Tasmania was one of 2 of the 7 states of Australia that I had not visited. So in early May 2003 when Qantas released some very cheap deals for flights all over the country I booked myself on a series of flights taking me from Brisbane to Hobart via Sydney and Melbourne, and returning via Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. The complete itinierary included 5 different comfirnations and 2 different airlines. Regional Express (REX) and Qantas, the whole checking for options and booking process taking me until 2;00am in the morning. I think if I had of left it until morning after I slept then some of the specials would have gone and that I would have had a clear head saying to myself that is a stupid idea.
BNE-SYD-BNE on Qantas during the sale in May 2003 was only AUD $98.00 you can pay just that much in taxes and Qantas fuel fines when making a booking using points in 2007. I had also purchased a Qantas yearly membership so trying to get my money back.
Well about 2 weeks after I made the booking and 2 weeks before travel I get a call from REX saying that my original flight choice of MEL-CBR had been cancelled and that I had been booked on the next available flight which got in at the same time I was to have flown CBR-SYD. After searching my options I found that REX flew from MEL-ABX-SYD in the allocated time that I had available between arriving in Melbourne and leaving Sydney. So I rang REX to cancel my original booking and enquired about my new travel plans. The REX sales agent was only to happy to sell me one ticket MEL-ABX-SYD as a connecting flight. WOO HOO. I ended up forfeiting a $46.00 CBR-SYD flight segment but already been to Canberra so what I lost ended up with a gain of a new airport and 2 flights on REX on the SAAB340.
Saturday came and got to the airport around 12;00pm for my 1:10pm departure. Checked in received boarding passes for all of todays flights and went to the Qantas Club for some lunch. While checking out the planes and the monitors I heard over the PA that a passenger that was scheduled to go on my flight and then continuing on to Adelaide was asked to see the service desk. It turns out that our 1:10pm flight on a 767-200 had an engine over heat and wasn't going anywhere. Subsequently I was booked on the 2:10pm flight. Good thing I had allowed plenty of times in my connections. My last scheduled attempt on an Ansett 767-200 ended up with the flight being cancelled.
7 June 03
BNE-SYD QF533 37J B767-300 VH-OGT
Boarded the plane around 1:55pm for the 2:10pm departure. 2:10pm came and went and we were then advised by the captain that a passenger wasn't going to board the flight and that their bags would have to be removed. Around 2;30pm we were away on our 1;30 minute flight with a scheduled flying time of 1hr 6 minutes. During the flight we were served afternoon tea, which came in a box. The box contents consisted of Carrott cake, cheese and crackers, a small chocolate, cup of water. Tea and coffee were offerred after the snacks had been distributed. There were the usual 10 channels of audio with a short Qantas feature followed by a half hour English comedy show on the main screen.
7 Jun 03
SYD-BNE QF453 41B B767-336 VH-ZXA
After an hour wait at the Qantas lounge went downstairs for my expected flight to Melbourne on a A330-200, but after seeing the registration I was denied the privilege.
After boarding the plane at 4:50pm, the departure time came and went and we were still sitting at the gate. The captain came on the PA and advised that were was an autopilot problem and the technicians had found the fault and a part to replace it with so there should only be a 20 minute delay. The delay was as expected and we left at 5;25pm and made the 13 minute trek across the airport for our take off. 13 minutes to me seemed like ages as my local airport a 5 minute taxi is usually the maximum. Service was similiar with another Qantas inflight meal in a box being provided. This one came with the usual water, chocolate, fruit & nut mix and bread stickes with a dip. This time I was offerred a soft drink as the tea and coffee wasn't available. Flight was an uneventful 1hr 10 minutes, we slowed during the later stages of the flight as we were behind a slower aircraft.
Got into Melbourne at 7;00pm and had a 1hr 20minute to spare before my next flight. Went and checked out the Melbourne Qantas Club and had some food and drink. Qantas Club have a bar service available after 1:00pm which helps to fill some time. Did a quick internet browse just to see whats going on in the world.
