PSAHO88 From Italy, joined Sep 2000, 90 posts, RR: 0 Posted (9 years 9 months 1 week 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 3084 times:
July 30th, DJ583, B737-700 with winglets, VH-VBM
Scheduled dep.09.25- arr.12.20
Effective dep.09.55- arr.12.42
I left the hostel near the central station at 7 o’clock in the morning. Since this was a domestic flight it was enough time in advance. In fact, Sydney airport is quite close to the city and the journey took no more than 20 minutes. The domestic terminal has a lot of natural light, and is well laid out, so finding the check-in counters for VirginBlue couldn’t be easier. No one was in queue and I was able to get rid of my luggage very quickly. I was asked if I had sharp objects in my hand luggage or matches in the suitcase, and was issued a boarding pass with a window seat in the back, as I requested. She gave me 24A.
I went through security and then I sat down for a while watching planes taking off and landing on the main runway in use. The flight was delayed by some thirty minutes, as the aircraft was late incoming from Adelaide. When the aircraft approached the gate I could see it was a 737-700 with winglets, another new thing to me.
Soon boarding was started, we gave one of the two pieces of the boarding pass (which aren’t like the ones you are used to, these are just like two receipts of a supermarket with your flight details) and boarded through the finger at gate 38. On one side of the main door there was a slogan: “Welcome aboard Australia’s youngest fleet”. Nice touch.
The interior was bright, well kept and I could notice that there were 4 cabin attendants on this flight. For this aircraft type I expected just three, even considering this is a low cost carrier. Crew’s uniform were informal and smart, and those who wore them were cheerful and professional. Every message was introduced by a “ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…”. I liked the safety speech as well. It began with a “welcome on board this brand new Boeing 737-700 series”, then three of the four crew took their position in the aisle. The attendant who spoke on the microphone first introduced herself by first name and then the other three who, in turn, raised their hands while their name was called. This gave an extra feel of informality and pleasant atmosphere on board.
After all the speech the final sentence was “sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight”. Here we go!
We took off towards Botany Bay, so we had a right turn and headed to Alice Springs. Soon service was started but I just wanted to sleep for the three hours of the journey. Unfortunately the audio system on this brand new aircraft was excellent and the pilot was very talkative, so I could rest for few minutes at a time.
Flying over the Australian gives very spectacular views, particularly when you are approaching Alice Springs. We landed with some delay and proceeded through this garden-like airport to the luggage carousel. There are two, on the opposite sides of the terminal, one for Qantas and one for VirginBlue.
August 3rd, DJ584, B737-700 with winglets, VH-VBM
Scheduled dep.12.50- arr.16.15
Effective dep.12.47- arr.16.10
After visiting the Ayers Rock it was time to fly back to Sydney. I arrived at the VirginBlue counters at 10.50, there was no one in the queue just because they had not opened yet. A lady asked me to wait for some minutes while they prepared the counters. Then she asked me “How can I help you?”
Guess how: I have a suitcase without matches inside, a small backpack without scissors inside, and a valid ticket for the DJ flight to Sydney… I’m joking of course, she was very professional and polite as all the VirginBlue staff and she gave me seat 21A.
Alice Springs airport has an open air waiting room…when is the last time you waited for your plane at Malpensa while sitting on the grass with your shoes off? I guess never!
This time everything was on time and I also bought something to eat on board. Prices were right, like in any place on the ground, this is really what they mean by “keeping the air fair”. I thought how expensive Ryanair food is, with the cost of a sandwich there you can have all the meals of a Virgin plane and can take the cart home with you!
When the steward read on the PA the offers of the day, this was soon followed by applause from colleagues and some other passengers.
When we landed in Sydney the message was “welcome to Sydney, where we have a lovely 21°C.” This was followed by information on connecting flights. We reached our gate, again 38 (by the way I flew again on the same aircraft of the outbound flight), and since I was sitting in the rear I disembarked through the rear door and went upstairs, where we met the others who had come through the finger. When I arrived at the baggage reclaim area, my suitcase was already enjoying the ride on the carousel. Wonderful, from the seat on the aircraft to the seat on the train to the center of Sydney in 20 minutes!
My general impression of this airline is very good. They managed to transform a simple air journey in an experience in its own. Well, as we love flying, every flight is an experience in its own, but this had a special extra. Crew’s attitude to people was great, as was the service provided. This comes at no extra cost to the airline but generates many happy passengers who will choose that airline in the future. It creates a more pleasant cabin environment where the crew find it easier to work and passengers have less to complain about. I look forward to traveling with them again.
