After about a year of reading reports from fellow travellers on this marvellous website, I finally thought it would be an idea to pen my own TR
, and a conference to Launceston was a great opportunity for this. We decided to take an early QF
flight connecting to a JQ
flight in MEL
. On the return leg, I decided to take a DJ
early morning flight and then an evening QF
flight back to PER
so that I could spend a day sightseeing and shopping in Melbourne with my girlfriend.
Welcome to my 1st TR
This report will cover all four legs of this trip on the three major carriers in Australia: QF
. It was the first time on JQ
for me, as previous to this I travelled exclusively on QF
around the country with the exception of an AN
flight in 1998 from DRW
As I am new to this, please feel free to add all your comments, and any improvements I could make to make my future TRs even better.
30th June 2009
Qantas Airways Flight QF648
Origin: Perth Airport (PER
Destination: Melbourne Airport (MEL
Equipment: Airbus A330-200
Name: Margaret River
Delivered: 7th June 2008
Seat: 50A (Economy)
Scheduled/Actual Departure Time: 00.30/00.28
Scheduled/Actual Arrival Time: 05.55/05.28
Flight Time: 3 hours
Booking on the Qantas website and quick and easy, the format for booking on the website is among the best I have experienced. Online check in is also available from 24 hours prior to the departure time. I found this a bit weird though; as I logged on immediately 24 hours prior to the flight, but found the front section of Economy and all the exit rows were locked out. I guess they give these out on the day of the flight to those who need it. Not sure if Qantas charges extra for exit row seats? Since JQ
is a subsidiary of QF
, we booked directly through to LST
with minimal fuss.
Grabbing our boarding passes at the Qantas Quick Check’s was easy and quick. But the lines for the bag drop went for about 35 minutes – bit disappointing really. Only 2 or 3 check in desks were available and there were 3 or 4 flights to deal with, all departing within a 30-60min period. Going through security was not a hassle, although my girlfriend got randomly selected to get swabbed for explosives/drugs on her luggage and clothing. In addition, due to rough weather (strong gusts, continual rain), there were delays of up to 1 hour for take offs and in-bound flights were delayed for up to 2 hours (QF583 from Sydney).
My plane (VH-EBJ
B738 in next gate
Boarding was called 20minutes prior to the scheduled departure time and it was quite orderly, no worries there, went through gate 2. I was welcomed by two female FAs at Door 1L, who directed me to the rear of the aircraft on the left, for 50A. Arriving at 50A, I found the seat to be quite comfortable, the material to be quite soft, and seat pitch to be industry average, but adequate, around 31 inches?
Down the air-bridge
Captain Greg Turner and F/O Marcus Greiger welcomed us onboard prior to pushback and told us that we would be taking a southerly departure, turning left immediately after taking off from runway 03. The F/O also told us that the flight duration would be a mere 2 hours, 40mins, due to the strong tail winds all the way to Melbourne. Load tonight in Y was only about 50%. The 2-4-2 configuration on the A332 led to many seats in the middle empty, with alot of people raising the arm-rests and using these seats as a bed for the duration of the flight.
Legroom at 50A
Bit rainy outside
Is than an IFE box?
Just as we were pushing back, QF583 (VH-EBK) finally pulled in to the gate, after a delay of about 2 hours.
The aircraft felt quite new and fresh. This plane was delivered to Qantas new in 2008, however some of the seats were already a bit ragged, with bits of fabric ripped off and tray tables quite dirty and scratched in some corners. However the seats, overhead lockers, windows and lighting were all impeccable.
A company B734 pulled into the gate next to us as we were pushing back (VH-VXB), in a special Aboriginal livery (Yananyi Dreaming). First time for me to see this bird live in the flesh.
In-Flight Magazine for the month
Fellow A332 in the next gate (VH-EBK)
Despite the heavy winds/rain outside, we pushed back 2 minutes before the scheduled departure time at 00.28, followed by a short taxi to runway 21 for the southerly departure. We waited for an EK
B77L before taxing onto the active and a short time later at 00.40 the wheels were up. I must admit the take off roll was very quick and Vr was reached probably before we reached halfway down the runway. It was also amusing to notice that during the hold for runway 03, it was quite easily heard that there was a dog barking in the cargo hold, quite loudly too I must admit. In fact it was howling during the entire T/O sequence.
Straight after T/O, the F/O announced that we had reached 27,000ft and we were climbing to 40,000ft to avoid the turbulence and weather that had battered Perth for the last week or so.
Crew on this flight was acceptable. I wouldn’t say they were fantastic, but they did their jobs and they were polite but not friendly, unlike what you would find on some Asian carriers. About 20minutes after T/O, when we had levelled off, the meal service began. There were no menus, but the two options were:
• Lamb Curry with Spinach
• Roast Chicken with Rosemary Sauce.
