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allrite
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Virgin Australia EMB190 vs Qantas 717 SYD to CBR

Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:38 pm

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"Relax," says Sempai Neil when I try to demonstrate my kata. "You're too tense Andrew!"

Too right was I tense!

I shouldn't be. The weather today was perfect. The weather tomorrow predicted to be the same. Turbulence should not be an issue. But an anxiety is not rational. It is a sense of dread, a tension.

The night is a bit disturbed and I wake before the alarm sounds at 5.20 AM. But I wake feeling more relaxed than when I had shut my eyes. I take the dog out to do his business and give Alex and B cuddles before stepping out into the sunrise and off towards the bus stop.

On a domestic flight like this I'd normally put sleep and family time ahead of time at the airport, but this flight has been booked through our corporate supplier and I can't check in online. Our team is moving in the organisation and a meeting was scheduled to talk to our new friends. My two Sydney colleagues were flying down and I didn't have much choice but to join them on the same flights.

Our cheapest flight policy meant that I had to book Virgin Australia for the flight down, but fortunately Qantas was in the price range for the return. Virgin versus Qantas, the Jungle Jet versus Mr T Tail. It was time for another battle of the airlines on the Sydney - Canberra route.I arrive at Sydney Airport's Terminal 2 with about an hour to spare and quickly checked in via the Virgin automated kiosk. Then straight through security and I have plenty of time to find some breakfast. The range of eating options at the T2 food court are reasonable, but in the interests of saving time I just grab a breakfast wrap from Red Rooster. Then I sit down by the window to watch the airport operations and get into the mood.

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I meet my two colleagues at the gate. Unfortunately the view of the aircraft is obscured by the jet bridge. Having flown the Embraer 190 a few times before I know what it looks like. A slim, pencil-like fuselage, thin wings and even thin winglets the end. A more fragile appearance than the more robust Boeing 737 and A320 that populate the rest of the terminal, a bridge between those jets and the ATR72 turboprops that complete the terminal set.Boarding of the aircraft is via the front jet bridge and the rear stairs. I take the latter, but dare not pause to shoot photographs lest I get scolded. Inside the aircraft is two by two dark grey leather seating with red or purple headrest highlights. The legroom is good, as is the width, but the height of the cabin is definitely less than on the larger jets. I don't mind. I feel cosy.This EMB-190 is equipped with Virgin Australia's streaming service, accessible via an app on my phone. The only thing that interests me of their selection is the flight map, which seems to have us continuing on a straight line west after Canberra.

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We head out the southern end of the third runway, a safety demonstration along the way. The aircraft bumps and bounces excessively, as it sometimes seems to do in the air. It does not inspire confidence.

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The takeoff feels powerful and we soar into the air, quickly turning right so we have views of central Sydney before turning across the coast.

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We level out at one altitude, let a Qantas A333 fly over us, then return to our ascent, continuing out to sea before heading roughly parallel to the coast.

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The cabin crew quickly hand out snacks and drinks. The offerings are disappointing. It is not just the tiniest muesli bar I've ever seen, but it also contains honey so I don't eat it. Similarly, the only drink options are tea, coffee or tubs of chilled water. I opt for the latter. The passenger next to me takes tea, but there is something wrong with it, too hot perhaps, and just before descent the crew get him another.

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These flights are so short that you barely reach cruising level before the descent begins. The land below us has an overlay of morning haze and we are lucky there have been no delays due to fog.

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The view up along the Molongolo Valley and towards the Brindabellas is as pretty as ever, the snow capped Australian Alps visible in the distance. Then the buildings of Canberra city appear. Our descent is very slow, something I noticed while watching an EMB 190 land at Sydney Airport the other day. I am happy, for this is turning out to be a very smooth flight.

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No problems with turbulence on that flight! I am still happy to be on the ground though.

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We wait in the terminal for half an hour until another colleague from Melbourne arrives. This gives me a chance to recharge my phone at the "business area". I spot the new International Area, which will have its first flights as a transit from Singapore to Wellington in a few weeks.Good on Canberra Airport. Its beautiful facilities, though sparse, deserve those flights.

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Once we all meet it is time to catch a taxi in to our meeting, which lasts from 10 until 4. The meeting room has no windows and there is no chance to escape it during the day. I find the lack of natural light and view depressing. I don't cope well with long meetings.So I'm not in the best of states by the time we return to the airport.

Two of the group are flying Virgin Australia back down to Melbourne, the original three of us returning to Sydney on Qantas. Once we wave goodbye to the others I guest the Sydneysiders into the Qantas Club lounge using my membership and a spare invitation card.

