jrfspa320
Topic Author
Posts: 464
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:18 am

From Melbourne to the Gulf, and into the Ancient on JQ, UL and RJ

Sat Jun 23, 2018 3:23 am

It takes me a while to write trip reports so don’t get around to many, and will try and let the pictures do most of the talking:

At the end of January I had the chance to go and visit an old uni friend living in Doha, which was tied in with the Australia Day long weekend (26 January), so had around 9 days to play with.
In addition to Doha, we organized a trip to Jordan, which had been on the bucket list for long time.

The easiest and most simple way of getting from where I live, Melbourne to Doha would have been the direct Qatar airways flight, and returning from Amman via Doha. Tickets were surprisingly expensive with Doha as the final destination, I think as a result of the gulf blockage and few airlines offering tickets. The cheapest seats were around $2,500 rtn, on a non-earning (Qantas frequent flyer) fare. Considering QR typically charge half this to go through to Europe, it was a bit expensive. With no other ME carriers or the obvious Asian carriers (SQ, CX etc) flying to DOH, I had to do a bit of fare searching. Being a loyal QF FF, this usually involves oneworld options.

The best option for price (value for money) and timing was with Srilankan flying from Jakarta to Doha and returning from Kuwait in business class for a little over $1,100. To get to Jakarta, the easiest way was to fly with Jetstar to Bali, and then an LCC flight over to CGK.

25 January 2018
Jetstar JQ35 MEL – DPS Boeing 787-8
Scheduled 18:55 – 21:45 (5:50hrs)

While in work, I got a notification that the flight had been delayed an hour, no big deal, but good communication. I sneaked out of work slightly early, walking the 5 minutes down the Southern Cross to catch the skybus to Melbourne Airport. The skybus service is very good, albeit over-priced, however until the state government actually welcomes in the 21st century, road remains the only way to get to Melbourne airport. Thankfully I had left plenty of time as the trip took close to an hour with Long weekend Friday afternoon traffic.
Jetstar have the efficient self-check in booths at T2, so was checked in and through security in a few minutes. I made my way to the Qantas First Lounge which is a very relaxing way to spend time before the flight. Having come straight from work, the first thing I did was take a shower.

EK 388 heading to SIN and DXB
ImageEFFA7458-EAE5-4277-AE21-C952D3481A75 by Jono, on Flickr

Interesting line markings
Image1F14C7FE-BF23-40F6-BB0F-33D868310C6E by Jono, on Flickr

QF 738
Image1773A8E0-1ADE-4852-B8CB-FC1FBE5179A0 by Jono, on Flickr

By the time I emerged, the delay had extended to two hours, due to late incoming aircraft from HNL. Part and parcel of travelling with an LCC running a tight ship. At least I was in the lounge.
After a few glasses of champers it was time for my first Jetstar 787 flight. I have flown many times on the A320 including the delightful PER-SIN 5 hr redeye so wasn’t fazed by the prospect.

Ice cream in the QF first lounge
Image9D11370D-EAE4-4051-A0D0-3FA219E43687 by Jono, on Flickr

My ride up to DPS
Image3080C6D5-1D8C-4D7A-90B6-4B9F534D4933 by Jono, on Flickr

QR 388, otherwise known as the easy option
Image8AC4A1AA-8F33-45CE-87DB-EFB687B5F55A by Jono, on Flickr

Image690FB2D0-A4E9-4308-82FF-2F0FF8B5EAA7 by Jono, on Flickr

As the evening before the public holiday, it was clear this would be a full flight,

Watching 3 billboards, great movie. The IFE was free on this sector, not sure why, perhaps because of the delay.
Image2FE5FE08-6726-4900-9AE6-38BFCD8C17DC by Jono, on Flickr

The view from the Novotel, raining pouring down with the control tower outside
ImageEA7DF970-CB17-4B91-974B-DFCC8560A1B7 by Jono, on Flickr

I spent the night in the Novotel, which was pleasant and certainly glad I didn’t venture further with my delayed flight.