I chose the latter whilst my girlfriend chose the former. I must say the vegetables tasted really fresh and the chicken, whilst of a small quantity had a nice flavour about it. Definitely a nice meal. Tea/coffee/soft drinks/wine/beer were offered with the meal. I took a lemonade. After the meal service, the crew disappeared to the galleys and when I went back the crew were having their meals in the last row of economy seating, but at this stage, most people were asleep or entertaining themselves.
The other choice
The A332 cabin has a greater sense of space compared to the B767s and the engine noise was also considerably less.
With lights out
Ok, admittedly I am not a fan of the IFE (or the lack thereof) on QF
domestic flights. Playing a random documentary followed by a guide to the destination city really does NOT cut it anymore. Furthermore, I am perplexed as to why, on such a new aircraft, delivered in 2008, that QF
decided not to install all seats with PTVs with AVOD such as on the A333, B744, A380 fleet. Needless to say, I amused myself with writing notes for this TR
as well as watching Casino Royale on my laptop, followed by some music. For the last 20 or so minutes of the flight, flight show was on all the overhead LCDs, where we were clocking a ground speed of about 1200km/h...WOW, no wonder we were covering the sector in less than 3 hours.
On descent – sorry for the bad quality
But seriously, I cannot wait till QF
replaces the 20 year old 767s and B734s with brand new B787 equipment, but with the delays with the Dreamliner, I’m sure QF
won’t get their hands on the B787 any time soon, unfortunately.
Ok, one rant, and one of my pet hates on flights, especially red-eyes. Babies crying!!! I mean seriously control your kids!! This one particular kid wasn’t just a few months old, he was at least 3. But I guess it didn’t help that his mother kept yelling at him to ‘shut up’ and threatening to smack him. This was in a cabin where maybe 75% of the pax were sleeping (or at least trying to). CONTROL YOUR KIDS PEOPLE!!! End rant.
There was a final water/juice run 20minutes prior to landing, at the top of the descent. Rubbish and bits and pieces were also collected at this stage. We touched down on runway 16 at 05.28, 27 minutes ahead of schedule. Finals were really turbulent, bumpy and rough and I hadn’t felt that kind of turbulence since I was on a ZH B734 in 2008.
Parked next to a QF
My seat: 50A
Disembarkation was quite orderly but the aerobridge at door 1L failed to connect so all pax had to disembark via door 2L and we were delayed by 5 minutes or so, oh well, no biggie. Then went to the baggage collection to pick up luggage which took a good 30 minutes to arrive. QF
flights generally have a good on time performance and QF648 was no exception despite the heavy winds/showers in both PER
. Commendations to the crew for this.
Overall it was another solid flight with QF
, they’re on-time record, reliability, equipment and food will not let you down. However they lack in certain aspects such as the ancient AVOD as well as the checking-in/disembarkation process.
Jetstar Airways Flight JQ735
30th June 2009
Origin: Melbourne Airport (MEL
Destination: Launceston Airport (LST
Equipment: Airbus A320-200
Delivered: 5th October 2005
Seat: 12F (Exit Row)
Scheduled/Actual Departure Time: 08.20/08.25
Scheduled/Actual Arrival Time: 09.35/ 09.40
Flight Time: 1 hr 15 minutes
After collecting our luggage from the QF
carousels, we went back up and checked in at the JQ
check-in desks. As per QF
, we used the quick-check kiosks to get a boarding pass/tag for our bags and then went to line up in the queue to check our bags in. This is where the JQ
experience went from ok to bad. We had about 20 groups of people/families in front of us. As we got to 2nd in line, the check-in staff started waving in all the pax from another JQ
flight to Cairns to get their bags put through first. And since there was about 50 or so groups of families on this flight waiting to get processed (somehow their flight was closing in 15 minutes...no idea how that happened), we ended up waiting for an extra 35 minutes to get processed. As a consolation, my girlfriend and I got offered exit row seats free of charge, which we gladly accepted, but still, the bag drop process was a farce and needs to be improved on majorly. Instead of putting through the 4 or 5 groups of pax waiting for JQ735, they decided to put through the entire JQ
flight to Cairns first, making us wait for up to 40 minutes.
My boarding pass
We then went through security, and got airside to do a bit of spotting. We also grabbed a coffee as we were still extremely tired from the night before. On the tarmac there was a KE
B773 and QF
/JQ jets of all descriptions.
After initially being told to board from gate 2, it got shifted to gate 8. I was lucky just to get a glimpse of the rego prior to boarding and notice that the plane was in a special Sea World livery.
Our plane (VH-VQQ)
Down the bridge.