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I'm not sure they had ever been in a Qantas Club lounge before, but the one in Canberra is quite nice. I have a hot soup, much needed drink of Coke and some licorice allsorts, me being the only one in the family who eats them.

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Far too soon it is time to leave and board the aircraft.I am looking forward to the Boeing 717, my previous flight to Canberra in one was very good. I had checked in online using the Qantas app on my phone and there were no issues scanning it.

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Business class

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The app had allowed me to change seats and now I had a two seater to myself in row 16, just ahead of the exit row and the wing. There were earphones packs on the black seats, but I could see nothing to plug them into. Then the crew mentioned iPad Minis in the seat pockets, I had none, but then said they were having issues with them and we should use the streaming entertainment app instead.I start mine up and, though it lacks a flight map, I am far more impressed with the range of entertainment. Finally they have a decent soundtrack in that category, with John Williams conducting the Boston Pops.

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Unfortunately I discover that the Qantas app can't play in the background, so I can't take photos with my phone and listen at the same time. Photos won. Next time I'll bring more devices.After the safety demonstration the take-off roll is surprisingly long, then we are powering up into the sky. The sun is shining into my window, light reflecting off dams and creeks and the camera refusing to focus externally on the hazy sky.

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I'm feeling every small bump and it's not nice, despite this being a very smooth flight. In not time the cabin crew are quickly serving the snacks - an egg and lettuce sandwich on wholemeal bread - and drinks including free alcohol and, in my case, soft drinks.

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I can't eat the whole sandwich, the bread is a little dry, but I gladly take more drink. On the whole a more reasonable spread than on Virgin.Then the crew are back collecting the rubbish and we are beginning our descent. The first officer announces that we expect to arrive twenty minutes early!Below us and wind turbines on very slowly turning in the calm air. The great sandstone ridge walls of the Blue Mountains and Warragamba Dam follow.

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Which approach today, I wonder? From the north or south?The question is answered as turn south at the Holsworthy Army Base. I see our suburb out of the window, then beyond that to Sydney city as we cross the coast at the Royal National Park before turning back in to align ourselves with the runway.

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A couple of loud and sharp bumps briefly give concern. They must be related to the gear and flaps deploying.Another slow descent as we drift down over Kurnell and Botany Bay, the red Sun setting in the hazy skies to the West.

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The day has come to an end as we touch down on the tarmac. For many others, across there in the International Terminal, their adventures are just about to begin. But I am happy to be stopping here tonight.

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It was another almost perfectly smooth flight. Which was better, the jungle jet or the 717? I think the latter has more character. Judging their ride is impossible, my mood is too different. Qantas won on service and entertainment, they just feel more professional, but Virgin did okay.

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It certainly demonstrated to me that I am the problem. Fortunately solutions exist, if you are prepared to work at them.

I farewell my colleagues and catch the train to Padstow. When I arrive I am greeted by bright orange flames coming from a van parked opposite the bus stop.The fire brigade soon arrive to extinguish the fire, then police and ambulances appear. Fortunately the driver appears uninjured, but the road is now blocked and no buses can stop.

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I miss one diverted bus and have to catch a much later one from a bus stop down the road and I arrive home much later than I like.

So now I have some homework. Learn to relax, Andrew!
I like artificial banana essence!
 
VapourTrails
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Re: Virgin Australia EMB190 vs Qantas 717 SYD to CBR

Wed Sep 07, 2016 2:40 am

Hi allrite

Nice local trip report. Long day - can't say I've ever had to do two flights like that in one day so far in my life. The Jungle Jet? Haven't heard it called that before.. LOL. Hope I get another flight on one before they disappear from Australian skies. I am off to SYD next year, at least once, so hopefully I can wing an E190 then. Who would have thought a few years ago that there would be regular jet services on the CBR-SYD route? Sorry don't know the full history, I think 737 were for a while? I forget how close Sydney really is to Canberra. Saying that, I've never done the road trip yet! Your evaluation of the two airlines did not surprise me, that seems to be the status quo at this time. Cheers. =
 
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allrite
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Re: Virgin Australia EMB190 vs Qantas 717 SYD to CBR

Wed Sep 07, 2016 4:34 am

VapourTrails wrote:
Hope I get another flight on one before they disappear from Australian skies.


AFAIK Virgin isn't getting rid of all of them and I'd suggest they need to keep some jets on the SYD-CBR route to compete as, anecdotally, they are more popular.

