Sept 27 2001, Virgin Blue DJ 174, ADL-MEL, 737-700, VH-VBA, Brizzie Lizzie
As I had no lift out to the airport, the day before I calle dup an old school friend who quite likes planes and organised to go spotting at ADL before my flight left at 1340.
Spotting (as expected mind you) turned out to be a little boring. With the exception of the Malaysian 744 which is a regular visitor, the only other traffic was Qantas 737-400s. No 737-300s, no 767s, just the VH-TJ... series. It got to a stage that when someone called up approaches we were betting on which of the TJ... series it was!!! The one exception was Virgin Blue 737-700 VH-VBA enroute for the earlier flight to MEL (DJ162 at 1015). Calculating flying time I worked out that it was likely to be this aircraft for my flight a few hours later after a rotation back to ADL.
Well I checked in at 1230 at the "new" prefab terminal attached to the international terminal and scored my window seat 9F. I asked the helpful checkin agent about which flights were operated by 737-400s and which by 737-700s as there are no online timetables which specify one from the other. Apparently all BNE-ADL and MEL-ADL flights are 737-700 operated while SYD-ADL is often a 737-400.
Lo and behold, VH-VBA pulled into the terminal on schedule. Although I was hoping for a 737-400 (I had already been on a DJ 737-700 - see my previous trip report) it was at least a different a/c.
The security checks were as per usual though everyone is warned to remove any sharp object from handluggage including objects such as nail files etc. However, I noticed that I always register on the x-ray due to the metal on my boots and they never bother checking them though they are large enough to conceal a large knife under the sole. If they want to prevent knives, they'll have to try harder than that.
Boarding was on time and once again the flight was full to the last seat. Not surprising considering 1. the Ansett collapse and 2. the Grand Final on in Melbourne in 2 days time.
We rotated off Rwy 05, getting a lovely view of the city of ADL on ascent. We then right for our flight to Melbourne which was pretty uneventful.
Once again, there was no sales except for soft drinmks due to the collapse of Gate Gourmet (their caterers). Despite this I was surprised they hadn't made alternative arrangements considering it had been over 2 weeks since the collapse. Perhaps they didn't want to work with QF catering and prefered not offering anything. I was disappointed however, as this also led to no merchandise being on sale and I wanted to buy the DJ 737-400 model in the catalogue.
Landing was once again as expected and we pulled up to the Domestic express terminal in record time. We were the only plane in at the time so baggage collection was swift and efficient and I went to wait outside to meet Jason Milligan (lots of photos on airliners.net) to pick me up as promised - he had also promised to shoot my plane on landing (ie: in the photographic sense). However after a 30 min wait and no jason I decided I'd take the bus to town. Jason had been called up to do an extra shift with QF and was still working and his sms hadn't got to me for some reason (I got it 24h later!). Once at my grandma's house i was annoyed to find out that 30 mins after my departure from MEL, a Flight West F100 flew into the domestic express terminal with the brisbane football team.
2 October 2001, Qantas Link MEL-CBR, BAe 146-100, VH-NJR.
My aunt dropped me in at the airport 2h before my flight so my check-in was early. However I was promptly told by an unhelpful (and no doubt stressed seeing the huge queues at check-in) that there were no window seats left at all, which I found a little unbelieveable. Probably all reserved for elite-status pax who I am sure couldn't care less...
In my spare time I wandered around the terminals, watching from the observation deck as Vietnam Airlines 763 pushed back and took off as well as looking around the deserted by reopened Ansett terminal - wonderful to see some of their planes back in the air, if only on the one route. Then it was back to Gate 8 for my flight.
I was excited as it would be my first flight on the 146-100, the one model I had yet to fly. I went to the gate agent who offered to try and help me get a window, but knowing the flight was nearly full I did not expect much chance.
However when boarding was announced he returned with my boarding card - 3A window. Someone was obviously a no-show and I was the beneficiary. Fantastic seat - 1st row Y class behind business with much more legroom!
Takeoff was a little bumpy due to low level cloud but we soon levelled off. Lunch was a pasta bolognaise - hardly restaurant quality and a roll. Being a short flight (50 min F/T) trays were quickly collected before commencing our descent to CBR.
We landed smoothly and taxiied to the terminal, full of QanatasLink aircraft (mainly Dash 8s) but devoid of any Ansett planes as expected. The one surprise was a Hazelton Saab 340. As I discovered later that Hazelton have now started offering 5 daily round trips SYD-CBR in lieu of Kendell, thought the latter is now also operating again.
Well, I was a little late in posting this and I have forgotten the more precise details of TO and LA times but I hope this was of interest.