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Loisirs Avec Air Austral: Réunion-Sydney-Nouméa  
User currently offlineronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1662 posts, RR: 53
Posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 26835 times:





”We’re here this early to catch the Air Austral arrival”
“Right, aren’t they from Reunion? I was asked to look into them at work”
“Yea, recently launched flights here”
“Didn’t know that. Where is it coming from? Bangkok or something?”
“No from Reunion. It makes a stop in Sydney and continues to *@%$#@”
“I’m Sorry, to WHERE?”
“*@%$# It’s in *&^%$##”
“Where the hell is THAT?”




I N T R O D U C T I O N
And in two shakes of a lamb's tail, one spotting trip in Sydney back in early 2009 had pretty much formed the foundation of my very last trip in 2010…

It was only a few months before then when I was recently acquainted with Air Austral, only to ensure that their prospect for work was very minimal, if anything at all. But however, the fact that such a small island somewhere, with an airline that had (at the time) announced an order for a few B777-300ER’s was nothing short of intriguing. Where the hell will they fly them to? And does the 77W even fit on the island?

I still had no idea where Nouméa was, when I was only just concluding my acquaintance with the whereabouts of Réunion. But knowing of the existence of an Air Austral same-plane service to the Islands of New Caledonia on a two stop milk-run was just what I needed to know; eventually it was going to happen.

Simply put and as its slogan says, Air Austral is the French airline of the Indian Ocean. It provides an ultra-boutique network of scheduled services from its home base in Réunion, to destinations across the Indo-Pacific African region, Bangkok, Sydney, Nouméa, and has an extensive reach to destinations in France such as Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, and Marsielle. And since the island of Réunion is technically part of France -as opposed to a colony- I think it is also safe to assume that Air Austral has some of the world's longest domestic flights!

Air Austral's stongest point -and for obvious reasons- is to connect Réunion Island to its flesh & blood in France, and while doing so, the airline can also boast some minimal -and rather unique- networking of traffic between France and Australia, and neighboring Indo-Islands such as Mauritius, Seychelles, and Madagascar, to places like South Africa and even as far as New Caledonia. Connect who to where and what to why???

When looking at the global map, none of these islands are visible on a typical view. Yet, there exists an entire world of airlines down south, plying the hell out of the Indian Ocean doing just about what any other airline would normally do, only unobstructed by today's competition that seems to take center stage further up north on planet Earth!

Not much attention is normally drawn towards Air Austral, and frankly, I really don't think the airline cares. They are proud enough to maintain their legacy mandate of connecting to France and its overseas colonies, and will do anything to keep this ball rolling -even if it involves the purchase of all Economy Class A380's and fully decked out B777-200LR's to do so.

They may not care, but I am here to shed some light on this airline as I embark on one of their flagship routes.

Join me!

Loisirs avec Air Austral: Réunion - Sydney - Nouméa



CONTINUED BELOW



A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
60 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1662 posts, RR: 53
Reply 1, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 27219 times:





WELCOME TO MY 30th TRIP REPORT
This TR will cover the following flight on Air Austral:

A) Réunion - Sydney - Nouméa in Classe Loisirs (Economy Class) on the B777-200ER



B A C K G R O U N D
It was that time of the year when I take my longest holiday from work. The excuse of 'spending Christmas with my family' goes quite the long way to mentally self-justify two weeks away from work. But the twice-weekly Air Austral service can only demand this when a ridiculous amount of self-connects have to happen to get me to and from.

Air Austral UU771 was known for just about a year, to operate a two-stop flight between Paris and Nouméa via Réunion and Sydney. Unfortunately however, a plane change in Réunion was involved during the period I was able to travel. I was still contemplating to commence my journey from Paris -although the fares from Paris to Nouméa were not necessarily cheap, and Air Austral in general seemed quite expensive as it is- but I settled with joining the flight from Réunion instead and saving a little extra cash on the side.

Air Austral's website is very reminiscent of something that was top of its line in the early 2000's. While all the basic frills are there -timetables, online ticket purchases, flight status etc- features like online check-in were lacking, which by today's standards seem to be a must. Even the airline's booking management facility was a little lackluster as it only links you to Amadeus's generic 'Check My Trip' page, which isn't much really. On the up side however, the website was reasonably user-friendly and booking my flight to Nouméa was relatively easy.

Islander airlines seem to have this festive aura to them that always takes me to a very happy place. With Air Austral it is no different, where elements of these fiesta sensations are felt during the booking process on the website. Apparently, Air Austral comes in three flavors; Club Austral, Classe Confort, and Classe Loisirs for Business, Premium Economy, and Economy Respectively. Even sexier than this, are what the airline names as its different fare classifications which go by Coup de coeur E, Flamboyant, Vanille T, Orchidee, and Orchidee Plus depending on the typical level of flexibility with date changes, cancellations etc.

With all fetishes for French airline class names aside, my ticket was easily booked on www.air-austral.com , my seat was selected, and I was pretty much all set to go.



D É P A R T
I was at Roland Garros Airport at 8:50am, some 3 hours and 15 minutes before my scheduled departure time. At first glance, I was quite impressed with the look of the airport. A tropical island breeze embedded within something that is architecturally modern only signaled to me that while I was on some far away island in Africa, this clearly had top-quality French written all over it.

The main terminal building is quite small by today's standards, but for obvious reasons it serves its purpose adequately. Split into two main sections, the departure hall occupies the first half while the arrivals counterpart the other side. At the curbside today, activity seemed to be flowing in and out of the terminal as several flights were operating services to France, Australasia, and the usual neighboring Islands.



Curbside at St. Denis Roland Garros Airport



Departures entrance





Once inside, it was a little less of the modern and more of the tropical, and I was suddenly reminded of Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta's unique interior design that is dim, yet pleasant. On the departures side of the building, the usual array of check-in counters existed, which were mostly allocated to two Air Austral flights, and some 10 or so self-check in kiosks that solely belonged to Air France.



Inside the departures area







At the arrivals side, activity was almost nonexistent as the remains of a few Mauritius shuttle inbounds were practically concluding. Arriving passengers flow in from one area consisting of 4 exists and into your typical meet & greet section with a backdrop of an array of tour operator and DMC counters. All in all, a simple and practical airport!



Arrivals side





From the arrivals side





At 8:55am, I had proceeded to check-in for my flight. Today's service to Sydney and Nouméa was allocated to counters 17-21, one of which was for Club Austral, and the rest for Confort and Classe Loisirs.

The counters are permanently barricaded into groups, some consisting of five and others less, depending on the type of flight and its requirements. While the lack of dynamism in this concept can cause nightmares at busy airports, it seems to work reasonably well from a simple point of view.

At my allocated counters, a large old-skool banner cum document check station on wheels is placed at the entrance section to clearly identify the flight that is checked-in from this position.



Entrance to UU 771's check-in area







An Air Austral ground staff greeted me next to the banner after cross-checking the details on my ticket.

"Bonjour monsieur, you are traveling to Nouméa?"
"Yes I am"
"Is this your checked baggage?"
"No, this is my carry-on, I plan to have no checked baggage today"
"Weight is 10kg without laptop?"
"I think so"
"Ok. I think it would be no problem today, please proceed this way"



Counters 17-21 allocated to UU 771





Queues were minimal at check-in, which is always a pleasant indication of the possibility of an empty-ish B777 long-haul flight. At my turn, a friendly male agent began processing my details into the system after handing him the usual documents.

As it is a requirement for tourists entering New Caledonia to present proof of onward travels, I was asked to present a multitude of itinerary printouts that showed my travels -only a day after my Nouméa arrival- to Sydney, Melbourne, and Kuala Lumpur.

"You like to travel I see! haha"
"Do you have any baggage to check?"
"No I do not"
"Can I please ask you to place your hand carry on the scale?"

Stuffed with airline souvenirs from my flights on the previous day, my hand carry was well above the 10kg limit. However, the friendly agent gladly let it through as the flight was not full today. My boarding pass was eventually printed, and by 9:05am I was checked-in.



Boarding pass to Nouméa



Baggage tags etc



Such service notices always alert me of a nice flight that is momentarily upcoming





Proceeding airside, I first arrived at one of only two immigration counters at the entire airport. While my passport was stamped in no time, there was quite a queue to get to my turn. The staff was friendly all over, and this was also the case with security which followed right after. At 9:50am, I was airside.