VapourTrails wrote:
Who would have thought a few years ago that there would be regular jet services on the CBR-SYD route?


I first flew CBR-SYD with Ansett in January 1991, on the way home from a summer school in Canberra, and that was definitely a jet. Same for the next 4 years when studying there, definitely jets (probably 737s or A320s, can't remember). I've lost track of the number of times I've flown the route but jet wise it's been 717, 737-400, 737-800, E170 and E190 (plus the Dash 8 and ATR turboprops).

VapourTrails wrote:
Saying that, I've never done the road trip yet!


What!?!? I worked out that if I had left the house at the same time as I set out for the airport yesterday I likely could have driven to Canberra in time for the meeting. Yesterday's flights just reconfirmed my dislike of flying between the cities. The flight times are so short that there's no recompense for the "stress" of take-off and landing. I actually think, given the nice weather, a longer turboprop flight may have been preferable. Unfortunately, the train timetable is such that it's hard to fit in with business needs.[/quote]
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HGL
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Re: Virgin Australia EMB190 vs Qantas 717 SYD to CBR

Wed Sep 07, 2016 6:09 am

Hi Allrite.

An enjoyable read, as always. It can be quite a challenge taking photos when the sun and haze conspire to spoil things but I do like the sunset over the water.

It looks as if Qantas still offer the better product in terms of cabin service. With VA, you sometimes wonder why they bother with a "meal service".

I haven't had the chance to experience the 717 with a business cabin. The ones we have here in WA are all economy seating. I don't mind it, despite its 2-3 configuration compared to 2-2 on the Embraer.
Qui omnes despicit, omnibus displicit.
 
VapourTrails
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Re: Virgin Australia EMB190 vs Qantas 717 SYD to CBR

Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:31 am

allrite wrote:
VapourTrails wrote:
Hope I get another flight on one before they disappear from Australian skies.


AFAIK Virgin isn't getting rid of all of them and I'd suggest they need to keep some jets on the SYD-CBR route to compete as, anecdotally, they are more popular.

VapourTrails wrote:
Who would have thought a few years ago that there would be regular jet services on the CBR-SYD route?


I first flew CBR-SYD with Ansett in January 1991, on the way home from a summer school in Canberra, and that was definitely a jet. Same for the next 4 years when studying there, definitely jets (probably 737s or A320s, can't remember). I've lost track of the number of times I've flown the route but jet wise it's been 717, 737-400, 737-800, E170 and E190 (plus the Dash 8 and ATR turboprops).


Thanks for the information on the VA E190's, I haven't really been keeping up with the latest there I must admit.

I don't know any of the history of anything around before 1995, so thank you for that info. I did not know it was that prevalent! It is such as short flight, but, if the demand is there for jet service.. and the competition of course.

HGL wrote:
I haven't had the chance to experience the 717 with a business cabin. The ones we have here in WA are all economy seating. I don't mind it, despite its 2-3 configuration compared to 2-2 on the Embraer.


You may be able to read a trip report about it very soon though!
 
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777Jet
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Re: Virgin Australia EMB190 vs Qantas 717 SYD to CBR

Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:27 pm

Hi mate,

I enjoy reading all TR'S on the QF 717. I'd love to log one one day but I have zero faith in QF not subbing it with something else so I don't really feel like wasting money to log one only to end up on something else.

For a while I was getting worse at handling turbulence and started to fear it but after a dozen or so totally smooth boring flights I was almost desperate for some chop and now it doesn't bother me again.

Keep the nice trip reports coming.

777Jet
DC10-10/30,MD82/88/90, 717,727,732/3/4/5/7/8/9ER,742/4,752/3,763/ER,772/E/L/3/W,788/9, 306,320,321,332/3,346,359,388
 
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allrite
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Re: Virgin Australia EMB190 vs Qantas 717 SYD to CBR

Wed Sep 07, 2016 1:10 pm

HGL wrote:
Hi Allrite.

An enjoyable read, as always. It can be quite a challenge taking photos when the sun and haze conspire to spoil things but I do like the sunset over the water.


Thanks! In the interest of travelling super light I only brought my mobile phone with me so focus options were limited. The bit I really missed was flying over the Blue Mountains. Those sandstone ridges are magnificent in the evening.

HGL wrote:
It looks as if Qantas still offer the better product in terms of cabin service. With VA, you sometimes wonder why they bother with a "meal service".


Yep, it was rather pointless. Sometimes I'm in such a rush that I miss breakfast, but this wouldn't have helped at all.

