After a couple of glorious days in Sydney/Central Coast following the flight up on the Queen, it was time to head back home, and back to reality.
The trip home started off with a trip from Beverly Hills (90210) station, where a B Set Waratah took me to Domestic station. It was the first time I've taken the T8 line to Domestic from this direction, so that was a fun novelty.
After being mugged, I mean charged the access fee, at Domestic Station, it was a short, undercover walk into the T3 check in area, where's you're greeted by the first plane in Qantas' fleet.
From there, check in was a breeze with a plethora of check in kiosks and bag drop counters - the joys of having a QF exclusive terminal.
From there it was off to security. The line for the main security line didn't seem to be overly long, but long enough for them to open the second checkpoint down the other end of the terminal. With both checkpoints open, getting through was a breeze - a rare time it was quicker going through in SYD than in ADL.
Christmas tree by the central security point
Main security checkpoint
Overflow security checkpoint
Once airside, it was time to have a wander around the terminal. I was here early enough to not even have a gate allocated for my flight, so I had plenty of time to wander around the terminal, and do a fair bit of plane spotting.
Gate 15 - the new airside International Transfer gate
Gates 16-19 - home of some of the regional gates (gates 1A-1C are also used for regionals)
Down towards the other end of the terminal
JQ plane in the maintenance facility
And back towards the end of the terminal I started at
One of the last FedEx MD-11's to grace SYD (I believe they've since been withdrawn from SYD)
While ADL farewelled the Queen for QF passenger flights (we've since had a Cargolux 747 freighter drop in), it was very much business as usual for the remaining Queens in QF's fleet
Some Jetstar A320 and A321's over in Terminal 2, while in Terminal 3 it's a couple QantasLink's Q400 in a couple of different liveries.
QantasLink Boeing 717
Qantas Boeing 737-800 (current livery)
About an hour or so before boarding the gate was allocated - gate 4 (ironically in front of the main security checkpoint). I meandered down to the gate and hung about there waiting for boarding. The plane turned up on time, however, the crew were on another aircraft, which was running late. The gate staff were excellent, advising of the estimated time of arrival, and answering a couple of questions a few people had about the delay. I just relaxed in a seat and watch the first round of the AFL draft.
We have the plane, we have the passengers, we have the gate staff, but we have no crew. So I guess we'll just have to hang about and chill for a bit.
The crew arrived at the neighbouring gate and quickly went into preparing our plane for the flight. In no time at all, boarding was called, and I joined the queue to board. Down at the gate, I caught a glimpse of the crew member doing the boarding. Is that..an old work colleague (and Facebook friend), boarding us? A quick stalk of their Facebook profile matches the description. I get to the front of the queue - it is old work mate! We quickly say hi as she boards me (while we're both excited to see each other, there's a queue behind us), and makes a mental note of my seat number, with the promise she'll arrange some on board extras for me.
I board using the rear stairs, which is always a special experience walking out on the tarmac. I'm welcomed aboard by the friendly crew, and quickly grab my seat. The flight, like most evening flights, is packed, and my two neighbouring seats are quickly filled. Boarding is done very efficiently (a credit to both passengers and crew), and we end up leaving about 25 minutes late.
The late arriving plane that saw our flight delayed.
As always, the iconic safety video briefing is played, with a manual demonstration accompanying it, as we taxi down to the runway. By now, darkness has fallen upon the terminal, as we take off into the evening Sydney sky. Shortly after take off, we see a small sample of the bushfires devastating New South Wales. It looks quite scary from the air, I can only image how horrific it is at the fire front.
A very small sample of the bushfires that are engulfing NSW.
The seatbelt sign is quickly extinguished and the crew get straight into the dinner service. We may have technically left just after 8:00pm, but we were scheduled to depart around 7:40pm, so it's dinner time. We had the choice of a noodle salad or chicken in black bean. Beef and black bean is a Chinese restaurant staple, but I've never had chicken in black bean. I opt for the chicken, which was amazing - as are most Qantas dinners I've had. My mate was doing the drinks run, where they slipped me some rice crackers on top of a couple of cans of Coke. Time to live the high life at 39,000 feet...in economy class!
During the rubbish run, they ask if I'd like some more drinks. I'm more than happy to ask for another Coke, and another couple of cans are brought down.
Following that, they find me a kids kit - oh this is quite fun. Who needs IFE when you have mate on the crew!
A pen? Why not!
As we head in to land, the crew hand out chocolates to everyone. I'm given a couple of handfuls. I've been better fed on this economy flight than I was the time I flew business with VA earlier this year!
Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and the cabin is prepared for landing. As always, a happy snap of Adelaide Oval (lit up in readiness for the upcoming Australia v Pakistan day/night test) is taken as we come in over the City.
And we're back home, with luggage already on the carousel by the time we head downstairs.
All up, it was a magical couple of flights - the flight up on the 747-400, and the flight back with my mate on the 737-800. Thanks for having a read of my latest TR. I hope you enjoyed it.