Entry through Door 1L
We quickly got seated; the load was quite full, maybe 85%, with just a few empty seats here and there. Push back occurred at 08.20 and we soon taxied to runway 16 and joined the major traffic jam that was occurring as the other runway had to be closed due to heavy winds. We were 5th in queue behind a QF763, DJ738, QF738 and a MU
A333. In addition to this, a MasCargo B742 and a DJ
738 also landed, along with a SQ
B773, a VN
77E and also a company A320. Finally after sitting at the holding point for runway 16 for a good 15 minutes, we lined up and were quickly airborne, with the pilot using less than 1/3 of the 3600m runway. We immediately turned right and headed south.
Gotta love exit rows!!
The FAs then began the food service as we reached cruising altitude. I decided not to get anything as I didn’t feel like eating anything and felt rather tired from the previous flight and wait at the airport.
Apart from this, I just slept for a bit, took some photos and notes.
The exit rows on JQ
’s A320s are quite nice, have a pitch of maybe 38inch? You can squeeze through to the aisle from the window seat and not disturb your neighbours if you are skinny. Seats were quite comfortable but the state of the plane left much to be desired. Arm rests had been worn down, some of the leather seating was showing signs of damage, tray tables were yellow with food staining, and I am definitely not a fan of JQ
Lavs are nothing special
The F/O quickly announced that we had began our descent into “Lonnie” and the FAs packed up after the food service. Again, the weather was terrible, very very cloudy with scattered showers and quite strong winds buffeting us on the way down, making it particularly bumpy on finals. We landed at 09.36 on 14R and reverse thrusters were deployed immediately slowing the plane down well before the 1981m runway ran out. We then taxied to a space in front of the terminal, as LST
does not have air bridges, air stairs had to be used, and it was placed at both the front and back of the aircraft, and we deplaned 4 minutes later. Upon stepping off, the weather was miserable, max of 12 degrees, rain, wind....argh..
Very cloudy with reverse thrusters deployed
The CFM engine
-VQQ in a special Sea-World Livery
In conclusion, there were many facets of this JQ
flight that left alot to be desired. The cabin was looking quite tattered and checking-in was a total mess.
View from hotel room
Our hotel – the Grand Chancellor on Cameron St
“Lonnie” is beautiful at night
Virgin Blue Flight DJ1361
4th July 2009
Origin: Launceston Airport (LST
Destination: Melbourne Airport (MEL
Equipment: Boeing 737-800
Name: Blue Billie
Delivered: 29th January 2004
Scheduled/Actual Departure Time: 06.30/06.27
Scheduled/Actual Arrival Time: 07.30/07.25
Flight Time: 58 minutes
We stayed at the Hotel Cameron in the city centre of Launceston and it was a 20minute cab ride to the airport, which is about 30km away, on the outskirts of town. Got to the airport at about 5:45am with some time to spare.
Headed straight to the DJ
Quick Check in kiosks, but my girlfriend’s name wasn’t coming up on the system so we decided to head to the check-in desks so that we could be assigned seats next to each other. There was no queue and we were warmly welcomed by a male DJ
staff member who assigned us 24A/B with little fuss.
We then went through security which took less than a minute. My girlfriend once again got randomly stopped to have her bag, clothes swabbed for drugs; needless to say the test came back negative!!
Our plane, a DJ
A QantasLink Dash Q400
Got told off for this.
But not this
We started boarding via air-stairs at about 6:10am, 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time. I began to take some photos of the aircraft as I was on the tarmac, but was told by a DJ
ground staff member to stop immediately. But, as soon as I was past his line of vision, I grabbed a shot of the aircraft and engine; it was far too good an opportunity to pass up!!
F/O Gary Cummings introduced himself and the captain Walter Gowers over the PA just prior to push back and told us that we would be heading directly north after T/O and that we would be scheduled to arrive a little earlier due to tailwinds on route.
For the 1 hour flight, the 30in seat pitch was adequate, but I wouldn’t want to spend much more than 3 or 4 hours on one of these birds, especially if the flight is full, which it was today. Load in Y was about 95%, I saw about 2 or 3 empty seats. Immediately after T/O, I swiped my CC
and began checking out DJ
’s AVOD system. It has 24 FOXTEL/AUSTAR channels and channel 13 for Flight Tracking. On short-haul flights it is $4.90 via CC
or $5 via cash and $9.90/10 respectively on longer-sector flights.
About 20minutes after T/O and reaching our cruising altitude of 36,000ft, and travelling at a ground speed of 520mph, the FAs began the breakfast service. I had a sprite for $3. There were 3 female and one male FAs. All were quite young but acted quite professional and their level of service was quite good. One of them caught my eye! Just kidding (I hope my girlfriend doesn’t read this
). I settled down and enjoyed the AVOD for a bit before making a trip to the loo, which was quite clean, as expected for such a short flight. The cabin looked a bit dated and quite plain, but was spotless and the aircraft seemed to be maintained in quite a good condition. The seats had no complaints on such a short flight but it should be noted that there are IFE boxes under all B & E seats. Just as the meal service concluded, the F/O announced that we had started our descent into MEL
. We flew past the airport and then made a left turn back to land on runway 16. We were on the ground at 7:19 and into the gate 5 minutes later.
