Thursday September 13
CBR-SYD, QantasLink QF 2052, Dash-8-300, VH-TQY, Seat 2A, PB: 0722, TO: 0729, LA: 0809, FT: 40mins
Arrived at the airport around 5:45am, having expected to be flying on QF 7002, being an Impulse-operated B1900D, my first flight on this aircraft. Unfortunetely due to passenger numbers, this flight was cancelled and I was rebooked on the 0700 Dash-8 flight. Luckily because the airport was sufficiently fogbound as to prevent B1900D movements until much later in the morning, which would have meant missing my connection.
Luckily I was able to check-in for both services, despite having made separate bookings. Otherwise the luggage situation would have made things annoying…
The wait was spent watching the early takeoffs – little did I know that the 2 AN 737s and 3 CRJs would be my last observed takeoffs for the AN group
The Dash-8-300 (one of two operated by Eastern for QantasLink – I have now been on both) flight was 90% full, mainly with businesspeople. Takeoff was smooth and quiet – the -300s are so much quieter than their predecessors – and the flight was eventless. Service was average, much less than the Kendell fare I am used to (alas no more, RIP) but the muffin was nice, served alongside orange juice.
Landing in Sydney was over the city, affording a gorgeous view of the harbour. We landed on Rwy 16R and had a shortish taxi to the stand, There we took a ridiculous 30m bus ride to the arrival gate – I suppose they didn’t want us among the other Dash-8s on the tarmac.
I quickly transferred across to the international terminal for my Qantas connection to Sydney. After two previous let-downs I was praying fervently that the 747SP hadn’t been cancelled or changed. However my hopes dwindled when I saw VH-EAB in the maintenance hangers. I knew that one had to be already in BNE so this was going to be mine…
SYD-BNE, Qantas QF 151, 747SP-38, VH-EAA, Seat 25A, PB: 1015, TO: 1031, LA: 1137, FT: 1hr 06mins
I was however thrilled to discover, once having passed immigration, that the other SP, VH-EAA was sitting at my Gate (31). Yay! Obviously VH-EAB was due to be in BNE but had not made it and that my flight was as scheduled.
We boarded on time and went to my seat. Good and bad – I was in the part of the cabin where there were windows on the one side (the other being the galley). However for once I was forward of the wing, allowing a beautiful view of the RR engines – which provided some wonderful photo opportunities.
The flight was reasonably full for such an international connection – at least over half full. We took off on schedule and soon (after overflying SYD and the airport while swinging back to BNE after taking off on 16R) were given our snack – a very unappetising looking salmon roll. I asked for a vegetarian which was left over as it might be better, but it wasn’t – it was soggy!!! However the F/A was very friendly in making the effort to find it for me!!!!
The flight was routine with a smooth landing in BNE. Now for three days of sun, sand and relaxation. Well deserved.
BNE-ADL, Virgin Blue, DJ 752, 737-700, VH-VBB (Barossa Babe), Seat 21F, PB: 0609, TO: 0617, LA: 0810, FT: 2hrs 23.
My first Virgin Bluie experience and I was looking forward. I had heard about the fun and friendly service and was hoping for a 737-700 even though the BNE-ADL flight was generally 737-400s. So after a straightforward check-in (a smallish queue) I was delighted to notice that a 737NG awaited me at the gate – Barossa Babe, after my home-town’s (Adelaide) famous wine region.
Soon boarding I was impressed by the friendliness and efficiency of the crew but nonplussed about the plane The NGs weren’t all they are hyped up to be. Sure they differ a bit to the 2nd gen. 737s but not in any revolutionary way.
The plane was packed – not surprising due to the recent Ansett collapse. Indeed I overheard crewmembers talking about how they had offered their free time to operate further midnight services to accommodate stranded passengers as well as opening a new route to Mt Isa (of all places) within a week. Newspaper reports also claim they plan to take 10 of AN’s 733s plus crews for a huge expansion (more than doubling capacity).
On the tarmac, the next-door plane was VH-VBC, Betty Blue. This surprised me as I new that Virgin had 3 NGs at present, notably VH-VBA/B/C. However these planes were (I had thought) Brizzie Lizzie, Barossa Babe and Mellie Melbourne. Nothing about a Betty Blue. So I wondered if she was a new arrival. Anyone know?????
Takeoff was smooth and everything fine. The limited onboard sales of food was further limited by the receivership of Gate Gourmet who provided both Ansett and Virgin.
Announcements were very standard – not the fun I had heard about. I wonder whether it was due to the large numbers of stranded Ansett passengers on our flight and in respect for this great airline. Indeed, seeing Virgin’s role will probably change, I wonder whether they will become more serious. I hope not.
The flight lasted just over 2 hours. With strong winds, we experienced a little turbulence but nothing major. Landing in ADL was fine, taxiing into our stand just as a GA A330 was pulling out next to us – a majestic sight!!!
The Virgin terminal in Adelaide is very poor – tacked onto the international terminal. Hopefully things will improve, though I believe Adelaide’s new $220m terminal is in doubt with the Ansett collapse.
Over all, Virgin was very good and I’ll fly them again.