07 Jun 03
MEL-HBA QF1679 9A B717-231 VH-VQJ 8:20pm-9:30pm
Flight on-time. After a safety demonstration and a quick taxi we were away for a our 58 minute flight to Hobart. Qantaslink planes including the 717 do not have any audio or visual entertainment so ended up reading the articles in the Qantas inflight magazine Qantas The Australian Way. Not only do they prevent potential hijackings the crew also provide yet another Qantas box. A sandwich, a water, Tea/Coffee and a soft drink. I took a photo of this. After a smooth flight we came into Hobart with a very expected turbelent landing, found the airporter hotel shuttle which was $9.00 took me into the city.
I only paid AUD $36.00 a night for the room but the bed felt like it was only worth $36.00. Got up had a shower and went for a walk looking for a place where I could buy breakfast or a purchase a small carton of milk. After finding the milk and a something to eat headed back to the backpackers to have a cup of tea and eat the breakfast and check out. This evening I would be staying at the Casino.
Took a city tour, saw the Maritime Museum, the Antartic adventure, and the ShotTower, before making my way to the casino.
Picture of Hobart during the city tour.
After staying awake until 2;00am at the casino had to get up at 7;00am for the airport shuttle pick up. I had been hoping to win back my Tasmanian trip expenses on the slot machines and roulette wheel but only succeeded in giving money to the Tasmanian Treasury.
9 Jun 03
MEL-HBA QF1656 14A B717-231 VH-VQG 9:20AM-10:10AM
Got to the airport at 8;20am and check in was rather full with a flight going to Melbourne followed by a direct flight to Sydney. Walked around the airport and went through security to check the airplanes sitting on the Tarmac. Saw around 3 717s and some smaller airplanes. Went to the Qantas lounge to get breakfast and check out the bar fridge. In the past flyertalkers had mentioned that the fridge which holds all the beer would be open all day but when I got there found that it had a big lock on it with a sign saying Bar Opens at 1;00pm.
Boarding was called went through security again. The secure area is very small only big enough for the 50 or so seats available. Walked out onto the Tarmac to the plane and then up the stairs. Even though it was sunny it was windy and cold. Found my seat 14A an exit row, MRTC only in Qantas exit row. Read through the emergency door instructions. Even though it is highly unlikely that your aircraft will crash you want to know instantly what lever to pull and how to do it if the unexpected should happen. After the safety demonstration came onto the taxi away did a U-turn and took off. Was trying to take pictures on take off. Here’s one.
Breakfast was served again in a box. The tone of my trip report suggests that I don't like the box but in actual fact I do. In Australia one hour service gets you some food while in the USA you are lucky to be served a drink. There was museli, a cake and tea/coffee. Only got part way through the museli. Drank the tea and stored the cake for later. We had a smooth flight there were nice views coming in over the southern suburbs of Melbourne where it was clear and sunny but as we approached Melbourne airport it was a little cloudy.
After landing at Melbourne airport gate 6, seems as they use this one for all Hobart flights went and collected my baggage and walked to the other side of the airport to check in for my Rex flight. I took out my postcards, stamps and a pen and checked my bag so that I could spend the next 4 hours being able to walk around the airport without having to carry it. Was able to get boarding pass sequence 2, with seat 4C. for the MEL-ABX and Sequence number 1 for ABX-SYD with seat 4A. Walked to the gate to see what was going on and found a spot to sit for the next 2 hours and started writing out post cards. After finishing my writing, I went in search of a post box, found at the other end of the airport. Lucky I wasn't in any hurry. Heard the usual boarding calls for flights from Rex and Virgin Blue that both use the same southern 10 gate terminal in Melbourne. The boarding would start with the first call, then the final call and then the passengers names would be called for those that were late to the plane. I heard that a flight came in from Hobart was going to Brisbane, it was late, same plane service what is the fun in that.
Melbourne is one of the better airports to spend 4 hours as the domestic for Virgin/Rex, International and Qantas terminals are all virtually contained with in the one building. So plenty of shops to look in. Also Melbourne airport has an open air viewing area which gives you good views of the international and Qantas flights. You know you have been at the airport a long time when you see the same aircraft you arrive on in the morning returns 3 hours later, after doing a round trip to Hobart.
