The only regular flights to/ from Ravensthorpe are operated by Virgin Australia Regional. The flight path is PER-EPR-RVT-PER and runs on Monday and Thursday mornings. The airport is located on Jerdacuttup Road and is equipped to service both commercial and recreational aircraft. It has two strips - 09/24 which is sealed and 14/32 which is gravel.
But of course Ravensthorpe Airport is not equipped to use new-fangled technology. On arrival at the airport it was necessary to obtain a printed boarding pass and this time I was allocated 04F. It seems at Esperance they clear all pre-assigned seats and reallocate them. Perhaps this helps to speed boarding in Ravensthorpe. Perhaps they want to rearrange passengers based on loadings. Noticing that the seat has changed, I queried it and the friendly check-in agent offered to change it for a window seat in another row. I received a new boarding pass with seat 06G assigned.
Oddly, the elderly neighbour travelling on the same flight was able to retain her pre-assigned seat, 05B. Perhaps because it was an aisle seat.
There was no rush to go through security with just three passengers joining the flight. Staff were present but access was still cordoned off. Besides, there was absolutely nothing to attract passengers to go airside: neither shops nor views. Landslide there is a coffee making machine but you need to get a pod from the counter in exchange for three dollars. Alternatively, bottled water is available for two dollars.
The incoming flight touched down and made its way to the stand. Now the cordon was removed and we could proceed through the scanner. No need to remove the tablet from the bag but liquids were required to be placed in a separate tray. Passengers were also required to undergo the explosives test. Meanwhile a number of passengers left the aircraft, ending their journey in Ravensthorpe. All photos of the activity on the apron were taken by my sister and brother-in-law who gave permission to include them in this report.
In the departures lounge there are some plastic seats, arranged like in s doctor’s surgery. The “jet bridge” is a covered walkway, enclosed by Colorbond sheeting and a two-part metal gate. Access is through a glass door. Our friendly check-in staff came to open it and reminded everybody (all three of us) to have our boarding passes ready.
Once checked we could walk across the apron to the waiting aircraft. The elderly neighbour was helped to the plane, guided up the steps and taken to her seat. Instead of being put in 05B, she was offered a seat two rows further back where no-one was sitting. She looked quite happy to end up in 07A, a window seat.
The return flight to Perth was operated by VH-FNB, appropriately named “Shire of Esperance”. First flown on 16 October, 1987 as PH-EXF, this aircraft entered into service with Air N.S.W. It also was previously configured as Y50 before being reconfigured to Y46 in December 1993. On today’s flight, the passenger load was about 32.
In the cabin were Zoe and Debbie, while up front was Capt. Lachlan Farquhar (I think but may have misheard.) The Captain welcomed passengers joining the flight and advised that a flight time of about one hour and twenty minutes was expected. Zoe followed by saying that a snack would be served during the flight. A few moments later the safety briefing was performed.
Final preparations and the door is closed.
The engines started up, first left then right and the aircraft began to move a few minutes before schedule. It taxied out to the runway, turned left and turned about to face Runway 24. The view from inside the aircraft.
The view from the ground.
”Shire of Esperance” picks up speed and moments later lifts into the air. View from the cabin …
… and from the ground.
Soon it is no more than a speck in the sky as it disappears beyond the Barrens Ranges, heading to Perth.
Shortly after take-off and once the seat belt sign had been extinguished, Zoe and Debbie commenced the snack run. This is what I was looking forward to.
Unfortunately, the offerings were identical to those on the outbound flight. This time I chose apple juice without ice to accompany the muesli bar.
The waste was collected and I spent some time looking around the cabin. The aircraft was certainly showing its age. Years of grime were apparent, along with scratches and stains.
The flight was smooth as we flew above the clouds. Every now and again there was a break in the cloud and the country below looked good after recent late rainfall. At 10:30 the Captain advised us that “we will shortly begin our descent into Perth from about twenty thousand feet.”
”The weather is partly cloudy with the slight chance of a shower, otherwise fine and 17° . We expect to have you deboarding about ten minutes early, at eleven o’clock.”
Some light turbulence as the aircraft descended over the Darling Escarpment and through some low clouds. The flight path took us over Midvale, Bellevue and across Kalamunda Road to touch down on Runway 24. A few minutes later the aircraft came to a full stop at the stand from which I had left a few days before.
A friendly farewell from the crew as I helped the elderly neighbour descend the steps. On the apron a wheelchair was waiting to assist and take her to meet her family in the arrivals area. We parted and I made my way to the taxi stand outside the terminal.
Overall impressions? Virgin Australia Regional provided a reasonable service. Both flights departed on time and were able to arrive early. The Captains made clear announcements that were informative. The cabin crew were friendly and welcoming. The in-flight meals will not win awards for excellence but for the sector lengths and time of day are adequate.
Passengers receiving email or SMS reminders to use check-in might as well ignore them as seat allocations are ignored and the regional airports are not equipped to use the technology. Manual boarding passes are still necessary.
The aircraft themselves have seen a lot of use and while they may be safe in flight, they do show signs of wear and a general grubbiness. Cleanliness does not seem to be a priority but the illuminated signs and cabin lights worked, the life vest was where it was meant to be.
Would I fly with Virgin Australia Regional again? Probably not on this route as there is no real time gain when you factor in getting to the airport early, the routing via Esperance and the distance from the town centre. Besides, it’s cheaper to drive. If the price were right, I might consider another route.
My previous trip reports:[Edited 2015-09-16 00:06:30]
Dance In A Wine Glass: The Bumpy Route To Dubai (by WearyDrover Aug 27 2015 in Trip Reports)
A Cabin For One: Emirates Boeing 777 To Hamburg (by WearyDrover Aug 29 2015 in Trip Reports)
Discover The World Of Flying: Hamburg Airport Days (by WearyDrover Aug 29 2015 in Trip Reports)
Departing Hamburg: We Can Bring Out The Good Stuff (by WearyDrover Aug 30 2015 in Trip Reports)
A380 Bar Closed:Cabin Crew Go To Your Seats (by WearyDrover Aug 31 2015 in Trip Reports)
Virgin Australia Fokker 50 To Ravensthorpe: Part 1 (by WearyDrover Sep 14 2015 in Trip Reports)
[Edited 2015-09-16 00:20:40]