I was very excited by the idea of going to the country that is on the opposite side of Italy. I needed to be as far from Italy as possible for a while. When I asked for the lowest fare to Auckland, Emirates, who had just started this route as an extension of their route from Dubai- Singapore, proved to be offering the best deals, 472 AUS including taxes.
I was really happy about this, because I knew Emirates was one of those airlines which are often voted as the best in the World.
For such an early departure I decided it was a waste of money to spend for one night in the hostel and then getting up at three. So I decided to spend the night at the airport. Before going to the airport I went to the cinema to watch “A view from the top”, a nice film to see before taking an airplane indeed!
I arrived at the airport by 21.00 and went to the arrivals lounge, near the access to the train station, where authorities let people spend the night. At around two a.m. an agent came in and asked to see the passports of all the people there ( we were a group of 15 airport-sleepers). I thought they were going to ask for the air ticket too, in order to check if we were really leaving early the next day, but they didn’t.
After a night awake, but with the money in my wallet and not in the hostel’s one, I went to the check-in area J, and at 5 a.m. I could check-in. the flight was quite empty, they told me. Good!, I thought, this means space to stretch!
Once at gate 60 I saw the 777 from the large window. WOW! So long! It’s a very nice aircraft to watch and I was sure it was an even better aircraft to fly in. I was right.
At the gate they gave me back the bigger part of the boarding pass. I thought they had made a mistake, but they said they were right. In fact, even on flights leaving from Auckland they retain that portion. Uff, the small on was much nicer and better designed.
I was welcomed by some thousands of attendants on the way to my seat 44A. Women had a bright suit with a red hat in Arabic style. Men didn’t have the usual dark suits, but wore a pair of slacks, a dark jacket on a blue shirt and a colorful tie. The interior was bright, spacious, clean and tidy. Seats were in a ten abreast layout instead of the nine abreast configuration chosen by most carriers, but they were very comfortable, I really didn’t notice the difference with a ten abreast seating on the 747, maybe because seat pitch was very good. I can’t miss mentioning the personal screen, better than on Singapore Airlines. First, it is bigger. Second, it has the touch screen system. Last, the outside video-cameras were the best invention of all. Oh, I forgot the footrest!
While being pushed back the safety video was shown, but at the same time the crew distributed the menus and hot towels! I didn’t like this. Look, most of the passengers don’t care about the safety demo, but at least the crew shouldn’t interfere with it!
Soon after take off service started. Well, this is a first class airline! Breakfast was excellent, crepes with scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, sweet corn and vegetables; and this was only the main course! There was another small container with vegetables, another with a muffin and a third with fruit, while bread and croissants were offered several times during the meal. Add to this the wide range of drinks available.
Since take off the purser said that on board the cabin crew were fluent in 8 languages, among this there was Italian! So I asked a stewardess if I could speak with the Italian attendant. He was from Turin but his father is English (hence the blue eyes and the blond hair). He asked where I came from and when I answered I was from Sardinia he said: “oh, my mum comes from Sardinia!”.
That was incredible: I was talking to an Anglo-Sardinian cabin attendant on an American-built aircraft of an airline of the United Arab Emirates in flight from Australia to New Zealand! He sat next to me and had a long chat until he had to return to his duty and prepare the 777 for landing.
During landing I could enjoy the pilot’s viewpoint on my screen, fantastic !
Lines at immigration were very long and since I was staying in NZ for just six days I had all my bags open and I was questioned about everything. But I was calm as I had nothing illegal with me, but all the process lasted more than one hour, during which I was asked questions like “did you solve any drugs in this bottle of fanta” or “what drug did you smoke in the last week-end”. Since I don’t smoke and don’t use drugs, these questions made me almost laugh!
August 13th,EK411, B777-300, A6- EMX
Scheduled dep.17.50- arr.19.05
Effective dep.17.52- arr.19.25
At the check-in counter there was a male agent who had lived in Italy for some time, and attempted to speak Italian with me. He was very kind and had no problems issuing me a window seat. 17K! Didn’t you know that 17 is considered an unlucky number in Italy? Airplanes don’t have row 17, hotels don’t have room 17, people don’t travel when the 17 of a month is a Friday…so you lived in Italy but nobody told you this, and you give that row to the only Italian passenger you have on board! Luckily, I don’t believe in this things and was happy I could show my friends that I had row 17!
