Airline: Freedom Air
Seat 2F (Freedom’s new Business Class seat)
Rego: ZK-OJL (Warner Bros logo)
Photo © Jason Alpine
I arrived at WLG, about 15 minutes before the SJ counters opened for the check-in for the Gold Coast flight. The lady at the check-in noticed I was waiting so opened the counters early so I could check-in. I asked about an upgrade to Freedoms new Suite Seats on their brand new fleet of A320s (SJ and NZ have combined their Air Operators Certificate in order to further reduce costs on the blood bath Trans-Tasman routes, so SJ now has business class) I payed the $100 to upgrade and was given my boarding pass, a small piece of paper, like the ones Stagecoach New Zealand and all WLG buses give their passengers. After starring with surprise at the small size of the boarding pass I then proceeded to the Travelex counters to pay my $25 departure fee, that sadly wasn’t included in the Freedom Air competition. After this, as I hadn’t had breakfast yet (as at 1.15pm) I went over and grabbed some feed and sat down at a table that looks out onto the QF, NZ and QO domestic apron. I found a family friend who was waiting for their domestic flight to AKL and then onto Russia (they had plenty of warm jackets on their trolley cause of Russia’s weather). After having a good 30 minute talk I proceeded throu Passport control and was throu Aviation Security screening in about 15 minutes. I waited in the departure lounge for about an hour before boarding started. During this time the QF47 flight from SYD landed, about 10 minutes later I saw a Wellington Free Ambulance, responding to a Priority 1 call (lights and sirens response) turn towards the side gate that is opposite the International gates where an Aviation Security vehicle was waiting for it. The Ambulance proceeded over to the QF flight and parked beside one of WLGs fire trucks and the Paremedics went on board and joined the fire crew. During this time several more International flights landed (including Freedoms A320 direct from OOL). About 30 minutes later the ambulance was on its way to Wellington Hospital with its lights and sirens going while a very distressed family member was being rushed throu Customs/MAF etc to a waiting Aviation Security vehicle. Boarding started for SJ943 at 3.50pm. The flight was ready to depart 20 minutes early at 4.10pm. Push back was at 4.15pm.
Here is a photo of one of Freedom Airs new Business Class seats, with its 30” leg space. These seats are very comfy
Photo © Jason Alpine
I quickly got settled into the very comfy leather seat. I was the only passenger in Business Class The Economy class seats are all fabric. Economy Class and Business Class are both in the same cabin, so no walls divide the classes. After a quick taxi down towards Evans Bay we blasted off towards Cook Strait and rocketed into the clear blue, cloud less sky and turned towards the West and headed towards Australia. About 10 minutes after take off an FA went around with DVD players and Australian Arrival Cards which I completed straight away, while the other FAs were in the front and rear Galleys preparing the drinks and meal service. I decided on a Nestles Hot Chocolate. Shortly afterwards the meal service began. I wasn’t impressed that SJ were charging $100 extra for a Business Class seat with no extra Service to the paying passenger. About half way throu the flight I went to the back of the aircraft, armed with my digital camera and took a photo from the rear of the cabin. After I sat down an FA sat in the seat beside and told me off and warned me that its against CAA rules to photograph the inside of the aircraft, but I can take photos looking out the windows (she obviously got out of bed on the wrong side that morning). A while later the descent into OOL began as well as the turns into OOL. The Pilot announced the weather an tempture, Queensland and the Gold Coast were having their typical afternoon storms so it will be a bumpy ride into OOL…..and bumpy it was…..the aircraft was dropping when turbulance hit, and we keeped on going down instead of going up. The flight came to a holt in front of the International entrance 15 minutes early and the air stairs were being put in place. 5 minutes later the doors were opened and I was first off and bang the weather hits you, plus the wind didn’t help one bit as it was hot and stuffy. I preceded to the Australian Customs and encounted a real old grumpy passport control lady who snapped at every little thing you did wrong, for me it was turning on my cellphone as the FA said our phones can be turned on once inside the terminal. Quickly got my luggage afterwards and proceeded throu the Quarantine service and was out the building within 10 minutes after disembarking. Then proceeded to the Gold Coast Tourist Bus counter and the lady there was more interested in talking to her friend on the work phone. Finally got my return bus ticket and preceded to the old bus that had totally seen better days, that would take me to my hotel in Surfers Paradise. Not having the buses air conditioning working and not having any windows to open really didn’t help.
Normally before thunder there would be light accross the sky, but not in Queensland. Swimming in the hotel pool during this is fun, plus add in warm rain. After having 1 full very hot day in Surfers Paradise I woke up at 4am for my 4.20am Gold Coast tourist bus pick up. This time the bus was only a few weeks old and the air conditioning was working as the bus was freezing cold when I got on board (I was the first pick up). The bus then started its many other pick ups (including heaps of hot teenage chicks…..a teenage boys heaven). All the hot chicks sat around me up the back and some wanted to know if I was on their DJ flight (by that stage I was starting to wish I was on their SYD flight) arrived at OOL at 5.10am.
Rego: VH-VQP (brand new)
Photo © Jason Alpine
Check-in took about 10 minutes and I was given my blue ticket boarding pass. Proceeded throu security and found the blue line an went directly to the front of the line. The time passed and about 10 minutes before boarding started the other passengers started going to their correct lines. Boarding started at 6.05am. About 2 minutes after boarding started the blue line started to board. Its nice at OOL to walk onto the tarmac to board the aircraft, instead of the boring aerobridge. I was about to 10 person to board. Taxi to the runway started at 6.20am for an 8.45am scheduled arrival into SYD. Two passengers were already unhappy with JQs service by this point and when the head FA said “we hope you enjoy Jetstars awesome service” the two passengers couldn’t help but laugh and say “yea right” After take off we headed out to sea before turning back towards land for a direct line to SYD. The usual LCC service began with the meal carts coming around. I didn’t purchase anything on this flight. The descent began with the pilot coming online with the usual announcements. After landing the long taxi to terminal 2 began. The flight arrived and disembarking begain. The gate area was jammed pack with the passengers for the next flight. Proceeded towards baggage re-claim, got my luggage after a long wait and went to the taxi rank to go to the hotel in town.
Part 2 has the SYD-AKL flight on board NZs new B772ER (ZK-OKA) and AKL-WLG domestic flight home. I will upload it in a few days as I’m waiting for one of my photos of the NZ B772ER economy cabin to pass the final acceptance test for a.net
[Edited 2005-12-10 04:58:36]