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newbief1yer
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Part 2 - SYD - CNS On Virgin Australia E190

Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:04 am

**Dedicated to all those who lost their lives in the Tragic MH 370 crash. Heartfelt condolences to family and loved ones. Hope they find the strength and courage to take them through these tough times. God be with them**

This is the second leg of our trip. The first sector of this trips report can be found here: Canton Route Part 1 - LON-SYD - CZ DreamLiner/A332


Background and Booking process

Looking at options to take us from Sydney to Cairns and our best bet seemed to be the evening flight with Virgin Australia, as this would give us an entire day time in Sydney followed by an evening flight to take us into Cairns for the night.

Researched a bit and found that the VA website had the best prices and a few minutes later it was all booked and done. Simples!

We would be on the VA 1429 from SYD to CNS.

VA website is a perfect example of how an airline website should be. Easy to navigate, concise, transparent, seat allocations, all the important bits we need to know highlighted, was a pleasure to book using the website! Kudos to the team..!

The booking showed we would be flying an Emberer 190, and looking at Airframes.org, it looked like most of these aircrafts were fairly new, which was a good thing.

AU$318 for two tickets including two check in baggage, I feel is a really good price given it was the perfect time that we wanted. I also like the E190, since I’ve always had a good experience on that aircraft.

At the end of the booking section it gave us an option to choose from various hire car options. Also gave us information about Sydney and Cairns airport (quite useful I though) and also gave us the time when we needed to be at the airport by, 30 min before flight for domestic, which I though was very good, since most of the other domestic flights push for a 60 minute cut off.

http://www.ppca.com.au/IgnitionSuite/uploads/images/Virgin%20Australia%20logo.jpg

GCMap for the entire trip
http://www.gcmap.com/map?P=lhr-can-syd;syd-cns;cns-mel;mel-akl-zqn;bhe-wlg-akl;akl-can-lhr&MS=wls&MR=1200&MX=720x360&PM=*

GCMaps for this section of the Trip Report:
Virgin Australia VA1429 : SYD - CNS
Flight Reg: VH-ZPT ; delivered Aug 2011
EMBRAER ERJ-190AR (190-100IGW)
Seat 6D
Departure time 18:30 (Actual 18:30)
Arrival 20:35 (Actual 20:25)
11 March 2014
Price: AUD 318 for 2 passengers



View Large View Medium
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Photo © Steven Austen
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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Paul McCarthy

Day of the flight – Check in

Check in was relatively quick, so was the security, and in no time was in the middle of the sprawling domestic terminal airside

Sydney domestic airside terminal was buzzing with people - loads of duty free shops and restaurants, albeit slightly expensive.

We had half an hour to board. So walked around a bit before grabbing some snacks and tea and ready to board

SYD Domestic Airport
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8191_zps1e5d0805.jpg

http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8189_zps53b5ec44.jpg

http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8187_zps86413711.jpg

VA Check in counters at SYD Domestic
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8183_zpsac3b6428.jpg

Boarding

Boarding commenced as scheduled thirty minutes before departure. Odd thing that warm drinks are not allowed during boarding. Had just bought a tea and had to throw it away.

On board, flight looked pretty neat, although not immaculate – few pieces of crumbs scattered near our seats.

Departure was on time. No IFE on this flight so spent time drafting this trip report. Complimentary water or tea or coffee was handed.

Boarding gate
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8200_zps115f25be.jpg

http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8199_zpse24ee061.jpg

On Time!
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8196_zpsb4569b7a.jpg

Plane Spotting at SYD

VA A330
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8206_zps99fcc9aa.jpg

The VA Family –
VH-VUG (B737 registered as Virgin Blue delivered to VA on May 2006
) and VH-YIH (B737 delivered to VA on June 2012)
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8194_zps144a6e33.jpg

VH-FVY – ATR72-600 registered to SkyWest Airlines March 2013
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8192_zpsd7eb936b.jpg


Aircraft and seating

Seats on this e190 were comfortable with decent seat pitch although the aircraft did feel a bit cramped. I felt the windows were at an unusually high position and tiny, perhaps I'm spoilt by the DreamLiner.

