Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Brindabella Airlines Charter to Emerald Airport Last Week

Lloyd F in Brisbane has advised that as well as the recent Alliance Airlines charters to Emerald, Canberra-based Brindabella Airlines flew a charter last Wednesday 25 May from Brisbane to Emerald and return as FQ226/227 with a Metro aircraft. The registration of this aircraft is not known.

It will be interesting to see if this becomes a permanent service.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Alliance Airlines Flys Three Charters to Emerald Airport Monday

Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 VH-XWQ was noted flying three charter flights from Brisbane to Emerald and return on Monday 30 May.

There was a similar charter last Thursday, and the reason behind these flights, or who they are for, is still not known.

Other Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 movements on Monday 30 May, included VH-XWM flying between Brisbane and Rockhampton, and VH-XWT flying between Brisbane and Mackay. These flight were on behalf of QantasLink - an arrangement that has previously been reported on this Blog.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Virgin Australia New Planes and Colours and Logo-Jets into Central Queensland Airports Last Week

Most of these special movements have already been posted last week, but Adam P provides a couple of lovely photos from Mackay Airport of Virgin Australia's B737-800 VH-YFC, which wears the new Virgin Australia colour scheme.

This aircraft touched down twice this week in Mackay, with Adam P caturing its arrival on Friday 27 May.

VH-YFC was also noted in Rockhampton twice this week as well.

Other notable Virgin Australia aicraft in the CQ region included:

VH-VUY - with AFL stickers - noted at Mackay early in the week (as shown below), and then Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast Airport on Thursday 26 May.

VH-VUZ - with Gold Coast Suns stickers - noted at Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast Airport on Monday 23 May.

VH-YFE - which is Virgin Australia's newest aircraft - and still in an all white colour scheme - was noted at Mackay both on Friday 27 May and then on Saturday 28 May. A recent picture from Brisbane Airport is below.

Thank you to our followers and spotters for providing this information and pictures!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Alliance Airlines Operations for QantasLink into Central Queensland Airports

It appears as though most weekday QantasLink flights between Brisbane and Rockhampton, and Brisbane and Mackay, are now being operated by Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 aircraft.

Just in this last week - Monday 23 to Friday 27 May - F-100s VH-FKA, VH-XWM, VH-XWQ, and VH-XWT, have all visited either Rockhampton and Mackay, with 2-3 return services each day being operated from Brisbane by these aircraft.

Adam P caught VH-FKA on finals to Mackay's Runway 14 on Friday 27 May.

Ben O recently caught VH-FKA preparing to taxi from its parking gate Rockhampton Airport.

It was also interesting to note that Alliance Airlines also operated two possibly stand-alone FIFO charters from Brisbane to Emerald and return this week.

Fokker F-100 VH-FKA operated UTY1020/1021 on Monday 23 May, and then operated UTY2244/2246 on Wednesday 26 May.

This last service didn't use the 'usual' flight numbers to Emerald as was the case on the Monday, prompting some speculation that this might have been a service flown on behalf of QantasLink. We await further information!!

Still More Mackay Airport News - A Week of Announcements and a Massive Boost to Services

As already posted this week, Mackay Airport is receiving a massive boost in services from most of the major Australian airlines that service the city.

Virgin Australia will introduce business class flights to and from Mackay, as well as announcing their intention to open a new lounge at the airport.

QantasLink will replace its existing lounge at the airport with a new lounge to be built on the upper level of the terminal building, offering Qantas Club members panoramic views and plush surrounds.

And lastly, Jetstar has announced that it is introducing its SMS boarding pass service self service kiosks to Mackay Airport.

The Mackay Airport General Manager, Terry Simpson, has welcomed all these initives with open arms and says the services will be warmly received by the region’s airport users. He also announced plans to build an additional 378-space car park, which is expected to be operating in the near future.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Yet More Mackay Airport News - QantasLink to Open New and Improved Regional Lounge

Source: Australian Aviation Magazine

QantasLink has recently announced plans to build a new 280 square metre Qantas Regional Lounge at Mackay Airport, in keeping with its commitment to provide a network of upgraded lounges in key ports across Australia.

QantasLink executive manager, Narendra Kumar said the time was right to start construction on the new lounge, citing Mackay’s position as “a key resource and tourism centre in Central Queensland” and the airport’s potential as “an important growth market for QantasLink which offers air links to Brisbane, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns”.