HGL wrote:
I haven't had the chance to experience the 717 with a business cabin. The ones we have here in WA are all economy seating. I don't mind it, despite its 2-3 configuration compared to 2-2 on the Embraer.


Not much point with business class between SYD - CBR! Though...

VapourTrails wrote:
You may be able to read a trip report about it very soon though!


Look forward to it!

777Jet wrote:
I'd love to log one one day but I have zero faith in QF not subbing it with something else so I don't really feel like wasting money to log one only to end up on something else.


I have been rebooked on the day in CBR, but I think it's a pretty fair chance you'll get the 717 on that route if you book it. Other routes between capitals may be different. I think they are a pretty nice plane if you like classic types. Not as nice as a A350 though! (yet to try that one) :)

777Jet wrote:
For a while I was getting worse at handling turbulence and started to fear it but after a dozen or so totally smooth boring flights I was almost desperate for some chop and now it doesn't bother me again.


I was the opposite for a while, but in the last year it's gotten worse. Been looking at programs to deal with it because I miss the old joy of flying. Thanks for reading!
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VapourTrails
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Re: Virgin Australia EMB190 vs Qantas 717 SYD to CBR

Fri Sep 09, 2016 3:35 am

allrite wrote:
777Jet wrote:
I'd love to log one one day but I have zero faith in QF not subbing it with something else so I don't really feel like wasting money to log one only to end up on something else.


I have been rebooked on the day in CBR, but I think it's a pretty fair chance you'll get the 717 on that route if you book it.

777Jet wrote:
For a while I was getting worse at handling turbulence and started to fear it but after a dozen or so totally smooth boring flights I was almost desperate for some chop and now it doesn't bother me again.


I was the opposite for a while, but in the last year it's gotten worse. Been looking at programs to deal with it because I miss the old joy of flying. Thanks for reading!


I agree, the 717 is synonymous with CBR for now - SYD, MEL, BNE. I managed to get a flight on the 717 on that route due to getting to the airport early. Chance is the thing I know, but I was booked on the Q400, and they offered me the earlier flight (on the 717).

I too have waxed and waned with the flying anxiety thing, and I don't think there is such a thing as a cure now, I accept it just goes dormant for a while!

I find the best antidote is the IFE. My mind is distracted, and my hearing as well. I also think where there is stuff going on before you even get the airport it does not set up well for the flight, or if I am thinking about after the flight - what I need to do or things to deal. Sometimes flying is not all about leisurely holidays so I am not sure how much of this (feeling) can be controlled.

Good luck with the programs, I hope that the money invested really works well in the longer term. Did you see the 'City in the Sky' documentary the other night? EasyJet run a course for anxious flyers, but it made it look like they were cured when they did the flight, it is not as simple as all that!
 
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allrite
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Re: Virgin Australia EMB190 vs Qantas 717 SYD to CBR

Fri Sep 09, 2016 4:00 am

VapourTrails wrote:
I too have waxed and waned with the flying anxiety thing, and I don't think there is such a thing as a cure now, I accept it just goes dormant for a while!

I find the best antidote is the IFE. My mind is distracted, and my hearing as well. I also think where there is stuff going on before you even get the airport it does not set up well for the flight, or if I am thinking about after the flight - what I need to do or things to deal. Sometimes flying is not all about leisurely holidays so I am not sure how much of this (feeling) can be controlled.

Good luck with the programs, I hope that the money invested really works well in the longer term. Did you see the 'City in the Sky' documentary the other night? EasyJet run a course for anxious flyers, but it made it look like they were cured when they did the flight, it is not as simple as all that!


I was looking at the Fearless Flyers course, though it's very expensive and, with my weekends, hard to commit to. If nothing else, it looks fascinating from an aviation enthusiast's perspective. :) More seriously, the skill of "mindfulness" and reducing the anxiety response looks like it is well worth developing anyway.

Whilst windows are best for me I agree that IFE definitely helps - if it is seat back. Otherwise I'm worried about my devices going flying independently! It really is a state of mind and being more relaxed is a definite advantage. I think that's partly why some of the night time longhaul flights back to Australia have worked out better for me. For example, despite the nasty turbulence on my last flight back from Japan I quite enjoyed the remainder of the flight and the subsequent connection from CNS - SYD. I was just too tired to spend the whole time in an anxious state. But on the SYD-CBR route there is simply no time to relax. The only thing I'd miss about not catching them is Canberra Airport. :)

And no I didn't see City in the Sky. Will check if it's available on catch up.
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Kent350787
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Re: Virgin Australia EMB190 vs Qantas 717 SYD to CBR

Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:33 am

Thanks allrite - always nice to have a very local TR. I've only ever flown the route once (146-300 with 734 return will give an idea of how long ago), but rarely seen the point as the driveis boring but easy.

