MEL-SYD the Unfriendly way

This is Part 2 of my August 7th, 2010 journey from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia to Chicago, Illinois, USA flying United Airlines. Part 1 here.

I now boarded my 747 Jumbo at Melbourne airport- the blue colouring on the 747 looks great -you got to admit the 747 as a plane is a beautiful looking aircraft (While a delight to fly, I think the A380 looks ugly).  Plane was overall clean but economy looked tatty. This is only the third time I have flown a jumbo between  Melbourne and Sydney (out of over 100 flights between the two cities)

Up to this point all my dealings had been with United Australian ground crew and they had all been superb.  On board things changed. The welcome aboard was perfunctory and dismissive. I did get told where my seat was. As a very frequent flyer Qantas staff will personally welcome me by name. United? A grumpy: "across and right"

On board, the Cabin Crew were mostly in the galleys chatting. I helped one elderly woman lift her bag up as the crew watched-  no offence but United crews all look old!! Qantas and Air NZ have a mix of age groups. I guess seniority means that only people over 50 will pull the Aussie flights more often. Maybe that's why they could not help passengers with boarding or is it a United thing not to help?

The Texan guy sitting next to me (wearing an Akubra) had flown Houston-Los Angeles -Syd-Mel arriving into Mel Thurs. He had been to a two day Conference (Thursday and Friday) and was now flying back on the Saturday!!

Me: so did you see anything of Australia?
Texan: nope
Me: been before?
Texan: nope
Me: that's a Shame to come all that way and not see anything?

At least he got to the Akubra shop in his hotel! Each to their own I suppose, but surely Melbourne one of the world most liveable cities is worth an extra day after the Conference.
For the safety briefing the Flight Attendant (FA) looked at her nails. I was interested that the crew did not even point to the nearest emergency exits! I thought every safety demo did that! Perception is everything and I definitely feel a little safer with Qantas, Air NZ and many other airlines who look like they take it seriously. The FA did notice the woman who got out of her seat to take her jacket off as we taxied!

As we sat on the tarmac waiting to take off, I asked the FA sitting opposite me , how her visit had been. She shrugged: I've been here like 20 times. 
I asked where she stayed in Sydney? "at the Novotel"', she said.
Oh I said "near the airport?"
She said "I don't know they just take us there "
End of conversation. Welcome aboard the friendly skies!?

My experience Is that United take offs are much more harried than Qantas. -its as if the Pilots are more impatient to take off or maybe they are used to the American airports which are very frenetic? This one was a nice take off albeit bouncy with the strong winds. I enjoy United's Channel 9 where you can listen to the Pilot talk to the Air Traffic Controllers. The Australian ATC staff sounded so calm and professional. Well done and thank you for looking after us.

Meal (?) service consisted of orange juice, a choice of another drink and a packet of mini pretzels (made in Ohio). More than Virgin gives for free for the same route but less than Qantas offerings. With the plane only  a quarter full, meal service was over quickly and cabin crew could get back to chatting in the galley.

On Board Entertainment System: 
United has still not upgraded their system in economy -so we have little roof mounted TV screens with one video program and 12 music channels. Qantas, Air New Zealand and V all have on board seat back entertainment systems with multiple channels.

Welcome aboard: 3 out Of ten
Cabin Crew: 1 out Of ten
Beverage / Meal Service: 6 out of ten
Entertainment: 2 out of ten 
Farewell from plane: 4 out of ten

So total for MEL-SYD  16 out of 50
(I gave the ground part 50 out of 50 so total score 66 out of 100!)
As I went through security i chatted to a Qantas stewardess who was also off to LA (working). She smilingly rebuked me for flying United saying "you will be back"
After this flight, she may be right.

Part Three of this trip shares my experience of SYD to LAX.
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