9 Jun 2003
ZL0436 ZL0436 4C SAAB340 VH-KDB 2:40pm-3:30pm
Flight was a little late boarding due to late arrival of incoming aircraft. Our aircraft was a SAAB340 still in its original Ansett/Kendell colours. The seats were covered in sheepskin with the seat pitch being a little better than Virgin Blue. The single flight attendant went through the safety demonstration. As there was only one she just read out the speech without any actions. It was a quick taxi to the runway less than 5 minutes. The SAAB340 makes a loud high pitch engine sound, kind of weird not like the that of a jet engine. The flight was a short 35 minute flight with a flight level around 9000 feet. It was cloudy most of the way but I was able to take a photo of us leaving Melbourne.
What surprised me was the afternoon tea that they provided. It came out in a clear tray with a plastic wrapping, with a cup for tea/coffee a water and 2 edible items. I have forgotten exactly what they were but one was a piece of cake, which I saved for later. The flight attendant was able to hand out the food to the 20 or so passengers and then come round to offer tea or coffee. Absolutely amazing for a 35 minute flight. Also the service that the flight attendant gave was good compared to the bored service you sometimes get on mainline flights. After arriving in Albury some passengers got out including me while most were continuing on to Wagga Wagga on the same plane just 15 minutes and 100kms up the road. This was also the time I realised that I wasn’t the only one going Melbourne to Sydney via Albury. Seems like Rex must have a few passengers that do this run as they weren’t overly surprised at my itinerary when I checked in for the flight.
Spent an hour in the airport, not a lot there, couldn't buy any post cards, brought a drink and sat around for a hour. They did have a nice outdoor area where you could sit in the sun and watch the small planes come and go, not scheduled passenger so had no idea what type they were.
9 Jun 2003
ABX-SYD ZL0317 4A SAAB340 VH-KDI 4:40PM-5:55PM
This plane was in the new Rex colours. My only myaviation.net contribution.
Photo © Bevan Webber
Same sheep skin covers as the previous plane. Safety demonstration speech was done again as usual but this time after completion of the speech the flight attendant showed us how to put on the life jacket in case we crash into one of the numerous shallow lakes and creeks that we might find. Sorry had to laugh at this, as I was mentally going through the Qantas inflight life jacket demonstration. Only heard it 4 times during the trip so far, so pretty much had the words memorized. Again we were served another afternoon tea. I couldn't think of a better way to spend an afternoon, fly on 2 small planes and get to see a bit of Australia and get served afternoon tea on both of them. Towards the end of the flight I could understand the reason for using the sheep skin covers as you can feel the vibration in the floor so must help in providing some insulation. Arrived in the dark at Sydney airport. A bus was waiting for us at the bottom of the steps and took us to the baggage collection area so you are not transported back to the gate area as there is no security at Albury airport. Before taking us to the airport the driver stopped by another Rex Saab and packed them onto the bus as well.
9 June 03
SYD-BNE QF550 15D B737-400 VH-TJE 7:35PM-9:00PM
Walked from the Ansett/Virgin Blue(formerly Ansett) terminal and walked over to the Qantas terminal connected by a walkway, which is mainly used for people going to and from the train. 2 terminal transfers in one day. Checked in which took for ages and then proceed to the Qantas Club. Food was a little lacking but they serve you as many beers as you like. Ended up meeting up with someone who had just flown in from England, who was also on their way to Brisbane but not until the flight after mine. Flight got called and went downstairs and boarded the aircraft. The Qantas 737-400s were looking a little worn out compared to my recent 737-800 flights, so good they are getting a refurbishment. Standard Qantas flight. audio, TV and more food. This time not in a box. The tray consisted of a salad with ham, bread, water and a chocolate. Sodas and alcohol were also served which I asked for and got a red wine and a coke. As this was a weekday evening flight the alcohol was free and there were a heap of empty bottles on the food cart when it came around to collect everyones tray.