Boarding was on time and so was push back, but the captain informed us that the flight was going to be something more than scheduled because of contrary winds. This caused a little amount of turbulence, but nothing to worry about. I was glad I could have a dinner on board, as this meant that I had saved money on it. Dinner was five course, nothing less. I took the fish with rice and vegetables, then I had the fresh vegetables, the fruit salad and the best cake in my whole month down under: chocolate served on raspberry mousse. I was in the seventh heaven. What a meal!
After landing I was a little worried about customs, I didn’t want to spend another hour with an officer asked me if I have some strange pleasure in smoking marijuana, so I showed the ticket to Italy for the following day, just to prove that I was staying for one night because I REALLY was in transit, and everything went ok.
Before I leave you I just add the very last sector of this travel, the one from Rome to Alghero, Sardinia. The only thing noteworthy is that for the first time the Air One flight was on time on take off and landed ten minutes earlier, very good performance on a 60-minute flight.
So , for this time Air One wasn’t the usual “Air One Hour Late” but “Air Once On Time”!!!
Sorry if even this report was so long, but I had so many things to say!
DoorsToManual From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 1, posted (9 years 9 months 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 2966 times:
Fantastic report, congratulations.
You have now flown airlines which I have flown too! I used DJ on a SYD-PER and SYD-BNE flight. They are indeed excellent in all respects, and although I like Ryanair too, I only like them because they are cheap - so now you must understand my opinion, after having flown DJ... Shame they have such a bad reputation on the Civ Av forum, but maybe that's just for fun?
Glad you enjoyed Emirates too! I used to fly them a lot between DXB and CMB, and the crew are not only friendly but genuinely from all over the world...I also met up with a Dutch-Argentine girl on a flight to Colombo! Weird, but cool!
PSAHO88 From Italy, joined Sep 2000, 90 posts, RR: 0 Reply 2, posted (9 years 9 months 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 2954 times:
Thank you for this comment!
Yes, they are both very good airlines in their fields. This demonstrates the fact that when airlines have clear strategies and go on with them, they deliver a good product, no matter if they sell or serve food on board.
Zizou From Australia, joined Oct 2000, 1527 posts, RR: 5 Reply 3, posted (9 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2917 times:
Great report. Looks like you had a super time with Emirates. If you think EK's IFE is good, wait till the new one comes out, sometime later this year, apparently its going the be better than anyhting....
On all my flights with EK, the food has been excellent. Don't know why, but thier caters must be damn good. Their service is sometimes so and so, but it doesn't detract from Ek being a great airline.
BTW, who did you fly with from Sydney to Rome? Also did you like Australia
PSAHO88 From Italy, joined Sep 2000, 90 posts, RR: 0 Reply 4, posted (9 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 2863 times:
I flew the long trip from Italy with LH and SQ, I wrote a trip report on it, "Florence-FRA-SIN-SYD with LH and SQ".
Yes, I think food was excellent on all aspects: presentation, quality, quantity, service.
And about Australia...I loved it! I look forward to going there again, all the way with Emirates and their new A340s!
BNE From Australia, joined Mar 2000, 3156 posts, RR: 13 Reply 5, posted (9 years 9 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 2743 times:
Doorstomanual Shame they have such a bad reputation on the Civ Av forum, but maybe that's just for fun?
Part of the anti Virgin sentiment is that we had to very good carriers in Ansett and Qantas giving us exceptional service even though the price could have been cheaper. When Ansett collapsed many people lost their jobs and so some people see Virgin of the cause of this. Qantas also downgraded their service standards, and only recently Qantas standards have now improved.
Now we have cheap airfares I suppose you can't have good service and cheap fares the 2 are not compatitible.
Thanks for the report and glad you liked your time in Australia. I haven't been to Ayers Rock yet and hope to go there someday.
Australia CASA standards I think require 4 flight attendant regardless if they actually have to serve meals.
I have not flown on Virgin for over a year too addicted to Frequent flyer miles from Qantas.
PSAHO88 From Italy, joined Sep 2000, 90 posts, RR: 0 Reply 7, posted (9 years 9 months 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 2641 times:
Thanks for your comments!
When you decide to go to Ayers Rock, you'd better fly directly to Ayers Rock Resort and avoid Alice Springs. The journey from Alice to the rock is quite long, although pleasant, and if you manage to find a good fare for the direct flight you will even save money.