Predominantly wooden and modern, and with a touch of industry, the airside hall consisted of just that; one small hall consisting of ample seating area, two duty free shops, a café and 4 gates that lead to one single pathway filtering out into several aerobridges. One small upper sub-level was also allocated to Air Austral's premium lounge - a facility which I will not be visiting today for commercial (or lack thereof) reasons.



Airside at St. Denis Roland Garros Airport







Duty Free







One interesting aspect of such small Islander airports is the abruptly loud thundering vibrations surrounding you that clearly manifest within all your senses to clearly identify a random arrival of a wide-body. Like a beached whale dumped on the shoreline, a humongous Air Austral B777-300ER came roaring in on arrival from a 12 hour flight from Paris. And today was a lucky day, as only several minutes later, an Air France B77W was also beached on the shorelines of Réunion. Why are these two airlines competing on this domestic route, and offering similarly timed services?



Fresh from the skies, arriving from Paris





At 10:50am, an announcement was made inside the terminal, both in French and in English, which I had difficulty understanding. However, I did think that I heard my name being called, which struck me at the time as a first!

I proceeded to the Air Austral transfer desk and enquired with the agent. After looking at my boarding pass and a few types at her keyboard, she made a quick phone-call to somewhere before returning back to me with a verdict that had me so curious.

"Monsieur, we change your seat because you have two passenger seated next to you"
"We move you to another row, where you have three seats for you, and for more comfort on the flight"
"Thank you!"

That was definitely a great add-on from Air Austral. Whether it was for weight & balance purposes or not, I think it was handled in a very personal way that left this passenger extremely happy, and it barely was the beginning of the journey too!



My new boarding pass





Even the gentleman that was standing in queue behind me, had looked at me and smiled as he overheard what was going on. When looking back at him he quickly greeted me with a "bonjour" just like that. Frankly, I have had a very positive experience in Réunion as everyone from your taxi drivers, restaurant staff, hoteliers, and street people were very nice and friendly!

Back at Gate 4, a larger crowd had congregated around the entrance, most of which were presumably transfers from the inbound flight from Paris. At 11:20am, boarding was announced, and it was to be conducted by row numbers. Naturally, Club Austral passengers can board at anytime.



UU 771 is now ready for boarding



Boarding passengers





My boarding pass was scanned under the boarding card reader, and after the beep, it was handed back to me when the nice agent had wished me a pleasant flight. Joining the single pathway to the gates, I had initially thought we were to board the only B772 that was parked at an aerobridge, when in fact we had to turn to the opposite direction and walk towards an exit leading outside of the terminal and to a remote stand where a second B772 was parked. Nice!



Boarding pathway





Proceeding down a flight of steps outside, we hop onto a bus that eventually took us to the aircraft that was basking under the deep blue skies of Réunion.



Boarding the aircraft





At Door 2L of this B777-200ER, I was greeted by a strikingly gorgeous female crew -presumably the purser- dressed in a red jacket wrapped around Air Austral's tropically patterned blue loose-fit skirt.

"Bonjour monsieur"
"Hello"
"Welcome on board. This way please to your seat"


By 11:35am I was onboard Air Austral .. Let the fiesta begin!



CONTINUED BELOW



A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
User currently offlineronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1662 posts, RR: 53
Reply 2, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 27215 times:

F L I G H T
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AIR AUSTRAL Flight Information:

SCR
/UU/30DEC
W10
30DEC
RUN
KUU771 31OCT03FEB 0004007 364772 RUNRUN1205 10301NOUNOU J
GI BRGDS


Registration: F-OMAY (Caribou)
Condition: 5.7 years old, leased from ILFC, and delivered to Air Austral in 2005

Remarks: This flight stops in Sydney

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



RÉUNION TO SYDNEY
RUN - SYD
Scheduled Departure: 12:05
Actual Departure Time: 12:25 (Pushback)

Scheduled Arrival: 06:05
Actual Arrival Time: 06:14 (Touchdown)



Bienvenue à Air Austral





Air Austral cabin crew -predominantly male, yet with a few ultra good looking females- were spread throughout the cabin welcoming the boarding passengers. Boarding today's flight was leisurely and in no hurry at all.

Facing the cabin from the front, the slick black leather seating is contrasted by the dramatic turquoise tone of the pillows and headrest covers, creating a very sexy feel to the ambience. Facing the cabin from the back however, not much is different apart from the lack of personal IFE screens. I may have seen many pictures of 777's without personal screens at every seat, but I think this is my very first time to see it live; and it needed some getting used to! All interior design aside, the cabin was spotless clean, and screamed my name to live in it for the next 15 hours.



The cabin











"Bonjour monsieur"
"Hi. I'm seated in 36C please"
"Alors, please follow me"
"Can I help you with your luggage?"
"No thank you, I can manage"
"Voila, your seat…Please enjoy your flight, and let us know if you need anything"
"Merci!"

Freshly sealed blankets and pillows are placed on every seat on top of the seatbelts. At my confinement of 36C, I notice no IFE box obstructing my leg space which is a breath of fresh air. However, legroom is quite tight at 32 inches. Apart from that, I knew it was going to be a very comfortable arrangement especially that I have the entire three seats to myself.



The seat







Leg space



Blanket



Pillow





During the boarding process, the same announcement was repeated by the crew every ten or so minutes to welcome passengers on board, and advise of a pre-brief on simple prepare-for-takeoff 101 rules. This I have only experienced once before in 1997 onboard Martinair's B742 bound for Orlando.

The French are known take pride in their heritage, and also in their possessions and achievements. Similarly, Air Austral is proud of its fleet, its company, and its overall offering, and this is shown on a video playing on the overhead screen about the technical specifics of the B777-200ER. Things like the seatmap, configuration, range, MTOW et al, and destinations the aircraft is deployed to are all aired above giving your average passenger an overview on what this top of the line machine is all about. Personally, I quite like that idea and wish that more airlines could adopt this.



It was most certainly looking to be a light flight today





At 12:05pm, the crew were asked to conduct a final passenger count, and at 12:15pm, our captain made an announcement to welcome us on board and advise us of the usual route basics for today's flight. Flying time to Sydney today was to be a beautiful 10 hours and 30 minutes hence, at the boarders of an Ultra Long Haul flight in my books.



Captain & crew announcements video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iva7VQtFaUM



The seatbelt sign was switched on at 12:20pm, when the crew assumed their working positions in relation to the aircraft's 8 emergency exists. The safety video was aired on the overhead screens while the crew stood upright in the aisles.

The video was relatively old-fashioned but the background music, along with the dominating French, and the subsequent English accent, was a rather uplifting mix that was reminiscent of an early morning sunrise trance party; I could not stop watching, and I could not wait to find that video on the Internet when I got home.



Air Austral safety video
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5s...demo-b777-of-air-austral-uu_travel



Would all ground staff kindly leave the aircraft, this flight is bound for Sydney



Corsair Fly seems to be a regular visitor here





Pushback commenced at 12:25pm, some 20 minutes behind schedule, and while the safety video was playing. F-OMAY may sound like the name of a female aircraft, but her engines churned the roaring thunders of a male in heat, as we pushed back into the view of Réunion's mountainous landscape.



Pushback video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI997Fdc3GI



The taxi to the runway was another unique experience for me. Apart from the contrasting views between mountains on one side, and the deep blue ocean on the other, part of this journey involved a quick taxi on the active -and perhaps only- runway. Passing over the threshold, the aircraft did a big fat U-Turn to the opposite direction, and aligned itself with the centerline in the normal way. After the usual thunders, shakes, rattles, and roars, we eventually lifted off at 12:35pm, and commenced our journey towards Sydney.



Taxi & takeoff video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYFMhmjUM7k



Before reaching cruise, the captain signaled -with the seatbelt sign- that it was safe for the crew to be released for service preps. An announcement was then made that we were to be served a full lunch momentarily, which was to be followed by the displaying of a feature movie on the overhead screens. How 90's is that? I was suddenly reminded of my countless Lufthansa 9-hour transatlantic hops out of Frankfurt. That to me, and in my age of time, was when flying was at its height of glamour.



