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A ROK'n And A Fokker'n In A Virgin Alliance  
User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2057 posts, RR: 4
Posted (2 years 9 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 7469 times:

Ahhh a.net. I’ve been away awhile. Busy with work, busy with writing my own travel blog system and busy actually travelling. So much has happened in the world of aviation in that time. Strikes, groundings, scootings and sightings. Anyway, time to catch up on some trip reports starting with flights between Sydney and Rockhampton in early October. Forgive me for skipping some details, but time is short these days.

When my sister announced her wedding date we hit the airline websites and discovered that this was going to be an expensive trip. We’d just dedicated all my leave on a trip to Europe in the following month, leaving us only the wedding weekend itself to go up to Rocky. Virgin Australia was the cheaper option with a direct flight up on the Friday, but returned too late at night on the Sunday, so we sacrificed some Qantas frequent flyer points for the return. As a bonus, that meant we could book a flight on the QantasLink’s wet leased Alliance Airline Fokker 100.

You may recall a similar trip a year earlier when my then almost two year old son Alex and I flew Virgin Blue up to Rocky. This time my wife B was also flying up and we would spend a whole extra day there. I viewed this trip as useful advanced intelligence for our upcoming Europe trip on how our now almost-three year old son would behave on an aircraft. It had been over six months since our last flight together and, as any parent knows, they change a lot in that time.

On the day of departure we decided to save some of the inconvenience of public transport and just drive to the long term carpark, about $8 more expensive (not counting petrol) than the public transport option. Unfortunately we picked the M5 route and arrived at the check in desk with only a few minutes to spare.

Qantas 738 descending over the Long Term Carpark
JAL 777 with OneWorld livery
Virgin Australia check-in

Alex was excited to see x-ray machines again and we passed through quickly enough, but then he needed a toilet stop and by the time we made it to the gate our names were being called.

I was a little disappointed to see that we would be flying on an Embraer 190 rather than the E-170 which usually does the run. The latter are unloved by Virgin Australia and Alex has never flown one. Practically speaking it makes little difference.

Embraer at an adjacent gate

The seating of the Embraers is 2-2 so we were split up. I let B and Alex sit together while I sat in the aisle seat next to them. I figured that I had seen enough Sydney take-offs and she was owed some flight time with Alex. Fortunately, the aircraft wasn’t full, so I moved to an empty window seat after take-off.

A relaxed little frequent flyer

Cabin shot

There was a long delay after we taxied out to the main runway as it seemed like every other aircraft had priority over us. A wide variety of aircraft paraded past, including plenty of international widebodies.

There is very little I can say about the flight itself. It has to be one of the more boring that I have been on. The Virgin Australia crew looked rather youthful, more like hairdressers than flight attendants. There is no onboard entertainment and we didn’t purchase any of the food for sale from the trolley.

Take-off

Alex had a little sleep, played with some stickers with B, then came down to visit me and watch ABC for Kids programs on a cheap Android phone I had purchased for that purpose. I listened to music on mine.
Outside were scattered clouds and bland brown fields. It really isn’t the most scenic of countryside either from the air or the ground. It wasn’t until our descent into Rockhampton that the flight became a little more interesting as we flew over a low mountain range through thick puffy clouds.


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Hungry? Here are your limited choices

Legroom. There’s enough of it


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Big brown land

Descent

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A coal train runs past the lagoons around the airport


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About to land


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Waiting on the apron were Singaporean Super Puma and Apache helicopters, here for military exercises at Shoalwater Bay.
General aviation

A general’s aviation

A new control tower

As we stood up to leave the aircraft I could hear Malaysian accents from a couple of students in the aircraft. I had to smile, thinking about our next trip.

It’s stairs only at Rockhampton and as I walked along the tarmac I turned to take a couple of quick photos of the aircraft.



“Put away the camera now!” ordered one of the female Virgin cabin crew members standing on the tarmac. “I said put it away!” she repeated loudly as I fumbled it off with one hand.

I found her tone and insistence were incredibly rude as at no point was I not complying with her instructions and no such instructions had been made prior to disembarking. Indeed I have taken photos on the tarmac at Rockhampton before without any issues. It left a sour taste in my mouth.

