24th February 2006
Sydney (SYD) to Melbourne (MEL)
Flight No: QF188
Scheduled Departure: 2110
Actual Departure: 2113
Scheduled Arrival: 2240
Actual Arrival: 2233
Seat Number: 2K
It was my birthday. And this is my present. It all began a few months ago when my mum asked me what I would have liked for my birthday. Usually I would not have a clue, but this time was different. I had read great reports of short trips around a certain part of the country, so I said to her I would love to do something like that.
So, I set out to design a short trip around a certain part of the country. This being my final year at school....and time is of the essence, the trip had to be short, a weekend at the most. I finally came up with a plan to travel SYD-MEL-ADL-BNE-SYD. It is quite a short trip, but enjoyable anyway.
After 2 flight changes, (the first due to the cancellation of QF2 between SYD and MEL, and the second due to an extended stay in BNE to see my sick grandfather) it was finally the day to embark on my journey. My day began as usual, school. The chore seemed even worse since it was my birthday.....(special thanks to my friends who gave me lots of birthday punches, thanks guys!). After school, I ventured home before being driven back to the airport, some 3 hours before my flight. There are no photos of this flight, as it occurred at night.
Check-in at the Business counters was a breeze. I was surprised to be offered a chance to go to the Business Class lounge. I though this wasn’t open to domestic business class! I had the usual paraphernalia in my pockets, so passing through security took me a while. Before long, I was into the International terminal. This would be my first experience in the Qantas & partners pier of the International terminal. I have always thought it to be a lot ‘colder’ than the Star Alliance pier. I browsed the shops for a couple of minutes before heading towards the Qantas Club. To my dismay however, I was denied entry. My age fails me again. Since I am not 18 yet, I am not allowed entry into the QantasClub as it is a licensed area. I pleaded with the wonderful Qantas staff to let me in, I didn’t even want to touch the grog. My pleas however went un-answered. Ah well. I had much to look forward to.
I found myself a secluded area of the airport, far away from my departure gate, gate 10. I sat and began to write what you are reading now. It was a relatively quite night, traffic wise, except for an interesting visitor, a Saudi Arabian DC10 or MD11. The aircraft landed on time from Hong Kong at 8:00pm. I saw the magnificent VH-QFD pull into the gate. Boarding was delayed by approximately 15 minutes due to the late catering of the aircraft. However, with only a light load tonight, the crew were able to get us away on time at 9:13pm. A pre-take off drink of either orange juice or water was offered, I chose the orange juice. There was a fairly light load tonight, with Business Class being less than half-full, and Economy about the same.
It was a long taxi to 34L behind an AtlasAir 747. The views of the city from the right-hand side of the aircraft were breathtaking. It was a clear night, and there was much to be seen. Newspapers and hot towels were quickly offered after take-off, and the meal service began. There were two choices, hot or cold. The hot meal was a salmon and salad, and the cold meal was a cold chicken salad. I am not a huge fan of the fish, so I requested the chicken salad. The flight-plan this evening took us on an almost direct route, passing slightly to the left of Canberra and straight into Melbourne.
While this was only a short flight, it was a great chance to experience International business. The cabin was very clean, and the staff were presented nicely. The Skybeds themselves were quite interesting. They are great! Comfortable and there is lots of room (more seeing as though the seat next to me was free). I did find it annoying that you cannot have a small carry on bag (such as a camera bag) sitting on the gound on take-off and landing.
Time passed to quickly. My meal was taken away, and the captain soon begain our descent from FL400 into Melbourne with approximately 24 minutes to run. It was an interesting approach for me. We came in perpendicular to the runways, quite close, then made a sharp 90º turn to land softly, and quickly, on runway 34. Noise abatement procedures? Disembarkation was delayed, as a signal problem caused the captain to stop the aircraft short of the air-bridge, so a tug had to be called in to move us about a metre forward.
I was disappointed that I could not spend longer in the aircraft, but I thanked the crew for a lovely flight and made my way up the air-bridge. Immigration was fast and efficient and, with no checked luggage, I was out on the street only minutes after disembarking.
