Flights! Action Camera!
Oh boy, this sucks. To the cabin wall, that is.
My first real chance to play with my new toy and my first flights on a Dreamliner.
It was supposed to happen last year, but Jetstar cancelled on me and the truth is that I was glad. Big storms that day and a lot of shaken passengers. They gave me a voucher in recompense when I chose not to book an alternative flight on their A320s and six months to use it. That six months was almost up and though I could have booked something else for later in the year I chose to use it now.
I have a purpose. In a few weeks time I should be flying off to Japan. I don't want to be a misery guts again with my fear of turbulence, but I've found that every time I have thought about an overnight flights that the anxiety returns. This isn't good. I feel a sense of failure for not having confronted earlier this year, chickening out at the sight of storms to catch a bus back from Canberra
So I'm going to catch that flight and stick to it, despite the forecast of strong winds and possible turbulence. And, inspired by the Qantas OJA flight and Pugsley's work here I'm going to figure out how to use my new Sony Action Cam to make videos from aircraft.
There are an increasing number of 787 operators flying to Sydney, but I don't have the time or money for an international flight right now. Fortunately, Jetstar run a couple of what I presume are positioning tags between Sydney and Melbourne. As someone who has flown Jetstar a lot over the past decade I was curious to experience their latest addition, but apparently bookings can be quite poor and it can be cheaper to fly empty, hence the earlier cancellation.
Having picked a day, I was surprised to see that it was possible to fly there and back on Jetstar 787-8s, something that doesn't seem to be available on a consistent basis. So I booked it.
The flights depart from and arrive at the respective international terminals. Whilst it is possible to check in online for many international flights with Jetstar, domestic passengers must be manually checked in to get their orange "D" sticker on their boarding pass and check in closes an hour before departure. So it was an early morning for me.
There was no queue to check in and I was given both my forward and return boarding pass but, and I didn't notice until too late, there was no "D" sticker on the return pass. This caused me a little grief later.
|Watching passengers from the food court|
Domestic passengers have their own lane through immigration in Sydney, but have to pass through the same security. Only photo identification is required however, not necessarily a passport.
Sydney's International Terminal is undergoing yet another round of renovation with Heinemann having taken over the Duty Free service. Dick Smith are now responsible for the electronics and I couldn't work out if they were shutting down the Sony section. I hope not.
|The electronics section is looking a bit depleted|
I tried to still the knot of anxiety building up inside my stomach and caught the escalator up to the Qantas business lounge. Might as well make use of my Qantas Club membership and get the breakfast I hadn't yet eaten.
The entry attendant was curious about my 787 flights and enquired about their price - generally around the same price or cheaper than the standard Jetstar Melbourne flights.
The lounge was also afflicted by construction work obscuring some of the view on to the tarmac. It's not the best spotting area anyway - insert First Class envy. There was a variety of breakfast foods available. I went for the hot food, but I reckon that there was a bit too much garlic in the sausages because I could taste it for hours afterwards.
|View from the lounge|
After breakfast I headed out to look around and enjoy the beautiful morning views of aircraft operations. Then I walked down to our gate.
|My next long haul flight should be on a Qantas 747-400|
I have to say straight up that I think the 787 is one good looking aircraft. The elegantly curved wings, the big chevroned engines and well shaped nose. And the Jetstar livery has to be one of the best on her with its silvery reflections off the body.
|Asiana creeps up behind|
Right beside our aircraft was another 787-8, this one belonging to Air India. Not such a great livery in my opinion, but certainly distinctive with its Mughal style window decorations. It taxies out, to be replaced by a colourful Asiana 772, one of the few 777s I've flown on.
|Air India's 787|
Eventually it was time to board, no particular sequence being enforced, probably due to the light load. The cabin is a sea of black leather seats in a 3-3-3 configuration. I took my spot near the front of the left wing and have the row to myself.
|A sea of black leather|
I don't generally mind the seating configuration as it means that my family of three can sit together by the window rather than the centre, which is how the A332s that the 787 is replacing are configured. I found the legroom fine, though no doubt the longer legged would complain. My issue was with the width. I am wider than I should be and just fit in. For family flights this should not be an issue and with two empty seats beside me no hassle for me on the outwards leg. But on the return...
|I forgot the Qantas lounge dress code starts in April|
The seats themselves were comfortable enough. I didn't test the recline or the winged headrest, but definitely no complaints for an hour in the air.
