pilotschnitzel From Australia, joined Jun 2011, 142 posts, RR: 0 Posted (1 year 1 month 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 3240 times:
Hi everyone. After more hours spent immersing myself in the amazing trip reports I've started to take into account everyone's different styles of TR's and I am trying to improve from my last one, so here it goes.
Towards the end of September this year, I was looking for holidays to go on as I had joined up with Velocity after many years of flying with Qantas and before that Ansett (though I was very young). This thought popped into my mind that a day trip to Sydney for some spotting would be fantastic! Although not a holiday, I hadn't done too many days of dedicated spotting there (a mere total of two). Usually I chose flights mainly based on the equipment operating it. Due to the number of flights I take by myself now I have to chose based on the public transport system , for most routes. I obviously chose DJ, I haven't flown on them since 2007 (back when they were Virgin Blue) so it was going to be an interesting experience.
I originally wanted at least 4 hours of spotting there but due to factoring in the time of travel to Melbourne with delays and being able to catch the train home if my flight is delayed, I was restricted to about 2 hours. After some lengthy discussions I was able to hitch a ride there (I live about 3 hours drive from the airport) so I booked for a 0900 flight, being able to get there by 0810 with plenty of time to spare (with no checked baggage).
Being stuck at school the day before I tried OLCI but for some strange reason the internet wouldn't allow this. Once I got home it I was checked in for both, it was looking like quite full flights. With a 0430 wake up the next day I was able complete my morning rituals with a departure time of 0500 from home. Eventually we arrive at the airport but during the trip I failed to check the flight status (which would bite me shortly). I got dropped off on the departure level. I quickly made my way to security, with all of the excitement of my first day trip I still didn't check the FIDS. I gather that the security point here has been covered before, but due to the amount of pax, the dedicated line for gold, platinum and business class became a normal line. They decided to close off one line for some reason and I was forced to go through another point, the lady being kind enough to let me through first. Now, I bothered to check the FIDS for my gate and it's delayed........yay. I normally don't mind delays but this was a pain due to nature of the trip. The aircraft was due from OOL and we were given a revised departure time of 1100, boarding at 1030. Oh well, I never get angry at delays like you see on the tv shows because IT HAPPENS! For me, it means more time for spotting here.
Nothing new here! As you can see it's not very welcoming wx...but it was worse in SYD.
Route: MEL - SYD
I had completely forgotten that Virgin boards via both the front and rear doors. It's always a rush for an aviation junkie like myself to be able to walk airside, so I took my time to get to the stairs. I decided against any photos just to be safe. The FA who was greeting me wasn't paying attention until I started to walk past her. She seemed grumpy for the entire flight, even though I had no interaction with her during the flight it was in contrast with the new image DJ have built themselves. My first impression of the aircraft was that it was a lot newer but after a while it seemed the same as QF. The cabin felt a lot better to sit in than OF 73's and a little more leg room. This particular aircraft at the time hadn't been revamped, I find the newer aircraft have less leg room, although I couldn't wait to fly on the newer aircraft soon!
Push back was pretty much on time and we made our way to RWY 27. The thing that gets me is that the cabin crew is told to be seated for take off just short of the runway (even though they usually are already).
Take off was normal.
My rule is that if the fare doesn't include any food I resist buying anything, especially on Virgin. I kindly declined when the offer was presented. The flight was uneventful though during the landing my photo taking (especially with my DSLR) wasn't too secretive, I overheard one lady say "Oh are we allowed to take photos?" QF safety cards say we can but DJ doesn't mention it.....oh well I don't care.
The weather was not what I wanted for a day trip but hey, you can't pick it. It's a great approach onto RWY 16R. I spotted the deck as we touched down. Due to the time I decided against a flight deck visit even though I ask every flight. I exited the aircraft through the rear again and up the stairs. I rushed towards the exit to landside and down to the train station. I choose the train due to the fact that if you time it right, it's 2 min to the international side (where the deck is located), but the downside is that it's $5 one way. No matter where you are in sydney, if you catch the train to the airport it's an extra $5. The T-Bus, though only $0.50 more than the train, its a 15min drive. I ended up waiting around 5 minutes for the train and took a seat close to the door. 2 minutes later I was walking up through the escalators to the terminal. The deck is accessible through the Terrance Bar, near the United check in. I made my way up the stairs, first of all to be greeted by Scoot.