Plying the deep blue skies at cruising altitude over the Indian Ocean





The crew promptly took action in the aisles, and with their genuine smiles they seemed equally at ease with everyone. Similarly, the passengers were quite the laid back bunch which really made up for an enjoyable flight by everyone involved. Service was not rushed, and the crew smiled at each and every passenger as they distributed the prepackaged moist towelettes.

When countless debates are ongoing on many forums regarding the elimination of amenity kits as a cost-cutting initiative by many airlines, Air Austral practically craps all over that idea and offers its Economy Class passengers amenity kits that are considered above average in their league.



Towel service



Amenity kit



Barf bag & inflight magazine



Safety card







In time for the meal service, two trolleys were rolled out, which were manned by two sets of crew for each trolley. In the two main cabins of Economy Class, the meal service began from the front of the front cabin, and from the back of the back cabin hence, everyone is served their meals and drinks within a reasonable waiting period.



Meal service









Just when I thought that no menus were on offer on Air Austral in Economy Class, I was pleasantly surprised to find one nicely wrapped over the napkin on my sexy meal tray.



Beautiful menu





Menu backside





According to the menu, a choice between oriental lamb meatballs and a seafood gratin was on offer however, it seemed that only the lamb was available as I was not offered a choice. Nevertheless, the lamb was the choice I would have gone for in the first place anyways.

The meal tray was beautifully presented, and its contents were quite generous for today's Economy standard. A non-plastic glass, metallic silverware, and the usual condiments were neatly placed in between the plates. Included on the tray, was a bread bun, butter, a small tub of water, pretzels, cheese, and a bar of chocolate. For the starter, a large portion of salmon rilette was on offer which came with a salad consisting of crab, shrimp, risotto, and carrots. The main course consisted of a Moroccan infused fare of oriental lamb meatballs which were accompanied with couscous, raisins, and vegetable ratatouille. Finally dessert consisted of a small serving of strawberry mousse.



Meal tray





Starter



Main course



Dessert





"Monsieur, what can I offer you to drink?"
"Do you have vodka?"
"Yes sure"
"Is it possible to have a Bloody Mary? Or maybe just tomato juice & vodka?"
"Of course! But I am very sorry I do not have emm .. how do you call this, for spicy"
"Oh Tabasco, that's alright!"
"Ok, attend, I will get one for you"

After a quick trip back to the galley, the crew returned with a bottle of Tabasco!

"Okay, I found it for you monsieur. So you can now have a good Bloody Mary"
"Thanks for that"
"My pleasure"

And it didn't end here, he returned once again to the galley and fetched a packet especially designed for the Bloody Mary which consisted of a napkin, a plastic stirrer, and celery salt! How cool is that?

They say that a way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Well the way to my heart is through the offering of a damn good Bloody Mary, and today, Air Austral found its way into me!



Introducing the Air Austral Bloody Mary!





While salmon (and tuna) are my very least favorites in the seafood area, I decided to go ahead and give the salmon rilette a try. It wasn't as bad as I thought, and in fact, the crab salad that accompanied it was rather tasty. The main course on the other hand, was out of this world! The lamb was the best of its kind I have ever had on a flight (and I usually find airline lamb to have an awful after-taste) and it came with a very nice gravy that perfectly complemented the couscous and the vegetables. In fact, everything on my meal tray was of exceptional quality and taste. I think I can assume that Air Austral's catering is one of the best I have ever tried!



Coffee / Tea was offered after the meal, and my tea came in a stylish cup





After the service, some passengers settled for the movie that played on the overhead screens (forgot what it was), most slept away, while some socialized within the confinements of their seating spaces. One thing about personal IFE on a flight -and including your very own route map- is that you tend to ignore the remainder of the flight and pass the time through a movie marathon of some sort. I had forgotten how refreshing it can be to just sit back, relax, reflect on life with a few thoughts, and do absolutely nothing apart from take in your in-flight surroundings, hour after hour.



Cabin after the meal service











I was starting to feel a little drowsy, and as such, I made myself a comfortable bed on my three seats, and played a series of Family Guy episodes on my new IPad to play in the background, the way I would normally do it at home.

By the time I was falling asleep, the crew had already begun a very consistent water run across the aisles, every 30 or so minutes.



In bed with Air Austral





Waking up approximately five and a half hours before landing, it was pitch dark inside as well as outside the cabin, and practically everyone had fallen asleep. A crew noticed me walking towards the galley, and immediately got up from his seat to assist me.

"Monsieur?"
"Can I have a cup of Diet Coke please?"
"Sure. Please also help yourself to some sandwiches if you like"
"Thank you"



My Diet Coke and cheese sandwich



Cabin view deep into the flight

http://i104.photobucket.com/albums/m189/ronerone/UU001/066.jpg




A sneak peek at the Air Austral lavatory, which was beautifully maintained





Now this is very interesting! Was this plane owned by AF before?





With still another several hours to go, my leisure activities on board had their limitations, and all I could keep on doing was play on my IPad, look out the window, subscribe to one of the every-30 minute water runs, and so on and so forth.



Reading some Travel & Leisure on my IPad



Looking out the window I perhaps find the only strip of land along the way



And I settled for several of those along the way



I do like this cup holder





At this point during the flight, we were too close to Sydney to relax, yet too far away to do anything about it. While it was still dark outside, I think all of us were well-rested by then, and we were getting very antsy. Passengers kept going back and forth between their seats and the galley, when at some point, about 15 to 20 people had congregated in the back galley, surrounding the cabin crew that were manning the duty free cart. Not to worry however, the crew were not the least bit annoyed; in fact, they kept talking to the passengers to keep them company.



More cabin views in the dark









Back in the galley one more time, I had requested to purchase a few items from the inflight Duty Free. While that was happening, the crew had a friendly chat with me.

"Are you continuing with us to Nouméa today?"
"Yes I am. It is my first time there, and also my first time on Air Austral"
"Ah, Nouméa is nice, you will enjoy it"
"Will there be a crew change in Sydney?"
"Yes, we will stay in Sydney for 5 days before going to Nouméa"
"I hope you have enjoyed the flight with Air Austral"
"Yes I did. thank you very much"



Some essentials from the duty free





At 4:45am local time in Sydney, the cabin lights were switched on, but in the most unusual way. Instead of the regular cabin lights, the crew turned on all the personal reading lights at every seat. I had not seen something like this before, and perhaps it was a more private way to shed some light across the cabin as the atmosphere was still not too bright to sleep.



Reading lights on!



Hot towel service was promptly conducted with a smile







In a similar way as with the previous lunch service, two trolleys were rolled out for each opposing side of the two cabins. While the second serving on the menu indicated a light meal consisting of pineapple salad, a sandwich, and cottage cheese, the actual serving was a totally different continental breakfast.



Breakfast service





"Bonjour monsieur, petit dejeuner?"
"Yes please"
"Can I get you some something to drink? Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, some juices?"
"I'll have some tea with milk please"

Breakfast was a very simple serving which consisted of a small tub of fruit nectar, fruit yoghurt, two bread rolls, butter, strawberry jam, a fruit salad serving, my cup of tea that I had requested, and the usual condiments in between.



My meal tray





The overall breakfast serving was quite satisfying, and it hit the right spot. Though, I was expecting something a little more substantial.



Approaching dawn outside



Cabin after the breakfast service







At 5:50am Sydney local time, our captain made an announcement to inform us that we had begun our initial descent towards Sydney Airport, and that we were expected to land at 6:15am.

The crew made their final preparations to ready the cabin for arrival, and things such as blankets and headsets were collected and stowed. Also. the usual video on Australia's strict immigration and customs procedures was played.



Cabin shot during descent





At 6:05am, the seatbelt sign was switched on, and get this, an arrival safety video was played on the overhead screens! This was a simpler version that included a reminder on the basics such as fastening your seatbelt, and stowing tray tables, and seats in upright positions etc. The video concluded with a final reminder on emergency exit positions, and the reference to the safety cards for more information. How very interesting!



Sydney landing & arrival announcement video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-dbB-hAZ7c



At 6:15am, F-OMAY touched down at Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport. Normally, the flight would come to an end at this stage, but I was well aware that I still had one more sector to go on this bird.

All passengers on the continuing service to Nouméa were asked to deplane during the transit stop while the aircraft cabins were cleaned.