Was told taking photographs on board was prohibited and ‘Security reasons’ was stated as the main reason. Not sure what the security breach was.

I felt the cabin crew on board were quite rude. There was a couple with a young child and he didn't seem too happy flying. The couple needed few extra cups of warm water, and once, I clearly noticed the make cabin attended utter curses as soon as he turned. Not a good sign. All this hype about Virgin "flying in the face of ordinary” seemed a bit far fetched.

Sneak peek - VH-ZPT
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8214_zpsc7d12c79.jpg


Smart interiors of the VA E190 – Note the Dog tail over head bins, quite unique (Shot this before I was told that no photography would be allowed on board)
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8205_zps4ad927ad.jpg

Slightly cramped interiors but manageable
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8202_zps3bc5caa1.jpg


During the flight, I wandered over at the rear of the aircraft and the galley was really a very tight space. It clearly showed why the crew were unhappy to work in such a confined space. It felt that the aircraft choice was not the best one considering the flight was full and there was hardly any space to move around, let alone walk around with a trolley.

Already missing it – Departing from Sydney
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8209_zps3d83918f.jpg

After a chat with the crew, he felt friendly enough, just that he seemed to up right about rule regulations security et al. Wasn’t able to shoot the tight galley space as I was told “as long as I see it, I cannot allow you to shoot photos” by the crew.

Apparently this is the longest sector on the E190 that Virgin Australia flies. Not sure how far its true. The galley is a squeeze and a ratio of 92 passengers to a toilet didn't bode well.

Rest of the flight was uneventful and turbulent free.

The aircraft was very cold and there was no way in which the aircon could be reduced. There was cold air blowing through out the aircraft.

Although the E190 had OK’ish seats, I think it’s not the right aircraft for this sector. The B737/A320 would be a better match.

In hindsight I think I took the humour of the cabin crew incorrectly. Towards the end we had a good rapport and the cabin crew joked about him not seeing me take a photo of the famous Virgin "dog leg" interior.

Landed 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Cairns airport is quite convenient, since, it being a small airport. Bags arrived within 10 minutes. However, my wife’s suitcase was slightly damaged. We took the suitcase over to the baggage counter and were confronted by another unapologetic VA staff. She suggested that we claim Insurance, as Virgin would not compensate for slightly damaged suitcases, unless its beyond use.

I was trying to speak to her, and she cut me mid sentence to the passenger standing behind me.! Not the best way to deal with customers in my opinion. However, we had decided not to waste any more time there, and headed to collect our car from Sixt, where the customer service representative gave us a perfect example of how customer service should be done! Kudos!

Empty Cairns airport – common area for departures and arrivals
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8216_zpsc4e1e7fc.jpg


Last bags out of the carousal – and that too damaged  http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8218_zpsb7d27754.jpg

http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_0439_zps2244d885.jpg


Verdict

My Experience with VA started off very well. One of the best websites in the business. But from there on, the actual product – both hard and soft, seemed to be lacking the shine that was prevalent on their website. It was just the little things that made my opinion about VA tend towards a ‘Just Acceptable’ remark. Perhaps I was on a one off day for the crew?

Poor choice of aircraft for the route, grumpy cabin crew, curt boarding agent and to top it all met by an indifferent baggage assistant and CNS.

On the whole, it was just an acceptable flight and no more. If given a choice, I would gladly book on a JetStar or Qantas, as illustrated in my next report.

Thanks for reading – as usual any comments/feedback/criticism welcome. Until then, happy and safe Flying.!