I stayed the night at the Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport. While not as close as the Hilton, it is still very nice. The staff there were very accommodating, even at 11 o’clock at night. The hallways were interesting, with bright red doors and interesting decor, an experience to say the least. The rooms however were fantastic. New and modern, they offered quite a comfortable stay.
25th February 2006
I woke up to the splatter of rain on the window. Not a good start to the say. Beyond the rain lay Melbourne Airport, something I had not seen in the light of day before.
View of MEL from Holiday Inn
Its layout is quite simple, with the Virgin Blue, Rex and Ozjet pier on the left, the International pier in the middle, and the Qantas and Jetstar pier to the right, it is quite an efficient operation, making transfers a dream and eliminating the need for doubling up on retail outlets.
Check-out was easy, with an express check-out slip having been put under my door this morning, I just had to hand my room key back. I did not use the shuttle service offered by the hotel, I walked. The evidence of rain still remained, with large puddles scattered over the ground.
Melbourne (MEL) to Adelaide (ADL)
Flight No: DJ543
Scheduled Departure: 1150
Actual Departure: 1151
Scheduled Arrival: 1240
Actual Arrival: 1235
Seat Number: 11F
I checked in using the Virgin Blue self-service counters. I inserted my Velocity card and it spat out my boarding pass....simple, fast and efficient! I had lots of time to kill, so I went for a walk, all the way down to the Qantas check-in areas then sat down and had an orange juice for breakfast. The clouds still hung low over the airfield as I watched numerous Virgin Blue aircraft leave, Air New Zealand, Emirates and a Cathay Pacific 333 leave, then return to the gate for some unknown reason.
I went through security and took a seat near the gate, relaxing for a while. Finding power points to charge your computer in Melbourne Airport is quite hard, eventually I found a seat down the end of the pier next to a power point. The Virgin Blue pier is quite busy for much of the day. Flights are arriving and departing at regular intervals, creating quite a lively area.
My flight to Adelaide was to depart from gate 5. I sat expectantly outside the gate for the aircraft to arrive from Brisbane at 1050. Soon enough, VH-VBK, a 737-700 named Lady Victoria pulled into gate 5. I watched bags come off and then bags go back on without pause. Unfortunately, I also watched freight parcels being thrown, quite high, onto the baggage trolleys...not a reassuring thought since the same thing happened to the baggage.
Ground crew throwing freight!
The flight went smoothly. It was very cloudy for the most-part, but quite a smooth flight.
Dense cloud layer.
The flight attendants came through the cabin, offering headsets and food. I opted to buy a small snack, as I did not know what the food situation would be like at the new terminal in Adelaide. I bought a can of coke and a Cadbury chocolate at a reasonable price of $4.50. The captain came over the P.A and said that we would be shortly descending into Adelaide from FL380. A small competition was run by the flight attendants. For all those who purchased hot beverages, a couple of stickers were placed on the bottom of the cups. The winners, those who received the cups with the stickers underneath, received a chocolate. The prizes were not much, however, it is the thought that counts. Lady Victoria softly touched down on the runaway, and parked at the beautiful new terminal. I waited for everyone to disembark from the aircraft before I got up from my seat. I asked the flight attendant at the door if I could go into the flight deck and, after checking with the first officer, I was allowed in. It has been a long time since I have ever been in the flight deck. I spoke to the first officer, whom I sadly forgot his name. The flight deck of an aircraft is so intriguing. There is so much to look at, it is very fascinating. I said my good byes and left the aircraft.
Flight deck of the 737.
I was met with the smell of newness. Everything was new. It looked great. Spacious, clean, and inviting. The large glass windowed wall separating you from the tarmac gives passengers the opportunity to view almost every operation of aircraft. I slowly walked through the terminal, which feels surprisingly big for a compact building.