At the gate, the engines powered out, and the seatbelt sign was switched off before everyone scrambled out of their seats to get the hell out. With all my belongings in hand, I walked to Door 2L where I thanked the crew for their outstanding efforts before proceeding down the jetway and into the terminal building.



CONTINUED BELOW



A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
User currently offlineronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1662 posts, RR: 53
Reply 3, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 27067 times:

TRANSIT STOP




Not much guidance was given to transit passengers, and in terms of signage leading to the international transfer area, there was very little of it at Sydney Airport. The few small signs that were available could have easily been missed, and not many staff were on hand to assist passengers.

Having said this however, transiting at Sydney Airport -whether it be self-connect or otherwise- was a relatively easy process. Upon arrival into the airport, transit passengers on international flights are to proceed through a security checkpoint that is located just before the arrival immigration area. Once through with that, you join the main airside departures hall through the escalators, one level up.



FIDS at SYD



A quickie spotting session



On my way to Gate 25



At the gate at 6:40am where a new set of crew awaits





Air Austral does not have 5th Freedom Traffic Rights between Sydney and Nouméa. A great way to bypass this was to get into a marketing agreement with Air Calin where all passenger uplift between Sydney and Nouméa technically belonged to Air Calin on a flight only operated by Air Austral.

Apart from two nuns, no one else seemed to join the flight from Sydney. In fact, I had assumed that most passengers from Réunion (and/or Paris) would continue onwards to Nouméa when in fact, it seemed to be the opposite today.

At 6:50am, the crew boarded the aircraft, and an announcement was made five minutes later to inform us that boarding would commence within 20 minutes.



Boarding commenced at 7:15am

http://i104.photobucket.com/albums/m189/ronerone/UU001/096.jpg


And through the aerobridge

http://i104.photobucket.com/albums/m189/ronerone/UU001/097.jpg




At Door 2L of the aircraft again, a new set of crew is greeting all boarding passengers. As with the previous crew, they are happy to do their job without any attitude or what have you.

"Bonjour monsieur, welcome on board"



By 7:20am, I was back on board the aircraft.



CONTINUED BELOW



A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
User currently offlineronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1662 posts, RR: 53
Reply 4, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 27135 times:

SYDNEY TO NOUMÉA
SYD - NOU
Scheduled Departure: 07:40
Actual Departure Time: 07:35 (Pushback)

Scheduled Arrival: 10:30
Actual Arrival Time: 10:10 (Touchdown)



Back in the cabin, it was as clean as it was in Réunion, only without the blankets and the pillows.



Seat & cabin views at Sydney











At 7:30am, our captain made an announcement to welcome us on board, and advised us of our short 2 hour and 20 minute flight time to Nouméa.



Cabin before pushback





Pushback occurred at 7:35am, and the Sunrise Ecstasy Trance Safety Video was played again on the overhead screens.



Taxiing to the runway and passing by some of Sydney's morning activity



I think we used the 'far' runway at SYD?



Lining up



And finally taking off at 7:46am



A slight bank to the left, and Nouméa here we come!





When it was safe to do so, the crew were released from their seats to commence the service. As with the previous sector, an announcement was made to inform us that the service on this flight included a breakfast, followed by tea/coffee/hot chocolate service, and that short programming was to be featured on the overhead screens.



RJ-style take-home headsets were handed out



Enjoying the view until Brekkie arrived





Due to an even smaller amount of passengers on board, the meal service was conducted rather swiftly, and if I remember correctly, only one trolley was adequate for both Economy Class cabins.

My breakfast tray was -again- neatly presented, and consisted of a more substantial breakfast than the one served on the last sector. Included on the tray was a cup of fruit salad, fruit yoghurt, a bread bun, a small tub of orange juice, butter, jam, Nutella (!!!), my cup of tea, a muffin, and the usual condiments. The main course included an egg omelet which was accompanied with one piece of breakfast sausage and a serving of grilled tomato.



Breakfast to Nouméa





Fruit



Main course





Again, breakfast was of excellent quality, and I have always enjoyed the good catering efforts at Sydney Airport. The omelet was perfectly cooked, and the sausage wasn't drenched in oil. Finally, I am a HUGE sucker for Nutella (I can eat this thing with a spoon), and that was simply the icing on the cake! Well done Air Austral!



Cabin during the meal service





The rest of the flight was pretty uneventful, especially when the crew had announced that there was a problem with the IFE system that it was not to operate for the remainder of the flight.

Soon enough, and at 9:45am local time at Nouméa, the aircraft took a slight dip into lower altitudes which signaled our initial descent towards Tontouta Airport. Everyone was far too tired to notice anything, as most passengers were sprawled on the 4 sets of middle seats fast asleep. However, after the captain made the arrival announcement, in no time did everyone jump out of their sleep at the same time, and immediately return to their original seats for landing. We were expected to land at Nouméa within 20 minutes.



Some final cabin shots prior to arrival











Nouméa landing & arrival video (beautiful scenery):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIT8zBH3Qr0



A R R I V É E
At 10:10am, F-OMAY had touched down at Tontouta Airport in Nouméa, bringing an end to this enjoyable journey.

"Ladies & gentlemen we have just landed at Tontouta Airport, welcome to New Caledonia. Ten past ten is the local time and the temperature is 32 degrees. Please keep your seatbelts fastened until the seatbelt sign has been turned off. On arriving at the parking bay, be careful when opening the overhead lockers, as objects might fall out. We hope you have enjoyed this flight, and look forward to welcoming you again soon on another Air Austral flight. Our ground staff will be happy to welcome you should you need any assistance. Goodbye and have a nice day!"

Tontouta's airfield is very small, and the taxi to the stand was barely a few minutes. After exiting the runway, we turned left and straight into the Apron where the aircraft was to park overnight before its flight back to St. Denis the next day.

Arrival into Nouméa was a little messy as the immigration staff were too slow. Moreover, only two counters were available to process all the passengers. It would have been more chaotic had the flight been full, and even with the handful of passengers today, the queue was moving slowly as it is.

I had expected a little more out of Nouméa for some reason. I was quite disappointed at the terrible state of its airport. It was worse than a third world offering, and it seemed like it was completely neglected. The landside terminal building was undergoing an expansion plan to upgrade the facilities, but until that is complete, you practically walk through the construction site to get out of the airport.



C O N C L U S I O N
I am happy to say that Air Austral is now one of my favorite airlines alongside Cathay Pacific, Royal Jordanian, SriLankan Airlines, Emirates, and the bunch.

They have a top notch Economy Class product, that even with the lack of any modern hardware, can easily outdo many other offerings out there. The entire journey with two sets of crew was extremely consistent and flowing smoothly. The crew were really there to help the passenger enjoy the long journey, and their willingness to help never stopped, even had they been quite exhausted after working on such a long flight.

Furthermore, the quality of the food was exceptional and the meal quantity was quite generous overall. I would love to make Air Austral a regular airline I can fly on, but the logistics of that would be quite difficult from where I live.



This concludes my Trip Report. I hope that you have enjoyed it; your comments are always welcome!