We were met by mum Mum and brother’s family. To Alex’s delight the luggage belt soon started up and disgorged our sole checked in bag. There had been a few changes in the past year, with the Eagle Boys pizza outlet changing into some generic cafe. But no sign of the flood damage that had seen the airport closed.


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Our ride home

Taking passengers back to Brisbane

Viewing area

We had hired a car for the duration of our stay and after short trip to visit my sister and check into our hotel we were soon driving down to the coast for a practice run of the wedding.

Rockhampton is a load of bull. Here’s the one guarding the airport entrance

View from our room at the Rockhampton Travelodge

Volcanic plug on the way to Yeppoon

Rosslyn Bay, site of the wedding

Sunset at the Causeway Lake

I have to say that we rather enjoyed this trip to Rockhampton. It was all very relaxed and friendly and I even had a rather nice Burmese laksa at Feast On East. Even the weather wasn’t too hot.


Applying insanity to normality
10 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2057 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (2 years 9 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 7450 times:

The day after the wedding it was time to head back to Sydney. I’m not sure if I’ve caught a Fokker 100 before; it’s difficult to say with the variety of aircraft that used to serve Rockhampton in the 90’s. Certainly B and I caught a KLM Fokker between Schipol and Frankfurt but I’m not sure whether it was a 70 or 100. Anyway, it was certainly Alex’s first - yet another aircraft to add to his already extensive list.

The check in lady at the QantasLink desk was very friendly. We discovered that we were catching the same flights as my elderly uncle and aunt from Adelaide. Alex was so excited seeing a luggage belt again that he had a little accident in his pants, a rarity these days. Then we said goodbye to my Mum, passed through the security gates (more excitement for Alex with the x-ray machines) and into the waiting area.


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QantasLink Dash-8

Waiting area

The Fokker 100 arrived to disgorge its passengers. I asked the Qantas lady at the gate if I could take photos on the tarmac and she said that it wasn’t permitted, but nowhere did I see signs to this effect. As such, I’m not certain of the legality of this instruction.


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Gate

We were seated in row two of the Fokker 100 and the legroom was amazing. Maybe this is some sort of premium row because the legroom was reduced further back. We weren’t complaining and neither were the two unaccompanied kids in the front row opposite us! The other great thing was that the layout is 2-3 and we were seated all together.

Legroom

The Fokker was showing its age, but looked well maintained and it was a real delight to be onboard one.


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I believe that Alliance Airlines mainly do mining charters. Perhaps QantasLink are wetleasing these to compete with the Virgin Australia jets out of Rockhampton as QantasLink only fly Dash-8s themselves. I know of a few passengers that prefer the jets.

Alliance


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Queensland doesn’t use daylight saving time, unlike the other eastern states. They are currently one hour and 50 years behind

Enough legroom?


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The Alliance cabin crew were young but seemed so much more professional than Virgin’s. They really assisted the unaccompanied kids.

Safety card


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Finally the cabin doors were closed and we taxied out to the runway.

Singaporean airforce

View of the Berserkers ranges

My favourite computer game in Rocky was Gunship on the Amstrad 6128



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The take-off was powerful and surprisingly quiet. I guess the cabin was noisier back near the engines, but I was very impressed by the performance of the Fokker.


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It was an almost cloudless day and the views down to Brisbane were fairly interesting with mines and towns, hills and valleys.


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Alex slept almost the entire flight. We were give “lunchboxes” containing a muesli bar, zucchini slice and dried apricots, along with a drink, a surprisingly substantial meal in this day and age.


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Bushfires were already burning in Central Queensland

As we approached Brisbane scattered clouds appeared, which we descended towards.


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The northern suburbs of Brisbane

Redcliffe Airport

We swung out across the coast, then turned southwest to take us into Brisbane Airport.


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A fellow Fokker 100 used for rescue training?


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The aircraft parked for a disembarkation from the apron. Passengers were informed that mobile phone use was forbidden until they had entered the terminal building and that federal police were watching with binoculars. They didn’t say anything about cameras, so I whipped off a shot before going down the stairs and entering the bus to take us to the terminal.

Alliance hanger


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Rego


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We weaved between the QantasLink Dash-8s on our short trip to the building.


