Antarctica Flight QF2904 - 18th January 2015

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Cat207

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Depart BNE 08:17 - Return BNE 21:37
Boeing 747 VH-OEH - Hervey Bay

I received an email invitation from Accor Advantage Plus to join them on an Antarctica Flight - the second only non-stop flight from Brisbane. The package included two nights at the Sofitel Brisbane Central, pre-dinner drinks and three course dinner with the Qantas Captain, Antarctica Flights rep, Sofitel rep, and ex-Antarctica residents as guest speakers, airport transfers, the charter flight to Antarctica with full Qantas onboard service, and a DVD that was to be filmed from the under wing camera during the flight.

Prices ranged from $1395 to just under $9k - depending on seating. We chose the cheapest seats (centre/centre on a 3-4-3 config) as I was told that most people are moving around the cabin for the best views and only required to be seated for take off and landing.

We checked in to the Sofitel on 17th and were given a room on the 20th floor, with 2 x complimentary drinks vouchers, choccies, and bottled water each day. In our room were 2 x Antarctica Flights souvenir bags with goodies. One of the books is signed by the author who was on our flight.

Souvenir bag
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Cat207

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Pre-dinner drinks were held in the Cuvee Bar and the dinner was in Prive, the private dining room just off the main restaurant area. The pre-flight dinner was an opportunity to meet other passengers, hear a bit about our upcoming journey from the Captain, and learn about everyday life in Antarctica by some who have experienced it first hand.


Pre-flight dinner
Entree
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Main
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Dessert
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Cat207

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As this was a charter flight, QFF status has no bearing. No points or status credits are earned and seat selection is not possible. At the pre-flight dinner I asked the AF rep about the possibility of exit row / bulk head seats but he said the boarding passes were already printed. When he checked our seating allocation he found that we had been upgraded to A & B in row 48, which swaps to 48C & D halfway through the flight for fairness of views out of the window.

We met in the hotel lobby at 6am, for a quick coffee, and a coach transfer to the airport. We were issued our boarding passes then headed to the Qantas Business Lounge (I’m a QF WP) along with our new friends from dinner who were travelling in business (Ice) class.

Boarding passes
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Our big bird in the background
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Hervey Bay VH-OEH
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Cat207

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We were due to board at 07:00 for a 07:30 departure but there was a delay while (we later found out) the toilet tanks were emptied from the previous flight. As it was, all but two toilets were locked a couple of hours out of Brisbane on the return because the tanks were full.

After take off we were handed our menu for the day, and breakfast was served as we flew south down the coast.

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Breakfast
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Tasmanian coast
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Throughout the flight we had almost constant commentary from the flight deck. All guest speakers have official clearance to be able to access the flight deck for this purpose. We had radio contact with Aurora Australis, the ship that takes supplies to Antarctica, and also with Casey Base, including a man working there speaking to his wife who was on our flight. She couldn’t speak to him, but she did get to hear his voice for the first time in many months.

From the time we saw the first ice, people were constantly moving about the cabin and I was surprised at how civilised and polite it all was.

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Cat207

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Now I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but honestly the photos don’t do it justice. It was beautiful, majestic, pristine and totally awesome.

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RB

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Ok please tell us how many photos you took!
Looking forward to seeing more of the trip report.
 

Cat207

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This is the flight path from the IFE but I don't have the total kms flown as the IFE had to be reset about halfway through the flight. I think it was between 8,000 and 9,000. I have been waiting a week for Qantas on Facebook to send me through the flight plan and will update here if / when I receive it.

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We touched down at 21:37 after a very long day of wing-flapping. Those that wanted were able to visit the flight deck, but as we have done this before, and as we had a coach to take us back to the Sofitel, we gave it a miss.

I had previously read that some people were disappointed by their Antarctica Flight, but I have no regrets at all. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will make for great conversation for years to come, made even better by the only upgrade I have ever received while flying.
 

opusman

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Great report, thanks!

Were you happy with your choice of economy? Do you think Y+ or J would have been any better in terms of sight-seeing?
 
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Cat207

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Ok please tell us how many photos you took!
Looking forward to seeing more of the trip report.

Can you believe I forgot to take my camera! I used my iPad and iPhone and took about 100 photos. My partner had his camera but I have no idea how many he took, and haven't seen them yet. The last 6 were taken by the onboard photographer and emailed to me by Accor.
 

Cat207

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Great report, thanks!

Were you happy with your choice of economy? Do you think Y+ or J would have been any better in terms of sight-seeing?

Very happy, but probably only because of the upgrade from centre seat to window seat. I may have been disappointed if I'd had to sit in the middle of the cabin as there were only 6 spare seats on the flight.

I don't think Y+ or J would have made any difference to sight seeing as even those paying $9k had to swap seats halfway through the flight. They probably got to drink better than Jacobs Creek, and probably from glass instead of plastic though.
 

JohnM

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Interesting flight path along the coast of Antarctica, rather than deeper into the continent. Do you know whether that is typical or was it weather/visibility related?

Sounds a bit ugly if only two toilets were functional for most of the trip.
 
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Thanks for the great trip report. We've flown SYD - JNB and the path was quite similar in that we headed south over Tasmania then west along the edge of the sea ice, could see land as well but not as clearly or close as yours.
It's certainly a thought for the future.
 
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