26 January 2018
Lion air JT35 DPS – CGK Boeing 737-900ER
Scheduled 09:20 – 10:15 (1.55hrs)

A short stroll to the terminal, and check in was over in two minutes with no lines and a pleasant assistant. The domestic terminal in DPS is very modern and pleasant, and I settled down for a quick coffee.
The best part of this flight was being able to walk under the wing with lots of photo opportunities, as many other people seemed to enjoy too! No restrictions here!

Great view from the DPS domestic terminal
Image4EDB2DDA-5A87-4D7C-804E-EFDB07D58266 by Jono, on Flickr

Lionair 737s come and go
ImageF1535CDE-F93B-4978-B4B1-458EDD6E4D73 by Jono, on Flickr

Image12924F23-5F45-4862-9F41-557BE3451494 by Jono, on Flickr

Image8536936B-2A8C-4618-A5C4-AF3E0C97A3D7 by Jono, on Flickr

ImageE24D01BE-6D21-482A-96C7-E03C5966862B by Jono, on Flickr

ImageCC965918-3590-4640-B0CF-7EA5E6C6E86A by Jono, on Flickr

Image5FD5795A-9856-45DB-A66B-3A64B640AFD0 by Jono, on Flickr

ImageD407B083-3FC8-4030-9BDC-387B8700553B by Jono, on Flickr

ImageE95CA73B-B633-4E73-A53D-E12F929EBB64 by Jono, on Flickr

ImageF52CA0D8-B8C0-42E5-9CF4-42DFBFB6DE16 by Jono, on Flickr

I was excited to be going on my first -900 series flight, and the aircraft did seem longer compared to the -800 which I fly often. The flight was fairly standard for an LCC, and was pleasantly surprised at the legroom and cheerful service. The final approach into CGK must have been one of the longest I’ve ever taken, we were full flaps and gear down for what seemed like 12 miles, I guess trying to slow the rate of arrivals into the very busy CGK.

ImageBDD06B2E-67C2-451E-80DC-EDA751380889 by Jono, on Flickr

ImageA224F722-89E1-470A-98D2-313C73149A9D by Jono, on Flickr

Image422BE83A-5FFF-47FD-98CA-B3EEB4F31BAC by Jono, on Flickr

ImageE73166D2-66B7-42DF-A2D6-BC15DEB2762E by Jono, on Flickr

Long line for take off!
Image154E07C7-B50D-49E1-A246-9252C172EC8F by
Jono, on Flickr

Image41225202-CA98-4655-A875-8B529642A88C by Jono, on Flickr

Terminal 1 at CGK seemed far more rudimentary than the modern terminal at DPS, although actually far less hassle with no taxi touts harassing tourists – unlike DPS.
Image5F8A598F-BCB9-4EB1-A9CB-181A4BA2E822 by
Jono, on Flickr

Image4F34BB5D-2178-44CB-BEB4-BDC9CAD2479E by Jono, on Flickr

Basic inter terminal transfer bus
ImageAE3CEFCD-D4CE-44AD-ACCA-EB8DF6157B05 by Jono, on Flickr

Thai 772 heading to BKK
ImageA6AF2196-9BD0-4C58-B571-8DE978455123 by Jono, on Flickr

ImageD0C19BCD-1294-4D52-BFC5-7615489FA4D3 by Jono, on Flickr

My A330 landing an hour late
ImageA81AD552-6916-43D5-8725-3DA009A48AAD by Jono, on Flickr

After finding the terminal bus transfer and waiting in the humidity for about 10 minutes, the bus turned up and everyone piled on. It’s a very basic but not unacceptable service.
Arriving at the slightly more up-to-date terminal 2, I was swiftly checked in on Srilankan through to DOH.
Srilankan uses the Pura Indah lounge at CGK, which is probably the worst lounge I’ve ever been to, and after about 5 minutes decided the main terminal was a better experience. After finding a tucked away bar, I had a quiet beer and waited for the flight.

