This would be my first trip to Melbourne for personal reasons. My previous three had all been for work. I had decided to visit Melbourne as the reporting structure of my work had changed and it looked like I was regularly going to be sent to Brisbane instead of Melbourne. So I thought to would be good to have an actual proper look at this city and to visit a good friend who I new since I was 5 years old.
My step dad drove me to the airport and I was dropped outside the front of the very busy Qantas domestic terminal at 10am. I know many other A.netters have commented how ridiculously overcrowded Perth’s domestic terminals are and parking is a nightmare. I did not need to collect my boarding pass as I had checked in online the night before. The line for the quick baggage drop was huge. They really ought to rethink that name. Because I was a silver frequent flyer I was able to bypass that line and go straight to the business class line. I was processed in a matter of seconds and was told that boarding would begin at 10:55 through gate two. I thought gate two was rather odd as all the Qantas domestic 747 flights I have seen or flew on operated from gate 4 using the stairs and then after the terminal extension gate 3. Gate two at the Qantas domestic terminal is perfect fro the 747 as it is the only gate in Perth that is equipped with a dual aerobridge.
I passed through security and there were no long lines which I was expecting because it was the school holidays and it was a 747 flight. The last time I flew under those circumstances the security line at Perth Airport was so long it snaked the entire length of the terminal. Once I reached the upstairs departure level of the terminal I could see that 747-338 VH-EBW was parked in gate three. That’s odd I thought it is so close to boarding time and this is the only 747 at the terminal and it is at a different gate. I checked the boards and yep I was still departing from gate 2.
An announcement soon came over the P.A that due to operational issues there would be an aircraft swap and that this would delay our boarding. I was actually looking forward on flying on VH-EBW as I had not flown on her yet and she was the same 747 that had the landing gear collapse in Rome. At about 10:40am A QF747-338 landed on runway 21. I presume this would be my ride as Qantas no longer operate 747s on international routes out of Perth. The aircraft turned our to be VH-EBV which I had previously flew on from Melbourne in September last year. She parked in gate two and held for a while with her engine running. A power generator was hooked up and the engines were shut down. I guess she had an inoperative APU. It’s amazing to think that two Qantas 747s were parked at the domestic terminal at Perth at the same time. How things have changed. I remember when this terminal first opened it only had two aerobridges and was operated by Australian airlines who at the time flew 737s to Perth.
The Sydney passenger’s deboarded and our plane was cleaned and loaded for the flight to Melbourne. Boarding call went out for the Sydney bound passengers on VH-EBW and they were called by row numbers. Soon after our flight began to board. No announcement went out for some time and then when they did finally do the announcement everyone had formed a line and no one was listening to the row numbers that we were to board to.
I boarded through door 2L and was greeted by two male stewards. I headed to the rear of the plane and found my seat. I had a great view of the wing and the classic Rolls Royce number 1 engine. The plane soon filled up and was getting quite hot due to the lack of air-conditioning because of the inoperative APU. Two English girls aged about 14 and 15 sat in the two seats next to me. They were obviously sisters as they were squabbling and their mum told them to shut it. Quite hilarious I thought.
The captain came over the P.A and welcomed us onboard and apologized for the delay but due an aircraft swap was needed as VH-EBW needed to fly back to Sydney as she needed some maintenance. Apparently both aircraft landed in Perth early but neither one could depart till they were both on the ground so they could do a crew swap. So our flight crew must have operated VH-EBW on the inbound leg. The captain also apologized for the heat in the cabin but our APU was not working and that provides us with cooling on the ground. He informed us that we would be starting a couple of engines at the gate and then we would pushback and then start the remainder of the engines. He also informed us that the flight would be just under two hours due to some favorable winds and that would affect our flight plan as we would be crossing the Australian bite a lot further north than we would usually.
It was now 12pm and we were 35mins late already. And we were still sitting at the gate. The captain came over the P.A to inform us that the tow bar that connects us to the two tug had broke and they awaiting a strong enough one to be delivered from the international terminal as the ones at the domestic terminal would not be able to push us back as we weighed 290tones. That was fine as I was able to watch a Qantas Boeing 737-838 VH-VXG pushback from gate 1. After about a five to ten minute wait our engines were started the air-conditioning was turned on and we pushed back from the gate.
The safety demonstration was played on the PTVs and we taxied and held short of runway 21. The taxiway from the Domestic terminal to the threshold of runway 21 is quite narrow and the number 1 engine was hanging over the edge of the taxi way. We held for some time and then we taxied into position. This would be my 1st 747 takeoff from Perth since November 27 1992 on a BA744 G-BNLJ. This would be my eleventh 747 ride and my 4th 747-300 series flight..