Regards,
Roni







E Q U I P M E N T
- Camera:
- Canon 50D
- Canon PowerShot G11

- Lenses:
- Sigma 10-20mm Wide Angle
- Sigma 10mm Fisheye



PREVIOUS WORK
El Tasman Caliente!: LAN Vs Aerolíneas Argentinas (by ronerone Dec 19 2010 in Trip Reports)
Dancing In The Dark: An Emirates A380 Inaugural… (by ronerone Oct 24 2010 in Trip Reports)
This Suite Has Sliding Doors: Emirates F DXB-JNB (by ronerone Sep 5 2010 in Trip Reports)
Transito!: A Connection On TAAG-Angola (B743/B772) (by ronerone Jul 31 2010 in Trip Reports)
Keeping Up With The JETs: 9W Première HKG-DEL-DXB (by ronerone Jul 18 2010 in Trip Reports)
Petra Express!: On Royal Jordanian's A330-200 (by ronerone Jun 11 2010 in Trip Reports)
Suite Redemptions: Cathay Pacific BKK-HKG In F (by ronerone May 14 2010 in Trip Reports)
Uniquely Boutique: Oman Air Business Class To BKK (by ronerone Apr 3 2010 in Trip Reports)
In A Blink Of An Eye: AirAsia X’s A340 At AUH (by ronerone Feb 20 2010 in Trip Reports)
SriLankan Airlines: The Treasure Of Serendib! (by Ronerone Jan 9 2010 in Trip Reports)
Beijing Swire!: Cathay Pacific & Dragonair DXB-PEK (by Ronerone Dec 11 2009 in Trip Reports)
OpenSkies From British Airways: A New Era's End? (by Ronerone Oct 14 2009 in Trip Reports)
Revealing An Underdog: Royal Brunei Business Class (by Ronerone Sep 3 2009 in Trip Reports)
The Singapore Airlines Cliché (by Ronerone Jul 27 2009 in Trip Reports)
A380: Qantas Proper To SIN City (by Ronerone Jul 6 2009 in Trip Reports)
Welcome To Terminal 3: Etihad Airways AUH-SYD (by Ronerone Jul 6 2009 in Trip Reports)
5th Freedom Of The Air: Kenya Airways HKG-BKK-HKG (by Ronerone Mar 31 2009 in Trip Reports)
Cathay Pacific: First Class On The Legacy Milk-Run (by Ronerone Jan 26 2009 in Trip Reports)
Inspirations On A Narrowbody: Etihad To Amman (by Ronerone Nov 28 2008 in Trip Reports)
Malaysia Boleh!: On The Malaysian Airline System (by Ronerone Oct 28 2008 in Trip Reports)
Pearls & Diamonds: Inspired By Etihad Airways (by Ronerone Sep 12 2008 in Trip Reports)
The Future Has Arrived: EK A380 Inaugural Flights (by Ronerone Aug 4 2008 in Trip Reports)
Syrian Special Performance, Featuring Sam Chui (by Ronerone May 23 2008 in Trip Reports)
This Is Royal Jordanian! (by Ronerone Apr 12 2008 in Trip Reports)
Ultra-Competitive, Ultra-Long Haul: EY Vs EK (by Ronerone Mar 21 2008 in Trip Reports)
Suvarnabhumi, The Etihad Way! (by Ronerone Jan 18 2008 in Trip Reports)
Cathay Delight: A Trip To Asia's World City (by Ronerone Oct 5 2007 in Trip Reports)
Etihad: Pearl 2 AMM, Coral Right Back Pt 2 PixVidz (by Ronerone Jul 5 2007 in Trip Reports)
Etihad: Pearl 2 AMM, Coral Right Back Pt 1 PixVids (by Ronerone Jul 4 2007 in Trip Reports)
CX: JFK-HKG-DXB In Y A346/772 (Lots Of Pics/Vids) (by Ronerone Aug 28 2006 in Trip Reports)



F L I C K R
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jy-rwh79/sets/72157625850327291/



F A C E B O O K
PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING:
Someone hacked into my previous Facebook account while I was at the Silver Kris lounge in Singapore. This mystery person changed all the details in my account, and now it belongs to someone that goes by the name Michal Katz. I would suggest deleting this person from your friends list.

I have created a new account, and I am still in the process of recovering my friends list, though some are not searchable on Facebook. Please feel free to add me here:

Fly Roni
Please mention who you are when (and if) you want to add me as a friend



YOU TUBE
Username: ronerone
I have a range of taxi, takeoff, landing, announcement, and safety videos posted. Feel free to view them!







THE END



A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
User currently offlineluxair747SP From Germany, joined May 2010, 508 posts, RR: 17
Reply 5, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 26659 times:

Hi Roni,
an outstanding report with many high quality pictures.
Air Austral is for sure an airlines not covered at all in th TR section so thank you for showing us.
The seats look very comfortable and I think sometimes its nice without screen in front of you, especially with such a light load.
Do you know how the C-class looked like?
The food seems to be okay for Y-class.
Thank you a lot for sharing
Cheers
Johannes


User currently offlineakhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2470 posts, RR: 53
Reply 6, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 26508 times:

Hi there my friend,

I was in heaven when I saw your report popping up. Loisir avec Air Austral? Oh la la mon ami, je ne savais pas que tu parlais français aussi. Just look how you get inspired to fly an airline by a spotting session. Tres bien!

Allow to indulge myself in the whole sequence and to say what I would have said if I was there with you.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
Roland Garros Airport

Nice airport name! What an honour to Roland Garros.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
I was suddenly reminded of Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta's unique interior design that is dim, yet pleasant

Hey, I am missing something here. Roni, is there anything else we should know?

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
However, the friendly agent gladly let it through as the flight was not full today
Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
"Monsieur, we change your seat because you have two passenger seated next to you"
"We move you to another row, where you have three seats for you, and for more comfort on the flight"
"Thank you!"

The ground service at its best! The hidden gem of the Indian ocean!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
Bienvenue à Air Austral
Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
F-OMAY may sound like the name of a female aircraft, but her engines churned the roaring thunders of a male in heat, as we pushed back into the view of Réunion's mountainous landscape.

What a sultry, sexy experience. A promising beginning of the journey.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
"Monsieur, what can I offer you to drink?"
"Do you have vodka?"
"Yes sure"
"Is it possible to have a Bloody Mary? Or maybe just tomato juice & vodka?"
"Of course! But I am very sorry I do not have emm .. how do you call this, for spicy"
"Oh Tabasco, that's alright!"
"Ok, attend, I will get one for you"

After a quick trip back to the galley, the crew returned with a bottle of Tabasco!

"Okay, I found it for you monsieur. So you can now have a good Bloody Mary"
"Thanks for that"
"My pleasure"

And it didn't end here, he returned once again to the galley and fetched a packet especially designed for the Bloody Mary which consisted of a napkin, a plastic stirrer, and celery salt! How cool is that?

  

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
and do absolutely nothing apart from take in your in-flight surroundings, hour after hour.

Accompanied with a digital camera and a huge memory card.

I am speechless, Roni. Great pictures. Exciting story. You are truly inspiring me for my upcoming journey. Thank you so much.

Cheers,
Suryo



Friends forever
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6807 posts, RR: 77
Reply 7, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 26434 times:

Hi Roni,

what a nice surprise to find an Air Austral report created by ronerone! You posted a stunning review with excellent pictures, what a pleasure to read!

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):

"Monsieur, we change your seat because you have two passenger seated next to you"
"We move you to another row, where you have three seats for you, and for more comfort on the flight"
"Thank you!"

Very nice!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
Frankly, I have had a very positive experience in Réunion as everyone from your taxi drivers, restaurant staff, hoteliers, and street people were very nice and friendly!

Interesting, it seems I should go there one day.

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
Facing the cabin from the front, the slick black leather seating is contrasted by the dramatic turquoise tone of the pillows and headrest covers, creating a very sexy feel to the ambience.

Wow, that cabin looks great...

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
Facing the cabin from the back however, not much is different apart from the lack of personal IFE screens.

...but the lack of PTVs really shocked me. In contast to the two other 772ERs in the fleet, F-OMAY was delivered factory fresh to UU, so I assumed it would be equipped with decent IFE. I really hope the 77Ws are equipped with modern IFE.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):

The meal tray was beautifully presented, and its contents were quite generous for today's Economy standard. A non-plastic glass, metallic silverware, and the usual condiments were neatly placed in between the plates. Included on the tray, was a bread bun, butter, a small tub of water, pretzels, cheese, and a bar of chocolate. For the starter, a large portion of salmon rilette was on offer which came with a salad consisting of crab, shrimp, risotto, and carrots. The main course consisted of a Moroccan infused fare of oriental lamb meatballs which were accompanied with couscous, raisins, and vegetable ratatouille. Finally dessert consisted of a small serving of strawberry mousse.

Very impressive meal service!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 3):
Air Austral does not have 5th Freedom Traffic Rights between Sydney and Nouméa

That's bad to hear...

Quoting ronerone (Reply 4):
Nutella (!!!)

UU made a good choice...


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3268 posts, RR: 12
Reply 8, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 26374 times:

Thanks for sharing - Air Austral flies some interesting routes! The cabin looks nice, although 32" leg room and 3x4x3 looks pretty tight - not sure I'd be great on a CDG-NOU flight. Lucky your flights weren't full.


http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-TPE-
User currently offlineluv2fly From United States of America, joined May 2003, 12110 posts, RR: 48
Reply 9, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 26272 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Another well written report. No shoe shots, I wanted to see what new ones you now have.