26 January 2018
SriLankan Airlines UL365 CGK – CMB Airbus A330-200
Scheduled 14:25 – 17:30 (4:35hrs)

The inbound flight was running about an hour late which meant I had to endure another hour of the CGK terminal, but finally boarding was called and I made my way onto the scheduled A330-200. I have flown UL many times, but this would be the first time flying the A330-200. While the business class wasn’t I the same league as that on the A330-300, it was perfectly acceptable for this daytime flight.
The flight turned out to be full, with many headed for the connections through to the Middle East including my grumpy European seat mate who was headed for DXB.

Business class on the A330-200
Image18AFAFAA-3BD4-4979-BA18-191820B5CE50 by Jono, on Flickr

Modern T3, where all international airlines are soon relocating to
ImageCB4A7663-105B-4AE4-AD7A-F8673572A2A9 by Jono, on Flickr

Great curry as usual on UL
Image0679F400-6097-4F61-8252-49DDCDC1DBE2 by Jono, on Flickr

ImageFD724BBB-E3D9-4A1A-BC17-02AF75DEBED1 by Jono, on Flickr

Image4DBA4D9D-E9DE-4BA1-A2D9-4D406D79BA90 by Jono, on Flickr

26 January 2018
SriLankan Airlines UL217 CMB – DOH Airbus A330-300
Scheduled 19:00 – 21:35 (5:05hrs)

Not being disappointed at missing the lounge experience at CMB, it was straight off one plane onto another. This time I had the comfort of the A330-300 series. The comfort and privacy level of this seat is miles ahead and much nicer for this evening flight.

Image68E0C7EC-CA9C-4A05-8A70-0229F9403080 by Jono, on Flickr

EK 77W heading to DXB
ImageDDD47FEF-0510-41AF-B7D4-16C37FAF65CE by Jono, on Flickr

Image4BFCBEA4-3920-457D-8BA6-DEC02B2C239B by Jono, on Flickr

30 January 2018
Royal Jordanian RJ651 DOH-AMM Boeing 787-8
Scheduled 07:00 – 08:55 (2:55hrs)

After a relaxing couple of days visiting my friend in Doha, it was time to go onto Jordan, the taxi dropped us off in the dark at terminal and thanks to priority service we were having some breakfast in the lounge in no time. The Oryx lounge is perfectly acceptable for a short stay and the breakfast was good.
We would be boarding by bus this morning which is always more interesting, especially for boarding a wide body.

Good view of the modern DOH terminal
ImageC9CCD5C7-1C92-42A0-8797-959BC907BC47 by Jono, on Flickr

GE engines on the RJ 787s
Image09912828-581A-4869-9B95-D02C44D10B53 by Jono, on Flickr

I had secured a window seat just forward of the wing for the flight across the gulf to Amman. The seats were quite comfortable for this short flight, but not sure I’d want to do long flights in them.
The service was fairly basic with a cold sandwich and soft drink, considering how expensive this flight was.

ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr

After around 3 hours of flight, I was starting to wonder why we weren’t descending, a look at the moving map confirmed my suspicions, we were circling AMM at high level. Most of the other passengers seemed oblivious to the fact, but shortly after the captain came on to say that there was fog at AMM and we would hold while waiting for the weather to improve.
After holding for close to an hour and not commencing an approach, I realized the chances of going to AMM was looking thin. Being glued to the moving map, this was confirmed when we started heading south and the captain confirmed we would be going to Aqaba.
What I found surprising was that we didn’t even attempt an approach, and having since looked up the runway at CAT 2 rated, it must be that the crew were not certified for an ILS landing. I don’t know how frequent weather diverts are at AMM?
As a silver lining the approach to Aqaba was quite spectacular with an interesting geographical location with Egypt, Israel and Jordan in very close proximity, both the old and new Eilat airports were visible.