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We had about an hour in the terminal before our flight down to Sydney. That meant another trip through security then another to buy some lunch, most especially for Alex who had slept through the airline meal. He drank too much juice.

Before long we were queuing up for our Qantas 767 flight. This bit was just like our last trip, except there were two of us to handle Alex.

Our 767


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I have a great fondness for Qantas’ 767s, even if they are getting quite long in the tooth. Actually, some of it is because they are “well aged”. They fly well and their interior decore recalls some of our earlier trips, like flying 767s on the Sydney - Cairns - Japan route. The centre projector screen in this one certainly reminded us of our honeymoon flight in their larger brother 747s to London.


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Due to the 767 having a 2-3-2 seating configuration and my insistence on a window seat B sat in the centre aisle, slightly staggered away from Alex and I.


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Alex takes safety seriously

And has more legroom than Dad

Alex was given a small Mr Men activity pack containing three coloured pencils and some activity cards and paper. He used the pack itself as a little robot during the flight.

Activity pack


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I noticed that the safety video was fast forwarded to remove the introduction and just display the actual safety information. Probably industrial action on behalf of the crew.

We taxied out for a typically powerful 767 take-off towards the north. Our path took us out across Moreton Bay and past the expanding Port of Brisbane.

Skytrans Dash-8


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Looking back towards the airport


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Big Bang Theory: not a good title for flights

We were served ham and mustard sandwiches, which were okay, but a lot less substantial than the QantasLink offerings.


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Alex occupied himself with videos on the spare phone

It’s so easy to convince yourself you are flying long distance with a 767. If only we were going north...


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Alex had decided that he didn’t like aircraft toilets. The sucking sound of them flushing frightened him. This, combined with his prodigious juice drinking had some disastrous consequences. Not only was the seat now wet, but thanks to his earlier accident we had no more pants left, so he had to fly for the remainder of the trip wearing nothing but the last spare pair of underpants left in our cabin baggage. How would we cope on our upcoming long-haul flights???

Activity cards

The crew just told us not to worry and brought a blanket for him to sit on.

The wind around Sydney lead to fairly bumpy descent as we were delayed by the queue into the single East-West runway. However, it did afford us some great views of the city.


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Airport view

Swinging out across the coast

Sydney Harbour and CBD


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City skyline

Close up looking towards the SCG and Footy Stadium


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Braking an aircraft

In the gorgeous afternoon light I would normally feel like taking another flight straight away, but I had a cold coming on and just wanted to go to bed.


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The copilot came over the PA to read a message about the current industrial dispute.

Inside the terminal we said goodbye to my aunt and uncle and made our way back to the long term carpark. The bus there was rather packed and the bus driver unpleasantly cranky, making me long for the friendliness that we had experienced in Rockhampton.

Inside Terminal 3

Even in light of the current industrial problems at Qantas I have to say that I would much rather fly with them than Virgin Australia. When you board a Qantas aircraft you feel like you are in the hands of professionals. When I’ve flown with Virgin Australia recently I’ve felt like I was in some cheaper retail outlet. I’m happy with a youthful and fun image, but there’s a roughness about Virgin Australia that I think needs polishing if they want to properly compete. It will be interesting to take another look at them when I fly Virgin Australia to Canberra next month.

First I have a much bigger trip report to do... Malaysia Airlines to Europe.

Links
* Blog
* Photos of flight up
* More photos of the flight home



Applying insanity to normality
User currently offlinedebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2417 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (2 years 9 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 7042 times:

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
We were seated in row two of the Fokker 100 and the legroom was amazing. Maybe this is some sort of premium row because the legroom was reduced further back.



Hi, I think you was onboard VH-XWN.
Well, very easy to explain. This aircraft was delivered (AFAIK) with 109 seats from US Airways to GERMANIA, requiring 3 flight attendants to work on (according to German law). But GERMANIA decided to use this bird on low-cost flights, under the brand name GEXX (Germania EXPRESS)- with only 2 flight attendants to save costs. Therefore, the capacity had to be reduced to just 100 seats- done so by removing the first rows... A complete re-arrangement of seats and O2-masks were too expansive!
Anyway, nice to see those F100 enjoying the Australian sun and still flying smooth- as in Germany these planes were suffering from reliability problems...