QantasLink intends the regional lounge to cater for up to 80 customers, offering Qantas Club members and frequent flyers free wireless internet, Austar pay tv and a selection of foods and beverages.

This news comes hot on the heels of our post about Virgin Australia's plans to introduce Business Class travel to Mackay, and open their own lounge in the Mackay Airport terminal - details HERE.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More Mackay Airport News - Virgin Australia to Offer Business Class Service to Mackay and a New Lounge

Source: The Queensland Business Review

Virgin Australia will become the first carrier since 2004 to offer business class air travel to and from Mackay when it launches its luxury services along with a new lounge by the end of this year.

The announcement from CEO and Managing Director John Borghetti, who was in Mackay this week to co-host a function for Members of the Queensland State Parliament, says the region is an important market for the country.

It is the gateway to many of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations and also boasts a strong mining industry which attracts business travellers” Borghetti says.

Virgin Australia are in the process of rolling out a new Business Class product across their Boeing B737 fleet. Travellers to and from Mackay will be able to experience new levels of comfort and in-flight service before the end of 2011.

There has also been an announcement of a new Virgin Australia lounge at Mackay Airport, which comes in the wake of a $3.5 million upgrade of the airport terminal (see Blog post HERE). It is also one becoming one of the busiest airports in regional Australia.

Virgin Australia currently operates 41 services each week between Sydney and Brisbane to Mackay with more than 4,640 seats across Boeing B737 and Embraer E-170 and E-190 Regional Jet aircraft.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Photos from Mackay Airport Tuesday - Virgin Australia Logo-Jet

As reported yesterday, Virgin Australia's B737-800 VH-VUY - which wears special stickers promoting Virgin's sponsorship of the AFL - arrived in Mackay yesterday, and was still parked at Mackay Airport on Tuesday 24 May.

Adam P managed to catch VH-VUY, along with another B737-800 of Virgin - this time VH-VUL - around lunchtime.

Also at Mackay Airport on Tuesday 24 May, was Queensland Government Hawker 850XP bizjet VH-SGY.

Again photographed by Adam P, the aircraft was in town supporting the Queensland Government regional sitting of pariliament in Mackay.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wet Weather Plays Havoc with Special Virgin Australia Visitors at Mackay Airport Today

In a treat for spotters, Virgin Australia operated two of their newer Boeing B737-800 aircraft into Mackay from Brisbane on Monday 23 May.

Firstly, VH-VUY, which is pictured below in Sydney, and still wearing its colourful AFL promotional stickers, operated the DJ605 service from Brisbane to Mackay this morning.

Unfortunately though, due to the wet weather in Mackay, it was unable to land, and turned back to Brisbane. Early this afternoon, it then left Brisbane, this time as DJ8605, as an additional flight to Mackay. As far as we can tell, VH-VUY is still parked at Mackay.

Also noted at Mackay Airport about lunch time today was Virgin Australia's recently painted B737-800 VH-YFC, making its first visit as DJ609 also from Brisbane.

This service was successful in landing at Mackay, and VH-YFC later returned to Brisbane on schedule as DJ610.

And in late news, VH-YFC has just departed Brisbane for Rockhampton as DJ1251.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

TRIP REPORT - Sydney to Mackay - Virgin Blue Airlines - Embraer E-170

Trip Report – Sydney to Mackay – Thursday 21 April – Virgin Blue Airlines – DJ1473 – Embraer E-170 – VH-ZHD.

Searching for the cheapest and 'best' way to get from Sydney to Mackay I found Virgin Blue was (as always) offering the cheapest fares by some margin over Qantas/QantasLink. The main issue I have with Virgin Blue though, is that most of their flights connect through Brisbane, and as we have unfortunately discovered, a late departure out of Sydney can mean a missed connection out of Brisbane.

Fortunately the direct Sydney to Mackay flight (one per day ONLY with Virgin Blue) was available and while it wasn’t the cheapest option, with the price about $20 more expensive each than the connecting flights, for the guarantee of getting to Mackay in one flight, and no chance of missing a connection, we decided to take them!

On the day we took the Sydney Rail Link from the City and got to the Domestic Terminal 2 at the Airport in no time. The crowd in the Virgin Blue terminal was pretty big with two queues to choose from – one to check-in and one for bag drop. There was also big lines for people running late for their called flights – as an aside, I can't understand how people can turn up at the airport just as their flight is being called... I couldn't do that.

