SECTOR: DRW - PER
ETD: 15:10 (local) ETA: 17:40 (local)
ATD: 15:09 (local) ATA: 17:29 (local)
FLIGHT TIME: 3:48
AIRCRAFT: Boeing 737-838
REGISTRATION: VH-VYI “Bathurst Island”
DEPARTING GATE: 3
DEPARTING RWY: 29
ARRIVAL RWY: 21
ARRIVAL GATE: 3
Photo © Nathan Bartlett
Darwin and the Northern Territory is an amazing place. There is so much do up there and it is very beautiful. In between work I managed to make it to the Mindel Beach Markets which are probably the best markets I have ever been to and there are so many food stalls. It was here that I discovered a taste for Timorese food. I also got to spend time with my eldest sister on her property at Humpty Doo where she has some horses. The highlight of this trip however was my trip to Berry Springs.
Berry Springs are these natural Springs about an hour outside Darwin. The water is shallow and clear and there are many little waterfalls and natural pools. It is so beautiful, think Fern gully. Its fresh water so no big crocs and rangers go through the Springs regularly after the wet season to pull out any stray crocs that might have happened to be there. There is off course no guarantee that it is safe but it is quite unlikely there would be anything harmful in the water this time of year. So after spending much of the day floating along the springs on a floatation device my big sister reluctantly informed me that we should leave for the airport.
I had checked in the night before thanks to online checkin so I just needed to drop my bags off at the airport. I did not anticipate any big queues thanks to Darwin’s size. With a stop off at KFC on the way to the airport (all that swimming and laying around sure does build an appetite) we were at the Darwin airport about an hour before departure. There are no check in kiosks at Darwin airport but that did not matter as I already had my boarding pass. I dropped my bags off in near record time and at the check in counter I requested an actual boarding pass as opposed to the paper one I had printed thanks to the dramas I had suffered with online checkin on QF1942 from Perth via Alice Springs.
Photo © Darren Koch
Security also moved fast and it was not long before my sister and I were upstairs in the departure lounge. My aircraft was already there and by the looks of it, it was one of the newest 737-838s in the fleet. My ride would be VH-VYI “Bathurst Islands” The lounge looked rather full so I guess that meant that this flight would be full as well. My Sister and I went out to the smoking gallery. Neither one of us smoke but it was so I could take a couple of decent shots of VYI.
We sat around the lounge for the remainder of the time and at about 14:50 we were invited to board QF793. They invited us to board the aircraft by row numbers and since I was in row 7 and it would be some time before would see my sister again I decided that I would not board till the last minute. As the large line to board the aircraft dwindled right down I joined the queue. I bid farewell to my sister and wished her happy birthday (for November), Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and as many holidays I could think off as I would not see her again till April when she would visit Perth.
I had my boarding pass scanned by one of the flight attendants and then proceeded down the stairs to the aerobridge. Once I boarded the aircraft a full cabin was presented. There was a large couple sitting in seats 7D and E and they had to get up so I could get to my seat. I was probably one of the last 6 people to board the aircraft. The usual welcome announcements were made by the CSM and then the pilots informed us a little bit about today’s flight. The seat belt signs would be left on a little longer than usual due to some big Cumulus Nimbus clouds in the area. There would also be a small delay as we had to wait for another aircraft to park before we are able to pushback. That other aircraft would turn out to be a Qantas 767-338ER operating a flight from Cairns with an onward flight to Singapore. This service has however since been replaced by a Jetstar A320.
Photo © Darren Koch
Our pushback was slightly odd as instead of being pushed back to the usual 90 degree to the terminal we were at a 45 degree angle. I guess because of the 767 it was a bit tight? The LCD screens were lowered and the safety demonstration played. We began the lengthy taxi to runway 29 and the flaps were lowered. On the way to the runway we passed by a USAF Boeing C17 that was receiving attention to its number 2 engine. We held short of runway 29 once we reached the very end of it and held for a minute or two. We then lined up on the runway and after a few short moments the throttles were advanced. Our takeoff roll way very long and we rotated well and truly past the international terminal building. We lifted of the ground just as runway 29 intersects with runway 18/36 We climbed out on a runway heading over the aqua Timor Sea before conducting a very sharp left hand turn to take us South West towards Kununurra. There was some strong buffeting from the clouds as forecasted and we made a couple of small changes in direction to avoid the worst of the bumps.
Once we were above the clouds the seatbelt sign was extinguished. The crew set about preparing the meals and the LCD screens were once again lowered and we were informed that today’s flight’s movie would be Footy Legends and that would begin screening soon. I had looked at a review in the Qantas in-flight magazine and it did not particularly interest me so I decided to look for entertainment on my Ipod. Once we reached cruising altitude the captain informed us that we were at FL360 and some more information on today’s flight and with out air traffic control delays we should be in Perth ahead of schedule.
