like to eat and drink. I choose the Garden Fresh Frittata and a Sparkling Mineral Water.

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It wouldn’t win any prizes in the size stakes – especially for a two hour flight – however I was hardly in a position to complain. With western countries drowning in obesity it’s probably a good thing the portion size was bordering on petite! Opening the box revealed a pretty decent looking meal.

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I found it slightly difficult to eat with the plastic knife and fork. They were fairly chunky in the Qantas style and not really great for navigating the frittata hugging box.

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For those wondering about the provenance of my frittata, look no further!

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Australia is a wonderful country to go flying as the weather is usually spectacular. You can usually see quite a long distance from the air and this flight was no exception.

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The Qantas inflight magazine features quite a few pages so it must be quite a profitable publication. One thing that made me smile, which to me was a big indicator of modern Australia, was an advertisement for a gay match making service.

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Very unexpected and definitely a sign of how far attitudes in Australia have changed. The view continued to be excellent throughout the remainder of the flight.

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We landed in Brisbane on time and off we went to the lounge to wait for our next flight.

Overall Thoughts

I was on sector three of a four sector trip with Qantas domestically and this was the only one in Economy class. My experience as a coach potato was completely fine. A single friendly service with food delivered and collected promptly broke up the flight nicely. A more substantial meal is not required considering most people snack at the airport. There were no offers of top ups or additional snacks but that is usual for a two hour flight. Food service is much better than what is offered in Economy class on European and American carriers. It’s free, healthy and an adequate portion size.

Australians are spoiled domestically with Qantas and I’m certainly not going to complain about that!

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