Review: Qantas Economy CHC-MEL (The Best Short Haul Flight Ever)

How I booked the Flight

I booked our flights between Christchurch and Melbourne using 10,000 Avios per passenger. Since the flying time only comes out to around 3 hours, I decided to just book economy and save myself 10k for another time. 

British Airways has a distance based award chart, which is quite lucrative for short haul flights and AMEX runs bonus transfer offers now and then (it is happening as of this moment). 


Boarding for our flight to Melbourne began at around 8:45pm local time, which was an hour behind schedule. The process began with first class followed by Oneworld and Qantas elites. Owing to my AA Platinum status I was able to secure us seats at the front of the cabin, which made it faster and easier to find overhead bin space. The entire process took a matter of 15 minutes to go through (this was only a Boeing 737).

The flight ended up departing exactly one hour after the scheduled time. We ended up taking off to the north followed by a turn to the west toward the Tasmanian Sea. Right after the turn, we were met with some fantastic views of the Waimakariri River and the Southern Alps in the distance.

The View After Departing Christchurch

It always pays to have a window seat when departing New Zealand because for the first hour or so during the flight it was just one awesome view after the other. The setting sun also brought about some beautiful hues in the sky. 

And about 15 minutes into the flight we saw Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook in the evening light. I can’t remember the last time I left the South Island of New Zealand without having seen this sight from the plane. The lake and the blade edge of the mountain are unmistakable. 

Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki

For pretty much the first hour of the flight my face was glued to the window. I’ll have a Vlog video of the flight at some point in the future so stay tuned for that. 

Anyway after enjoying the sunset, I decided to catch a movie on the in-flight entertainment system. I have to say one of the awesome things about Qantas is that they have an IFE on such a short haul flight (by US standards). Virgin Australia certainly didn’t have it and Air New Zealand only had the trivia game playing on its overhead monitors. 

After browsing the selection, I finally ended up watching “When Harry Met Sally,” which I’ve been putting off for quite some time. Though I’m not much into rom-coms, this was definitely one of the best ones I’ve. I can see why it’s a classic and I certainly think more than a dozen other movies have copied the story line.

 

Meal Service

As I was watching I was surprised to find that the FA on our flight came by to confirm my meal order for an Asian Vegetarian Meal. I didn’t rrecall ordering anything, but I suppose my profile filled it in automatically. Again another surprise from Qantas. Who serves meals in economy nowadays on a 3 hour flight?

The meal itself was quite substantial an included an entree, dessert, bread, and pretty much what you would expect on a transatlantic flight! The food quality was quite impressive. I pretty much sampled a bit of everything and I have got to say Qantas scores again in the in-flight meal service department. 

And to top off the meal service, every passenger was handed an ice cream bar just about a half hour before our arrival in Melbourne. Qantas sure knows how to impress travelers. 

The service level on the flight was also extremely impressive. Definitely a notch above any US carrier. The FA must have refilled my drink at least 3 times. It certainly felt like I wasn’t travelling economy at all. 

I opened up the window shade again to see that the sky still had this eternal glow about it even a half hour out of Melbourne. I suppose, New Zealand and Southern Australia are as far south as certain parts of Europe are up North. It was summer after all. 

Arrival into Melbourne

Our arrival into Melbourne was smooth as it could be with us only being about 30 minutes late in the end. After landing we were at the gate in a matter of minutes and at immigration a few minutes later. 

US Citizens are asked to use the electronic kiosks at Melbourne Airport. They are an absolute cinch to use and are very similar to the Global Entry kiosks we have in the U.S. Do note however that US Citizens are required to have an Electronic Travel Authority or E-Visa form already approved before their arrival into Australia.

Australian ETA for US/Canada/UK/European Citizens

The process for getting an ETA is extremely simple. Just visit the Australian immigration page here, and fill out the application after which you will make a payment of 20 AUD. The ETA is valid for one year from the time of your application or until your passport expires (whichever comes first). 

Bottom Line

Qantas is by far the best airline I have flown on any short haul flight ever. They provide a quality meal, ice cream, IFE, and incredible service even on an under 3 hour flight between New Zealand and Australia. This combined with the fact you can redeem BA miles for cheap with them, makes them my favorite carrier in Oceania. Sorry Air New Zealand 🙂  Everything about the experience exceeded my expectations. I can’t wait to try them long haul (they even fly nonstop to DFW from Sydney)

 

TRIP REPORT INDEX:

United Club SFO Concourse F Rotunda
United Global First Lounge – SFO (Now Replaced with the Polaris Lounge)
United NEW Polaris SFO-AKL (777-300ER)
Air New Zealand Economy AKL-CHC
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Crowne Plaza Christchurch
Manaia (Priority Pass) Lounge Christchurch
Qantas Economy Christchurch – Melbourne
Westin Melbourne
Focal Point: The Twelve Apostles
Singapore Airlines First Class Lounge Melbourne
Singapore Airlines First Class Melbourne – Singapore
Singapore Airlines Private Room @ Changi
Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge @ Changi
Singapore Airlines Economy Class Singapore – Hyderabad
Westin Hyderabad Mindspace
Focal Point: Hyderabad – Old City
Plaza Premium Lounge Hyderabad
Etihad Business Class HYD-AUH-DFW
Etihad Business Class Lounge Abu Dhabi
Etihad Business Class Lounge Abu Dhabi (US Departures)