Lunch was served after we just flew over Kununarra. Today we had the choice of the pasta with meatballs or the tasty chicken. I opted for the chicken which turned out to be not so tasty. The meal came with a bread roll, a small Twix bar, and some cheese and crackers so at least I got full on that. It did take quite a while for our empty meal trays to be collected though which slowed the process of me visiting the bathroom right down. The meal trays were eventually collected and soon after the ice creams were distributed. They were Mini Magnums today which in my opinion is the best Ice Cream that you can get on Qantas.
I noticed the crew was quite attentive on this flight. They came around regularly with drinks and in one instance I saw one of the flight attendants walk up and down the aisle with a small baby. Quite nice to give the parents a break so they organize their cabin baggage or even visit the bathroom. The movie footy legends had finished by now and the next program to be screen was Richard Attenbrough Planet Earth series. I have mentioned him quite regularly in my trip reports but his programs are fantastic and fascinating.
Photo © Darren Koch
The rest of the flight went by like a breeze and the scenery like on the flight on the way up to Darwin was just as stunning. The captain came over the P.A to inform us that we would be commencing our descent into Perth very shortly and informed us about the conditions on the ground which turned out to be a perfect Spring afternoon. Our descent was soon initiated and our descent was quite spectacular. We passed over the very green fields of the Perth hinterland. The crew did their usual cabin walk through to ensure the cabin was prepared for landing. Pearce Air Force Base was clearly visible in the final stages of landing as well as many small bush fires. These bush fires were part of the Conservation And Land Management (CALM) burn off. As we turned onto final we flew next to a massive bush fire with the huge flames towering over the trees it consumed clearly visible. Touchdown was very smooth and I could see a Qantas 767-338ER holding short of the runway waiting for us to land. The 767-338ER would take off as soon as we vacated the runway.
Photo © Darren Koch
We held for a while just short of our gate whilst a Jetstar A320 which was occupying gate 1 was pushed back for her departure to Melbourne Avalon. Once we were cleared of the JQ320 we pulled into gate 3. The seatbelt signs were extinguished and there was a mad rush of people to stand and grab their bags form the overhead lockers and leave the aircraft. I decided to forgo the rush and remain seated. This would be my last flight of what had been an amazing year and I wanted to savor it. As the rush to exit the aircraft died down I collected my things and made my way out of the aircraft and toward the baggage arrival reclamation area. The crowd was not too big as our flight was the only arrival at that time. As a result the small Perth Qantas Domestic Terminal handled the crowd quite well. My bag did not take too long to come out and once I collected my bag I headed out to the car park to try and remember where I parked the darn car.
GROUND HANDLING: 7/10
Darwin airport is small but very appropriate for its size. Nice multi-user terminal design with some very bright funky carpets which reflect the area around the city of Darwin. I love any airport which is not too crowded and offers great airside views. There are limited selection of retail and eating options but again due to its size not major problem. The departure gate did get quite full with only our 737 taking off at that time as well as when it came time to board the line to board my 737 flight snaked the whole length of the domestic departure level. Perth airport which has been named by Federal ministers as being the worst airport in the country handled me and my flight quite well today. Not a miracle just the perk of having a single 737 flight arrive instead of two 747s and two 767s at the same time.
Love the 737-800 especially with winglets. I think it looks very sporty and fantastic in the Qantas livery. VH-VYI was in immaculate condition as she was only a few months old when I flew on her. The inside of the cabin was spotless. The seat pitch is a little tight but I am only 5’9 so I found it ok. The two larger people I sat next to though made the cabin feel a little smaller than usual. The 737-838 is a very comfortable aircraft to fly on for this 4 hour flight.
A friendly but quiet bunch. 5 crew members I believe with 3 of them being of Asian descent They were very attentive and it was great to see one of the flight attendants looking after one of the babies on the flight while the mum could stretch here legs and visit the toilet.
I am finding out with Qantas that a lot of their meals are hit and miss. They have had some stellar meals such as the Ginger Fish, Thai Green Curry and Asian Chicken. Tasty Chicken was a miss. It was edible but so did not live up to its name. Should have been called fatty chicken
It’s great to have LCDs every few rows on planes now. It helps increase the viewing experience immensely. Again another movie was shown in the main cabin that did not appeal to me but with my favorite movie of all time being Finding Nemo, I am hardly the authority on movies. There was also a good selection of radio programs
X FACTOR: 4/5:
It was a fantastic flight and like the flight on the way up to Darwin the scenery was stunning. Great aircraft, great crew made it a great experience. And to think about it, it better be as Qantas offers the only direct flight between Darwin and Perth and at the prices they offer one would expect top notch Qantas service.
TOTAL 36/55 = 65.45%