Flight Review, Qantas Airways (QF1360/QF1361), Sydney (SYD) to Longreach (LRE)
Date Flown 20/10/2018.
On 20 October 2018, Qantas operated a special fundraising flight to Longreach in Outback Queensland. This flight was put on to help out our battling Aussie farmers who are suffering from the effects of the severe drought throughout regional parts of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
[READ MORE] All aboard a special charity flight to Longreach with Qantas!
The day started with a special invite into the Qantas Domestic Business Class Lounge in the Sydney Domestic Terminal (T3) prior to boarding flight QF1360 to Longreach, passing through the security early on a Saturday morning was simple and straightforward with no queue in sight. As this was a special charted flight, boarding passes were given out to each passenger at the lounge.
Upon entering the lounge a separate section was cordoned off where all of us passengers were able to congregate and chat to other fellow passengers prior to departure. There were some delicious food items available such as bacon and egg sliders, smoked salmon bagels, freshly made muffins, fruit skewers as well as poached eggs served with hummus, grilled cauliflower, spinach and chickpeas.
Drinks were also supplied with orange juice, champagne, mimosas, Bloody Marys, sparkling water and coffee provided to all guests. The lounge had waiters on hand that were constantly walking around offering drinks and food items, so even if you couldn’t get to the food, the food came to you!
A small stage was set up in the lounge with Channel Seven Sports Editor and self-confessed Aviation Geek, Jim Wilson being our host and MC for the day, he proudly thanked everyone for their participation in the fundraising flight and hoped that we all enjoyed the flight to Longreach.
“It’s all about having fun today, it’s going to be a really special Saturday, and I can’t wait to get on QF1360, we’re going to have a hoot” he commented.
Jim Wilson handed over the microphone to Andrew David, Qantas’ own Domestic and Freight Chief Executive Officer to speak to all of us who were participating in this flight.
“I welcome all of you [to experience] some of the wonderful things that you are going to see and be party to today, the auction we’ve got, the raffle we’ve got going and of course the opportunity to visit the museum in Longreach”Andrew David, Qantas Domestic and Freight CEO.
“I know you’re going to enjoy yourself, and I do want to recognise our engineer, our two pilots and our cabin crew who have all volunteered their time to take you up to Longreach and take you back. Please enjoy, welcome and thank you” he added.Andrew David, Qantas Domestic and Freight CEO.
Qantas mentioned that this flight would be unlike any other you have been on before, with special auctions during the flight at 36,000ft, entry to the Qantas Founders Museum, a sunset BBQ alongside the iconic Qantas Hangar in Longreach, along with entertainment provided by local musicians in Longreach and one special music performance in the lounge.
Throughout the morning Qantas promotional crew were offering passengers the choice of purchasing raffle tickets, three tickets were $50 with all funds going directly to Rural Aid. The prize on offer was the ‘Accor Ultimate Indulgence’ package which included five nights of accommodation in some of Australia’s most affluent hotels, as well as giving the winner a year of Accor Plus Membership. For every three tickets that were purchased you were entered into a second draw which was for one lucky winner to walk on the wing of a Boeing 747 at the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach.
Charles Alder the CEO of Rural Aid couldn’t thank us enough for helping out and supporting his foundation which currently receives no government funding. Rural Aid provides far more than just giving money to our battling farmers, they have 11 counsellors on hand that call in and visit farmers to sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and have a chat, breaking up the monotony of working day to day. Rural Aid also helps out communities with their ‘Farm Days’ where volunteers head out to a property and help to build sheds, renovate homes, fix fences and servicing machinery just to name a few things. The funding which Rural Aid relies upon is generously donated from individuals, businesses, families and large organisations, such as Qantas and by participating in today’s event we are all helping out our struggling farmers.
“Thank you to Qantas, and thank you to all of you who have bought a ticket on today’s flight, because the money from your ticket will come to us (Rural Aid) and we will be able to buy more hay and provide more counsellors. We will be able to support our Australian Rural Communities”Charles Adler, Rural Aid CEO.
Passengers were guested to a special performance by ARIA Hall of Fame recipient Daryl Braithwaite before boarding. Daryl Braithwaite was a lead singer in Sherbet during the 70’s, but he is better known for his song ‘Horses’. It has become one of Australia’s top anthems which everyone has sung along to at one point. Much to the delight of everyone in the lounge he sung ‘Days Go By’ and an extremely extended version of ‘Horses’ allowing all of us in the lounge to join in and sing along.
Before leaving the lounge and boarding the flight to Longreach, I managed to get a photo with Daryl Braithwaite as well as an autograph too, just something special to remember the day by.
A boarding call was announced throughout the lounge and we all made or way to the gate.
As I arrived at the gate I was surprised to see that we had a special livery aircraft and extremely excited to see that it was Mendoowoorrji. Believe it or not, this is the first time I have ever flown on this aircraft since it came into service in 2013.
As boarding commenced I was one of the very first to step onto the aircraft. The cabin was decorated in special commemorative headrest covers as well as a gift bag and a commemorative Qantas cap left on each seat.
The flight, QF1360 departed Sydney airport on Runway 34L (RWY34L) at 1300hrs (1:00pm), the sky was clear throughout the entire flight as we flew at a cruising altitude of 36,000ft.
As soon as the seatbelt sign was turned off the inflight service began, all the crew had huge smiles on their faces and all of us on board knew that it was going to be an amazing flight. An outback inspired beverage was offered, a tequila and orange cocktail was handed out throughout the cabin, and everyone on board received a commemorative Qantas Drought Relief coaster that we could keep as a souvenir.
The meal service followed soon after with a special VIP charter meal offered, consisting of a fresh garden salad and a chicken pie. Throughout the flight the cabin crew were embracing the outback theme, all wearing their Akubra’s on board.