This was a trip full of firsts for me (in terms of airlines, types and liverys). I had my first photo of a 757, the special air china livery, Air Austral and MD-11. Here are the photos plus more. While up on the deck 75km winds ripped through, it was very cold and hard to get a steady shot!
So at around 1430 I headed of the train. Another $5 to the airport, I rushed down to, at first, misread the display screen that the next train was arriving in 40mins....not what I wanted. Another read found the next one was in 10mins.....phew!
Since I already had my boarding pass I reached T2 and proceeded to security which is a lot faster than MEL. Once through I headed to the gate, something I always do no matter what. Confirming my gate (A32) I went in search for some food. Hitting up some subway and red rooster I waited with high hopes that my first Embraer flight will be on a special livery (as much as you can get with DJ).
Aircraft: Embraer 190
I did want a "Virgin Australia" livery but I got even better, ZPM in Pacific Blue! As the pax deplaned, the crew emerged with two female pilots. Very rare in my experience, I do know a female pilot personally flying the E190's for DJ and in no way am I saying there shouldn't be. I think more female pilots is great! Preparing myself for boarding my row was included in the PA and made my there. I did notice some passengers had a seat change, something I had never experienced on Qantas but it seemed quite regular for Virgin. I stayed in my assigned seat, I really did want a window for my first flight on this babe. Our cabin supervisor was Ben. I must say when the F/A greeted me she (obviously) checked for my velocity number and welcomed me back. I must say its a good start but Qantas always greeted me by name not matter what fare and I made a note to tell them when they pronounced my name correctly.
We pushed back and headed for RWY 16R. We waited for a company 737 at intersection B4 (pictured).
The take off was smooth. Being a pilot myself I know the feeling of taking a plane into the sky and this take off, though normal for everyone, was special as I will never experience it again for the first time. The service started quickly and the F/A's seemed happier than the ones in the morning. Once again I didn't get anything. The flight was smooth all the way. Now, for a day of lots of firsts, the approach topped it completely! This scene outside the window was amazing.
We lined up for RWY 16 for a great landing. I was able to see the church which is a known spotting location at MEL.
I waited until all of the pax had gotten off before asking Ben if I could have a look upfront. He said "Of course!" and introduced me to the pilots. I had a good chat with them. And took a few photos.
Thanking them, I exited and headed straight for the skybus. Those unfamiliar with Skybus its overpriced for what it is but in reality it's cheaper than a taxi. It transits between Southern Cross Station and the airport. Once I arrived at Southern Cross I headed for some Hungry Jacks and upon finding my platform I waited to board. I reflected on the train and now, how the joys of traveling by air and spotting somewhere interstate where you see lots of new variations, combined into one day is a great trip worth doing. You may be wondering why I didn't just stay at Melbourne for the day, I dont have a drivers license right now and besides, which spotter doesn't want to jump on a plane and spot somewhere different? I have read TR's about going to different countries for the day, this is my next goal! I enjoyed flying on DJ, but I did feel guilty after all those years on QF. I have gone on to fly with them a lot and at the time of posting this I did another day trip to sydney shortly after my other TR. I want to try this to other states reachable for a day trip but the others just aren't as spotter friendly who can't hire a car at the other end.
palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1116 posts, RR: 17 Reply 2, posted (1 year 1 month 2 days ago) and read 2304 times:
Nice report - thanks for the pics too.
Sorry the weather was not so great in SYD for you - at least the dull overcast day made it easier to get pics from the viewing terrace in the morning period (when the sun is usually otherwise directly in front of you!).
Thanks for that i see a lot of the reports include a lot more shots of the other transport they took, terminal buildings etc and this trip wasn't at first going to be done as a TR so I apologize for the lack of "other" photos.