Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1116 posts, RR: 17 Posted (3 years 11 months 2 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 7098 times:
Continuing on from Part 1 of my earlier trip report, see "E-Jets in Australia", my day trip was not to end in Canberra (CBR). I had onward reservations to fly to Sydney, then back up to Brisbane, with a couple of hours spotting time thrown in at SYD for good measure.
Getting to CBR was a breeze and my first EM190 flight was successful. I exited landside for a few moments to see if there was anything of interest in the terminal, but nothing really grabbed me, so I decided to pass through security and go to the gate to see if I could get some pics of my arriving EM170 that was scheduled to take me to Sydney as DJ651.
On passing through, I was detained for a further screening after the initial “random” check for explosives revealed a positive result! I’ve never had this before but they then took down details of my flight and asked a few questions. I was a little on the nervous side because I was not relishing the thought of having to explain why I was only in CBR for 2 hours, only to fly to SYD for 2 hours and then head back to Brisbane on the same day - if I had said it was just to ride the E-jets, I am sure I would have been taken away for even further questioning. Hmmm. In any case, I passed the second screening and managed to answer questions as to where I was going and why without arousing too much suspicion and was allowed to go on my way.
Heading to the gate area which was quite small, but probably adequate for the E190/E170 loads, I managed to get a nice vantage point for some spotting and to get a glimpse of my E170.
A couple of shots from CBR that morning.
Also was pleased to see one of the RAAF B737NG VIP aircraft arrive. I worked on the legal team involved in the purchase of these aircraft in 2001 from Boeing.
Not much in the way of variety, but CBR is certainly becoming an E-jet haven, with all Virgin flights being operated by this type.
One in…one out
After a coffee and snack, another little E-jet arrived. Delivered in December 2008 and fitted in an all Y78 configuration, “Little Miss Sunshine Coast” VH-ZHF would be operating my flight today to SYD. Here she is arriving into CBR.
Boarding through Gate 5, the aircraft must have been only ¼ full. Many seats were empty, including my entire row. I was in 19A at the rear of the aircraft. There are 20 rows on the E170s. Virgin Blue’s E-jets seats look like this.
At the gate, with our reflection
Legroom and seat were very comfy, and no noticeable difference in the interior from the E190 I had just stepped off.
As we were fully boarded in no time at all, there was no chance of a delayed departure today. We pushed back early and commenced our taxi to the departure runway, passing sistership, VH-ZHA who had just arrived at the adjoining gate. Safety demonstration was done manually (as it is on all DJ flights), and our crew today was just as cheerful and friendly as those on DJ1212.
Little arriving traffic meant that we had no wait once we got to the end of the runway. Departing toward the south off Runway 17, here are a few take off shots.
We headed directly south for a bit, past Queanbeyan, which meant we’d left the Australian Capital Territory and were pretty much over New South Wales within a couple of minutes. Climbing out was quite bumpy but the E170 handled the rough quite admirably. A sharp left bank over the Googong Reservoir and we started tracking in a northeasterly direction, next stop, Sydney.
Cruise flight time was a very short 25 mins, but still enough time to enjoy another E-jet experience. From memory, we were not offered any purchases from the BOB menu as the flight time was so short. I can’t recall whether we were offered drinks, but I did not purchase anything.
Barely enough time to enjoy the scenery of the interior of New South Wales, we started to see more signs of urban activity as the outskirts of Sydney came into view. I was really hoping that we’d approach SYD from the north, as I was on the correct side of the aircraft to get some views of Sydney’s famous landmarks. Today, it looks like I would be in luck (for once).
We approached over Sydney’s north west before banking around to line up to make our approach to the main north - south runway at SYD. On the way, we got some great views of the city and the inner west before touching down smoothly.
Central Sydney and Balmain (foreground)
Parramatta Road - busy with traffic as usual
Welcome to Sydney!
A short taxi to our gate and my E170 flight was over. Little Miss Sunshine Coast resting at the gate, having completed DJ651 from Canberra.
I had a couple of hours before my homeward bound flight to Brisbane (which was operated by a Pacific Blue B737-800), so I managed to capture some of the action at SYD that afternoon. Here are a few snaps taken from Terminal 2.
Aeropelican (based in Newcastle) Jetstream 31
Strategic’s sole A330
Qantaslink Dash 8 - 300, now in the new revised colours
One of the handful of RR powered QF 763s arrives after operating another domestic flight
In sum, flying on Virgin Blue’s E-jets was a great experience. My day trip was a success, and I was lucky to have some great weather. The aircraft were immaculate inside and out, and all my flights were on time. Service onboard was delivered consistently by friendly crew. It also made me realise how lucky we are in Australia not to have the inclement weather (even in winter) that we’ve seen in Europe and the US lately that has caused absolute chaos for the flying public. Thanks for reading.