You can cut the irony with a knife
User currently offlineSOBHI51 From Saudi Arabia, joined Jun 2003, 3474 posts, RR: 17
Reply 10, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 26063 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hello Roni
Again a very nice report and the usual great pictures, but due to you traveling in Y??? no leg shot.

How did you get to La Reunion?
You stayed there for 24 hours did you like the island?
No pictures of Nouema airport?
Where did you fly from there, not sure there is a lot of choices?



I am against any terrorist acts committed under the name of Islam
User currently offlinefasty From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 36 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 26032 times:

Salut Roni,

WOW, excellent report, extremely detailed as are actually all your previous posts as well.

I saw some adds about this route in a french magazine a few months back and I was really curious about what it would look like.
Now I have my picture thanks to you !

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
And does the 77W even fit on the island?

Haha well now your doubts are cleared

It's obvious from the descriptions you draw that you tremendously enjoy flying, I wish you to have the opportunity to keep up the good job for long ...

A la prochaine.

Thomas


User currently offlinePlanemad1 From UK - England, joined Dec 2010, 23 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 26014 times:

Excellent.

Thankyou.


User currently offlineAflyingkiwi From New Zealand, joined Nov 2010, 515 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 25981 times:

Hi Roni,

Congratulations on your part for creating another outstanding report complete with superb pictures. I've always wondered how UU could fill the 77E on the RUN-SYD-NOU route. Doesn't really seem like a route that would get high loads but they're still operating that route so I guess they find a way.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
"Monsieur, we change your seat because you have two passenger seated next to you"
"We move you to another row, where you have three seats for you, and for more comfort on the flight"
"Thank you!"

Excellent ground service.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
and offers its Economy Class passengers amenity kits that are considered above average in their league.

  

Quoting ronerone (Reply 3):
Air Austral does not have 5th Freedom Traffic Rights between Sydney and Nouméa. A great way to bypass this was to get into a marketing agreement with Air Calin where all passenger uplift between Sydney and Nouméa technically belonged to Air Calin on a flight only operated by Air Austral.

It's a shame that they don't have fifth freedom rights but good ingenuity on UU's part for finding a way around this.

Regards,
aflyingkiwi


User currently offlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6428 posts, RR: 38
Reply 14, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 25944 times:

Hey Roni!

Another masterpiece brings us some insight into this less-known airline which plies its trade not too far from where I live, but it is still so hard to catch - even trying to spot it in the air! And I must say, at A$1100 one way from SYD-NOU, it doesn't sound too appealing! Though I should look out for cheap flights! Well written as always and accompanied by superb pics. I guess your flight to RUN was too uneventful for a TR?  

The meals look wonderful, service fantastic and seats look very comfortable even though the seat pitch seems a touch tight but 32" is not really anything out of the ordinary these days. Then again, with all your F and J travel, it must feel pretty tight  How did the seats feel?

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
“No from Reunion. It makes a stop in Sydney and continues to *@%$#@”
“I’m Sorry, to WHERE?”
“*@%$# It’s in *&^%$##”
“Where the hell is THAT?”

LOL. And this is in Sydney??

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
all Economy Class A380

Seeing that they have Business Class, are they still going ahead with an all-economy A380?

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
Roland Garros Airport

I was expecting to see a tennis court somewhere around but after doing a little bit of online searching, I see that this is a justified naming in honour of a great person.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
"Monsieur, we change your seat because you have two passenger seated next to you"
"We move you to another row, where you have three seats for you, and for more comfort on the flight"
"Thank you!"

What great service!


I assume that J was solely in front of 2L? What did Classe Confort look like?

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
They say that a way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Well the way to my heart is through the offering of a damn good Bloody Mary, and today, Air Austral found its way into me!

What a great touch! You know a cabin crew is good when they go the extra mile to ensure the satisfaction of passengers.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
With still another several hours to go, my leisure activities on board had their limitations, and all I could keep on doing was play on my IPad, look out the window, subscribe to one of the every-30 minute water runs, and so on and so forth.

Good to see they stuck to a water run routine.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
Looking out the window I perhaps find the only strip of land along the way

Perth, I'd guess? The only thing I'd like to see added would be mood lighting. I wonder if their 77Ws have it because it'd just add a little extra to that dark cabin.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
"Yes, we will stay in Sydney for 5 days before going to Nouméa"

Sounds like the joys of having a French union behind you as well as the infrequency. I wonder how long they have in Noumea!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
In a similar way as with the previous lunch service, two trolleys were rolled out for each opposing side of the two cabins. While the second serving on the menu indicated a light meal consisting of pineapple salad, a sandwich, and cottage cheese, the actual serving was a totally different continental breakfast.

What a nice surprise! Sounds great.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 3):
Air Austral does not have 5th Freedom Traffic Rights between Sydney and Nouméa. A great way to bypass this was to get into a marketing agreement with Air Calin where all passenger uplift between Sydney and Nouméa technically belonged to Air Calin on a flight only operated by Air Austral.

Apart from two nuns, no one else seemed to join the flight from Sydney. In fact, I had assumed that most passengers from Réunion (and/or Paris) would continue onwards to Nouméa when in fact, it seemed to be the opposite today.

Interesting to know.. Must be a reason why SB only fly A320s to SYD whereas AKL also sees A330s.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 4):
only without the blankets and the pillows.

I guess they're not really needed for 2.5 hr flights..

Quoting ronerone (Reply 4):
I think we used the 'far' runway at SYD?

Haha, no... You can see what looks like a 763 departing on that 'far' runway at SYD   You just went down to the end of the normal runway - 16L.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 4):

Again, breakfast was of excellent quality, and I have always enjoyed the good catering efforts at Sydney Airport. The omelet was perfectly cooked, and the sausage wasn't drenched in oil. Finally, I am a HUGE sucker for Nutella (I can eat this thing with a spoon), and that was simply the icing on the cake! Well done Air Austral!

Indeed, well done! It looks great. Doesn't seem too far off what Air NZ serve on trans Tasman flights.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 4):

Some final cabin shots prior to arrival

I swear you could add to your A.Net photo tally if you wanted - that first pic is fantastic.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 4):
I was quite disappointed at the terrible state of its airport. It was worse than a third world offering, and it seemed like it was completely neglected

Sounds like a typical South Pacific type airport..

Quoting ronerone (Reply 4):

They have a top notch Economy Class product, that even with the lack of any modern hardware, can easily outdo many other offerings out there. The entire journey with two sets of crew was extremely consistent and flowing smoothly. The crew were really there to help the passenger enjoy the long journey, and their willingness to help never stopped, even had they been quite exhausted after working on such a long flight.

Furthermore, the quality of the food was exceptional and the meal quantity was quite generous overall. I would love to make Air Austral a regular airline I can fly on, but the logistics of that would be quite difficult from where I live.

Indeed, the conclusion just sums it up. It is a product which seems like it is up there with the leading airlines of the world.

Thanks a lot for sharing! Looking forward to your next leg!


Cheers,
Nicholas



It's all about the destination AND the journey.
User currently offlineairbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4269 posts, RR: 51
Reply 15, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 25923 times:

Hi Roni,
what a fantastic report. I was totally not aware about Air Austral flying this odd route. 10h30m is a long flight, but definitely not ordinary by any means, many Europe-Asia flights are of similar or longer duration. But you're from DXB usually, I understand it's different for you maybe.
I'm also impressed by their service, all real good. Such a shame to see lower loads. I hope it's not the usual thing, otherwise they cannot succeed long with keeping this in the air.

Regards
Eric



"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
User currently offlineflightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1268 posts, RR: 4
Reply 16, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 25868 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

What a perfect report to read when all I am surrounded by here is snow and icy cold weather!! Another great installment Roni and looking forward to more in 2011.....Let's say we finally see that QR report, sorry I just had to say it!! Now back to Air Austral !!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
I was still contemplating to commence my journey from Paris -although the fares from Paris to Nouméa were not necessarily cheap, and Air Austral in general seemed quite expensive as it is- but I settled with joining the flight from Réunion instead and saving a little extra cash on the side.
Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
was at Roland Garros Airport at 8:50am, some 3 hours and 15 minutes before my scheduled departure time.
Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
Stuffed with airline souvenirs from my flights on the previous day, my hand carry was well above the 10kg limit.