Whilst many low cost airlines do away with seatback entertainment and even some full service carriers, including Jetstar's parent Qantas, substitute screens with tablets and wifi streaming in many cases, I was pleased when Jetstar decided to install them in their new 787s. They are convenient, mounted around eye level and don't require charging or preloading. The touch screens are clear and of a decent resolution, not ugly touch layer and are quite responsive.
are quite disappointing, few movies or televisions shows I'd really want to watch, but probably enough should I want some distraction in the middle of the night, and that is all I really ask for. The music choice was entirely dissatisfying with very little choice.
Jetstar also offers streamed entertainment to Apple devices. Unfortunately not for the more popular Android platform or laptops so I couldn't test this.
Both the streaming and seatback entertainment is charged at A$10, but the most important channel for an A.nut - the flight map - is available for free. So that's what I set it to, right at the gate.
For other types of charging, the electrical kind, there is a USB port on the screen that I think can be used to display media files from, say, a flash drive (untested) and a power socket in between the seats (also untested).
|The Jetstar Mag|
I used a dashboard suction cup to attach my Sony action camera to the walls so that it could point out the window. It did mean that some window edges were visible in the video, but I wasn't sure if I would get away with attaching it to the window proper.
|A Sony AS100 Action Cam with suction cup mount|
Due to the location of the window the setup was hidden by the seat, but the cabin crew, who all seemed to come from Asia, didn't seem to notice or care anyway.
Now I was all ready to set out. Be still my nervous heart!
|Blue mood lighting|
After a manual flight and screen safety demonstration we taxied out towards the third runway for a take off towards the north. As we waited to line up with the runway the Retro Roo appeared behind us, my first ground view of the Qantas retro liveried 737-800. Then off we went, rocketing into the sky with our light load. Unfortunately, from my position, the massive wing flex wasn't so apparent, though I've certainly seen it from the ground.
|We'll be farewelling another, or is it the last, A340 soon|
|The CBD in the background|
|The Retro Roo|
|Almost ready to play the piano|
We turned right, giving me some brief but fantastic views of the CBD before turning southwards over the ocean and along the coast towards Wollongong.
|Look at that wing!|
|Out to sea?|
|Famous Sydney CBD|
The seatbelt lights were soon switched off and the electronic windows suddenly dimmed. Locked at their second lowest setting, giving them a blue tint. Damn. But at least I could still see out. At the same time the mood lighting was changed from blue to dawn or dusk orange. Quite a strange effect and not really so appropriate for passengers who should be in a wakeful phase.
|It's gone blue!|
|It's like we are looking into an aquarium|
|Window tint control|
|Red in the morning, shephard's warning|
Anyway, there was a cloud layer below us blocking out most of the view and this is a route that I have been on quite often and could accept the lack of a view. Mostly I was trying to focus on relaxing my anxiety. As soon as we were in cruise the flightdeck announced that we were at 13,000 feet and that high winds could be expected on the lower levels as we approached Melbourne.
That made me anxious.
I listened to music on my phone. That was good.
|Now the mood's gone blue again|
The crew came through selling food. I had purchased a "Plus" bundle with my fare, mainly for the points and the flexibility, but it also included $5 worth of food or drink. After my stay in the Qantas lounge I wasn't particularly hungry, but I ordered the $5 muffin and hot beverage bundle, choosing the hot chocolate. I ended up not eating much of the muffin, which lead to a quizzical look from an attendant, as I'd had a much nicer one at the lounge, but I did finish the hot chocolate, which was just your basic powdered sort, nothing special.
|Banana bread muffin and Taboo hot chocolate|
The cruise time was quite short and with thirty minutes to go we began our descent towards Melbourne. One of the great things about the flight map is the reminder of the time remaining to the destination. As the clock ticket down I would say to myself "only 15 minutes of bumps to go, only 10 minutes of bumps to go until we are on the ground."
Those bumps only began once we approached the lower cloud layer and to be honest, they weren't so bad. And soon I was distracted by the sight of the Melbourne CBD as we curved around for an approach to the airport from the south.
|Dark clouds threaten|
|The lines don't agree|
|And here we are!|
We landed with a heavy thump, a very hard touchdown. Melbourne has a few interesting airlines in attendance, including Royal Brunei and Sichuan Airlines, with whom I once caught an ERJ-145 in China. I also saw the Air India 787 having preceded us with its own domestic tag down from Sydney.
|Hello again Air India!|
|It don't matter if it's black or white|
|Fire and water?|