Hi folks and welcome to my latest trip report.
Earlier in the year work asked if I would like to be nominated for an industry award. Though I'm not the sort to seek out these awards, I thought it would be a good chance to stretch me and take me out of my comfort zone, so I was nominated. The state awards night was in August - I went hoping for a good meal, but I knew I was no chance to win anything.
Looks like I didn't know at all - I came home with a bloody award didn't I!
Besides the fancy plaque, I also got flown to Sydney for the national awards night. The only say I had in flights was preferred travel times - the association running the awards nights picked the airline, so we ended up with VA. The plus side is they asked for frequent flyer numbers so while I didn't pay for the trip I got the status credits and points for the trip.
Anyway, the big day had come for the awards night, and I was all set for the big trip to Sydney.
Upon arrival at the airport I saw the new Atura hotel that had recently opened. As tempting as it was to spend the night beforehand there, I was working late the night before so I wasn't going to get much value out of the room - nor was I going to get any really good plane shots for the brief time I would've been in the room.
As part of the hotel addition, a nice little garden area has been set up where the old departures road used to be. This also provides direct access to the terminal from the hotel. If you're coming to ADL sometime, check it out and tell us what you think of the hotel.
Last time I did a TR I forgot to show the VA check-in area, so here it is. VA check in in ADL has the advantage over the likes of MEL and SYD in that it has automated bag drop. No need to deal with indifferent VA staff, just pick up your tags from the kiosk, head to the bag drop, and you're done in less than 2 minutes.
Mum and her friend decided to come in and see me off for the trip. Mum recently broke her ankle, so was wheelchair bound until she got her moon boot (which coincidentally was later that afternoon). As a result, we got the royal treatment through security. Down the priority line (despite having regular economy this time around) we went.
Once airside, we had a coffee and brunch. Having Mum with me meant I was limited in my ability to plane spot, but got to see SQ's A330-300 take off (possibly the last time I see that at the terminal before they upgrade it to their new regional A350-900 in December), and MH's A330-300. Last time I was taking off, Retro Roo I was in. Today, Retro Roo II was in, hiding behind MH.
Soon enough it was time to board, and VH-VUF, one of the senior members of VA's fleet, was ready to take me to SYD.
While waiting to board, one of VARA's F100's (or as I like to call them, Mother Fokkers lol) came in from PER
Being general economy this time around, I was in no real rush to board, but eventually I joined the back of the line, walked downstairs, and out on the tarmac for an entry from the rear of the aircraft. One thing I noticed was that it appears ADL's PA system was down for the morning, as each gate had a pop up speaker with microphone attached to it (or as my friend put it, they were doing the boarding calls Sale of the Century gift shop style).
Once I showed the indifferent flight attendant my boarding pass (who seemed bothered when someone actually showed her a boarding pass), I wandered down and found my seat in 20F - the people in 20D/E seemed disappointed someone turned up to claim the window seat. I settled in and enjoyed a nice view of the F100 disembarking through front stairs only.
Last time I flew regular economy with VA, it was in one of their 737-700's, who have ridiculously small seat belts that just fitted (I'm not the smallest guy, but I've never been anywhere near seat belt extensions) and very tight legroom. So I was a little nervous approaching my seat wondering if Virgin just like to provide seat belts and leg room for skinny people. First attempt at fastening the seat belt felt a little tight, but turns out the previous seat occupier had it adjusted quite well. So after a little adjustment, it was pretty much the normal 737-800 seatbelt. I also noticed the leg room was considerably better than what you get in regular economy on the 737-700. Maybe it's a 737-700 thing to have crap seat belts and crap leg room.
Anyway, I'm all settled in for the next couple of hours, and as we start to taxi to the runway, we had the usual safety demo (automated voice but otherwise manually done by the flight attendants as VA don't have any video screens installed on their 737's) as we passed the recently arrived NZ 787 from AKL.
Once the demo was done it was time to check out the IFE, which actually worked on this flight (a rarity on VA these days), though it operates in the most bizarre way possible. You open the app, which takes you to their IFE website, where you can pick your movie/TV show etc. I chose to watch the ABC News bulletin first, then started watching The Martian, knowing I wouldn't fit it all in for the flight. Once you pick your show, you have a message somewhat lecturing you to use the app to access the IFE in future, before it takes you back to the app to show your program. It is a complete and utter mess, and can understand why it constantly fails on their flights.
We take off over the City, and climb over the South-Eastern Freeway to our cruising altitude.
Now that we're up in the air, lets check out the contents of the seat pocket, while we find out what went on in the world yesterday.
The embarrassment that is VA's 'snack' service is wheeled out, and it's the customary protein ball and cup of orange juice. We had some pretty decent turbulence early on in the flight so tea and coffee were understandably off the menu (not that it stopped my seat neighbour getting a little salty about it when she was advised of this). Meanwhile, Matt Damon's potato diet on Mars looked more appetising.
It may be mid-spring but the land is already starting to dry out
Coming in to land, and to one side you can see the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and the Sydney CBD. I was not on that side, so got lovely views of a nearby oil refinery, and brief glimpse of the City just as we landed. Note to self, pick the A seat next time I fly to SYD for the glamour shots.
And after about an hour an a half in the air we're at the gate a couple of minutes early thanks to some excellent (albeit turbulent) tail winds.
Off the plane from the rear once again, and through the Virgin pier at T2, down to the baggage hall to pick up my suitcase. Knowing how notoriously slow VA are in getting luggage to the carousel, I took my time, and even grabbed a nearby seat waiting for my suitcase to arrive.
Arrival/Departure screen in SYD's T2 arrivals hall
As this, technically, was a work trip, work actually gave me some Cabcharges to get to my hotel, which I took full advantage of. Given my hotel was literally next door to Wynyard Station, it was 6 of one, half a dozen of the other in regards to time saved, but I saved $15 in gate access charges by not using the Domestic Station.
And that was me in Sydney, ready for a weekend of celebration, shopping, and all up having fun. I hope you enjoyed the report, and stay tuned for part 2, where I will reveal how I went at the awards night.