How cough is QF?

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Feb 21, 2006

The power of none

Heading off to Africa last week I fully intended to do some blogging in transit. Little did I know I'd be powerless in the air!

My flight from Sydney to Johannesburg is a Qantas-South African Airways code-share in a Qantas Boeing 747-400. Soon after takeoff I plug my laptop into the handy power outlet in my business class "Skybed" seat and settle in for a few hours work.

But my seat has no juice! A "reboot" fails to fix the problem which, I'm told, will be logged for repair. As the flight is full I can't change seats. Anyway, my seat isn't the only dud one.

A week later the very same thing happens on my return flight!

Once again it's a Qantas jumbo. I get a different seat but again it's juiceless! The entertainment system works but not the power outlet. And once again I note several other seats with the identical problem.

Business passengers rightly expect to be able to continue working while aloft. Seat power for laptops is, in fact, a business class selling point.

Did I just strike it unlucky two flights in succession or did I encounter a common frustration?

Before I fly again I'm first going to study these new-fangled Industrial Relations laws. Perhaps there's a productivity clause covering me for unwarranted power blackouts.

March 26, 2006 10:06 PM

No, it's actually probably the attendant's fault! I had the exact same issue on a Japan Air Lines flight. Over and over again, they said that the system was working fine, and that it must be my laptop. Then they changed their mind, and said that the seat was broken.
Then the attendant asked the purser: she took the power system into "on-line" mode (or some such) and the magic LED came on. Pow-aaahhh!
Plus this flight had in-flight internet, so I was able to work online for 8 hours or so on the leg to Europe. Can't get away from work.... :-(

Posted by: The Ben at March 27, 2006 07:28 AM
I do a fair amount of travelling and I've lost count of the numebr of QANTAS seats I've had where there was no power. Always the same. A reboot is tried, but it doesn't fix the problem. It might seems a small thing to some, but if I'm going to be stuck in the air then I want to be productive. That way I can save my "spare" time for when I'm on the ground with my family.

I suppose if you don't have any power you won't notice you don't have access to the broadband offered by other airlines these days.

Strangley, I've never had a problem on any other airline.

Posted by: John at March 27, 2006 06:36 AM
I would imagine you're not the only one with technical problems on a flight. I regularly take a Qantas flight back and forth from Australia to Europe, sitting in Economy. OK, so the flight is always fine and the service is good. But when they heavily promote their entertainment system, and stick a ruddy big grey box on the floor in front (where your legs should go) to support it, you expect the thing to work. I have to say the majority of the time it doesn't. Rebooting usually doesn't fix it either. And sound quality is downright lousy. While I feel for your frustration, at least you can lie back and sleep! Realising half an hour into a 21 hour flight in an economy seat that your system is stuffed is not a good feeling!

Posted by: Greg at March 27, 2006 02:21 AM
It's happened to me several times on Qantas on the 14 hour Sydney - LA route. Perhaps if the federal government opened up those routes to competition Qantas might take passenger service deliver a little more seriously. Until then there should be some kind of refund for the hours stuck in a seat with little to do.

Posted by: Virt Atomican at March 27, 2006 02:00 AM


Mar 23, 2006
Laptop Power

I have seen it mentioned that the laptop power outlets are limited to less than 75W of power anything over that seems to trip out that outlet.

You may need to check your laptop transformer for its power draw.

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Aug 27, 2004
LT Gold
Re: Laptop Power

abtwo said:
I have seen it mentioned that the laptop power outlets are limited to less than 75W of power anything over that seems to trip out that outlet.

You may need to check your laptop transformer for its power draw.

My IBM Thinkpad power supply is rated at 100VA. That does not mean that it draws the full complement when in use. It works fine with the Skybed and F seats.

However, I have found that the physical connection can be a little dodgy at times, You insert the plug and twist, and I found that sometimes when using an Aussie plug it just does not make a reliable connection. I have found that using a USA plug adapter on my Aussie plug makes for a more reliable connection on the Skybed and F seats.
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