Winglet of this B738
We picked up our baggage from the carousels after a quick stroll through the QF
domestic terminal. Then we stored our luggage at SmartCarte for $15 for the whole day as we decided to wander around the city for the entire day before our night flight back to PER
. We took the SkyBus into the city for $26 return, which was much better than getting a taxi for $50 one-way. It was only a 25minute bus ride as well!
Company Embraer E-170
Our plane – VH
B772 and KE
Overall an enjoyable experience on DJ
. The crew were a cheery bunch and showed enthusiasm in what they were doing. Having an AVOD system with a small extra fee made the trip more pleasant. DJ
definitely rates better than JQ
and I’d be tempted to fly with them from PER
, if of course, the price is right!
Docklands (aka Etihad Stadium)
Eureka Tower – 2nd tallest in Australia after Q1 on the Gold Coast
Qantas Airways Flight QF653
4th July 2009
Origin: Melbourne Airport (MEL
Destination: Perth Airport (PER
Equipment: Boeing 737-400
Delivered: 25th May 1990
Scheduled/Actual Departure Time: 20.15/20.17
Scheduled/Actual Arrival Time: 22.30/22.12
Flight Time: 3 hours 55 minutes
After exploring Melbourne city for a day, doing some sight-seeing and shopping, we headed back to the airport on the SkyBus arriving at the airport at about 7.20pm, with plenty of time to grab our bags, head through security and chill out for a bit before boarding. I walked around the QF
domestic terminal, and apart from the gates at the far end of the complex, there is limited opportunity to even see the planes prior to boarding which was quite disappointing. I noticed that there were quite a few West Coast Eagles players sitting at the gate for QF653. They looked pretty fresh after the game that day at the MCG where they lost to the Melbourne Demons earlier that day. Upon boarding all the Eagles players sat in either business class or in the exit rows. Considering their height/weight, it was fair enough that the club booked these seats for them.
We pushed back at 20.17 and were held back before taxiing to runway 34 for takeoff. Row 8 and 9 only has one window and row 7 is completely windowless, so you would probably want to avoid this if you want a seat with a view. Newspapers were distributed prior to takeoff. The captain Mitch Hitchens welcomed us onboard over the PA and outlined the flight.
B772 and CX
After T/O, we initially climbed to FL240 before going higher to FL380. Prior to the meal being served, I went to the lav. Seeing as the meal trolley was making its way from the rear to the front of the aircraft, I went up the front to check if I could use the toilet at the front. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realise that it was reserved for business class pax, and the lead steward rudely told me to use the rear lav, despite the fact that there was no-one using it. I trudged back to my seat and waited till after I had my meal. Meals were served about 40 minutes after T/O.
The choices were:
Stir fried chicken with rice OR
Pasta with vegetables in a cream sauce.
Both options were average and were no-where near as good as the food on the PER
sector on the A332. Afterwards coffee and tea were offered along with an ice-cream for dessert.
Other choice – pasta
Seat-pitch on this dated B734
After paying a quick visit to the loo, I settled down, had a cup of water and promptly fell asleep as I was knackered from the day’s sightseeing/shopping in Melbourne.
Old school IFE System stored at the back of the cabin in the overhead bins.
The rest of the flight was quiet and uneventful with most people trying to sleep after the lights were dimmed. Load in Y was about 75% and 85% in J, so there were a few extra seats here and there for people to use as beds. About half an hour prior to landing, the captain came over the PA and announced our descent and wished that we had an enjoyable flight. We landed on runway 03 at 22.05 with reverse thrusters immediately deployed. Following this was a rather long taxi to a remote bay next to the domestic terminal where we exited the plane via air-stairs. We parked next to a QantasLink 717 (VH-NXG) before having to walk to the front of the terminal within a barricaded area to walk back into the main terminal to collect our luggage. Bit silly really, I guess it really shows that the Domestic terminal at Perth is really bursting at the seams and I was far from impressed.
Eagles waiting for luggage
Overall, it was a sound flight from QF
, typical without being spectacular. Food and crew were average. The plane was nothing to write home about, and the lack of proper IFE seriously deteriorates from the QF
CityFlyer product. I’m guessing its more economical for QF
to just wait to replace these aging 734s and also their 763s with the new 787s. Until then, I guess we’ll just have to deal with this.
Thanks for reading.
[Edited 2009-07-16 10:51:05]