Just for fun I took a flight to OOL and back.
There have probably been hundreds of posts about Virgin Blue so there would be very little left for me to add, so this report is just my observations and a personal account.
I had booked on-line and checked in on-line and according to the website as long as I had no baggage I could head straight to the gate to board my flight.
Observation 1, I did not need to identify myself at all at any time so I could have booked under an assumed name and run away from my wife and there would be no way to find where I had gone.
I had a look around the terminal and noticed that all the 737's there at the time had the eye-brow windows filled in. I know this is now standard for new delivered aircraft but I was not aware of any airline actively plugging the eye brow windows. Is there a weight saving in this? Why would an airline bother with this expense?
I looked at where mt aircraft should have been but the aircraft there was just being pushed back and I noticed that instead of a nose tug this tug was attached to a main landing gear and I have never seen that before either.
As I walked towards the end of the terminal I saw the Adelaide flight run in and this was to be my aircraft. It was VH-VOL named appropriately "Goldie Coast", not the newest in the fleet but the first time I had Live TV with Virgin Blue. It's a 737-800 by the way, I keep hoping I get a 700 one time but that continues to elude me.
Although the inbound flight was a little late they deplaned rapidly and boarding commenced just 5 minutes later than what was printed on my boarding pass that I printed at work the day before.
As I boarded I noticed the sign stating "Time to Split" where those seated in the rear half of the cabin would walk down the stairs, around the engine and in the rear door via stairs. This explains the rapid exit of the previous passengers and noticeably accelerated boarding.
I had seat 11F on the out bound trip and had an empty seat next to me and a guy on the aisle.
Virgin Blue was launched as a low cost airline so the no frills service was expected, however Virgin Blue has an extensive buy on board menu that makes a lot of sense.
Last year I traveled to the USA and flew domestically, and I continue to be amazed why full service airlines continue to emulate LCC's. Frankly flying United or American makes Frontier and Alaska look like full service carriers. I'd say Virgin Blue is a slightly better airline than Frontier as far as service goes.
Push back was just about on time and we had the misfortune of taking off from what I call the new runway and then from the south so we had the longest taxi possible at SYD.
I was admiring the heavy metal and noted Air Mauritius with an A340, Emirates with an A345 and 773ER SQ with the A380 on a remote stand and a 777 as well, MAS 747, Cathay A330 Vietnam 772, China Eastern A333, Air China with a 772. Also noted all QF aircraft were in the old livery and I saw none wearing the updated style.
Take off was brilliant and the flight lasted just over an hour, I looked out and noticed a few airports along the way but I don't really know what cities they were. I did see a QF Link Q400 flying below us going back probably to SYD from a regional airport.
Landed with a left wheel thud at OOL 5 minutes early and noticed the apron is under developement and it appears to be getting air bridges, OOL does not have these yet. We deplaned and walked around the build site to the terminal. As I had no luggage I walked straight out and towards the address I had to be at.
After viewing a house I went for a walk along the beach, Surfers paradise was visible in the distance but I went south towards Coolangatta. I saw a surf club and looked at the watch and decided it was a good spot for lunch. Prawns and some Bundy and Coke went down real easy! After attending to my duties I returned to OOL airport for the return trip.
I was frankly disapointed when VH-VOL arrived to take the service back to SYD. Surely I could have had a different aircraft. I had previously called DJ to see if a service might be operated by an E190. Obviously they changed their mind.
I noticed at OOL that QF were no longer present and they handed this airport to Jetstar. Tiger also visits here and I noticed Air Asia and an MD-80 of Mineralogy parked near the tiger terminal. Looking at the flight information monitors it's clear that DJ is the dominant carrier here. There were no tiger aircraft to be seen and only two Jet Star Aircraft and one was an A321, that was the first time I had seen one in Australia and noted it looked a little browner in colour that the A320 parked next to it.
The return flight was a normal one hour trip under the control of Captain Hayley Williams and she did a good job too. What a great day out.
I forgot to mention when I left SYD that Air Canada had just arrived with their beautiful 772LR in that incredible livery.
[Edited 2008-08-28 21:38:36]