Red Sea
ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr

ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr

ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr

ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr

Short haul RJ aircraft, which were also diverts from AMM.
ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr

ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr

ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr

Unfortunately, as with many airlines, the experience started to deteriorate once things went awry. There was no communication from the crew, and people were beginning to get quite agitated. As Aqaba is a domestic airport, and lacking handling facilities for widebodies (I think) , there would be no deplaning.
There was a water run at least, but nothing else was provided, and in all fairness, I doubt any other catering would have been loaded. We were on the ground for around an hour, after a refuellling we were on our way back to Amman.

Upon landing, the aircraft door was stuck and wouldn’t open, took around 20 minutes for the door to open. Everybody was very glad to be able to get off…..even if we all got stuck in the jetbridge! The door to the main terminal was locked and the whole plane was stuck in the jetbridge, we could see lots gesticulating from the ramp but it took around another 15 minutes for someone to open the door. By this point it was almost comical but everyone was rather tired and frustrated after what would have been a simple short haul flight taking up the whole day.

ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr

ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr

ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr

ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr

Overall it was an interesting way to get to the middle, far more interesting than EK via DXB!
I thoroughly enjoyed Jordan, it was a fascinating place, and wish I had more time, the Dead Sea and Petra were fantastic.

A few photos on the return:
ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr

ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr

ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr

ImageF32EA455-9FF4-4418-B83D-9EABB2E925EB by Jono, on Flickr

Image0E3F0C5F-CCD9-490F-8325-174D8A743C8E by Jono, on Flickr

Image1FF35B88-A106-4E9E-BB77-362C802EBBB0 by Jono, on Flickr

ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr

ImageJordan by Jono, on Flickr
 
User avatar
ClassicLover
Posts: 4375
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:27 pm

Re: From Melbourne to the Gulf, and into the Ancient on JQ, UL and RJ

Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:18 pm

Nice report and pictures! Good to see the Sri Lankan business class food - looks pretty decent. I always like a curry so I wouldn't be complaining about that either. Glad you enjoyed the QF F lounge too, one of the best in the world.

Jordan is a seriously underrated place - the Dead Sea, Petra and Jerash are great and the people so friendly. I had such a good time when I went there and I can't wait to go again. A shame you didn't fly RJ in Crown Class, I like their service there.

Thanks for the report!
I do enjoy a spot of flying, especially when it's not in economy!
 
igtrader88
Posts: 49
Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:52 am

Re: From Melbourne to the Gulf, and into the Ancient on JQ, UL and RJ

Mon Jun 25, 2018 8:45 am

Nice TR! interesting experience, Jordan is great and is a gem.
 
jrfspa320
Topic Author
Posts: 464
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:18 am

Re: From Melbourne to the Gulf, and into the Ancient on JQ, UL and RJ

Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:06 am

ClassicLover wrote:
Nice report and pictures! Good to see the Sri Lankan business class food - looks pretty decent. I always like a curry so I wouldn't be complaining about that either. Glad you enjoyed the QF F lounge too, one of the best in the world.

Jordan is a seriously underrated place - the Dead Sea, Petra and Jerash are great and the people so friendly. I had such a good time when I went there and I can't wait to go again. A shame you didn't fly RJ in Crown Class, I like their service there.

Thanks for the report!


Thanks for commenting! I always enjoy UL business class, especially the A330-300, the lounge in CMB could do with an upgrade too!
RE Jordan, Yes its my favourite out of where i have been in the Middle East. Later this year i have some flights booked in Crown Class so watch this space!

[/quote]
igtrader88 wrote:
Nice TR! interesting experience, Jordan is great and is a gem.


Thanks for commenting, it sure is!
 
345tas
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 7:05 pm

Re: From Melbourne to the Gulf, and into the Ancient on JQ, UL and RJ

Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:44 pm

Wild pricing for MEL-DOH. You wouldn't think there'd be a huge amount of direct traffic on that route.

