On Friday 18 January I kicked off a jaunt from Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, to Darwin in the Northern Territory. I'd never been to Darwin before and was prompted to go by some Tiger Airways MEL-DRW fares that were going for $39.95 Australian, when you'd normally expect to pay several hundred dollars for these on any other airline. I bought the MEL-DRW return leg first and then managed to secure a QF CBR-MEL ticket to connect for $96 and a DJ MEL-CBR to come back for $95.
So I arrived at Canberra Airport on Friday afternoon about 4.30pm for my 5.20pm flight. Took some snapshots of the gate lounge area and the views out to the traffic - you'll see them in the slideshow. Let me know if the slideshow is annoying and if so I'll post each photo individually - it's just way easier this way!
VH-TJX was the 734 taking me to Melbourne. It was in pretty nice nick inside. Crew were typical Qantas aloofness trying a little to be friendly, but it wasn't really working. Sat in row 20 with a whole bunch of teachers who'd been to a conference in Canberra. Girl I was next to was scared stiff of flying so turned up her iPod really loud for takeoff.
The snack was some Carmans biscuit things with dip, an apple and a glass of red wine - it was ordinary - not very nice at all. Didn't even drink half of it. Flight arrived on time (pretty much -sorry I'm not as precise as most of you guys) and as I hadn't checked any baggage in I slipped off to the International Terminal for a bite to eat on the recommendation of a woman in a souvenir shop in the QF terminal - only very ordinary eating options in the QF terminal - Hungry Jacks as best as it gets. Sat down to eat a chilli basil chicken dish at some Asian cafe - it was a bit too hot for me.
Headed over to T4, the Tiger Airways terminal, at about 9pm to check in two hours early for my flight to Darwin - TT7566. Already a queue of about 30 people (see pics) and all had huge amounts of baggage. One and then two ladies working to check everyone in. The terminal was extremely sterile looking, though the toilets definitely weren't sterile. Could have been worse I suppose. Checked in with two carry on bags, seat 20A - forgot to ask for an aisle seat. This turned out to be a blessing - I had three seats all to myself. The seat pitch would have been 29" or so I reckon, see photo - it's enough for me but for anyone taller wouldn't be good. The A320 (VH-VNC) was sparkly new, although it didn't quite smell it - the seats smelled a bit used - probably had a tough day with kids slobbering over them, etc. The flight attendants wear black pants with lemon tops and have these cute scarf things that wrap around their waist and look like tiger tails. The staff tried to be professional but they didn't quite have the "polish" of the other two Australian major domestic carriers. Nice takeoff in the rain and soon we were above the clouds with a big moon and stars, a quick meal service came through - nobody bought much I don't think - and I was able to sleep. I really enjoyed this 4 hour flight - it went fast because I could sleep. There was some very gentle rocking turbulence all the way, but it wasn't disturbing at all. The toilet stayed pretty clean, although there was no soap left in the dispenser would be my only gripe.
Touch down in hot and steamy Darwin about 20 minutes early 1:30am. See my slideshow for a selection of Darwin/NT photos. Interesting place.
My return leg was again on VH-VNC and I checked in way early - about 10am. Couldn't be bothered staying in Darwin City any longer so thought I'd explore the airport. Not much to explore. There's flights to Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Singapore that all arrive/leave between 11am and 2:30am on Tiger , Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Blue and there isn't that much room. Not really a very pleasant gate lounge area. There is a hideous balcony where you can stand with all the smokers drinking beer from the Fannie Bay Ale Bar, and actually be out there amongst the planes - the cigarette smoke smells so strong you can't even smell the jet fuel.
Flight back left about 20 minutes late at about 2:40am. Everyone was pretty tired, though some were drunk and carrying loads of duty free alcohol after connecting from Singapore. I had an aisle seat in row 19 and there was a bloke in the window, so again had a bit of space. Had a bit of a sleep up against arm rest - my ear was leaning against it and it hurts now. Toilet again nice and clean and this time there was a soap dispenser. Flight didn't go quite as fast as the last one. It was a cool 12 degrees in Melbourne, a big change from the constant hot and humid 33 degrees in Darwin. Baggage collection area at T4 is a hideous, cavernous shed - had to wait 10 minutes or so for bags.
I headed off and did a quick self check-in for my DJ flight at 11:15 and purchased a single entry to The Lounge. Had some coco pops (hardly any choice of cereal), nice toast with butter and Vegemite, a skim milk latte while watching Sky News, then headed over to the lounge chairs and had an English breakfast tea while reading the paper. Next was a bit of time on the computers and a glass of juice and it was time to board my flight to Canberra. I was chatting to the guy next to me so I don't remember a lot about the flight. Smooth and fast, almost 100% load, compared to the 70% or so on the Tiger flights to and from Darwin. Staff were great as usual, felt so polished and lovely compared to Tiger, but hey, you get what you pay for. Upon landing in CBR, announcement was "it's been a pleasure for you having us here"!!
Was so distracted I forgot one of my bags in the overhead locker, DJ staff brought it out for me and I had it in a couple of minutes.
Hope you enjoyed the report! Sorry if it's dodgy...
Enjoy the photos!
Video features tarmac at Melbourne Airport, waterfalls, croc jumping with hilarious commentary, birds, thunderstorm.