I decide to put my QF frequent flyer card to good use and hence most trips I take involve three or more sectors and this one is no exception. Photos can be found in the links at the bottom of the report.
12th September, MEL (Melbourne, Australia) - SYD (Sydney)
QF436, 737-838, VH-VXQ, Economy class
Departure: 1330 Arrival: 1450
Seat: 22F (window) Seating: 3-3
I completed an uneventful check-in and passed through security I proceeded to the CityFlyer gate to begin my journey to Coffs Harbour via Sydney. This was my first flight in QF’s 737-800. The aircraft arrived on time and after about a fifteen minute wait the passenger boarding started and by the time the door was closed there were no spare seats onboard. Once everyone was on board the screens folded down to show the safety demonstration which, the cabin crew also performed in sync with the video. We taxied all the way around to runway 34 at MEL (about 3 mins taxi time) and awaited a landing Virgin Blue. Then we moved on to the runway and held position as a QF 767 landed on the cross runway 27. After another couple of minutes wait we were airborne with a few bumps and shakes and climbed to cruise altitude of 39,000 feet for the 55 minute flight to Sydney. As soon as the cruise altitude was reached the seat belt sign was off and the cabin crew brought out lunch. The lunch included sandwiches (ham, lettuce and mayonnaise), a small tub of orange juice and a small Mars bar plus the usual coffee or tea. No sooner had the lunches been handed out, the cabin crew started collecting all empty trays and boxes for our descent into Sydney. A clear Sydney day greeted us as we descended and landed on runway 34L and taxied to Terminal 3, Sydney’s CityFlyer terminal.
12th September, SYD – CFS (Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia)
QF2116, Dash8-315, VH-TQH, Economy class
Departure:1605 Arrival: 1720
Seat: 11D (window) Seating: 2 - 2
I had to leave terminal 3 and walk to terminal 2 and repass security, where my flight to CFS was scheduled to depart. Terminal two at Sydney is for Qantas non CityFlyer flights, Virgin Blue flights and Regional Express (REX) flights. As I awaited the boarding call for my flight, from inside the terminal lounge I got good views of departing aircraft which included, Cathay A340, BA744 and two QF 767s.
The boarding call was made for flight 2116 and all passengers proceeded down the elevator to the ground floor where a bus was waiting to transport us to our aircraft. After a short bus ride the bus stopped in line with the door of the Dash 8 and all passengers left the bus and walked over to the aircraft where two friendly cabin attendants greeted each customer and pointed them to their seat and soon the aircraft had all 48 seats occupied (12 rows, two seats on either side of the aisle). The front two seats in the aircraft face the opposite direction to all other seats. After the door had closed propellers were started. As we taxied (for what seemed at one point as if we were taxiing all the way to CFS ) , one of the cabin crew picked up the telephone and started doing the safety announcement while the other was doing the demonstration and pointing to the exists etc. After arriving at the runway we turned and the two propellers began to rev to takeoff speed and the gear was retracted once we were about a few feet of the runway (cruising altitude was 21,000 feet and flight time to CFS was 1hr 10mins). Once at cruise level the cabin crew brought out snack (boxes were packed in a tray and not on a trolley like on the jets) which consisted of biscuits, nachos dip, your choice of soft drink, coffee or tea and if you wanted there was also free wine.
As the snacks were being served we hit turbulence and the small aircraft started shaking side to side and then up and down. All the while the poor cabin crew holding onto the seats as she continued to serve snacks to all passengers and almost lost her footing a couple of times and had to be assisted by passengers so that she did not take a tumble. The turbulence also delayed the hot beverage service by 10 mins as the cabin crew wisely was not going to risk it. As we began our descent into a grey looking Coffs Harbour with the snack boxes were collected and the cabin crew began to serve lollies. Soon were into more turbulence with the seat belt for the whole flight being off a total of 10 minutes. We were on short finals and gear was lowered which only increased the turbulence and I could feel the pilots having to fight the aircraft as it swayed from side to side with winds of up to 80km/h, but we landed safely and taxied to parking bay (no gates at CFS and Virgin Blue 738s use ladders which are also parked on the tarmac). At CFS a totally different environment to any other major airport, from the tarmac you walk through a large door which has a single carousel and you could see the car park from outside the door.