We used the check-in kiosk and much to my surprise Virgin Blue’s seating allocations had split my wife and I into different rows and opposite sides of the cabin. Too make it worse, the cabin map had every seat taken so we couldn’t possibly change our seating.

So over to the queue and half the people joining the queue were being ushered either into the bag drop queue and into the Check-in queue even if they already had a boarding pass. We joined the Bag Drop queue, but soon found that the check-in queue was moving much faster.

Turns out most of the Bag Drop counters were being used to check-in the late comers for the called flights, and, the distance we had to queue was also shorter – so there’s a tip!! I was probably not a happy camper – I could see some nice planes taking off outside too!!

Anyway, after about half an hour, we got to the front of the queue and approached the counter. We politely asked the young Virgin Blue lady about being seated together, and to my surprise, she looked a little confused about what I was asking about. She soon realised and with a few clicks on her computer, my wife and I were seated together in Row 15. She even apologised about the mix up.

No exit row seat available as we were to travel on one of Virgin Blue’s Embraer E-170 aircraft, which only has the four exits – 2 at the front and 2 at the back. 2X2 seating is in the main cabin, and Virgin Blue have made the first three row ‘Premium Economy’ seating which cost much more that the normal seats!

We passed smoothly through the now infamous Terminal 2 security check, where days earlier an officer had 'tripped' on a loose cord and shut down the terminal for a couple of hours, resulting in hundreds of passengers being affected by delayed and cancelled flights.

We found Gate 35, but went further down to the end of the terminal, to the windows at the end, where we watched the plane action and took some photos for a couple of hours!

After spotting some nice planes, and having a nice cup of coffee, boarding time approached, so we went back to Gate 35, and there were plenty of seats. Boarding the E-170 was quick and easy, despite the plane being full for today’s flight.

Some interesting sights around the plane - Virgin Blue (now Virgin Australia) new B737 VH-YFC parked next to us!

Even though there are no Exit Rows, the seats are fairly comfortable – I managed to just fit my 6-foot plus frame into the space as shown. Although, I would have been a little more squeezed up if the person in front of me put their seat back!

Pushed back on time and started our taxi to Sydney’s Runway 16L – interestingly Sydney Airport was under SODROPS (Simultaneous Opposite Direction Runway Operations) with Runway 34L used for arrivals.

Rolling start and lift off, with two left turns and a nice view down the coast over the water and South to Cronulla and further.

A little while later, we crossed the coast near Newcastle before the flight plan would take us overhead Narrabri then onto Taroom in Queensland, then Rockhampton and on to Mackay.

The seat belt sign went off pretty quickly and the crew of three swung into action, with the food and drink service about to start. After providing the tech crew with their lunches, we had to wait about another 20 minutes for the trolley to eventually make our row. Most of the passengers had decent meals like sandwiches although I decided to have just the crackers and some water. I also had M&Ms and all up this cost $10. Not too bad.

After the trolley disappeared, the rubbish was quickly collected - although a lot of the passengers, including me, hadn’t finished eating/drinking, so we had to hold onto our rubbish until the crew did another collection!

About 15 minutes later the crew was back and so with rubbish collected, I settled back for the nearly 2 hour flight North.

No in-flight entertainment so magazines and the outside view had to do!

Eventually the Queensland coastline came into view and as well as Gladstone and then Yeppoon and the Keppel Islands. We were obviously overhead Rockhampton (as planned), and soon after the Captain came on the PA and announced we would soon be descending into Mackay for an on time landing.

Smooth descent over the water with lovely views over the Whitsunday Islands.

There was some cloud - not much - more thicker clouds out the left side of the plane with some scattered showers easily seen. Nice views of Abbott Point Coal Wharf and waiting coal ships.

Turning down wind the seat belt sign came on and all were to be seated. Mackay Harbour came into view and with a series of left hand turns we were on visual approach and finals for Runway 14 at Mackay.

Smooth landing and short back taxi onto stand 4 on the apron.

Off the plane via the front stairs, and through the new terminal, to the same old baggage collection area, where surprisingly, our bag was one of the first off!!

Off to the parking ticket machine and after a $100 Bill was paid we were off to lunch!

It is a shame these lovely little E-170s are leaving the Virgin Blue fleet – this was probably the first and last time I would travel on one. The direct flight option is such a simpler and better option than getting a connecting flight through Brisbane. There is no worry about missing a connecting flight – or not having bags make it Mackay. The 2 hour flight time does fly by when you have good reading material and the seats aren’t too uncomfortable as it seems Virgin Blue aircraft seats are just that little bit extra spaced apart than that of other airlines!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jetstar Reduces Flights at Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast Airport as Upgrade Nears Completion

Passengers will be able to take advantage of the first stage of Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast Airport’s upgrade next month.