So how did you get to Roland Garros. Your hand carry stuffed with airline souvenirs indicate that you travelled on perhaps a new carrier, or one you are terribly fond of you that you still cannot help yourself to more souvenirs LOL

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
"Is this your checked baggage?"
"No, this is my carry-on, I plan to have no checked baggage today"
"Weight is 10kg without laptop?"

What that is all you had...a hand carry!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
As it is a requirement for tourists entering New Caledonia to present proof of onward travels, I was asked to present a multitude of itinerary printouts that showed my travels -only a day after my Nouméa arrival- to Sydney, Melbourne, and Kuala Lumpur.

Oh okay, you were in Noumea for just a day.....And then travelled back to Sydney, Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur...Hmm is this a sign of things to come....Please say it involves a trip report on my beloved MH!!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
Like a beached whale dumped on the shoreline, a humongous Air Austral B777-300ER came roaring in on arrival from a 12 hour flight from Paris. And today was a lucky day, as only several minutes later, an Air France B77W was also beached on the shorelines of Réunion.

You can feel that thunderous roar at an airport like LAX at night with all those heavies departing. Imagine feeling that at this island airport. Probably felt like the thuds of the Dinosaurs at Jurassic Park lol

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
I had initially thought we were to board the only B772 that was parked at an aerobridge, when in fact we had to turn to the opposite direction and walk towards an exit leading outside of the terminal and to a remote stand where a second B772 was parked. Nice!

I thought Air Austral was using the Boeing 777-300ERs on this route? Which is one reason I got excited when I read your trip report title. But no worries, I'm still excited even though it's the 777-200ER

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
An announcement was then made that we were to be served a full lunch momentarily, which was to be followed by the displaying of a feature movie on the overhead screens. How 90's is that?


How about a pain in the neck!! Overhead screens on a 777...that is 90s!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
In the two main cabins of Economy Class, the meal service began from the front of the front cabin, and from the back of the back cabin hence, everyone is served their meals and drinks within a reasonable waiting period.

Very interesting.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
Just when I thought that no menus were on offer on Air Austral in Economy Class, I was pleasantly surprised to find one nicely wrapped over the napkin on my sexy meal tray.

Did you quickly have to open the menu when the meal tray was handed to you and make a decision while the FA wait? Excusez-moi Monsieur, je vous attend!! Qu'est-ce vous desirez pour manger  
Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
They say that a way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Well the way to my heart is through the offering of a damn good Bloody Mary, and today, Air Austral found its way into me!

Roni you and your bloody Mary's!! Looks like Air Austral shot a cupid's arrow right into you LOL

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
One thing about personal IFE on a flight -and including your very own route map- is that you tend to ignore the remainder of the flight and pass the time through a movie marathon of some sort. I had forgotten how refreshing it can be to just sit back, relax, reflect on life with a few thoughts, and do absolutely nothing apart from take in your in-flight surroundings, hour after hour.

Yes sometimes it's just wonderful to not have the marathon movies to take away the actual flight experience! Leave the movies to rent when you are back on the ground  
Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
I made myself a comfortable bed on my three seats,

Like on the new Air New Zealand's Couch class or whatever you call it!!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
A crew noticed me walking towards the galley, and immediately got up from his seat to assist me.

"Monsieur?"
"Can I have a cup of Diet Coke please?"
"Sure. Please also help yourself to some sandwiches if you like"
"Thank you"

Compare that to some renowned carriers discussed on here where you have to get their attention, even after they have seen you coming! Air Austral looks like a real gem of an airline.


User currently offlineflightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1268 posts, RR: 4
Reply 17, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 25574 times:
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Interesting uniforms, the red coat the lustfulness of the French, and the Blue Skirt the expanse and beauty of the Indian Ocean. Those seat head rest covers have a very ex-BWIA feel to them.

User currently offlinejetblue777 From United States of America, joined Jul 2009, 1456 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 25437 times:

I usually skip some parts of a TR when I read them because I'm that lazy, but this one, I had to read every word you wrote! It was a great trip report, a masterpiece! What's more appealing is that it's a report about an airline that a lot of a.netters hasn't been on and a lot of people has never heard of! I was surprised by the quality of service and food that you got from Air Austral! The food looks delicious and the crew, as you said, was fantastic. I assumed that UU would be like AF and I've heard horror stories about AF! And that empty 772 is the way to go! You get flat beds but with the price of a Y ticket (but like NZ107 said, the price isn't too appealing.)

One of the best trip reports I've read! Air Austral and Reunion shall be in my bucket list!

BTW, how was Noumea? How were the beaches? the people? And did you take UU on the way back?

JetBlue777



It's a cultural thing.
User currently offlinecaleb1 From United States of America, joined Nov 2008, 364 posts, RR: 3
Reply 19, posted (3 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 25412 times:
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I have been waiting for another TR from you and as usual, this one was of the same quality as your experience on Air Austral...Excellent!! Just when I thought your reports could not get more interesting, you spring this rare gem on us. As always, I look forward to reading about your next travel adventure. Well done, Roni. Well done!!

User currently offlineronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1662 posts, RR: 53
Reply 20, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 24591 times:

For those who are interested, the following add-ons will show you the interior shots of Air Austral in different flavors, and also my 24 hour stay in Nouméa.



AIR AUSTRAL CABIN SHOTS
Taken from www.air-austral.com



Club Austral on the B777-200ER



Classe Confort on the B777-200ER



Club Austral on the B77W



Classe Confort on the B77W



Classe Loisirs on the B77W






A pretty darn good product all around I would say!



NOUMÉA
Nouméa in all honesty, was simply not my cup of tea. People were a tad cold, if indifferent at all, and the place was so expensive beyond belief.

The airport was practically in the middle of nowhere, and a 45 minute taxi ride -the only available mode of transport on the spot- could easily cost you almost 170 Euros!

One funny incident was when I was on my way to the airport the following day (another 170 Euros trashed), the cab driver was too lazy to get out of the car to open the trunk for me after we arrived at the curbside. Instead, and while she was busy speaking on the telephone, she turned the car off, handed me the key for me to open the trunk and pull out my suitcase by myself while she remained inside chatting away on the phone. This for almost 200 Euros!

Another downside was the hotel. Also known as Le Lagon (supposedly a famous global chain), this 3-star hotel charges approximately 250 Euros for a room that was infested with roaches. In my 24 hour transit, I must have killed over 20 roaches which kept creeping out the wooden panel that is strapped onto the bottom of the room walls. It was absolutely disgusting! (though the room itself was nice and spacious).

Furthermore, an extra 20 Euros were paid online for a continental breakfast. The hotel website did mention that breakfast is served daily from 7am to 10am however, this never happened in reality, and they tried their best not to give me a refund.

"Oh I am sorry sir, today the restaurant will open for breakfast at 9am"
"I cannot make it for 9am, I have a flight to catch and your website mentioned that breakfast will be served at 7am"
"But sir it's happy new year!"
"Yes I know it is happy new year, but your website took 20 Euros and did not mention happy new year timings, I will not have breakfast so I don't need to pay for it"

The beaches in Nouméa on the other hand were beautiful, and I spent most of the day basking under the sun.








































A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
User currently offlineSOBHI51 From Saudi Arabia, joined Jun 2003, 3474 posts, RR: 17
Reply 21, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 24439 times:
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Nice pics of Noumea, but do you anything to report about La Reunion? Thanks


I am against any terrorist acts committed under the name of Islam
User currently offline9W748Capt From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 587 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 24176 times:

170 euros for the taxi!? good lord - and then she stayed on her phone and gave you the keys - LOL. I still can't get over that cab fare though. Seriously you'd think you were in Japan or something. That is just insane. Is there no other way of getting from the airport to the city? And do you have any pics of Noumea's airport?

Brilliant report as always though - I had no idea Air Austral operated such an exotic route. Thanks for bringing it to our living rooms in the entertaining way you always do.