Funnily enough that out of all 8 flights from/around Australia, Canberra was the only place interested in performing a "random" explosive check on me! I wonder if they look for drugs too as it looks like the same itemiser as the one they have in Border Security.
Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter): the aircraft must have been only ¼ full. Many seats were empty, including my entire row. I was in 19A at the rear of the aircraft. There are 20 rows on the E170s. Virgin Blue’s E-jets seats look like this.
Wow, I had a nearly completely full plane.
The weather was "supposedly bumpy", nothing was served because of that and the seatbelt sign barely switched off and I was pretty much ordered back to my seat after trying to take pictures. And there was barely any turbulence to speak of. I certainly experienced a much more friendly crew on my other DJ flights. You were really lucky with the weather though because I got quite a bit of cloud!
AirbusA322 From Australia, joined Apr 2009, 235 posts, RR: 0 Reply 3, posted (3 years 11 months 2 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 6432 times:
I have flown this route twice, both a lunchtime and mid afternoon, yet they were both as dead as each other, no more than 20 pax on each. No wonder they were eager to take the 737s of this route quick smart.
Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1116 posts, RR: 17 Reply 4, posted (3 years 11 months 2 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 6349 times:
Thanks all for your comments. The only other competition on the route are the Qantaslink Dash 8 - 400s, and whilst I also quite like the Dash 8s, I think the EM170 is a much nicer proposition for the flying public.
NZ107 - look forward to reading your TR. Shame you had lots of cloud cover!
VSMike From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 317 posts, RR: 7 Reply 6, posted (3 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 6061 times:
Interesting read indeed. DJ must be, what...? The second most uncommon airline in all of Australia...? And not at all a unique brand, the likes of which can be found on nearly every continent on planet Earth. So, yes, I too am thankful someone has finally been able to get inside one of these uber-rare DownUnder red jets, take photos, then put pen to paper about the experience.
Not that I'm partial or anything, but on behalf of my Virgin family worldwide, thank you for flying Virgin AtlanticAmericaBlueNigeriaSunExpress.
(1) Your positive result when passing CBR security... Have you even been to AMS or flown DL? I've read that you've passed through ATL twice in one day on DL, and made a connecting flight in MDW on DLNW without clearing TSA security. That seems odd behavior, too. Might have to add your name to a list or something...
(2) Queanbeyan. Queen Bean? Whaaaat? Sister city to SFO? WTF is this all about??
(3) Googong Reservoir. I've got a goo reservoir, too. Interesting. Must be named after me?
Thanks a mil for the TR. Here's to reading about your next rare adventure. Maybe a flight LHR-MAN-LHR on BA? That's a little unusual fo' sho'.
Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1116 posts, RR: 17 Reply 9, posted (3 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 5356 times:
VSMike, I am glad I could support the Virgin family worldwide and as always, your Aussie insights are amazing. Yes, I did transit through ATL twice in one day - that was almost a year ago now. How time flies!
Bedo - glad you liked the interior shot - the EM190 looked indentical!
Bookishaviator - hope you enjoy the Dash 8 flight. Agree that it's good to travel on some of the smaller/regional types in Australia. I wouldn't mind flying the Aeropelican J32 next time. Don't think anyone has done a trip report on them yet!
Aussie_ From Australia, joined Dec 2000, 1766 posts, RR: 5 Reply 10, posted (3 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 5099 times:
Great report, thanks for that! I am a CBR local (I actually live in Queanbeyan - or "Queen Bean"! and am a regular traveller on the Embraers, which are far nicer than the Dash 8s!
Just a small correction - Qantas also operate 737s (mainly the older -400s with more J seats) on CBR-SYD, mainly at peak periods, as well as the Q400s. The -300s also operate a couple of flights a day too. I am actually this very moment sitting in the Sydney Qantas Club waiting for a late night 737-400 service back to CBR (wish I was on the E-jet!).
It's interesting that the route is very high frequency with around 30 flights per day during the week (Qantas have 22-23 per day with Dash 8s and 737s and Virgin have 8 with the E170s). I think it's the busiest route in the Australia behind SYD-MEL (in terms of number of scheduled flights).
Aussie_ From Australia, joined Dec 2000, 1766 posts, RR: 5 Reply 12, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 4920 times:
I have seen 767-300ER operate SYD-CBR on very rare occasions. Other than that, the 737-800 is the largest aircraft on the route (there is a daily scheduled 73H that runs SYD-CBR-PER, but the 734s are quite often also substituted for 73Hs on other services). Sometimes Virgin also substitutes the E170s with E190s or even on rare occasions with 737-700/800s.
SYD-BNE is also very busy - CBR-SYD used to be busier than SYD-BNE ,but it is possible that SYD-BNE is now busier.