Previous Trip Reports

Canton Route Part 1 - LON-SYD - CZ DreamLiner/A332
DREAM(liner)ING Of Hainan - China Southern
Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World
China - The Low Cost Way - Spring Airlines - SJW-CTU
China United Airlines (KN) - CTU - SJW - B737-700
Norwegian B737 - LGW-TOS-BGO-LGW
Jet Airways: LHR – COK
Barra Trip – that was not to be
LHR - KWI - BA 747 - Part 1 - Middle East - China
Part 5: PVG-LHR - BA - Economy - B777
Part 2: KWI-DXB - FlyDubai - Economy - B737
Part 4A&B - SHA-SJW-SHA - FM: Eco: B737
Part 3A&B : DXB-HKG-PVG: CX & KA :Eco: A333
Morocco Trip - LGW-RAK-TNG-LHR - EasyJet & Iberia
Dusseldorf Calling - BA & EZY - Club/Eco - A321

Sights and sounds around Cairns – Great Barrier Reef, The Zoo and Daintree Forest

Blue corals


Getting ready to Snorkel
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/IMG_6128_zps24eb4e02.jpg

Enchanting Mosman Gorge at Daintree
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8300_zpsbffcc015.jpg

I just want to sleeeep!
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8246_zps07523a65.jpg

The Fantastic SeaStar and their crew
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_8237_zpsc1dc53fd.jpg

[Edited 2014-03-27 02:09:07]
 
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AirAfreak
Posts: 994
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:20 am

RE: Part 2 - SYD - CNS On Virgin Australia E190

Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:40 am

Hello newbief1yer!

Love the photo of the koala! I've always wanted to hold one. Are they really as mean and scary as rumors say with the teeth and claws, etc.?

It is a shame to hear of such poor cabin crew's lack of flexibility in taking photos. This is a hobby after all and not some security breach! Really, what are we really going to do with photos of a galley I mean really.

But thank you for taking the time to share your travel experience with us!

Bon Voyage!

AirAfreak  
Korean Air | Excellence in Flight.
 
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newbief1yer
Topic Author
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Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:35 pm

RE: Part 2 - SYD - CNS On Virgin Australia E190

Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:57 am

Quoting airafreak (Reply 1):
Hello newbief1yer!

Love the photo of the koala! I've always wanted to hold one. Are they really as mean and scary as rumors say with the teeth and claws, etc.?
It is a shame to hear of such poor cabin crew's lack of flexibility in taking photos. This is a hobby after all and not some security breach! Really, what are we really going to do with photos of a galley I mean really.
But thank you for taking the time to share your travel experience with us!
Bon Voyage!
AirAfreak

Thanks AirAfreak.

No, i thought the koalas were adorable. They were very accommodating and sat very comfortably around your arms. I found them very cuddly.  

Yes, it is a shame indeed. I try and persuade them, but i don't get confrontational. At the end of the day, its after all just a photograph. What irks me is that, i was given an excuse as Australian government Air Safety issues. But i was happily snapping away on my next leg of the journey on Qantas and JetStar. #Frustrating!

Next sector is the Cairns Melbourne one on JetStar.
 
invaders
Posts: 408
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 7:00 am

RE: Part 2 - SYD - CNS On Virgin Australia E190

Fri Mar 28, 2014 5:07 pm

Great way to continue the first part of the first TR. I enjoy the detailed and well explained TR like yours.

I don't know wich company you have flown with E190 before but I detest the plane and try to avoid the plane as much as I can. I have flown it with both KL and LH and as with the CRJ900 it feel cramped and tight. So based on my experience I cant say that I'm supriced that you did not enjoy the flight that much.

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
Boarding commenced as scheduled thirty minutes before departure. Odd thing that warm drinks are not allowed during boarding. Had just bought a tea and had to throw it away.

What new rule is this? Never heard of before and seems to be an excuse to sell you an overpriced cup of tea onboard.

Anyway, looking forward to the next part
 
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newbief1yer
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RE: Part 2 - SYD - CNS On Virgin Australia E190

Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:01 pm

Thanks invaders. There is more coming. Still got to get to New Zealand, few internal New Zealand hops and then the long hop back to London from Auckland. Stay tunes  
Quoting invaders (Reply 3):
I don't know wich company you have flown with E190 before but I detest the plane

Have flown with BA from LCY to CPH. I guess that was only an hour and half. I thought i liked it, as i prefer the 2-2 config especially when travelling as a couple. But this three hour hop, just didn't cut the mustard.