User currently offlinechepos From Puerto Rico, joined Dec 2000, 6219 posts, RR: 11
Reply 23, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 23982 times:

Another excellent trip report. Thank you for sharing your experience on Air Austral, this must be the debut of Air Austral feautred on A TR as I have never seen another Air Austral report around. Funny you mention eating Nutella with a spoon, as a child I grew up eating nutella with a little plastic spoon as it was sold back home as candy you would eat as an after school treat. When i vsited Europe for the first time I was puzzled when I was offered nutella as a spread to put on bread "how weird I thought". Here in the US alot of Americans don't even know what it is. So from what I read in your report the main purpose of this route is to bridge France with OZ/Noumea? By the way how did you make it back home from Noumea?

Regards,

Chepos



Fly the Flag!!!!
User currently offlineryanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4755 posts, RR: 26
Reply 24, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 23905 times:

Salut,

I am at work now but somehow reading about your flight made me feel so ooh-la-la... so relaxing! hahahaha... Must be that "island" spirit radiating from this airline.

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
But however, the fact that such a small island somewhere, with an airline that had (at the time) announced an order for a few B777-300ER’s was nothing short of intriguing. Where the hell will they fly them to? And does the 77W even fit on the island?

That's exactly what people said when SQ received 2 747-200s in 1976.

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
I think it is also safe to assume that Air Austral has some of the world's longest domestic flights!

Add Russian domestic flights to that! I am sure flights to the Far East can be just as long.

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
Once inside, it was a little less of the modern and more of the tropical, and I was suddenly reminded of Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta's unique interior design that is dim, yet pleasant.

Oh honey... CGK stinks of kretek ciggie smoke, but Reunion's airport looks like it is drenched in Chanel No. 5! So much more glam that CDG.

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
And today was a lucky day, as only several minutes later, an Air France B77W was also beached on the shorelines of Réunion. Why are these two airlines competing on this domestic route, and offering similarly timed services?

Well, imitation is the best form of flattery?

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
Air Austral cabin crew -predominantly male, yet with a few ultra good looking females- were spread throughout the cabin welcoming the boarding passengers.

Reminds is of another island-airline - Air Mauritius. Remember my experience with them? Oooh-la-la indeed...

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
The crew promptly took action in the aisles, and with their genuine smiles they seemed equally at ease with everyone. Similarly, the passengers were quite the laid back bunch which really made up for an enjoyable flight by everyone involved. Service was not rushed, and the crew smiled at each and every passenger as they distributed the prepackaged moist towelettes.

This reminds me of a prelude to untold disaster... Somehow passengers are always relaxed with cabin crew smiling along the aisle before all hell breaks loose. I must have been watching too many episodes of Air Crash Investigations on Nat Geo.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
A sneak peek at the Air Austral lavatory, which was beautifully maintained

Hahahahahaha for some reason, I read that sentence so fast and I thought you typed "... well marinated"!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
Apart from two nuns, no one else seemed to join the flight from Sydney.

We really do need to catch up. I have so many "nun" jokes to unleash.  

Au revoir et a bientot!

R



Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
25 Airbusa322 : Their loads have always been miserable in/out of Sydney, I dont even know why they bother with the route, hardly making money. Almost never do these f
26 Post contains links The777Man : Hi Roni! Excellent report with fantastic pictures! You flew the same UU aircraft that I was on in May 2007! Lots of things seems the same but the inte
27 stylo777 : great report roni! good pictures as well as a nice written story. Air Austral seems like a decent airline with quality crews onboard.
28 JL418 : Thank you Roni for yet another marvelous TR! Whenever I read from you or other A.net "seniors" I feel ashamed about posting my small European short-ha
29 Post contains images ojas : Hi Roni, As always brilliant, it took me a long research before I started reading your TR. Just a request, next time you do these odd airlines please
30 Post contains links lukeyboy95 : Well done yet again Roni. You do a great service to us lot with the effort and time you put in your reports. I was very curious about this airline, an
31 lychemsa : Thanks for the pictures of Noumea. I was told that the island one must visit is Ile des Pins nearby.
32 767747 : Hi, ronerone! Another fantastic report on an airline that we do not hear much about! As usual, every aspect of your trip was documented perfectly. I h
33 MHTripple7 : Awesome report, ronerone! I must admit that I share your intrigue for Air Austral. Reminds me a bit of TAAG in that it's this "random airline nobody h
34 CaptainRed : Hi ronerone, what an awesome and enjoyable trip report! Air Austral really seems to be a great little airline, I am quite impressed by the service you
35 ba319-131 : Hi Roni, Good to see another report, you have been far too quiet! - Good stuff, a little reported upon airline for sure. - A very inviting cabin, like
36 Post contains images airpearl : Hey Roni! Another top notch and fascinating read on a really low profile (but surprisingly high quality) airline. Even though I'd heard some of the de
37 Post contains images signol : Fascinating report, thank you! Seems like Austral would rank about top of the customer service charts, in Y at least? I suspect the route exists more
38 globalflyer : HI Roni. As always a wonderful TR. Do you have any pictures of Noumea to share? UU looks like a fantastic airline. I cannot wait for them to add the A
39 Post contains images ronerone : Dear All, Many thanks for your great comments and usual support Glad this report was as enjoyable as the journey itself I will be posting a separate (
40 Post contains images FlySSC : Those flights RUN-SYD-NOU are never full ... Acually they are almost empty most of the time ... See above ... They, for sure, found a way : Public mo
41 Post contains images NZ107 : Woah, in that case there's no way I'll be trying them out to NOU. Noumea is priced way out of my zone too after what I saw with your experience. *fac
42 T8KE0FF : As usual from you, a fantastic TR! I don't usually comment on TR's but I have to say that the Lamb meatballs look amazing!!
43 reifel : Thank you so much for this exotic report! Really enjoyed it and it felt as if I was on the plane. They seem to have a terrific product and such a ligh
44 directorguy : Another masterpiece, Roni, well done! The French DOM-TOMs are incredible to read about, and I truly feel like I've visited them by reading this. Much
45 Post contains images ronerone : It probably was PER. On the great circle mapper it showed a more southerly typical route that would make Sydney pretty much the only landfall we woul
46 Econojetter : Hey Roni, Very very fine report. UU seems like such a charming little airline. The cabin is stylish, the catering looks awesome and the crew seem to b
47 NZ107 : Yeah, I looked at that too.. It comes to a grand total of around a 200km difference between the gc distance and via PER!
48 Post contains images Burj : Awesome TR! Finally have time to sit down and read it all and soak it in and then read all the comments! Only thing I can add is that it was great NOT
49 Post contains images ronerone : Hey Econojetter! Thanks for stopping by! UU is indeed one charming little airline. Hope they maintain such consistency on other flights too! Very tru
50 MSS658 : Another nice and detailed report, thanks for sharing. Apart from not having personal IFE UU looks to have a pretty good product.
51 Post contains images oa260 : Hey Roni , Sorry for late reply I have been travelling myself and have just got back. Been trying to catch up on all the TR's I missed. Another great
52 QANTASFOREVER2 : Hmmm. Yes, Noumea does have some way to go. It is so close to Australia but feels a million miles away. With absolutely EVERYTHING imported from Fran
53 CARST : An awesome TR ronerone! Was a great read, pictures are looking good and it seems Air Austral is a really top-notch airline. Hope you enjoyed your stay
54 vivekman2006 : What a brilliant TR Roni - on an airline which is hardly reported on the forum and to places which very few people know existed! Great pictures and in
55 lhr380 : Roni, Thank you!!! As always you have produced an amazing Trip Report. You actually nearly made me start planning a trip to fly with them and I love a
56 Post contains images SR 103 : As always, another masterpiece! Sorry about the late response, its been a busy couple of weeks. Wow, congratulations! I had no idea you had produced s
57 QFKangaroo747 : What a wonderful trip report! Thank you for your efforts. I have been curious about the Air Austral service between RUN and SYD since it started a cou
58 LH4116 : Hey Roni, great report! Seems like you had some good flights on Air Austral. Nice to see a report of this airline on the forum, since they're not much
59 Post contains images ronerone : Thanks MSS658, Glad you enjoyed Thanks Phil Yea lesson learned, i do not log onto my email or facebook without logging out after i am done! Hi QANTAS
60 UALDUDE : EXCELLENT as always! I really enjoy your trip reports Roni. Thanks.
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