The throttles were opened and we began our takeoff roll. The takeoff roll was quite long. Once airborne we were buffeted quite heavily by turbulence.. We turned left to the east shortly after takeoff and the flaps were retracted. The entertainment system was turned on and I tuned into air show. I could see that we were initially flying at FL280. We were informed by the CSM and lunch would begin shortly and that he would be screening the movies soon after a brief special on how to avoid DVT on the plane. QF 743 are not equipped with AVOD and they have less selection than the QF 744s and QF333s but at least they have PTVs. I decide to watch the Queen as I had seen parts of it when it was on the Golden Globes. Hard to believe that Princess Di died ten years ago.
I waited till the special of cold play finished then the Queen began. During the movie lunch was served. Today’s choice was the very boring tomatoes and pasta or tomato and chicken. I opted for the chicken and like most of the flights I have been on they always seem to run out of my choice when they get to me and have to restock the cart. I guess meals would have sounded more appetizing but surly steward was not making them sound good.
The meal tasted ok but the best part was the Twix bar. After all the meals were distributed the crew came around with trumpet ice-cream. I briefly switched from the movie to sky show and saw that we had climbed to FL380 and had crossed the bite. During the movie and about 30mins out of Adelaide we hit some very heavy turbulence. I thought nothing about it till we dropped and started swing side to side. Many people’s empty trays flew off their tray tables and a lot of babies and kids started to cry. Everyone had to hold onto their trays. I was actually really scary. The engine was swinging on its pylon and we were really being thrown about. The scariest part about it was the noise. The engines seem to spool up very quickly then cut right back. The seatbelt signs came on and the crew returned to their seats. The captain came over the P.A and told us that we had encountered 190knt hour winds from the west and we were descending to a lower altitude to escape much of the turbulence. I switched again from movie mode to air show mode on the PTV and saw we had descended to FL360 but we were still encountering heavy turbulence. We eventually descended to FL310 and remained at that altitude for the remainder of the flight.
We flew directly over Adelaide but it was obscured by cloud. I decided to get some sleep before we land and the turbulence had gone so I shouldn’t be jolted awake. I woke up about ten minutes before descent and saw we were flying in cloud yet there was no turbulence. The captain informed us that we would make our decent in Melbourne shortly and that the weather there was not to good with showers expected when we land. Oh well that is typical Melbourne I guess.
Much of our descent was through cloud and there was some mild buffeting At 12000ft we broke through the cloud and we could see the grey looking hinterland surrounding Melbourne. There seemed to be no cloud below 12,000ft so we actually had a great view of the surrounding areas of Melbourne which were mostly the odd highway and lots of industrial buildings. The flaps were lowered and we lined up for approach on runway 34. We had some vortex’s forming during our approach to land. I had never seen this before. Touchdown was fairly smooth and some heavy breaking was used because of the wet condition the runway was in.. We vacated the runway after about a 30second landing roll and taxied towards our assigned gate. Again the captain came over the P.A and informed us all that due to a malfunction the parking guidance system at our assigned gate we will be taxing 20 -30 meters short of it and shut down some our engines before a tug connects with us and pulls us the rest of the way in to the gate and then we will be hooked to a generator to supply us with electric power allowing the remaining engines to be shut down. So it will be some time before we can unfasten our seatbelts and disembark. My goodness how many things want to break down today.
So it happened just like the captain said it would we pulled into bay 23. We shut down two engines. We were then connected to a tug that pulled us the rest of the way into bay 23 and then a generator was hooked up and then the engines were finally cut. Disembarking took some time but once the second aerobridge was ready it was quite quick.
Baggage claim was a nightmare. Who’s great idea is it to have a fully laden 747 share the baggage carrousel with a near full 767 flight from Sydney whilst the next carousel only had to handle a Dash 8 flight from Mildura and a flight probably a 737 0r 767 from Brisbane. The crowd around a baggage claim 4 was about 10 people deep. It took me about 35mins to get my bag as the belt kept stopping every 5 minutes and every time it did the big crowd of passengers waiting for their bags would let out a big groan of disappointment. Once I got my bag I met with my friend and I was finally out of there.
GROUND HANDLING: 2/10
Perth was alright today but the check in lines were huge. Melbourne was a disaster. Fault parking guidance system, chaos at baggage reclaim.
Not very comfortable to have a fully laden 747 in the summer heat of Perth sitting on the ground with an inoperative APU. It sounded like EBV needed to go to Sydney for some urgent TLC as opposed to EBW. Great cabin though with PTVs and like I say about all my existing 747-338 flights is that passengers would have no idea how old EBV actually was.
Surly crew today. The pilots were apologetic for every single glitch about today’s flight, when clearly it was out of their control.