Quoting invaders (Reply 3):
What new rule is this? Never heard of before

Exactly! Once again a power struggle. You can ask them once, twice, but then after that you know who is going to win. We finally had to say that we will board later, and try to finish the tea, to which we got a curt responses saying that the gate will close in the next 5 minutes and if you do not board, then you may be offloaded. Thanks!
VA on the whole left us with a bad taste. Something like a curry gone wrong. Smells all good at the start, but then once you consume it, that's when the after effects are known.
 
CdnCactus
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RE: Part 2 - SYD - CNS On Virgin Australia E190

Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:21 pm

Good to have a trip series to follow!

I've flown E190 with Air Canada before. Thought it was fine. Appreciated the 2x2 seating. Have to say I've never experienced a grumpy AC E190 crew before (at worst it's just indifference.) It's a shame yours was subpar.

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
I just want to sleeeep!

WHEN are they ever not sleepy? I was at the San Diego zoo watching about a half dozen of them, and every single one was asleep in the trees. Don't think I got my money's worth, haha.
 
ab486
Posts: 179
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:26 pm

RE: Part 2 - SYD - CNS On Virgin Australia E190

Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:54 am

A nice second part of your trip.

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
Poor choice of aircraft for the route, grumpy cabin crew, curt boarding agent and to top it all met by an indifferent baggage assistant and CNS.

Very poor. Would make a flight memorable for the wrong reasons.

Some nice non-aviation pics, thank you sharing those!

Thanks again!

Adam
 
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newbief1yer
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RE: Part 2 - SYD - CNS On Virgin Australia E190

Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:10 am

Quoting CdnCactus (Reply 5):
I've flown E190 with Air Canada before

I see. But glad you had a pretty decent time on board. My Experience on the BA E190 (or was it the E170? I need to check) to Copenhagen was also very good. I think for a sub 2 hour flights it is a very good Aircraft. Anything over that, can be questionable, and with a grumpy crew it just doesn't help.

Quoting CdnCactus (Reply 5):
WHEN are they ever not sleepy?

HAHA..they are the cutest.! not pretentious at all. When they are sleepy, they are not ashamed to exhibit it.! 
Quoting ab486 (Reply 6):
A nice second part of your trip

Thanks ab486. Trying to finish the rest of the trip reports by this weekend.

Quoting ab486 (Reply 6):
Very poor. Would make a flight memorable for the wrong reasons.
True. I respect their job. I feel that they have an extremely demanding job in spite of all the rosiness that the Virgin Advert suggests them to be. But still, no excuse to vent your frustrating out on paying passengers.

Some nice non-aviation pics, thank you sharing those!

Thanks. My friends and relatives also feel that way.They say they find it 'Boring' otherwise.! :P
 
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RyanairGuru
Posts: 8252
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RE: Part 2 - SYD - CNS On Virgin Australia E190

Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:14 pm

Hi, thank you for this trip report.

Unfortunately I agree with your assessment of VA, and have found them to be very "meh" when I fly them. I used to love the old Virgin Blue, but something has died at the carrier since the re-brand, and between their relative lack of cabin product and crew who are much less engaged and enthusiastic than they use to be, the decision to fly QF is an easy one for me (VA, and DJ before them for that matter, are also horrific in IRROPS situations in my experience, but thankfully you didn't have to experience that!)

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
30 min before flight for domestic, which I though was very good, since most of the other domestic flights push for a 60 minute cut off.

Ahh, welcome to Australia    For the record, QF is 20 mins if travelling without checked baggage, and IMHO this ease and convenience really sets aviation in this country apart from other places.

Quoting invaders (Reply 3):
What new rule is this?

There's nothing new about it. CASA does not allow hot drinks while the seatbelt sign is on, and this has been the law in this jurisdiction for as long as I can remember (forever?). The reasoning is very simple: during takeoff, landing, and turbulence events it is much more likely that the beverage will be spilt, potentially burning yourself or (more importantly) someone else.

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
Was told taking photographs on board was prohibited and ‘Security reasons’ was stated as the main reason. Not sure what the security breach was.