Adelaide (ADL) to Brisbane (BNE)
Flight No: QF664
Registration: VH-VXE (Coffs Harbour)
Scheduled Departure: 1510
Actual Departure: 1512
Scheduled Arrival: 1700
Actual Arrival: 1656
Seat Number: 13A
Check-in was fast and efficient, it is quite handy not having any checked luggage. I requested an exit row and the lovely check-in agent gave me seat 13A. I took some photos of the open check-in area and went through the security procedures again for the second time today...(note to self: wear pants that do not require a belt).
Photos of check-in!
There is not much in terms of food outlets currently on offer at the new terminal. I was suprised not to see any fast-food retailers here. I bought some chips and a bottle of coke and found the gate at which my flight would depart.
I was not able to connect to the wireless internet in the new terminal. I do not know whether it has been installed yet.
View of the gate area!
The aircraft scheduled onto my flight today arrived at approximately 1425. Boarding began from rows 15 backwards. and then the remainder of the passenger. The flight was not very full, most of the middle seats were empty. I had a row of three seats to myself in the exit row. So I spread out and did my maths homework .
The flight was quite bumpy. The pilot had to increase the cruise altitude a number of times to break through the thick layer of cloud that spread over the horizon. This cloud layer was, as I eventually found out, responsible for the bad storms that created flash flooding in Melbourne. Snacks were offered on the flight, with a choice of either cookies or a small cake. I chose the cookies which were quite nice. The flight attendants were very friendly, attentive to every passengers needs.
The pilots made a straight in approach to Brisbane and we disembarked from gate 18. I did not want to ask to get photos of the flight deck due to my uncle picking me up from the airport. There is currently some building going on at the pick-up area of the Domestic terminal.
I visited my grandfather in hospital and then went to the Novotel to check-in and have dinner with my uncle, aunty and grandmother. The service was quite slow at the hotel resraunt, but it made time to have a good chat to my relatives. I said my good-byes and went up to my room. The rooms at the Novotel are very modern and comfortable. There is plenty of space in the relaxing environment.
Sunday 26th February 2006
It was another early wake-up for me. I did the usual stuff in the morning, shower, teeth, getting dressed. I was out of my room by 7:05 and checked out 5 minutes later. I had an option to either get to the airport by train or taxi. I knew that traffic would be light at this time of the morning. I asked at the front desk what the cost of each would be, the taxi would be about $20-$25 and the train would be $9. Well, to save at least $11 was a good thing. I arrived at the train station 5 minutes later and wandered my way around this unfamiliar station. I checked the board, good, an airport train would depart in 15 minutes.
The train ride into the airport is quite good. It does not take very long from the Central station. Brisbane International terminal is quite a mess. Customs was a shambles. Lines were extremely long and people missed their flights because of this.
Brisbane (BNE) to Sydney (SYD)
Flight No: QF176
Scheduled Departure: 0935
Actual Departure: 0934
Scheduled Arrival: 1205
Seat Number: 59A, then 58A (exit row)
Boarding was called around 0905, with completion and push-back a little early. This would be my first flight in a QF 744, and i was anticipating a great flight. Immediately after departure, a sharp right turn was made to avoid a coastal thunderstorm just off the end of the runway. Loads were quite light for this sector, with about 150 spare seats.
A light Breakfast was served quite quickly. With a warm scone, juice, cereal and a banana served to economy passengers. The cloud formations on the left side of the aircraft were quite spectacular during the climb out to FL380.
Spectacular cloud formations!
The staff on the flight were professional, yet enthusiastic and very welcoming. They joked with each other and were polite to the passengers. They cleaned up breakfast quickly, and began preparing the cabin for landing due to the short cruise time.
Arrival into Sydney was fantastic. Mostly clear skies, with no haze. Beautiful views of the city and airport while turning onto the approach path for runway 25.
The aircraft touched down quite hard and slammed on the reversers and speed brakes to bring her to a stop on the short runway. Soon enough, we had pulled into the gate at 1158 and the passengers began leaving.
Half-way down the air bridge, I realised that I had forgotten my boarding pass in the seat pocket. I ran back, left my bags with a flight attendant, and retrieved my pass. I thanked the crew, for a second time, for a lovely flight, and made my way out of the airport.