Very boring choices but edible
Great entertainment selection especially for a short flight like this.
X FACTOR: 2/5:
Well it seemed today that anything that could go wrong went wrong on today’s flight. It seemed everything was breaking down in need of repair and the whole system came across as very tired and worn. Faulty APU and aircraft swap due to maintenance issues, broken tow bar, broken parking system, and broken baggage carousel. Really not the sort of thing you would expect from Australia’s premier carrier
With it being a Tuesday and my best friend having to work I decided that I would head to the airport early and this would give me a great opportunity to explore and spot at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport. I caught a cab from my Melbourne office as I called in there for about an hour to say hi to my Melbourne colleagues and my boss as well as to catch up on some reports I need to do. I caught a cab at 10am from the office to the airport and the ride was a little over half an hour.
I had checked in online yesterday afternoon and secured my self a window seat 31K. I proceeded straight to the quick bag drop off as I had already printed my boarding pass. The guy behind the counter looked surprised and said “you’re awfully early, you do know there are two other flights to Perth before yours?” I said I knew and explained that I wanted to watch the planes before I left.
After my bags were dropped off I passed through security and found a nice quiet spot near gate 5 to sit down look at the action at the centre apron at the Qantas domestic terminal as well as do some work on my Laptop. What a life I would do some work on the lap top and when ever I saw movement on the ramp I would get my camera out and shoot. The great thing about the Qantas terminal is you can get real close to the aircraft.
Lunch was as Hungry Jacks which as a great view over the Qantas central apron even though the glass is heavily tinted. A Qantas 767-338ER VH-OGG “City of Rockhampton” had been sitting at gate 1 for ages and was not due to depart for another couple of hours. She looked enormous being so close up and would attract the attention of many kids who were at the airport, nearly all of them asking their parents if that was a 747.
Highlight of the day was being able to see a United Airlines 747-422 in New Colors. Something I don’t get to see very often as Melbourne is the closest place to Perth United sends their aircraft. Being at the Qantas terminal you can imagine that most of the aircraft I spotted were Qantas or Jetstar. As the time got closer I headed to gate 24 to await my aircraft. Just before 14:30 local VH-ZXE ex British Airways G-BNWK arrived in gate 24 after a short flight from Sydney. I was hoping for a GE operated 767 as these RR ex BA ones are worked very hard and my last experience on one was not the best with the APU going unserviceable and the interior being very worn.
The ground crew set to work to turn ZXE around in less than an hour. It is definitely a very tight squeeze in gate 24 for a 767 as ZXE was only a few meters away from the glass windows. Looking around the gate lounge there was not that many passengers so it looked like this was not going to be a full flight. It was not before too long before we were invited to board the aircraft. My boarding passed was scanned and the flight attendants who scanned it said “welcome back Mr Koch”. Nice touch I thought no flight attendant has ever used my name before.
The flight only ended up being around 60 – 70% full so the boarding process was finished rather quickly. Even without the full load today the seat next to me was occupied. The captain came over and informed us that we would be pushing back from the gate shortly and gave us some flight information. Apparently due to strong winds we will be flying a lot furtherer south than usual to take advantage of those winds and the weather in Perth was clear skies and hot. The doors were closed and we pushed back from the gate. The safety demonstration was played and I really noticed how bad those TV screen are in the RR powered 767s. The picture was barley visible and the colors looked like something out of a kaleidoscope.
It was a fairly shot taxi to runway 16. We held short along with a Virgin Blue 737-800 as we waited for another Virgin Blue 737-800 to land. Once the Virgin Blue 737 had landed and vacated the runway we lined up on runway 16. The throttles were advanced and we had a very short takeoff roll. We rotated of runway 16 and climbed out on the runway heading like a rocket. We banked sharply over the suburbs of Melbourne to track towards Mt Gambier. Our initial cruising altitude would be FL340. The meal service started very quickly and I opted for the Green Curry Chicken which was delicious. There was a fair amount of chop during the meal service and looking outside the window we were flying over a thick blanket of cloud. I was not able to take photos as Ice had formed all over my window. One of the pilots told us that we would be climbing to FL360 to avoid some of the turbulence. Soon after we could hear the engines rev up a little and after about 3 -4 minutes the engines were wind down and the light chop had gone.
The rest of the flight was uneventful. The cabin crew presented us with the usual after meal service ice-cream. I decided to visit the bathroom after the ice-cream and to have a walk around the cabin. This 767 is in bad need of a cabin over haul. The interior looks very tired and the seats looked very taty. Also the TVs were horrible and some you could not make out a clear picture. ZXE was probably the most tired looking aircraft I have ever flown on. That is not surprising if you think about the sheer amount of cycles she has racked up after being leased from British Airways to Qantas. Those Brisbane – Sydney – Melbourne flights must surely be taking a toll.
