30 MARCH 2017
QF1938 PER-BME 10:40 – 13:15 Boeing 717-200
TL333 BME-KNX 14:00 – 15:10 Embraer E-170
I don’t often write trip reports for domestic flights, but as I haven’t contributed in a while and this trip was slightly more exciting (for me at least), I thought I would share.
I was required to take a “quick” work trip up to Kununurra, which is in the north east of WA, about as far from Perth as physically possible. Flight options are rather limited, with VA flying 4 direct flights a week on a F100 (the longest intra state flight in the country)!
Travelling on a Thursday however, there are no direct flight and the only option is with Qantas via Broome connecting with codeshare partner airnorth. This option is more exciting as it would include a new airline and type (E-170). For the return the following day, the direct VA flight was an option, however I choose Qantas again as my frequent flyer will reset at the end of April and these flights will give platinum status for the next year. Also having previously lived in Darwin for two years and never flown the local airline, I could finally give airnorth a try. The flights were purchased about 2 weeks in advance, and thankfully work was paying as I could have flown to Europe cheaper....
The morning of the flight I drove to Perth and parked myself, for overnight trips the convenience of driving is worth it, check in was relatively painless with the slightly unusual issue of only having one piece checked baggage allowance because the connecting flight (airnorth) does not allow frequent flyer baggage allowance, even though it was booked as a Qantas codeshare, thankfully they were able to wave the fee in Perth, not sure if airnorth check in will be so kind on the return......
Flying domestically in Australia is so easy and I don’t think it’s ever take me longer than 5 minutes to clear security in Perth, T4 is relatively quiet at this time of the morning and I went through in less than a minute.
I went straight to the Qantas club (will soon be able to access the domestic business lounge thanks to these flights) and was cheerfully welcomed.
The Qantas club is nothing special but the coffee is always good and a couple of bites of fruit. The apron and runway views however make up for the lack of food, and certainly beats the business lounge in this regard. The lounge was surprisingly busy for what is a fairly quiet time of day, with the morning rush over.
After my coffee and checking a few emails (and eavesdropping on people traveling to Brisbane who were worried their flight may get diverted or cancelled due to the tail end of Cyclone Debbie), the flight was soon called and I made my way down to gate 9 which is a walking gate. A 737 to Sydney (always try to avoid the trans con 737 flights) was also boarding next door and was causing a bit of confusion as the lanes were not well separated.
The beautiful nose of the T jet
Heading to Port Hedland
The rather dirty 717
Neighbor heading to Sydney
I love being able to climb the stairs and take a few sneaky photos on my phone, there is something I love about the T tails, the gracious clean wings and high set horizontal stabilizer, reminds me of climbing aboard the BAC 1-11 on display at Duxford.
I took my seat in 19F at the rear of the wing, we were surprisingly full for a Thursday in March, peak season in Broome is May to September, it seemed to be a mixture of families, locals heading home and people traveling for work (no suits here mind).
The exterior sun sun-bleached peeling paint as well as the interior is starting to show its age, but perfectly comfortable for this flight. We took off to the north and climbed up to 31,000 feet for the 2:15 minute flight up to Broome. The climb was decidedly average for a 717 not the usual steep climb that it usually provides, possibly ATC restrictions.
The old lady in the seat next to me decided to fully hog both arm rests and lean in towards me, arrghh thankfully it wasn’t the soon to be nonstop to London...which may have narrower economy seats than this 717!
The viewing platform at Perth
The inflight service was brisk and pleasant but not as refined as mainline or as friendly as the network aviation service. The lunch service consisted of a lamb wrap or chicken pie (quintessentially Australian), the wrap was nice but not overly substantial for a lunch service on a flight longer than 2 hours...the last time I flew to Broome with Qantas was on a 737-400 with full tray service and on flight movie (albeit on a clunky old CRT screen)... product enchantment no doubt. Boeing 737 flights to Broome seem to be less frequent with the downturn in the economy and being out of season, with all flights operated with the 717 or F100. There is no entertainment on these 717s unlike the 2 class versions ones on the east coast which have Q streaming and ipads....i was hoping Qantas would offer them across the fleet but it doesn’t look like it will happen.
The arid landscape of Western Australia
The Qantas and Jetstar Fleet
My route from PER-BME-KNX
The flight progressed on and before too long we had commenced descent into Broome, the approach is spectacular as we turn over the turquoise waters of Roebuck back before landing, the runway is positioned with water at both ends!
We landed into a hot and humid Broome, where my connecting flight had recently arrived from Darwin and Kununurra.
Broome airport is one of the more interesting in the country, being semi- outdoor with a large courtyard. It even has a small but pleasant Qantas club, which was rather packed until the return flight to Perth started boarding.
The red pindan of the outback
My connecting flight
Broome Qantas Club
Preparing for the return to Perth
Awaiting return to Kununurra and Darwin
TL333 to Kununurra and Darwin was soon called for boarding and I was excited for a new airline, 1st flight on an E-170, 2nd flight on an E-jet, and 3rd flight on an Embraer aircraft, after an Air Canada E-190 and an AA ERJ-145.
First impressions were great, the seats were so comfortable, much more so than the 717 and the cabin was clean and well maintained, the only small issue was the window spacing. The E-170 felt more mainline aircraft than the larger 717.
717 beat us for pushback
Full load today
The flight was about 90% full, being the only flight of the day through to Darwin and Kununurra, after take-off the 2 crew member’s distributed newspapers which was a nice touch and then commenced service of a drink plus sandwich and mini chocolate. I was really impressed with the service with a flight time of 1.05 minutes, and the crew were more visible, and very friendly comparative to the Qantaslink sector. All too soon, we commenced our decent over the amazing landscape of the Kimberley.
Service of sandwich, small piece of chocolate and a newspaper for a 1 hour flight!
Airnorth route map
The simple 3 type fleet
Descending into KNX
The return sector was very similar so will just post of a few pictures.
Sunset over the town
Check in at KNX
The single baggage belt
Gate 2 of 2
Not the busiest of airports
The ever amusing NT news
Coming in over Cable Beach
The final flight back to Perth
TL333 back to KNX and DRW
I always enjoy flying with Qantas, and they provide a solid product, I was extremely impressed with airnorth, the E-170s are very comfortable, the crew are very friendly, and the service for an hour’s flight was hard to beat.