[quote="VapourTrails"][quote="allrite"][quote="777Jet"]I
I find the best antidote is the IFE. My mind is distracted, and my hearing as well. I also think where there is stuff going on before you even get the airport it does not set up well for the flight, or if I am thinking about after the flight - what I need to do or things to deal. Sometimes flying is not all about leisurely holidays so I am not sure how much of this (feeling) can be controlled./quote]

Kids! :) I've long been a nervous flyer too, but I've found my kids the perfect distraction. Well, a distraction at least, especially when they continually seek your attention on a longer sector :)
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zkojq
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Re: Virgin Australia EMB190 vs Qantas 717 SYD to CBR

Fri Sep 09, 2016 11:38 am

Nice to log both a 717 and an E190 in the same day. Am I right in thinking that the cabin of the VA E190 wasn't in the greatest condition? The PSU looked rather worn and grubby in one of the photos.

allrite wrote:

Yep, it was rather pointless. Sometimes I'm in such a rush that I miss breakfast, but this wouldn't have helped at all.


I got that impression too. VA's product is sadly very inconsistent from route to route.

Thanks for the report. :)
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allrite
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Re: Virgin Australia EMB190 vs Qantas 717 SYD to CBR

Tue Sep 13, 2016 5:44 am

Kent350787 wrote:
Kids! :) I've long been a nervous flyer too, but I've found my kids the perfect distraction. Well, a distraction at least, especially when they continually seek your attention on a longer sector :)


I think I'm too concerned about what might happen to my kid (eg the consequences of flying iPads) during turbulence. He does try to distract me, but it's not much help!

zkojq wrote:
Nice to log both a 717 and an E190 in the same day. Am I right in thinking that the cabin of the VA E190 wasn't in the greatest condition? The PSU looked rather worn and grubby in one of the photos.


To be honest, I didn't really notice the state of the cabin, especially as I still miss the shabby old Qantas 737-400s on that route and it was quite full so I didn't feel comfortable taking too many cabin shots. Had to behave in front of my boss and colleague! :) But looking back at it now the Embraers aren't so new anymore.

I happened upon one of my old CBR-SYD trip reports from 8 years ago comparing Virgin Blue's E170 with a Qantas 734. A lot has changed in that time!
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Kent350787
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Re: Virgin Australia EMB190 vs Qantas 717 SYD to CBR

Sun Sep 18, 2016 8:20 am

allrite wrote:
I think I'm too concerned about what might happen to my kid (eg the consequences of flying iPads) during turbulence. He does try to distract me, but it's not much help!


Slightly disappointed too that I wasn't needed for a Canberra meeting on Tues that would have allowed me to compare your experience in the TR.

And quoted the bit about kids, as I have happily spent several hours this week talking planes and on GHD with my previously disinterested 8yo. Watching City in the Sky over the last weeks (only partially due to his month long computer ban) and with the excitement of a US trip coming up in Dec he has become intensely interested in aircraft :)
S340/J31/146-300/F27/F50/Nord 262/Q100/200/E195/733/734/738/744/762/763/77W/788/789/320/321/332/333/345/359
 
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allrite
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Re: Virgin Australia EMB190 vs Qantas 717 SYD to CBR

Mon Sep 19, 2016 1:44 am

Kent350787 wrote:
allrite wrote:
And quoted the bit about kids, as I have happily spent several hours this week talking planes and on GHD with my previously disinterested 8yo. Watching City in the Sky over the last weeks (only partially due to his month long computer ban) and with the excitement of a US trip coming up in Dec he has become intensely interested in aircraft :)


My son doesn't really care about aircraft types, but he is very interested in luxury interiors. The wife and I were struggling to discuss plans for booking trips next year because our nearly 8 year old gets expectations. "I just feel like going to Japan today," he says! Can we fly business class? I want beds! (He was less than two when the three of us had our one and only experience of a true business class, thanks to points).

Started watching Cities in the Sky with him, but haven't had a chance to finish yet. Life's too busy!
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Ryan h
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Re: Virgin Australia EMB190 vs Qantas 717 SYD to CBR

Mon Sep 19, 2016 9:18 am

Interesting report and photos.

Flown both the 717 and E-190 and if you are travelling with a companion, these aircraft are great. A lot better than 737s and A320s.
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