We made landfall over Esperence Western Australia. It was clear skies over Western Australia and all I could see was a very dry landscape. It was not too long before we began our descent into Perth. We flew pretty much a straight line into Perth before conducting a small turn to line ourselves with runway 24. Runway 06/24 is Perth Airport’s shortest runway and as a result our touchdown as very firm (typical 767 style) so that the pilots planted us down on the runway with the minimal amount of floating. The reversers were fully deployed and heavy braking was used to slow us right down in what seemed to be a very small amount of time.
It was a very short taxi off runway 06 for gate 2 at the Qantas Domestic Terminal. Whilst we were pulling into gate 2 I saw a Qantas 737-838 being pushed back from gate 3. The 737 was VH-VYB which I had seen earlier in the day at Melbourne getting ready for her departure to Adelaide. How bizarre to see her again at the other side of the country two legs later. I exited ZXE and made my way downstairs to collect my bags at the baggage reclaim area which was not too busy as it only had to handle my half full 767.
GROUND HANDLING: 8/10
After spending a lengthy amount of time at Melbourne Airport I found it very comfortable. There is a good variety of shops and some good eateries (could have more selection) The contrast between the two piers are very obvious. Perth airport did a good job today but with one 767 arrival that is nothing remarkable.
I am not a fan of the RR powered 767s in the Qantas fleet. Their cabins look worn and tired and so does the aircraft. The TVs should be replaced as it was hard to view the programming. Also there was no moving map display which I like.
The cabin crew was pleasant and I liked the fact they used my name. They were attentive but I have received better/more cheery service from Qantas before
Great meal very tasty and filling.
Shocking TVs that made watching anything not worth it.
X FACTOR: 3/5:
An ok flight this time around. ZXE is looking very old inside and with a lack luster crew made the whole experience feel rather tired. The meal would be the highlight of the day and the surprise of the day was Perth airport did its job without any hassles.
KrisworldB777 From Australia, joined Nov 2000, 570 posts, RR: 3 Reply 4, posted (5 years 5 months 4 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 6380 times:
Very good report - well done.
Yes, the less said about PER the better I think!
I happened to see the blueprint for the renovations to the QF terminal the other day. I'm not sure if you have seen them but the plan is for outbound security screening to be moved to Gate 9. This will free up some more space for Quick Check kiosks and give them more space to add a third baggage carousel in the main arrivals area.
As with everything WAC touches...I can't say I'm overly optimistic though!
The old 743s are becoming a bit of a worry. They are perpetually late and suffering from some form of technical problem almost on a daily basis. Just counting down until they leave the fleet...I did hear that their dispatch reliability is something quite abysmal, apparently hovering around 50 percent (or so I'm told).
9MMPD From Australia, joined Oct 2005, 262 posts, RR: 1 Reply 7, posted (5 years 5 months 3 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 5657 times:
Quoting ZKSUJ (Reply 2): Nicely written there. At least they still serve meals on QF domestic
Thanks ZKSUJ. yes thank goodness this sector has not fallen victim to the snack box.
Quoting KrisworldB777 (Reply 4): I happened to see the blueprint for the renovations to the QF terminal the other day. I'm not sure if you have seen them but the plan is for outbound security screening to be moved to Gate 9. This will free up some more space for Quick Check kiosks and give them more space to add a third baggage carousel in the main arrivals area.
Hey KrisworldB777, yeah I did checkout the plans for the upgraded terminal and all i could think about was all the building work going on making an already over crowded terminal worse. They definately need the extra bagage carosel. Qantas better thinbk that the extension is only a tempory solution as the way things are going they will out grow the extension by the time it is finnished. Everyone needs to quit stalling and amalgimate the terminals on the international side.
Quoting EXAAUADL (Reply 5): nice report but you need more variety of pictures...the pic of the 747 out the window got a bit repetitive
Good feedback. Beleive it or not I actually culled the number of out the window shots right down. I mean you won't be able to look out of a window of a 747 and see an old RR engine hanging there in the future as these classic will be scrapped or converted to freighters.
Quoting JetSetter629 (Reply 6): Thats about as realistic as it gets! Maybe a picture of the back of the seat in front of you...haha
Haha. Actually you gave me an idea. I will try more cabin shots. My next few TRs will have them
Quoting JetSetter629 (Reply 6): I personally think its great! I really enjoy reading your trip reports out of PER...beats the 4984503 reports out of LHR or FRA.
Cheers. mate my next one will be from Perth (yet again) to Brisvegas and back but that won't be ready till a couple of weeks.