User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2057 posts, RR: 4
Reply 3, posted (2 years 9 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6845 times:

Quoting debonair (Reply 2):
Hi, I think you was onboard VH-XWN.

Actually, it was VH-XWM, but it's another ex-Germania aircraft so I suppose that your comments must stand. Interesting that the rows were not replaced, but indeed we had only two flight attendants. Funny how a row of their "best" seats were given to passengers who paid with frequent flyer points (and silver level at that).

No idea how reliable the Fokkers are with Alliance Air.



Applying insanity to normality
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 15
Reply 4, posted (2 years 9 months 1 week 13 hours ago) and read 5986 times:

Hey

nice trip report, thanks for sharing it with us! The Fokker looks to be very comfortable! Nice to see the good old QF 767 as well!

Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlinesignol From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2007, 3003 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (2 years 9 months 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 5693 times:

Hi Allrite,

nice to read of your latest trip with Alex - he's growing up so fast!

looks like you had a good trip, shame about Alex's accident, but that's normal for kids of his age.

I read your allrite.at blog, very good, looking forward to the flight reports on here  

signol



Flights booked: none :(
User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2057 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (2 years 9 months 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 5562 times:

Thanks for the comments!

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 4):
The Fokker looks to be very comfortable!

It was! And both it and the 767 flew very nicely too. Going to be interesting to compare the rides on the 787 with the older aircraft. Newer craft (Airbus, Embraers to name a couple) seem to have a softer touch about them.

Quoting signol (Reply 5):
looks like you had a good trip, shame about Alex's accident, but that's normal for kids of his age.

Great trip really. Yes, he'd been going through a few pants at childcare, but only one accident since - fingers crossed.



Applying insanity to normality
User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1223 posts, RR: 17
Reply 7, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3247 times:

Hi allrite

Thanks for linking your report to your comments on my Alliance F100 report. I did not see your report first time round - I really enjoyed it.

Looks like a fairly similar flight on the F100 on us both. Your F100 seemed to be a bit newer than mine but I also found the legroom excellent on -FWI and I was at the back!

It was also surprisingly quiet at the back, even though I was near an engine. Nowhere near as loud as I expected.

Some nice views from the air on the way back down to BNE.

Shame about your experience with DJ, or VA as they are now known at ROK - with the camera on the ramp. I never got yelled at anywhere on this trip. Having read your experiences (and in SYD as well?) I've been a lot more cautious in Australia than I used to be. I've been yelled at in other places though, the most recent being in Tenerife by a horribly rude Easyjet ground staff!

Thanks again - Palmjet



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2057 posts, RR: 4
Reply 8, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3223 times:

Quoting palmjet (Reply 7):
I did not see your report first time round - I really enjoyed it.

Thanks! From the stats it was one of the less popular ones.  

Hopefully you'll like an upcoming MASWings ATR72-500 report from KCH - BTU - BKU in Malaysia.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 7):
Having read your experiences (and in SYD as well?) I've been a lot more cautious in Australia than I used to be. I've been yelled at in other places though, the most recent being in Tenerife by a horribly rude Easyjet ground staff!

I was told not to stop (though nothing about photography) at OOL when disembarking by stairs from a JQ A330 flight from Japan, though I have previously snapped away. The other time was outside the LCCT in Singapore after a FireFly flight, though that was actually signposted as well.



Applying insanity to normality
User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4755 posts, RR: 26
Reply 9, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 2763 times:

Almost brought tears to my eyes looking at the images of Rocky. After all, my decision to make the move down under was pretty much formed during the years I spent living there. Strange as this may sound, I actually do miss that little town. Perhaps a visit may be in order.


Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2057 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 2748 times:

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 9):
Almost brought tears to my eyes looking at the images of Rocky. After all, my decision to make the move down under was pretty much formed during the years I spent living there. Strange as this may sound, I actually do miss that little town. Perhaps a visit may be in order.

You might find it cheaper to make an extra trip to Singapore if you are missing something (like good food). I've been pricing flights to Rocky to visit family in the middle of the year and with the right sale on Singapore sometimes works out cheaper.



Applying insanity to normality
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