Tuesday, November 1, 2011

TRIP REPORT - Sydney to Whitsunday Coast / Proserpine via Brisbane - Virgin Australia Airlines - Boeing B737-800

TRIP REPORT – Sydney to Brisbane – Saturday 24 September – Virgin Australia Airlines – DJ909 – Boeing B737-800 – VH-VOK.

For a change I decided not to take the Virgin Australia suggested connection when using the website, and instead booked two separate flights to Brisbane and then to Proserpine. The suggested itinerary would have me leaving Sydney at either 9am or 10am which left me with around 1-2 hours transit in Brisbane. Going on past experience of delayed flights, I didn't want to take the risk of missing the connecting ONLY flight to Proserpine, something I had done previously on a flight to Mackay - trip report can be read HERE.

Also - and much to my pleasant surprise - booking the two separate flights actually saved me about $40.

With departure at 7am I left my hotel and made it to the Sydney Airport terminal nice and early at about 5am. Upstairs to check-in to find the self-serve kiosks and then the bag drop queue.

But this time I came prepared and knew to ask a Virgin employee about manual check in seeing I had two separate flights and I wasn't planning on checking my bags in. In another pleasant surprise, the lovely Virgin employee I spoke to directed me to the service desk where the person there checked me in on both flights, and accepted that I didn't have bags to check in.

I had also booked and paid for the blue zone seats exit row seats with extra legroom and for both lights and I was assigned seat 15A - set to fly in two B737-800 aircraft.

So that meant that I had checked in, and was through the security check point in about 15 minutes of setting foot in the terminal - wow! Off for some breakfast, and a nice close seat to capture some early morning photos of the international and cross country arrivals into Sydney.

Some spotting done – Runway 07 arrivals were pretty spectacular I found that the flight to Brisbane was leaving from Gate 38 where VH-VOK was sitting. VH-VOK is one of the older B737-800 aircraft, but it does feature Live TV as well as Premium Economy seating at the front of the cabin.

I heard the first Boarding call for our flight at about 6.45am. I gave it another 5 minutes for the crush of passengers to clear, before I walked up to the gate and straight through onto the plane. Found seat 15A, where some other person had plopped themselves and had fallen asleep, but soon after they moved I had my window!

Doors closed and we pushed back right on schedule at 7am. A quick taxi across Runway 07, and down taxiways Charlie and Lima, past the Sydney Airport Firestation, and to the holding point at Runway 16 Left. After holding for one aircraft to arrive we were airborne and making a couple of left turns out through Botany Bay and heading East out over the sea.

Two more left turns and we were heading North for Brisbane. Unfortunately the southerly change that passed though Sydney the day before had blown up some clouds so views back over Sydney city were non-existent.

Cabin service commenced soon after we established North-bound with the meals distributed first to the premium economy and flexi ticket holders. I’m not sure if this is the best idea as some of the passengers couldn't be found in their assigned seats so these meals went uneaten. Moreover most of the passengers that had these meals - looked like a roll and chocolate and a drink - didn't even eat what was given to them.

About 15 minutes after cabin service commenced, the rest of the passengers were offered food and drink from the cart - the selection is pretty limited now that Virgin Australia has signed Luke Mangan as their meal creator

I decided against having anything and instead had a read of the Voyeur Magazine – the Virgin Australia in-flight magazine.

The view out the window improved around half way through the flight, but when we started our descent into Brisbane, the cloud started to return, and as the flight map on the PTV showed, we were soon overhead the Gold Coast. Unfortunately, we couldn’t really see anything out the window except cloud.

We made a left turn towards Brisbane Airport, and soon after we broke through the clouds and saw the southern suburbs of Brisbane. Right turn to finals on landing on Brisbane’s Runway 01. On finals there were nice views out the left side over the Eastern and Southern suburbs of Brisbane as well as the Brisbane City buildings.

Late finals over Eagle Farm and the developing Airport Precinct – which is becoming its own suburb – as well as the old International terminal and the new International terminal – complete with several of the early morning arrivals!

Quick taxi off the runway and onto Gate 39 at the Virgin terminal.

Overall, a nice flight with Virgin Australia – fantastic service - as usual! I’m not too sure however, about the service of the meals to the ‘flexi’ ticket passengers, with most of these not eaten. More menu items could be good too for the rest of us passengers too!

TRIP REPORT – Brisbane to Whitsunday Coast / Proserpine – Saturday 24 September – Virgin Australia Airlines – DJ1117 – Boeing B737-800 – VH-VUJ.

After some plane spotting (including a new Virgin Australia ATR departing on a training flight) and morning tea in the Brisbane Domestic terminal, I made my way back to Gate 39 for the next part of the journey to Proserpine. Sitting on the gate I found VH-VUJ.

This plane had obviously arrived some time ago and had been serviced and was ready to go. Boarding started right on 11.15am and soon after I had found my seat – 15A again – and soon after, the doors were closed and we were pushing back - some 5 minutes ahead of schedule! There was a nice view of VH-YIA in new colours parked on Gate 40.

Taxi to Alpha 7 holding point – in front of this Thai B777 which had just landed.

We waited briefly before we lined up on Runway 01. In fact we were lined up before the cabin was ready!

Smooth take off and as the General Aviation Apron and the Airport disappeared behind the plane, we were again treated to some nice views out the left side if the planes overlooking Moreton Bay and on to Redcliffe.

A couple of left turns had us crossing the coast and establishing North-bound just near Maroochydore Airport.

Fairly smoky outside but views were still good.

Cabin service commenced, and again the pre-packaged meals were distributed to the premium economy and flexi-fare paying passengers first. Again these passengers were served a roll and chocolate and a drink.

The food and drink cart eventually made it to row 15 and I decided just to have some M&M chocolates and some water.

Before I had finished, the captain came over the loud speaker and advised we would we arriving into Proserpine some 20 minutes early. Soon after, we started our descent, and the rubbish was hastily collected in the cabin.

Some nice views over Central Queensland including Rockhampton and the lovely wilderness areas out the back of Mackay.

Proserpine Airport soon came into view and from just about overhead, we made turned a visual left base on to Runway 11.

Turn around and back taxi on the runway and parking on the apron.

Now the fun began! Off the plane and into the construction zone that is currently Proserpine airport.

The ‘Arrivals Hall’ is certainly not very appealing for tourists at the moment!

Passengers were then made to mull around outside the terminal construction zone for about 20 minutes before their bags appeared - still available for collection off the back or baggage trolley.

Some passengers then took the waiting buses and other transport available, while I made my way off to find my car parked in a grassy area near the terminal. As seen in my outbound trip report (HERE), the Proserpine Airport is undergoing a major refurbishment.

I noted with much interest that the new terminal will finally feature a baggage collection belt!

Overall, yet another fantastic and worry-free flight with Virgin Australia. Friendly and accommodating staff who act professional and look good in their new uniforms.

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