A full range of beverages were available on board, including beer, white wine, red wine, champagne, soft drink and sparkling water.
Half way through the flight it was auction time, Jim Wilson hosted the inflight auction, auctioning off a special First Class lunch with Qantas Captain Lisa Norman, with the winning bidder able to invite a guest along to accompany them into the First Class Lounge at Sydney Airport, and hear all about the tales of the inaugural Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner service from Perth to London along with many more tales from the cockpit.
Also, up for grabs in the auction was a Bali getaway courtesy of Qantas, staying at the Four Seasons Hotel. The final item for the inflight auction is perfect for any aviation geek and 747 collector, there were original items from the now retired Qantas Boeing 747-400, VH-OJM. Items included the original cabin crew handset, 1A panelling, business class cocktail table and cabin reading light.
Once the auction was concluded a second meal service came around offering a freshly made cream filled lamington. It simply doesn’t get any more Australian than that! Drinks were topped up throughout the flight, right up until the descent into Longreach.
Longreach Airport isn’t a huge airport, and its main runway (RWY04/RWY22) is only 1,939m long. The captain gave us a warning prior to landing that we would be coming to an almost instant stop, as the wheels touched the ground sure enough the brakes were applied. We touched down at 1358hrs (1:58pm).
The Qantas Founders Museum pulled out all the stops, even having one of their historic motorised stairs lining up with the front left aircraft door allowing passengers to disembark. The State Member for Gregory, Lachlan Miller and the mayor of Longreach Ed Warren both made an announcement over the aircrafts PA system thanking everyone for making the trip up to Longreach and welcoming us all to Outback Queensland.
Both the State Member for Gregory and the mayor of Longreach were there at the bottom of the stairs to greet everyone with an Aussie handshake as we disembarked the aircraft.
We were free to photograph the plane prior to making our way to the terminal, being the AvGeek that I am there was no way I would turn down this offer, especially since it was a special livery aircraft.
VH-XZJ ‘Mendoowoorrji’ is one of the aircrafts in Qantas’ Flying Art Series. It was inspired by the work of late Western Australian Aboriginal painter, Paddy Bedford. Mendoowoorrji is an interpretation of the painting ‘Medicine Pocket’ which captures the essence of Bedford’s mother country called Mendoowoorrji. The design took over 950 people hours to complete over five days and used 500 litres of paint in the process.
This aircraft will stay parked at Longreach Airport throughout the day and we will later board the same aircraft back home to Sydney, but for now it’s time to explore the Qantas Founders Museum. Busses were provided to transport us between the airport and the museum, we all had over five hours to explore the Museum.
One thing that really surprised me the most was just how hot and dry it is in Longreach, sure we all see it on the news and think that its bad, but it’s not until you actually step foot in one of these drought affected regions just how severe it is. Hearing stories of the struggles that farmers are going through are just unbelievable, it’s not something you would wish upon anyone. Longreach and the greater region have been in drought for the last seven years.
“We know it will rain sometime, but we have to maintain that positivity.” Said Ed Warren, Longreach Mayor.
As the sunset barbeque came to end, we all had to board the bus back to the Airport, as we arrived into the terminal there was a huge security screening line. I don’t think the airport is used to 174 passengers passing through at once.
Everyone was still just as excited as we were when we boarded the aircraft in the morning, just a bit exhausted. The crew were more than happy to pose for photos before boarding.
As always Mendoowoorrji was looking spectacular with the luminous outback sunset in the background marking the end of an amazing day in Outback Queensland.
Before we departed Longreach a few items of lost property were found, no one owned up to the missing black hat and sunnies. One of the crew members on board used the aisle as a catwalk and strutted her stuff while wearing the items of lost property in question. It was hilarious but much to the disappointment to the passengers at the back of the aircraft the owner, sitting in row 10, quickly owned up to the items and the show was over.
On the flight back home to Sydney a cheese box was handed out and as quick refreshment, as well as the full beverage service, there was more than enough food and drink on offer for the one and a half hour flight to Sydney. The return flight was far more relaxed as everyone was exhausted and a few passengers managed to catch up on some sleep. The flight landed back in Sydney at 2213hrs (10:13pm). The cabin crew thanked us all for being part of the days events and for helping out our struggling farmers.
Every little bit we can do to help out our farmers is a huge benefit to Australia and the region as well as providing support to the farmer and their family. It’s great to see Qantas, a huge organisation helping out where they can and to be able to donate $3 Million dollars to Rural Aid is incredible.
Thank you Qantas for organising this fundraising flight, everyone on board had an amazing time and as one of those passengers on board I am incredibly grateful that I was able to participate in this fundraising flight. A huge thanks also needs to be given to all the crew, pilots and Qantas staff on board who all donated their time. Everything that helped get this aircraft off the ground was donated by various organisations and all the funds raised from the flight goes directly to Rural Aid.
If you were unable to get a ticket on the flight to Longreach, please consider making a donation to Rural Aid.
To make a donation please click here.
The farmers, their families and their communities need all the help they can get, every single bit helps. We can’t make it rain, but we can lessen the effects that this severe drought is having on our farmers.
If you wanted to help out in a huge way why not consider a holiday in Outback Queensland, spend a few days exploring Longreach, check out the Qantas Founders Museum along with its surrounding towns, explore the region where this great, iconic Australian airline was born.
Qantas operate daily flights from Brisbane to Longreach, so there is no excuse not to check out this great regional town.
Thank you Qantas, Rural Aid, Qantas Founders Museum and all the staff and crew on board who made this flight a huge success.
Disclaimer: All the reviews are simply a summary of my experience and opinions from my own point of view. Unless stated, all of the flights and experiences are paid for by myself as a self-funded frequent flyer. No articles or reviews are influenced in any way by a third party or company.