So interesting to see a RJ 788 diversion to Aqaba! Amazing scenery down there.

Not surprised at the AMM experience. Before it was reconstructed a few years ago it was a serious hellhole (like one security checkpoint for international departures, staff all smoked indoors, toilets unfit for humans)
 
jrfspa320
Topic Author
Posts: 464
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:18 am

Re: From Melbourne to the Gulf, and into the Ancient on JQ, UL and RJ

Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:11 am

345tas wrote:
Wild pricing for MEL-DOH. You wouldn't think there'd be a huge amount of direct traffic on that route.

So interesting to see a RJ 788 diversion to Aqaba! Amazing scenery down there.

Not surprised at the AMM experience. Before it was reconstructed a few years ago it was a serious hellhole (like one security checkpoint for international departures, staff all smoked indoors, toilets unfit for humans)


Thanks for your comments!
I doubt there would be much demand either, but with the blockade, very few carriers are flying into Doha at the moment. Yes the scenery was great.
I'm glad i got to experience the new terminal then haha! KWI wasnt a particularly pleasant experience on the way back!
 
directorguy
Posts: 1265
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2008 10:58 am

Re: From Melbourne to the Gulf, and into the Ancient on JQ, UL and RJ

Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:27 am

Thanks for the TR, was very enjoyable.
First time I read about a diversion in a report on A.net.

Interesting that the MEL-DOH pricing is that high. I remember when QR joined oneworld, CX began flying HKG-DOH nonstop on their own metal. Didn't last very long, but at one point you had 3 daily CX/QR DOH-HKG flights. At the time, EY and EK also had competitive 1-stop options between Australia and Qatar, for those who wanted them.
Now-with EK and EY no longer serving DOH, and CX's withdrawal, you basically have only QR, and maybe PR.
 
jrfspa320
Topic Author
Posts: 464
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:18 am

Re: From Melbourne to the Gulf, and into the Ancient on JQ, UL and RJ

Mon Jul 23, 2018 4:14 am

directorguy wrote:
Thanks for the TR, was very enjoyable.
First time I read about a diversion in a report on A.net.

Interesting that the MEL-DOH pricing is that high. I remember when QR joined oneworld, CX began flying HKG-DOH nonstop on their own metal. Didn't last very long, but at one point you had 3 daily CX/QR DOH-HKG flights. At the time, EY and EK also had competitive 1-stop options between Australia and Qatar, for those who wanted them.
Now-with EK and EY no longer serving DOH, and CX's withdrawal, you basically have only QR, and maybe PR.

'
Thank you for commenting! Yes i doubt there is much O&D demand between MEL and DOH but id imagine for all routes O&D pricing has gone up since the gulf blockade!

Yes diversions are fairly rare thankfully! Certainly adds to the drama, but not good if you need to be somewhere
 
User avatar
CollegeAviator
Posts: 365
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 2:55 am

Re: From Melbourne to the Gulf, and into the Ancient on JQ, UL and RJ

Mon Jul 23, 2018 5:19 am

You seem to have had quite the trip with many layovers and flights. Thank you so much for sharing this one. I was particularly interested in seeing what UL had to offer - those A330-200s have come a long long way! :)
 
jrfspa320
Topic Author
Posts: 464
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:18 am

Re: From Melbourne to the Gulf, and into the Ancient on JQ, UL and RJ

Mon Jul 23, 2018 8:03 am

CollegeAviator wrote:
You seem to have had quite the trip with many layovers and flights. Thank you so much for sharing this one. I was particularly interested in seeing what UL had to offer - those A330-200s have come a long long way! :)


Thank you for reading / commenting. Yes, i certainly did, and it wouldn't be for everyone. There is a bit of risk with separate tickets, but being an av geek the getting there is all part of the fun and experience for me :)!

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