It is expected that by Wednesday 1 June, passengers will have access to a new check-in area, an expanded departure lounge, and a new baggage security and handling system for checked luggage.

But the first stage won’t be properly put through its paces until July because Jetstar has reduced its number of scheduled flight to Proserpine for the winter. The airport has gone from having seven weekly Jetstar flights to just four for the month of June.

A Jetstar spokesperson said the change in schedule was because of a lack of passenger demand – despite the dry season being the region’s peak travel period. Jetstar has also reduced its flights to Hamilton Island Airport by six flights a week in May and June. The spokesperson also said the flight schedule would however return to normal in time for the school holidays in June/July.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh flew into the Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast Airport on Wednesday 18 May in Raytheon B300 Super King Air VH-SGQ to inspect stage one of the upgrade. She said the improvements were an investment in the tourism industry in the Whitsundays.

Unfortunately, the unusually wetter than normal wet season has put construction behind schedule with the new estimated completion dates for the complete upgrade put back to late August / early September.

Meanwhile, a mini-van was converted into a make-believe aeroplane at the Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast Airport last Saturday 14 May as part of their emergency plan drill.

Emergency service workers from police, the fire brigade and SES, and airport personnel took part in a role-play emergency where a taxiing plane ran into a maintenance vehicle on the runway.

Local volunteers acted as passengers and some had to pretend they had burns, broken bones, spinal injuries and fractures.

The drill formed part of the airport’s bi-annual test of the airport emergency plan as part of the airport’s obligation under the Civil Aviation Regulations.

New Arrival for Mackay Tiger Moth Museum at Mackay Airport

Mackay residents may have noticed a cream and maroon vintage aircraft in the sky over the city this week.

The Mackay Tiger Moth Museum has received its second aircraft, after De Havilland DH-82A registered VH-CYA - and nicknamed "Strawberries and Cream" - flew in to Mackay Airport from Maitland, New South Wales, recently.

The museum’s well-known yellow Tiger Moth VH-IVN - named "City of Mackay" - will be out of action while it undergoes some routine maintenance over the next couple of weeks.

"Strawberries and Cream" will take its first flights in the region this weekend.

More information on the Mackay Tiger Moth Museum can ben found HERE.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 to bring Many and Varied Interesting Aircraft to Central Queensland Airports

Using information from the Talisman Sabre 2011 official website: http://www.talismansabre2011.com.au/

Military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 (TS11) will be conducted over a two week period from 18 to 29 July 2011, and includes lead up activities from 11 July.

TS11 is scheduled to involve up to approximately 30,000 Australian and US personnel, with 8000 troops to be based around Rockhampton in Central Queensland.

Training activities will involve: live firing activities, parachute drops, amphibious landings, artillery, armour and infantry manoeuvres, air combat training, special forces operations, science and technology projects, and advanced maritime operations.

Main airport and port entries will include the RAAF Bases at Townsville, Amberley, Darwin, and Tindal, and ports of Townsville, Gladstone, Port Alma (near Rockhampton) and Darwin.

Firing Exercises will be conducted at the East Australian Range Complex including Shoalwater Bay Training Area and Townsville Field Training Area, the North Australian Range Complex including Delamere Range Facility, Bradshaw Field Training Area and Mount Bundey Training Area, and designated marine areas within the Coral, Timor and Arafura Seas.

Support sites, which will be used for staging and minor exercises include Port facilities in QLD (Port Townsville, Port Alma, Port Gladstone and Port Brisbane) and NT (Port Darwin), RAAF Bases at Darwin, Tindal, Townsville, Richmond and Amberley for aircraft holding, Rockhampton and Cairns Airports, and Defence sites at Townsville, Darwin and Rockhampton.

Rockhampton Airport Spotting and News This Week

Some interesting movements noted at Rockhampton Airport on Wednesday 18 May included:

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Bombardier Challenger 604 BizJet A37-003 of the VIP 34 Squadron in Canberra was noted using the callsign "Envoy Zero Seven".

Dassault Falcon 900C registered VH-LUL is photographed departing.

Also, Eurocopter EC130B4 registered VH-BPD is pictured taxiing to the GA area where it parked for the night. The chopper is registered in Newcastle.

