Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.
This is the fourth part of nine telling the tale of my trip down to Australia in April. Once I’d sorted out actually getting to Oz, it was time to book some domestic runs. Being a One World sapphire card holder, it would have made most sense to fly all the sectors with QF – but where would the fun in that be? Instead, I turned to Australia’s other major player, Virgin Australia. From Melbourne, I decided to head up to Brisbane. I could have taken a non stop flight, but for just a few pounds more I managed to squeeze in a stop in Sydney. Completely pointless, other than to try out both the 737-800 and Embraer 190 of the airline.
One thing I did like was the free seat selection from booking.
And something I didn’t like was VA thinking my Visa debit card was a credit card, and applying a surcharge accordingly. Although I’ve since had a similar issue with SN – which you can read about in due course.
On the day of departure, I finally got to see a little bit of blue sky. I took a walk around the Docklands area after checking out of my hotel.
As well as having a look around a shopping centre in the area.
I made my way to South Cross Station to grab the sky bus to the airport, although as I was a little early I grabbed myself a tasty lunch.
Before making my way through to catch the bus.
I arrived around twenty minutes later.
Upon entering the terminal, I was immediately met with baggage claim. Seems this is popular in both the USA and in Australia but being from the UK it seems so strange.
I made my way upstairs to the Virgin Australia bag drop. During online check in, I’d opted to get my boarding passes sent to my phone, but they never turned up – so no souvenirs today, although as it turned out VA don’t rip their boarding passes so I was able to keep them in tact anyway.
My bag was sent on its way after a little bit of a fuss over weather I had paid for bags or not, but it was sorted out with no issues. I took a brief walk landside, but nothing much was of interest.
I headed through security soon after and it was painless. Bag on the belt, through the metal detector and on my way within 20 seconds. Why can’t everywhere be like this?!
I found out where my flight would be departing from before I perched myself by a window and watched the few movements outside.
What’s that doing here?!
My ride on stand
I hoped my bag wouldn’t stay dumped on the tarmac…
Boarding began at 14:30 and I made my way onboard via the rear stairs.
Boeing 737-800 / VH-YFK Long Beach
Seat: 24A / Economy
Off Stand: 15:07
On Stand: 16:29
I was welcomed by name at the rear door and I took my assigned seat in the clean cabin.
Although there were armrests up and seatbelts not crossed from the previous flight though.
The captain welcomed everybody and announced a flying time of an hour.
Doesn’t make much sense to me…
There was a bit of a wait for one last final passenger but it only delayed us by a minute or two.
We pushed back and made our way out to the active. Along the way, we passed a pair of A380’s from QF and SQ and a 787 of Jetstar.
We held in position at the end of the runway for a couple of minutes to give sufficient clearance between us and the QF 767 that departed just before us, before lifting off.
As promised, we made a pair of right turns to send us in SYD’s direction.
The BSI makes the 737 look so much better
Shortly after, I noticed the in flight Wi-Fi had been enabled, but it was only to allow you to view the IFE, rather than access the outside world. It still allowed you to view the skymap though which was pretty interesting
Then the snack service began, which I’m led to believe is a relatively new concept on board.
Just as the drinks had reached my row, the flight deck announced we were a minute away from descent, the weather in SYD wasn’t brilliant and that we should be landing in 25 minutes.
Surprisingly green down there
The rubbish from the snack service was hastily collected before we hit some mean clouds.
On finals, there was a great view of downtown Sydney, before we hit the ground and screeched to a halt (not literally).
A couple of minutes later we were on stand alongside a slightly more sunburned brother and I made my way to the terminal via the rear steps once more.
I didn’t have to go far for my next flight – just next door In fact. I hung around this area, as I needed to charge my phone up. Eventually I did go for a wander as my flight was showing a 15 minute delay.
I could see the aircraft due to operate the flight wouldn’t be long though, so I made my way back down to the gate.
Quite a while after landing, it pulled on to stand.
One thing I did notice at both Melbourne and Sydney (and later on in Brisbane for that matter) were an awful lot of calls going out to passengers who were about to be offloaded. One, maybe two wouldn’t be so much of an issue but these calls were coming every 5/10 minutes or so. People really do like to leave things to the last minute!
Boarding was announced at pretty much our STD. Despite the ground crew attempting to enforce some sort of order, it didn’t work all that well.
Embraer E190 / VH-ZPE
Seat: 18F / Economy
Off Stand: 18:41
On Stand: 20:06
I took my assigned seat of 18F, and the legroom was comparable to most other E-Jets I’d been on. Again, the armrest was up and the seatbelt was slung where the previous occupant had left it.
Despite the plane being pretty full, boarding was completed pretty quickly. Despite this, we still sat on stand for around thirty minutes while the paperwork was completed.
The crew announced a flying time of an hour and nine minutes.
We eventually did push back and made a pretty long taxi over to the active.
Upon climb out there was some pretty heavy turbulence as we made our way through the rain. When the crew were given permission to start service, they got on with it pretty efficiently. Again, it was the enhanced snack service.
I spent the flight browsing the inflight mag.
Pretty big fleet VA have now.
As the crew were passing through the cabin collecting the rubbish, the engines tone turned from a roar to a hum. Guess that means descent started. The flight deck confirmed this a few moments later, and apologised for the delay, blaming the bad weather in Sydney delaying things for them all day.
Luckily, there wasn’t a lot of cloud around in Brisbane, so there were some good views of the city on approach. Unfortunately, as I’d developed a cold in the last couple of days (that would eventually take the best part of a month to shift…), I couldn’t appreciate it all that much as my ears popping made it a pretty unpleasant experience.
Passing the brilliantly lit Gateway Bridge
We landed and exited to the left, arriving on to a remote stand a few moments later.
Nice divider between J and Y.
I followed the signs to baggage claim, where my bag was one of the first out into the humidity.
I then made my way across the bridge to catch the train to the city.
I arrived around twenty minutes later, and made the short walk to the Hilton CBD. I was pretty impressed at how fancy this place was, especially considering the price I paid!
Upon check in, I was informed that due to my status, they could definitely upgrade my room (about the fifth time that’s happened now) and that if I wished I could have a late check out – great!
After this, I took a brief wander around the block to find something to eat.
As Brisbane is a pretty busy place on a Saturday night, and nothing really took my fancy, I decided it would be room service for dinner.
Virgin Australia then… Well they did the job I guess and it seems like they’re starting to shift their focus away from being a LCC. Their planes were modern and clean. And that’s really all I can really say about them. One of those airlines that does what it says on the tin without being exceptionally good or bad really.