14th September, CFS - SYD
QF2109, Dash8-314, VH-TQA, Economy class
Departure:1335 Arrival: 1500
Seat: 5B (window) Seating: 2 - 2
I turned up at CFS with about an hour and half to spare and proceed to the checkout, where the two QF counters were not staffed and had a sign that said “Check-In opens 1 hour prior to departure” and the security was also closed. At CFS there are two counters for QF and one for Virgin Blue all in a row and the airport has only one coffee/souvenir shop. I proceed to the departure lounge and waited for check-in to open the only exciting thing on the runway was a crop dusting plane taking off and a twin otter which was parked on the tarmac with no activity around it. As I waited for the aircraft the arrival time was flashed on the monitor and saw my flight was delayed by 15 mins. It was also the only flight departing CFS in the Afternoon. However, right on time the check-in opened and I was the first in the queue. My boarding passes to Sydney and Melbourne were issued and both were window seats. The security was also opened and my bag was delayed on the security belt as I had a camera and they wanted a closer look on their.
The aircraft arrived fifteen minutes behind schedule and passengers and their baggage were quickly deplaned. The announcement was made for all passengers to board QF2109 to Sydney. As we proceed to the door there was a ground attendant who asked for our boarding passes and marked off on piece of paper with the seating diagram of the aircraft. As I walked to the aircraft I saw the bags still being loaded at the back of the aircraft. On board once again all 48 passengers were greeted by two friendly cabin attendants who pointed us to our seats and helped some customers with putting their bags in the overhead locker. Once the door was closed the propellers started and the Captain explained the aircraft’s delay was due to extreme weather conditions at Sydney and only single runway operation at time of departure. We taxied to runway 3 at CFS and continued taxiing on the runway before doing a 360 degree turn and rolling for take off. We climbed to our cruising altitude of 18,000feet. Once airborne, the beautiful scenery of Coffs Harbour passed below. The crew brought out lunch which consisted of (ham, lettuce and small amounts of jam), orange juice and coffee or tea. The rest of the flight was uneventful and as we began our descent into Sydney the cabin crew brought out more lollies. After a normal amount of turbulence during descent we approach over the ocean and landed on runway 34 and taxied to terminal 2.
14th September, SYD - MEL
QF449 767-338, VH-OGA, Economy class
Departure:1630 Arrival: 1755
Seat: 48K (window) Seating: 2 - 3 - 2
For the flight to MEL I had to head over to terminal 3 (CityFlyer Terminal) where I had to go through security again. Flight QF449 was operated by a Boeing 767-338 (original QF plane and not ex BA aircraft which are -336). Boarding commenced on time but departure was delayed as one passenger did not turn up and his bag had to be removed from the aircraft. As we were taxiing the First Officer informed us that it was a Sydney requirement to maintain 5000 feet and that there will feel a reduction in engine thrust which is nothing for the passengers to be concerned about. We were also informed that it maybe a bumpy ride once we approach Melbourne.
Once we were airborne we climbed to 38,000 feet and the cabin crew brought out snack. The snack was Bruschetta with a cucumber dip, apple juice, soft drinks and hot beverages plus wine or beer for which you had to pay. The only real during the flight was that I was not able to see the screen during the inflight entertainment. The screen was located in the middle wall of row 44 and all passengers to row 53 the last row of the plane could only view this screen. As we began our descent into MEL the captain informed us the conditions at MEL had deteriorated and that MEL was currently experiencing winds of 130km/h hence we will circle for about ten minutes before landing. The inflight screen now showed landing info like altitude, speed, time at location time at origin etc. After circling overhead we began our descent and I felt the aircraft moving side to side. At about 12,000 feet the spoilers opened and the plane lost altitude and speed quickly and the spoilers closed again. The spoilers opened and closed again at 8,000 feet and at 3,000 feet the seat belt sign went on and all cabin crew were asked to resume their seats for landing. Under high winds and grey skies we lined up and approached runway 16 the longest at MEL as we were almost about to touch down the sun began to peek through (almost like a sign), as we landed I saw 8 planes (QF and DJ aircraft) awaiting takeoff. Then we taxied to the QF terminal and were delayed by an aircraft that was just being pushed out of our gate and we had to wait for him to taxi out before we could park at the gate. So all in all we were 10 mins behind schedule when we arrived at the gate.
A most enjoyable trip, with Coffs Harbour’s scenery a highlight. Only problem was the Inflight entertainment on the MEL - SYD flight (ok for short trip) but imagine going to Perth. Hope they either fit new screens around the aircraft or refit with PTVs.
P.S. Hope you enjoyed the trip report and look forward to your comments.