In other news, Jayrow Helicopters - which is based in Darwin, but has a small base in Rockhampton - has been put into administration and is up for sale.

Jayrow Helicopters provides the Sikorsky S-76A Helicopter that the Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service operates out of Rockhampton Airport. VH-JRD is pictured last year arriving at Rockhampton Airport. Their future is uncertain.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Recent RAAF Roulette Visitor to Whitsunday Airshow Crashes in Victoria

Earlier this week a single Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Pilatus PC-9/A aircraft experienced a suspected engine failure and crashed at RAAF Base East Sale Victoria.

The two crew members of the aircraft ejected safely.

As a precaution, all RAAF PC-9/A flying operations have been temporarily suspended, while the cause of the incident is fully investigated.

The PC-9/A involved has been identified by some sources as A23-039 of the Roulettes Aerobatic Team. This aircraft was recently photographed above at the Whitsunday Airport's Grand Airshow flying as "Roulette One" by Squadron Leader Glenn Canfield.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Moranbah Airport Redevelopment in Full Swing

We recently paid a visit to Moranbah Airport, and found that the redevelopment of the runway surface and other works (as published in a previous post HERE) is in full swing.

There are currently restrictions on public access though, and parking is limited to the grassed areas near the current 'terminal'.

Access to the fenceline is also restricted, with the picture below taken from behind newly erected baricades.

Works continue during weekdays, and once complete, QantasLink plan to increase the number of flights into Moranbah Airport to 20 return services, as well as upgrade some of these services to the larger 74-seat Dash-8-Q400 aircraft.

The major expansion of services linking Brisbane and Moranbah, which should see an additional 868 seats per week (or 86% growth) on the route, is in response to demand from the local coal and resources industries.

Special Coloured QantasLink Dash-8-Q400 at Emerald Airport

After a fabulous weekend in Brisbane, I managed to score QantasLink's Dash-8-Q400 VH-QOW for the flight back to Emerald on Monday 16 May.

It is pictured above on the ground at Emerald Airport just after our arrival.

The aircraft wears a special livery and titles promoting the Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney, as well as the Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.

Monday, May 16, 2011

TRIP REPORT - Mackay to Brisbane to Melbourne - QantasLink/Qantas Airways - Dash-8-Q400 NEXT GEN / B737-800

Trip Report – Mackay to Brisbane – Saturday 16 April – QantasLink (Sunstate Airlines) – QF2511 – Dash-8-Q400 NEXT GEN – VH-LQB.

It was an early start for this flight with a 6.40am departure out of Mackay. Put the car in the undercover long term carpark at Mackay Airport, and off to the QantasLink counter.

This was the first time I had used Qantas/QantasLink online checkin – I checked both my wife and myself through to Melbourne the previous day and received four boarding passes which were easily saved and easily printed! Dropped our bags off at the counter and after a little wait time (there was also a QantasLink flight heading North due out shortly after ours) and they were checked all the way through to Melbourne.

I had a quick look around and took a few pictures of the Mackay Airport terminal redevelopment. There has been nearly $3.5million spent on terminal facilities including a new newsagent/book store and a bar. There has also been refurbishments made to the snack bar, car hire desks, and security screening, which have also changed locations within the terminal building. Eventually when the redevelopment is complete, there will be around 700 seats in the new and expanded passenger waiting area.

For the first part of our flight was to Brisbane. We were given seats in Row 11, about half way down the cabin. QantasLink’s brand new Bombardier Dash-8-Q400 NEXT GEN aircraft – VH-LQB – was parked outside and this was to take us South. The NEXT GEN Dash-8-Q400s have nicer mood lighting system on the inside as well as bigger overhead storage lockers.

Leg room is still ample on in these Dash-8s as well.

After some mucking around with final paperwork we eventually taxied away from the terminal about 5 minutes late. But being a quiet morning we taxied straight out onto the runway, all the way down to the end of Runway 14 at Mackay. Straight off and up through some low cloud before the seat belt sign was eventually turned off about 10 minutes after take-off. Mind you it was still a little bumpy but it was bearable.

Cabin service commenced soon after with breakfast consisting of a hot Danish pastry as well as a pack with yogurt and a muesli bar, and some juice. I also had a coffee. A lovely breakfast on this flight - similar timed flights with QantasLink out of Emerald provide a little less breakfast than this!