That's really bizarre! I don't know if you noticed it on your flight to AKL, but QF specifically say on their safety cards that photography IS permitted (several appreciative Anutters have mentioned that instruction in trip reports before!), so I'm not sure what "security" has got to do with it. It clearly isn't a CASA policy, and you probably just got an over-exuberant FA who (by the sounds of things) wasn't in a particularly good mood!
Worked Hard, Flew Right
 
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newbief1yer
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RE: Part 2 - SYD - CNS On Virgin Australia E190

Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:07 am

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 8):
Hi, thank you for this trip report

My pleasure.

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 8):
Unfortunately I agree with your assessment of VA

I see. So i am not alone. I thought it may be a one off.

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 8):
Ahh, welcome to Australia

I think that's the way it needs to be. But then you also have to see which airports you are in. If you are in MAD, even 90 minutes is not enough  
But three of the Aussie airports that i visited, all were easily accessible to their respective gates, easily, within 20-25 minutes after check in, including the lines at the security.

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 8):
There's nothing new about it

I see, good to know. It does make sense. I am fine with rules that each country follow, as long as it is a genuine rule, and not some random 'power struggle' by the FA, like my next issue....

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 8):
That's really bizarre! I don't know if you noticed it on your flight to AKL

....Yes, exactly, i think so too. The FA was just having a bad day and the only route for passengers that day was his way.
 
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dirktraveller
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RE: Part 2 - SYD - CNS On Virgin Australia E190

Tue Apr 01, 2014 4:13 pm

Hi NewbieF1yer,

Great trip report on Virgin Australia, I had been following your down-under series since the first part on CZ.

Nice that you managed to score the E190 of VA, had been trying to get a ride on these E190s but unfortunately the routes I flown last time was solely served by VA's B738. Having flown VA recently I do share your experience, although the crew on my flight were okay that time.

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
Was told taking photographs on board was prohibited and ‘Security reasons’ was stated as the main reason. Not sure what the security breach was.

Oh tell me about it... Last time I flew Virgin Australia and was told similar thing. The staff who scanned my boarding pass told me not to take pictures while the aircraft is on tarmac (as we boarded through stairs), although she gave me a green light for photos inside the cabin. While the application of the rule varies, I guess this photography policy is limited to VA only, as Jetstar and QF does not seemed to mind with it, so far.

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
But from there on, the actual product – both hard and soft, seemed to be lacking the shine that was prevalent on their website.

Indeed, sadly I shared your view on this one. All the shine promoted on their website doesn't seemed to stands out when their service are mostly BOB in economy (with free coffee/tea/water) which is more similar into LCCs, instead of the shining legacy carrier they tried to image themselves as.

Thanks for sharing this report, looking forward to the continuation of your series!  .

Regards,
Dirktraveller
 
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newbief1yer
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RE: Part 2 - SYD - CNS On Virgin Australia E190

Tue Apr 01, 2014 5:41 pm

Quoting dirktraveller (Reply 10):
Great trip report on Virgin Australia, I had been following your down-under series since the first part on CZ

Thanks a lot dirktraveller. One more to go, the finalle - back from AKL to LHR, coming soon.

Quoting dirktraveller (Reply 10):
Nice that you managed to score the E190 of VA

Ah, Yes. I was excited too. Shame it all fizzled out during the flight. Nice aircraft, but way to packed for a 3+ hour flight.

Quoting dirktraveller (Reply 10):
Oh tell me about it... Last time I flew Virgin Australia and was told similar thing.

Hmm... its all a power struggle, that's all. Sometimes you are a victim, otherwise, you escape it, that's all. Had a similar episode at LHR during my last trip to Hainan. Leaves a bad taste in your mouth for no reason. I am all for security, but there needs to be a clear line where it ends.

Quoting dirktraveller (Reply 10):
All the shine promoted on their website doesn't seemed to stands out

But lets not take anything away from their website though. Airlines get them wrong big time (CZ.!). But yeah, if in Aussie next time, i may choose QF or JetStar over VA. unless perhaps, if its the newer VA A330  

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