Cabin crew were very efficient and had the cabin cleared up after another 20 minutes or so. With this longish flight (one and a half hours) we then spent about an hour of reading and entertaining ourselves with the cabin crew never to be seen.

Descent started and the seat belt sign came on as we started to break though the cloud layer over South-East Queensland. Nothing majorly uncomfortable but there were some bumps with a couple of the bigger ones making some passengers gasp!

We touched down pretty much on time onto Runway 19 at Brisbane. Our captain obviously wanted a quick exit off the runway and some heavy breaking was applied (heaviest I've experienced) and we managed to make taxiway A4 and then straight onto the QantasLink apron - where VH-LQB is pictured below later in the morning.

We had a gate on the QantasLink remote parking (Gate 15 I think) and after a short wait for a bus we were soon in the terminal and straight through security to head upstairs in the Qantas terminal and the next part of our flight to Melbourne.

Trip Report – Brisbane to Melbourne – Saturday 16 April – Qantas Airways – QF617 – Boeing B737-838 – VH-VZD.

We got upstairs at the Brisbane Domestic Terminal, but didn't know which to gate to go to, so we took a guess and walked to the end of the Qantas terminal finger in the Brisbane terminal as this is where the ‘City Flyer’ services operate from. Sure enough, we were to depart from Gate 16.

The other good thing about waiting in this area is some good plane spotting opportunities of aircraft at Brisbane taxing to and from Runway 19.

I decided to ask at the Qantas desk about exit row seats and after a bit of passenger shuffling, much to my surprise we were changed to Exit Row 13 - complete with a window!

I do remember from previous flights on Qantas B737s - which we were on today to Melbourne – that the space and legroom of the regular seats in the aircraft is actually quite limited, and for a 2 hour flight, it would probably start to get a bit uncomfortable for my 6-foot plus frame. Better to sit in a roomy seat than squeeze into some other seat!

Anyway, some plane spotting done, boarding was on time and when we sat down, the amount of legroom in the exit row is really fantastic! The B737 features three abreast seating and we did have a person sitting next to us but still the amount of room was fantastic!

Push back was on time and after a short taxi to Runway 19 (past some spotters at the Acacia Street Loop Road) we had a rolling start and take off for the trip South. Nice sweeping left turn after departure on the Laravale SID, which took us toward the Brisbane Bayside, followed by a slow right turn down toward Armidale, and further South.

As we climbed up through the clouds the seatbelt sign was turned off after about 10 minutes, although there still a few bumps with the occasional bigger bump. Captain came on and welcomed us aboard and advised of a 1 hour 55 minute flight to Melbourne, so we settled back and enjoyed the radio with the occasional change to the cabin TV where an episode of Top Gear was playing – no news on weekends!

I noticed that the cabin crew were aged a little older and more experienced than other Australian airlines I have flown with recently. I didn't think they were as was friendly as some of the other airline crews I've had, but they were fine to me and most of the other passengers.

Cabin service began but as the trolley got to about row 10, we hit some pretty heavy turbulence and the seat belt sign quickly came on – but only briefly. Once service resumed we were served a lunch choice of a sandwich or quiche, followed by a drinks service. I had the quiche and some water. The quiche was so fantastic that I asked for more but they had run out they were so good! Even the crew missed out! Oh well…

My wife took the other options of sandwiches, and she also had a (mini) Coke!

I settled back and enjoyed the entertainment and after what didn’t seem like much time at all, the captain came over the PA with the good news that we had picked up a tailwind and we would land about 20 minutes earlier. So a 2 hour flight time became a 1½ hour flight. Nice!

Descent was uneventful with the seat belt sign coming on as we were breaking through some low level cloud. Touch down on Melbourne’s Runway 16 was smooth. Off the runway and taxi past the Virgin Blue terminal and the International terminal, with a Qantas A380 parked on the remote stand.

We taxied onto the Qantas apron and onto our parking gate. Shortly after, we were off the plane and after a couple of plane photos (Singapore Airlines B747-400 in Star Alliance Colours), we went downstairs to collect our bag and pick up our hire car. Our bag was actually one of the last ones out – but at least it made it all the way from Mackay!

It was really great to be travelling with Qantas again – I don’t get to travel on this full service airline much, and I enjoyed it. Although not the friendliest crew to speak to, they were thoroughly professional and really good at their Job. All up, great food, good service, and a great seat although as mentioned, we were lucky to sit in the exit row seat, and be comfortable for the entire flight.